Can one learn from instructional videos?

Flying Crane

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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.

a form and "simple" qigong? It doesn't exist. It holds a place in modern mythology right there along with the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, Leprechauns, and Santa Claus.

There is no form, nor qigong so simple that you can learn it properly and well from video alone. Even the "simplest" form has far too many nuances and important details to trust to video instruction.
 

Flying Crane

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Train taiji without a Sifu and you will likely be doing bad taiji. Train qigong without a Sifu and you can cause yourself serious damage


yeah, ya know, I just really really don't get it when people think they can just pick something like this up from watching a video. I mean, this stuff is actually quite subtle and sophisticated if it's being done correctly. Gungfu/wushu isn't just "waive your arms and kick any old way, and you've got it!" kind of stuff. There are very specific ways of punching, kicking, stances, moving, generation of power, etc. All kinds of things that you cannot pick up and understand thru watching a video. Even the most simple-looking stuff. Learning a form from a video makes an absolute mockery of the form. Welcome to the clown show.
 

grydth

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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



[/FONT]

Like many here, I do not believe it is possible to learn only from a video/DVD. These, like books, can be useful in providing additional information and insight, but almost always this is only possible after a good grounding from a teacher in person. Seriously, you can do yourself more harm than good!

You may think you are doing the form as shown by the DVD, but in reality you may be making errors which are serious.... unlike a live teacher, the DVD cannot correct you and explain why you must change. You cannot ask the DVD questions if something is unclear.

Being from North America, I have no idea what is available in India, but perhaps you should make further efforts to find a qualified teacher within reasonable distance... perhaps, like here in the USA, you have to look harder and ask around to find the good ones.

In the meantime, you can watch the DVDs you have to see what seems interesting. Good luck, and I hope to hear you have found somebody to give you the personal instruction you need. Please keep us updated.
 

Touch Of Death

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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.
If the video teaches basic drills. I don't see how it can't help.
sean
 

ben

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a form and "simple" qigong? It doesn't exist. It holds a place in modern mythology right there along with the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, Leprechauns, and Santa Claus.

There is no form, nor qigong so simple that you can learn it properly and well from video alone. Even the "simplest" form has far too many nuances and important details to trust to video instruction.

There are plenty of simple qigong exercises that can be easily and safely learned by video.

Learning forms by video is not hard either. If learning the physical movement was the difficult part of Tai Chi every halfway decent dancer and their clumsy cousin would be a tai chi master.

The internal stuff is what makes tai chi what it is. Not the movement.

Even complex and complicated things can be learned by video.

Learning by video is a common practice among medical professionals. Surgeons learn new surgical procedures by video. Dentists learn new dental techniques by video. They may learn a lot in medical school that the rest of us don't know, but they don't get some magical "video learning ability" that the rest of us don't have.

Tai Chi doesn't have some magical quality that prevents it from being taught on film.

Yes you do need someone to practice with, and yes you should work with someone who is more skilled than you on a semi regular basis, but as long as you are willing to do the work you can learn by video.

The difficulty with video instruction is not the "video" part. The difficulty is in finding quality instruction. (but that's true with live training as well.)
 

blindsage

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There are plenty of simple qigong exercises that can be easily and safely learned by video.

Learning forms by video is not hard either. If learning the physical movement was the difficult part of Tai Chi every halfway decent dancer and their clumsy cousin would be a tai chi master.

The internal stuff is what makes tai chi what it is. Not the movement.

Even complex and complicated things can be learned by video.

Learning by video is a common practice among medical professionals. Surgeons learn new surgical procedures by video. Dentists learn new dental techniques by video. They may learn a lot in medical school that the rest of us don't know, but they don't get some magical "video learning ability" that the rest of us don't have.

Tai Chi doesn't have some magical quality that prevents it from being taught on film.

Yes you do need someone to practice with, and yes you should work with someone who is more skilled than you on a semi regular basis, but as long as you are willing to do the work you can learn by video.

The difficulty with video instruction is not the "video" part. The difficulty is in finding quality instruction. (but that's true with live training as well.)
How many surgeons have you met that have learned how to perform ALL of their surgical techniques by video? How many dentists? It's not about 'magical video learning ability', it's about the fact that people want to learn strictly from video from scratch, and no it is not possible.

