Can one learn from instructional videos?

chenlihong

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Hello fellow members, greetings from India.
Like all of us, I am very much interested into internal martial arts, particularly taijiquan. In past, i was lucky enough to find a sifu who taught me taiji an xingyi for a few weeks. He called the system as 'tao chi chaun' . Unfortunately I had to move very far from that place and now I don't have anyone even remotely associated with martial arts, let alone taiji. There isn't a day goes by i don't think about learning complete art of taijiquan. I know it is being optimistic to the limit of foolishness, but , is it possible that i could learn taijiquan from some of the instructional DVDs out there? In case there are, would "yang form taught by Yang Zheng Duo (
son of [FONT=&quot]Yang Chen Fu )" be recommended? Or, should I go for Yang jwing-ming's DVDs instead?
I am more interested into chen taijiquan, but looks like there are very few resources about chen style available. If you happen to know any, please let me know. Any help regarding books, videos and DVDs is much appreciated.


Regards
Deepak



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Dan Cosgrove

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While training with a teacher is the best way to go, I think if your options are limited, videos could work.

Just be sure to read reviews and get good quality videos, since you don't want to learn bad techniques.
 

Xue Sheng

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It is rather difficult to learn Taijiquan by video due to the rather large number of small little circles that appear in the form.

But if that is what you want to do and you eant Chen style look to DVDs from Chen Zhenglei, Chen Xiaowang, and Ren Guangyi. They all are selling DVDs and are all very good. However Chen Zhenglei and Chen Xiaowang DVDs are ONLY in Chinese with VERY bad english translation in both voioce over and sub-titles and Ren Guangyi is in English but may be a bit more expensive.

You may also want to combine this with a book or two as well and I beleive all 3 have written them.
 

wushuguy

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if you can only learn from videos, then you have to also pay attention carefully, if possible, videotape yourself and watch it to compare your posture to the one on the video. that might help out. but if you have someone who knows or has practiced, like putting an ad for a training partner on craigslist or something, that way you have the video to watch at home and someone with experience to help correct what misunderstandings you have gained from the video. ( for example on videos it's easy to "see" a certain stance and stand in a similar way even look just like the video, but the stance may still be off. only way to know is if an experienced person or teacher lets you know the details that may not be discussed on the video)
 

mograph

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Hmm ... I wonder: to what depth can one learn taijiquan from a video? If the answer is "not very deep", then why learn at all?

To my mind, if you can't get the internal benefits of taijiquan, you're just doing a nice slow dance, and if that's what you want, then fine. However, the real benefits of taijiquan are in how you feel inside, and the difference between "right" feeling and "wrong" feeling can't be seen on a video. It's a game of millimetres.

In my opinion, the best use of taijiquan videos is to accelerate the learning of the gross movements so you can begin instruction on the fine movements and sensations sooner ... in class with your instructor.

For health, I'd learn yoga with a real instructor, rather than taijiquan from videos. Of course, I say that now, at my advanced age and level of unsurpassed wisdom. :D Who knows what I would have said when I was young?
 

Xue Sheng

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Hmm ... I wonder: to what depth can one learn taijiquan from a video? If the answer is "not very deep", then why learn at all?

To my mind, if you can't get the internal benefits of taijiquan, you're just doing a nice slow dance, and if that's what you want, then fine. However, the real benefits of taijiquan are in how you feel inside, and the difference between "right" feeling and "wrong" feeling can't be seen on a video. It's a game of millimetres.

In my opinion, the best use of taijiquan videos is to accelerate the learning of the gross movements so you can begin instruction on the fine movements and sensations sooner ... in class with your instructor.

For health, I'd learn yoga with a real instructor, rather than taijiquan from videos. Of course, I say that now, at my advanced age and level of unsurpassed wisdom. :D Who knows what I would have said when I was young?

QFT


---Also I should mention

I should have put this in my original post but for some reason I didn't... I must be getting old.. it is usually my standard answer
At best learning from a video is a supplement to learning with a real Sifu
 
OP
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chenlihong

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Dan Cosgrove and woshuguy, thanks for your suggestions. A bit relieved now to learn that there is some, however fragile, hope of learning from videos and books too.


@Xue sheng
Thanks for recommendations, mate. I have received a few videos and few more I have ordered. I have yang jwing ming's 'Traditional yang taiji" video, Chen xiaowang's "Chen style taijiquan laojia (old frame)" DVDs , Yang Zheng Duo's 'yang form' DVDs and Liu jing ru's instructional videos about xingyiquan. A few more DVDs are on their way. NOW, I am again confused. Any suggestions? I am attracted towards Chen taiji merely because it has more obvious manifestation of fajin. But in the end, I'll go for the art of which I have better resources, like videos and books.

