In 2007, I was diagnosed with a complete ACL tear. The first thing I did after hearing the diagnosis was turn to the Internet. I spent hours searching and reading about ACL surgery, recovery times, physical therapy protocols, graft choices, knee injury forums and recovery blogs. If I really wanted to (I didn't) I could have watched ACL surgeries. The information was available and easily accessible...just a click of the mouse.
The same is true for martial arts. Imagine for a moment that you have no martial arts experience. You search and a list of sites pop up for your review. I searched Google and the highest listed video was on the Human Stun Gun a martial arts instructor demonstrating a no touch knockout. The instructor was taught by Grandmaster George Dillman. A brief aside: As a young teen my husband trained with George Dillman in the early 1980's. My husband's instructor was George Dillman Jr. (the son). There was a split between the father and son and my husband continued training with the son. George Dillman Jr. introduced my husband to traditional martial arts and recommended an instructor (we are still training with this instructor). My husband was exposed to the no touch knockout training during his early training. My husband describes limited uses and success rate. The reporter in the linked video is skeptical and discovers that the "Human Stun Gun's" students react differently than students from a local BJJ school or her staff. The video ends with a shameless promotion...come train for a week and see for yourself.
I continued my Internet search and found that I could get an online black belt. The classes are available 24/7 and were created to meet the needs of those people who would not have the opportunity to train. I could achieve the rank of black belt and never step foot in a dojo.
With all the information available on the Internet, how would someone with no experience navigate their way through? Would they be able to determine the difference between good and bad training practices? Will videos and online training replace dojo and training halls? How is the Internet changing the teacher/student relationship?
Personally, the Internet and martial arts has been a positive experience for me. I have been inspired, motivated, impressed and surprised. I have learned by reading blogs, participating in forums and sharing information. The community of martial artist have been welcoming and supportive.
However, I am concerned that new and future students of martial arts will lose out in the digital age. What do you think the effect of the Internet is on martial arts? How about in ten years?