The subtleties of the physical movements from sinking the shoulders and elbows to not double weighting are things that are very hard to understand from just watching a video, no matter how many times it's mentioned in the video. And coming from a dance background your analogy is profoundly flawed. Dancers learn their physical methods of movement from diligent time spent in person with instructors. Hell even b-boying (break dancing) is done this way. You can tell who learned from an older dancer by whether their Uprock is worth a damn or if they just learned a bunch of acrobatic power moves at home. Anybody can work out and learned to jump high, nobody is learning a proper ballet jette from watching the Bolshoi on tv.

Can you learn an approximation of the choreography of a form from video, sure, but it's not the same, and since there are specific purpose and uses of the movements, not doing them correctly makes them irrelevant.

Now, if you already have in person training and you are using a video as a supplement to that training, no one here has a problem with that and has clearly said so in the past. But that is not what this thread is about. It's about learning a form basically from scratch. Going through the choreography without understanding the actual movement and body principles is really not doing the form anymore than memorizing the choreography of the Nutcracker without the actual physical skills to do pointe or jette's or even basic ballet positions is actually performing the piece.
 

Bill Mattocks

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I saw a DVD on how to ride a bicycle. Seemed to make sense. I was so upset when I tried to ride a real bicycle and kept falling over! I don't get it; I was pedaling and steering just like the video showed me to!
 

Xue Sheng

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I saw a DVD on how to ride a bicycle. Seemed to make sense. I was so upset when I tried to ride a real bicycle and kept falling over! I don't get it; I was pedaling and steering just like the video showed me to!

Well Bill, I will tell you where you went wrong right after I finish my DVD lessons on how to safely defuse a bomb.... lets see first you get a rocket launcher and.....

:redeme:
 

Brian R. VanCise

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Hey Xue and Bill,

I am learning how to fly airplanes via dvd. :highfive: Next week I take my dvd test and will be certified to fly. So let's rent a plane fly to a location that has bombs that Xue can defuse and a bike that bill can learn to ride. ;)
Next month I am learning how to be a world champion surfer via dvd. They say I do not even have to be near the water it is possible to learn right in your living room. (sorry about all the sarcasm folks) So I will fly us to Hawaii to surf and maybe enter a competition! :)

Seriously folks you really do yourself a disservice trying to learn via dvd. Find a real instructor and learn the basics and progress and then maybe you can use dvd's as successful reference tools. I have seen to many people damaged because they tried the online training or dvd route. (damaged in that they had to work really hard to unlearn the bad habits that they ingrained)
 

Brian R. VanCise

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Now I am all for books, dvd's any type of video used as reference points for experienced martial practitioners. Just not solely learning via dvd or online training. In the end we all need someone to point out our mistakes and make corrections for us. It really does not matter who you are you need that feedback from a live in the moment instructor. Good luck!
 

jks9199

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There are plenty of simple qigong exercises that can be easily and safely learned by video.

Learning forms by video is not hard either. If learning the physical movement was the difficult part of Tai Chi every halfway decent dancer and their clumsy cousin would be a tai chi master.

The internal stuff is what makes tai chi what it is. Not the movement.

Even complex and complicated things can be learned by video.

Learning by video is a common practice among medical professionals. Surgeons learn new surgical procedures by video. Dentists learn new dental techniques by video. They may learn a lot in medical school that the rest of us don't know, but they don't get some magical "video learning ability" that the rest of us don't have.

Tai Chi doesn't have some magical quality that prevents it from being taught on film.

Yes you do need someone to practice with, and yes you should work with someone who is more skilled than you on a semi regular basis, but as long as you are willing to do the work you can learn by video.

The difficulty with video instruction is not the "video" part. The difficulty is in finding quality instruction. (but that's true with live training as well.)
You can learn lots of things by video. I've learned woodworking techniques, language, and more via video. I've learned lots by watching videos of traffic stops and other police encounters. And I can learn a drill or even some kata by video -- but there's a catch to that.

I probably can't learn a completely new system that way, any more than I can watch a teaching video of a surgery and be able to perform it. For me to learn, I need a basic grounding; I need to be shown the tricks and little weight shifts or subtle alignments that only a teacher can tell you and correct in person. That's the distinction I'm drawing; I'm saying a person with limited knowledge and exposure in the past can't learn from video, any more than reading the densho or scrolls of a very traditional martial art will teach you the art without the training and principles learned through years of study.
 