 
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chenlihong

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Hmm ... I wonder: to what depth can one learn taijiquan from a video? If the answer is "not very deep", then why learn at all?

To my mind, if you can't get the internal benefits of taijiquan, you're just doing a nice slow dance, and if that's what you want, then fine. However, the real benefits of taijiquan are in how you feel inside, and the difference between "right" feeling and "wrong" feeling can't be seen on a video. It's a game of millimetres.

In my opinion, the best use of taijiquan videos is to accelerate the learning of the gross movements so you can begin instruction on the fine movements and sensations sooner ... in class with your instructor.

For health, I'd learn yoga with a real instructor, rather than taijiquan from videos. Of course, I say that now, at my advanced age and level of unsurpassed wisdom. :D Who knows what I would have said when I was young?


well, certainly not for health. I have several Yoga gurus here in India, and they are all good. As for learning from videos, yes, I am aware that my chances are little, and it is heartbreaking. But I still want to gather the best sources available and try to learn from them. Afterall, they sell those DVDs and it must be of some help. :)
I am trying to read several books on taijiquan by jwing ming, to understand the whole concept of chi.
 

Xue Sheng

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I didn't know Liu Jingru did Xingyiquan, I thought he was just Bagua.

Xingyiquan is decidedly different from Taijiquan and unless you have access to someone that can adjust your santi posture and you are also willing to work towards standing in santi for at least 20 minutes per side (40 minutes) per day you are not training Xingyiquan or Santi Shi
 

Flying Crane

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OK, since ya asked, I'll post portions of a reply that I posted in another, related thread recently:

I tend to come down hard on people who come here and start posting about how they want to learn something from video. I think over the years my position has strengthened in this regard, and I've become something of an Immoveable Object. It's because I feel that strongly about it. As I mentioned in a prior post, even tho I knew video instruction was not a good idea I also experimented with it to some extent. I also saw firsthand how futile it really is. I've been there, I've done that, I know how bad of an idea it is. I'm speaking from experience. I believe video as a primary source of instruction is one of the worst things to pop up in the martial arts industry, and I will not make exceptions to my position.

So when someone comes on here and says, "hey everyone, I wanna play with a sword and I'm gonna try and learn something from video, and not only that but I'm gonna try and learn sword this way from half a dozen different systems, none of which do I have a background in nor do I want to have a background in, whaddaya all think of that?" Well, I'm gonna tell him what I think of it, it's a stupid idea and he is wasting his time and money and he should not do it. Period.

We live in a society that is largely defined around a sense of entitlement. People believe that no matter what I want, I have a right to get it. They do not want to consider the fact that, maybe what they want is not available to them, for very legitimate reasons like there is nobody in their area who can teach them what they want to learn. People always look for a way around that uncomfortable and inconvenient little detail. And when it comes to martial arts, they start looking at video as an option.

But video is simply not a replacement for a good instructor. Not even a little bit. People justify it by claiming that, "well, I know it's best to have an instructor, but at least this is better than nothing". I've got news for everyone who makes that claim: no, it is not. It is not "better than nothing". It is actually worse than nothing. The transmission of a physical skill attached to a body of knowledge, thru the medium of video, leads to a severe breakdown in the final results. It is disastrous, and like I mentioned in a prior post, the individual usually doesn't even realize how bad it is. Not only is he usually ignorant of this fact, but many people lie to themselves once again and even convince themselves that they are actually pretty good.

There is one way to work around the absence of an instructor: move to someplace where an instructor is available. I did it in 1994 when I moved from Wisconsin to San Francisco. I knew this was a mecca for martial arts in the US, and there were some specific things here that I wanted to pursue. So I moved here and set up my life.

I understand that this is not an option for many people. I happened to be in a stage of my life where it was possible for me to do that. Not everyone is in that stage and they cannot make the move. I hate to be a hardass, but all I can say to that is: tough. We don't always get what we want.

This country was thrown into a financial crisis because too many people with an entitlement mentality bought on credit that they could never repay. Predatory lenders took advantage of peoples' desperation to own things that they could not afford, and they extended dangerous amounts of credit and the house of cards finally collapsed. Look what that did to us as a nation.

