Sunday, January 16, 2011

Can You Learn Karate from a Video?

One of my 2011 karate goals is to learn a specific kobudo kata. I have attended a few seminar sessions on this kata in the past but it never stuck in my brain. Small portions of the kata are familiar but for the most part I am learning the pattern from square one.

I have never tried to learn a kata from a video. There are many people who excel at learning in this manner. I know several people who have tried using a TV and a large mirror to reverse the directions to ensure they are moving the correct way. I have witnessed students (from other styles), who learned Okinawa Kobudo from the videotape series, compete in tournaments. In addition to moving in the wrong direction, the competitor added a roll fall and did not properly identify the kata. (Not a good idea when the creator of the video (my instructor) was center judge in the division.)

Here are some of the benefits from learning kata from a video.

1. Flexibility - You can learn at your own pace.
2. Time - You can watch the video whenever you want.
3. Focus - You can devote time to a specific kata or technique.

Here are a few of the disadvantages.

1. No instructor to ask questions.
2. No personal correction by an instructor.
3. Depending on how the video is shot...there may be problems following directional changes.
4. Not enough information due to time limits of the video.
5. You have to rewind...a lot.

Have you ever learned kata from a video? What advantages/disadvantages did you encounter? Would you recommend this type of learning?

So how am I doing with my project...I have learned about 1/4 of the pattern from the video. My plan is to learn a portion of the pattern and practice before I move on to the next section.


Narda said...

I have tried learning kata from video, and basically decided that for me it was a waste of time. (All of your pro's and con's apply.)

If one has a teacher, best to learn it from them because even videos within a style may deviate from what one is taught in the dojo. As a reference, once learned, video is okay ('was that two blocks or three'). I generally appreciate videos of seniors basically as archival resources...I like to watch HOW they moved...not exactly the technique.

Rick said...

Study videos of yourself and compare against what you've learned from. A video of one's own performance is enlightening anyway.

Ask the teacher who made the video if he'd review a vid of your performance, to get some feedback.

B said...

On my black belt run I used two DVDs by Sang H. Kim. One for the low belt tae kwon do forms and one for the black belt form. Not a substitute for instruction but a supplement!

Having those DVDs on hand made it much easier to practice at home or practice if I had to miss class.

Related: My old kung fu sifu used YMAA Chin Na videos to learn chin na. He had to travel to area seminars for refinement. However, after 10 years he was certified as an instructor. It took twice as long and took travel to humans at seminars, but it can be done.

I much prefer learning from humans and using DVDs as a training supplement.

Denman said...

Learning kobudo kata, or any kata from video, is less than ideal. Go on youtube and search for Chatanyara no sai or shushi no kon, and see how many variations among those videos there are. Given those variations, which is the "correct" one?

I suggest the answer depends on many things, including the style, the practitioner, the practitioner's sensei and what he taught the practitioner, and what the practitioner changed in the kata to quickly identify who learned that kata from video.

That said, when you have no choice but to learn from video, you make do with what you have, do your best and go from there.

sandman said...

When I decided to get back into karate after a 15 year (or so) break, I used videos to refresh my memory on some of the old katas I'd learned so I could practice on my own until I found a new dojo (I'd moved far away from where I trained originally). That was helpful for just getting back in the groove, but in the end my new dojo didn't have ANY of those old katas...

If you have a lot of katas in your syllabus and find that some of them get rusty because you can't practice them often enough, then I think videos can be a helpful memory jogger. But for learning new katas I'd prefer to get it from an instructor so you can get the bunkai and explanations along with the movements.

Michele said...

Thank you for your comments!

I feel that karate videos are great reference points. My instructor made a complete video series on Okinawa Kenpo Karate/Kobudo. Videos cannot replace an instructor.

The good news is that one of my karate friends read my post on Facebook. He offered to visit our dojo and work on the kata!

sophie michals said...

I agree with Narda. I've used videos to help reinforce new kata that I learned and want to practice outside of classroom time. Often, I'll be excited about a new kata I've learned and will go home and want to practice it, but then realize that I can't remember the exact order of the techniques or something. Videos can be useful as supplemental learning aides, but will never take the place of my teacher.

mushin joe said...

i have friends who study american kenpo in orlando. while learning from a video isn't for me (i'm a real hands-on, hold my hand while learning) one of them earned up to a third degree in the art. again, it's not for me, but i think it just depends on the person and their unique way of synthesizing information.

Anonymous said...

It is certainly possible for some people to learn kata from video. I have taught myself a few advanced kata this way, receiving only a few minor corrections on the deck afterward. However, I believe that one must have the natural aptitudes that allows it and also have a solid foundation of formal training with basic/intermediate techniques already learned. You must also be working from videos specific to you style (and a style that is universally formalized at that.)