East Winds

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It never ceases to amaze me when I am teaching a beginners class, how some peoples perception of what I am demonstrating bears so little relation to what I am actually doing!!!!! Exactly the same problem with DVD's and Videos!!!!! Trying to learn from them is a waste of time and money.

Very best wishes
 

ben

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Going through the choreography without understanding the actual movement and body principles is really not doing the form
I'd agree with you on this point if it read: Going through the form without understanding the actual body mechanics and internal principles is not really doing Tai Chi.

Many people spend years going to a tai chi class and learning lots of pretty forms (or choreography if you prefer) without ever understanding basic structural body mechanics much less Tai Chi.

Of course live training from a good instructor is going to be better and faster than good video training, but live training from a bad instructor is NOT better than good video instruction.

Every criticism of video instruction that I've seen so far has little or nothing to do with the video part and many could easily apply to live instruction as well.

For example:

Tai Chi forms are to intricate/ complex
Learning complex task is by video is commonplace in many different professions including the medical field where someones health often depends upon the quality of training.

students must be extremely dedicated
If you won't do the work you wont get anywhere no matter how you got your training.

sometimes videos intentionally contain incorrect instruction
this has nothing to do with the video and every thing to do with the instruction, and it's been happening since long before video was invented

you can't ask questions[\quote]
That depends on the teacher. Find a teacher who will answer questions about their videos.
Many people who teach live often hide their answers in mysticism or philosophy so finding a teacher who will answer questions is a problem that any Tai Chi may face.

students will get it wrong and think they have it right / no one is there to correct you
This is a common problem with many videos but its a problem with the instruction. Any good video will contain tests, exercises and drills that can be done by yourself or with an untrained partner that will allow someone to see and feel whether they are performing a skill or movement correctly.

This problem exists with live instruction as well. There are plenty of folks out there who have trained in bad habits because their teacher didn't know any better or just didn't bother to correct them.

You can learn from video but only if you already have a lot of previous experience
This is the fault of the instructor for calling something a beginners dvd and then not breaking down the material in a way that beginners can understand.

Internal stuff has to be felt. It can't be seen so it can't be taught on video
This may be the case with a few very high level internal skills, but in most cases Good instruction and tests & exercises like what I described above will overcome this obstacle

All of the criticisms above are things a prospective Tai Chi student should watch out for but they are true about live training just as often as they are about video training.

Finding good instruction is not about the format (private lesson, small class, seminar, video or whatever) It's about finding a good teacher no matter what format they choose to teach in.

Being able to communicate well is an essential skill for anyone who is teaching. Any good teacher is continually learning, improving, refining and honing this skill.

Unfortunately, in the martial arts pretending to teach is so commonplace that many people can't tell the difference. In fact many folks think they're teaching when they are actually pretending to teach because that's the way their teacher pretended to teach them.

Ultimately any failure or breakdown in communication is the responsibility of the one doing the communicating. Blaming the setting, the medium, the format or the student is only an excuse.

Any good teacher will admit this because they are students themselves and they know that recognizing and understanding their mistakes is the only way to improve.
 

Flying Crane

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Can you learn an approximation of the choreography of a form from video, sure, but it's not the same, and since there are specific purpose and uses of the movements, not doing them correctly makes them irrelevant.

Preach, Brother Sage!!
 

Xue Sheng

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I'd agree with you on this point if it read: Going through the form without understanding the actual body mechanics and internal principles is not really doing Tai Chi.

Many people spend years going to a tai chi class and learning lots of pretty forms (or choreography if you prefer) without ever understanding basic structural body mechanics much less Tai Chi.

Of course live training from a good instructor is going to be better and faster than good video training, but live training from a bad instructor is NOT better than good video instruction.

Every criticism of video instruction that I've seen so far has little or nothing to do with the video part and many could easily apply to live instruction as well.

For example:

Learning complex task is by video is commonplace in many different professions including the medical field where someones health often depends upon the quality of training.

If you won't do the work you wont get anywhere no matter how you got your training.

this has nothing to do with the video and every thing to do with the instruction, and it's been happening since long before video was invented


That depends on the teacher. Find a teacher who will answer questions about their videos.
Many people who teach live often hide their answers in mysticism or philosophy so finding a teacher who will answer questions is a problem that any Tai Chi may face.