Trying to learn from a video is like buying on credit that you have no hope of paying back. And instructors who market videos with the intention of selling them to anybody willing to part with a buck, under the illusion that they can actually learn from the video, are like the predatory lenders. They lack scruples, they would sell their own mother for a chance to make a profit, they ignore the long-term damage that they are doing, and I find it unacceptable.

I have no objection to using video as a tool, alongside quality instruction under a good teacher within a solid, on-going teacher-student relationship. If the video is used simply as a reference for the student to use as he learns properly from the instructor, then I do not object to it. Or, video can be used as a way of seeing what an art looks like and whether one might be interested in pursuing instruction.

But I will never endorse, and will always remain absolutely hostile to the idea of video as the primary and only source of instruction. Anybody who tells you that this is a viable option is either lying to you, or was lied to and believed the lies, or is simply ignorant and his judgement on the matter cannot be trusted.
 

jks9199

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There are a very rare few who can successfully learn with video or books as their primary means of instruction. These are the same rare few that would develop an effective martial art given some time and motivation, along with ample opportunities for trial and error.

Most of us need an actual teacher who can stand in front of us and say "lean more left" or "tighten your forearm" or whatever. Even for something as apparently simple as boxing -- there're just too many small details and pieces that it really helps to have someone able to show you and help you adjust.
 

Flying Crane

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There are a very rare few who can successfully learn with video or books as their primary means of instruction. These are the same rare few that would develop an effective martial art given some time and motivation, along with ample opportunities for trial and error.

Most of us need an actual teacher who can stand in front of us and say "lean more left" or "tighten your forearm" or whatever. Even for something as apparently simple as boxing -- there're just too many small details and pieces that it really helps to have someone able to show you and help you adjust.

More emphasis is needed: VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY rare few who could do this.

And an art like taiji contains more subtleties than many others, and is even more difficult to "get it", even with a good instructor.

Without an instructor? No way in hell. You might be able to mimick the form and turn it into a dance, but I can promise you it will not be taiji.
 

ggg214

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last weekend, i have visited my xin yi teacher. he give me some clues related to this thread.
he said it was better to train with teacher, not only because of receiving instructions in time, but also because it's easy to gain the feeling of right, especially qi gong training with teacher.
there is a good example: my teacher had promised one of my shi xiong that if shi xiong could stay training with him for 2-3 hrs every day, 2 years later, shi xiong could be a good xin yi fighter. my shi xiong quit his job and followed. 2 years later, his fighting skills is one in best, much better than those who training with shifu longer than him.
all in all, no teacher no CMA. if no taiji teacher, other style teacher is ok. teacher is a must.
 

mograph

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Good posts, all.

So Deepak, you don't want to learn this for health? Then for self-defence, I suppose? Without a teacher? Or do you just want to imitate Tai Chi people?

I say that evenly, with no malice, because without a sifu to answer your questions, correct your form in ways you cannot easily see and exert small forces upon your body to give you a physical sensation, that's what you'd be doing: imitating something you saw on a video. But this is not unfamiliar to us. There are many who say they know Tai Chi, but all they know is how to imitate someone's external form.

I too, have bought a number of Tai Chi books and videos, and they only became useful when they could be compared with the instructions of my teachers and through push hands practice with fellow students in class. I've now found that if I can't apply it in class, I don't buy a book about it.

I think that some of us are irritated by this thread because we see it as an insult to Tai Chi. If it can be learned through videos and books alone, then it's not a very deep and internal art, but a shallow dance. If someone can "learn" Tai Chi (or any martial art) by imitating someone they saw on a video, then it's not much of an art. My friends who do Scottish Country Dancing look down on Tai Chi as something that's easy and not challenging. I think this is the general public's opinion of Tai Chi, and I suspect that Deepak (the OP) believes this at some level, otherwise he would not believe that it could be learned through videos and books alone.

My old Tai Chi teacher became the head of his club, partly due to his Sifu's passing. He then tried advancing his knowledge through old Chinese books and more recent videos, but finally realized that even at his advanced age of 65, he needs to learn from a living Master. So he found one, and is now studying with him.

Deepak, I can only hope that you read and see enough to ignite a desire inside yourself to travel far enough to find a sifu to make all you have read and seen become real.
 

wushuguy

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From the books and videos, learn what you can but keep in mind always that without experience and a good teacher, what you learn from the books and videos can be considered for entertainment purposes only. when you find a qualified teacher, right environment to practice and understand the knowledge, then you can begin to change it to skill.