This is a common problem with many videos but its a problem with the instruction. Any good video will contain tests, exercises and drills that can be done by yourself or with an untrained partner that will allow someone to see and feel whether they are performing a skill or movement correctly.

This problem exists with live instruction as well. There are plenty of folks out there who have trained in bad habits because their teacher didn't know any better or just didn't bother to correct them.

This is the fault of the instructor for calling something a beginners dvd and then not breaking down the material in a way that beginners can understand.

This may be the case with a few very high level internal skills, but in most cases Good instruction and tests & exercises like what I described above will overcome this obstacle

All of the criticisms above are things a prospective Tai Chi student should watch out for but they are true about live training just as often as they are about video training.

Finding good instruction is not about the format (private lesson, small class, seminar, video or whatever) It's about finding a good teacher no matter what format they choose to teach in.

Being able to communicate well is an essential skill for anyone who is teaching. Any good teacher is continually learning, improving, refining and honing this skill.

Unfortunately, in the martial arts pretending to teach is so commonplace that many people can't tell the difference. In fact many folks think they're teaching when they are actually pretending to teach because that's the way their teacher pretended to teach them.

Ultimately any failure or breakdown in communication is the responsibility of the one doing the communicating. Blaming the setting, the medium, the format or the student is only an excuse.

Any good teacher will admit this because they are students themselves and they know that recognizing and understanding their mistakes is the only way to improve.

Basically you need a good instructor and in taiji that is hard to find these days. And virtually ALL video training without some background with a good instructor can lead to bad posture and bad understanding as will training with a bad instructor, but train with a good instructor and you will get good training as well as understanding. Train from DVD from a good instructor you may or may not get good training and you will get very little, if any true understanding. One of the best combinations I have seen, as far as DVD training goes, is for 24 form and that comes from Liang Shouyu and it is in combination with his book on the topic and I still would not recommend it as someone’s main source of training.

Now based on my personal experience.

Chen Zhenglei is a good instructor and he has good videos as well. However try and learn Chan Su Jin from only his video and you will miss the point. Go to class with him and have him train you and it becomes much more clear and then the video becomes a good training tool.

Note to Mysticism; First it is not always mysticism it can be inpatients on the part of the student, the “I ask the question or asked to be taught a certain thing therefore I have the right to an answer or to be taught, in fact I demand it” (the whole entitlement thing). My taiji Sifu (Yang style) is a good instructor and highly skilled but he will not answer all questions asked from all people nor will he show you a form or application just because you ask. The reason for this is, and this is a VERY hard pill to swallow for most of us in the West, he knows better than the student as to what they can understand and what they are ready to learn. It is not mysticism; it is over 50 years of experience with a very good training background.

 

dancingalone

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My taiji Sifu (Yang style) is a good instructor and highly skilled but he will not answer all questions asked from all people nor will he show you a form or application just because you ask. The reason for this is, and this is a VERY hard pill to swallow for most of us in the West, he knows better than the student as to what they can understand and what they are ready to learn. It is not mysticism; it is over 50 years of experience with a very good training background.

It might also be a cultural phenomenon. My Okinawan karate sensei had much the same attitude. Now that I teach myself, I tend to be more open. I will cheerfully demo a form or show an application if class time permits with the obvious verbal reminder that not everyone present will be ready or able to duplicate what I show. I think it does no harm. It inspires students to know what is capable if they stick at training long and hard enough.
 

blindsage

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I'd agree with you on this point if it read: Going through the form without understanding the actual body mechanics and internal principles is not really doing Tai Chi.
But then you go on to explain how you disagree. You cannot properly learn the actual body mechanics from video alone.

Many people spend years going to a tai chi class and learning lots of pretty forms (or choreography if you prefer) without ever understanding basic structural body mechanics much less Tai Chi.

Of course live training from a good instructor is going to be better and faster than good video training, but live training from a bad instructor is NOT better than good video instruction.
At no point did anyone claim bad live training was beneficial in any way, but this comment changes the discussion. We are not talking about bad live vs. good video, we are talking the inherent value of video learning.

Every criticism of video instruction that I've seen so far has little or nothing to do with the video part and many could easily apply to live instruction as well.
They could, but again this twists the discussion out of the realm it has previously been in, seemingly in order to prove your point. We aren't talking about whether video compares to bad live training or not. What is being said is that video training doesn't compare to proper live training under any circumstances.

Learning complex task is by video is commonplace in many different professions including the medical field where someones health often depends upon the quality of training.
You said this before and then completely ignored the respones and criticism of the argument. Restating it doesn't make it any more valid.

If you won't do the work you wont get anywhere no matter how you got your training.

this has nothing to do with the video and every thing to do with the instruction, and it's been happening since long before video was invented
But, again, you are assuming no one else has thought at all in depth about this. Yes, it has everything to do with instruction and video, and that you cannot get good, proper instruction through video alone.

you can't ask questions[\quote]
That depends on the teacher. Find a teacher who will answer questions about their videos.
Many people who teach live often hide their answers in mysticism or philosophy so finding a teacher who will answer questions is a problem that any Tai Chi may face.
You generally can't ask question when you're using video. You may, if lucky, find someone you can distance communicate with, but that still isn't remotely the same as live instruction. Instructors hiding answers in mysticism is a whole other issue unrelated to what we are discussing.

This is a common problem with many videos but its a problem with the instruction. Any good video will contain tests, exercises and drills that can be done by yourself or with an untrained partner that will allow someone to see and feel whether they are performing a skill or movement correctly.
How? How do you check, if you have no frame of reference? Please explain to me what tests you can use through video instruction alone to teach proper leading skills or rooting?

This problem exists with live instruction as well. There are plenty of folks out there who have trained in bad habits because their teacher didn't know any better or just didn't bother to correct them.
Of course it can exist in live instruction as well, no one said it didn't. Again, it's irrellevant to the point.

This is the fault of the instructor for calling something a beginners dvd and then not breaking down the material in a way that beginners can understand.
No, it's the fault of those who assume those skills can be passed in any meaningfull way by video alone.

This may be the case with a few very high level internal skills, but in most cases Good instruction and tests & exercises like what I described above will overcome this obstacle
Again, how? How does someone understand proper sinking or moving from the dantien without feeling it in person from someone who can actually do it? These are things you generally can't see unless already experienced in them.

All of the criticisms above are things a prospective Tai Chi student should watch out for but they are true about live training just as often as they are about video training.
No, they are just as often about poor live training as they are about any video training.

Finding good instruction is not about the format (private lesson, small class, seminar, video or whatever) It's about finding a good teacher no matter what format they choose to teach in.
Good training is always about finding a good teacher, but format does matter, period.

Being able to communicate well is an essential skill for anyone who is teaching. Any good teacher is continually learning, improving, refining and honing this skill.
Of course, that doesn't mean they overcome the limits of the format.

Unfortunately, in the martial arts pretending to teach is so commonplace that many people can't tell the difference. In fact many folks think they're teaching when they are actually pretending to teach because that's the way their teacher pretended to teach them.
Hopefully, this isn't a thinly veiled dig at the rest of us because we don't agree with you.

Ultimately any failure or breakdown in communication is the responsibility of the one doing the communicating. Blaming the setting, the medium, the format or the student is only an excuse.

Any good teacher will admit this because they are students themselves and they know that recognizing and understanding their mistakes is the only way to improve.
The assumptions and condescension in these two paragraphs are pretty high. You're entire argument is based on an assumption that video instruction can be as good as live instruction, with examples to match. Unfortunately the logic of that assumption and the examples you used has been addressed in multiple other post and you have chosen to ignore that part of this thread in order to further the argument of your assumption. The experience and logic of a number of very experienced martial artists disputes your assertion, maybe that should be taken into account and not just brushed off as a condescending assumption of 'pretending to teach'.
 

Flying Crane

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How? How do you check, if you have no frame of reference? Please explain to me what tests you can use through video instruction alone to teach proper leading skills or rooting?

Again, how? How does someone understand proper sinking or moving from the dantien without feeling it in person from someone who can actually do it? These are things you generally can't see unless already experienced in them.

Do I say it? Do I? Do I...?

OK, I'll say it:

I'm sorry Blindsage, but to get the answers you seek, you will just need to buy all the videos that "Ben" is hawking. Just follow his webpage link...

There, I said it. Come hell or high water.
 
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