It's an obvious difference when you see the movements of one who learned from a book or video and one who had a real instructor. The movements of one who learns from pictures is just odd and unlively... at first they might not notice, but hopefully after a while they'll understand a bit, and when a school opens near them, they will join.

Books and videos are great to spread the arts, we shouldn't be insulted from people trying to learn from them, but if encourage people to learn from them, it helps spread word of the art and also helps out instructors who move to that area.
 

Xue Sheng

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Something to take into consideration when learning form a video, particularly some of the old CMA guys that have videos out there.

They do not always show the forms 100% correctly. The reason for this is so when some guy shows up saying I learned style A from Sifu 42, Sifu 42 can look at this guy and say...ahhhh you learned form my video.

A lot of these guys are out to make a buck these days and it is next to impossible for them to keep track of absolutely everyone they teach at a seminar so they tweak the vid a bit.

I have seen it in a Xingyi DVD from a guy that allegedly knows Xingyiquan and after a discussion on another, now (sadly) defunct board, it was pretty much said that his hand position (and that is all it was) is different in the vid than he would teach face to face so he can tell who learned from video and who learned from him.
 

Devlin76

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Hi Deepak,

I would agree with most everything that has already been said. Training wtih videos and books alone is very difficult. You have to be extremely motivated and objective about your own improvement. I would suggest you pick the style you most want to learn, sounds like Chen Taijiquan, and pull together several resources for it. Every instructor is going to be a little different, so be careful with mixing too many points of view. And don't get fixated on just learning the long form. Chen Xiao Wang has a set of ChanSiGong DVDs that is supposed to be really good.
http://www.plumpub.com/sales/dvd/dvdcoll_TCchenxiaowang.htm
You might want to think about trying to work through a "short" form instead of tackling the traditional long forms, since it might be easier to evaluate your progress. Ren Guang-Yi has a DVD and book out on the Chen 38 form created by his teacher Chen Xiao Wang.
http://www.amazon.com/Chen-Style-Taijiquan-Form-2-disc/dp/B001SAOTW6/

Good luck!
 

jjwalters

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First let me say "hello" as I'm a new, but "old' guy and I wish to take another tack at this video question.

I first studied Karate while stationed on Okinawa just prior to Vietnam ...........the teacher at that time was Kanei Uechi and his school was in Futenma.

Being off island much of the time I missed a lot of good training, but in six months I learned enough to keep it going for these fourty some years.

Sanchin is something you never forget, but the kicking, punching, blocking soon takes on a form of your own.

I still work out using the same fundamentals I learned from Kanei, but I doubt what I do would resemble his method perfectly as I have morphed his methods into my own. . . . . Although I never wanted a belt or any recognition of any kind karate has served me fine over the years.

Now I am interested in qigong and particularly activating my chi field to a higher degree for my own mental and physical healing.

I am learning the wuji qigong exercises from a video and seem to be doing quite well with it.......BUT I also know that the physical aspect, no matter how I learn it, is not my target.....the physical stuff (although important) is only helping my ability to activate chi through the addition of breathing and meditation. (The latter being the greater)

Perhaps I don't have a teacher, but IMO the video is enough to get me started and the end result will be up to my ability to concentrate and manipulate my chi far more than the teaching venue.

Anyways, I think some of you guys are too down on video study as a lot of this stuff regardless of how you learn it is up to the student.
 

ben

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Something to take into consideration when learning form a video, particularly some of the old CMA guys that have videos out there.

They do not always show the forms 100% correctly. The reason for this is so when some guy shows up saying I learned style A from Sifu 42, Sifu 42 can look at this guy and say...ahhhh you learned form my video.

Unfortunately this kind of thing is not unique to video instruction.
 

ben

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Videos can be excellent tools.

While I think some of the folks here are being too harsh on video instruction they do make some good points.

  • You will still need training partners to practice with regularly.
  • You will still need to put yourself in front of a skilled teacher on a regular basis.
  • You should Research, cross-reference and compare.
  • and you will need to be self motivated.

If you are going to use videos there are a few things to keep in mind.

Teaching something on film is a lot different then teaching live. You may need to go through several videos before you find an instructor that can communicate well on film.

Also find out how accessible the instructor is. If all you want to learn is a form and some simple chi kung then this may not be necessary. However if you want to learn anything deeper or more complex (like tai chi) then you will probably have questions. Find out if you can call the instructor or send them an email when you have questions.

The important thing to remember is that a video is a tool. A good one can be very useful when used properly but it won't do the work for you.
 
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