FAQ - Can I Teach Myself Martial Arts?

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Discussion' started by aikiwolfie, Oct 11, 2014.

  1. aikiwolfie

    aikiwolfie ... Supporter

    Can I Teach Myself Martial Arts?

    Yes you can. But in all likelihood, the end result will be a car crash of bad habits and misconceptions. So it really is essential to seek out tuition and guidance from a teacher. So, no you cannot.

    Martial arts are a practical skill learnt though hard work, meticulous attention to detail and endless repetition. Learning any given art requires feedback from experienced practitioners. So trying to imitate what you see on a DVD, website, YouTube video or book just isn't going to cut it. You need experienced training partners.

    It is possible to use these resources as learning aids. However they must be aids and not your sole source of tuition. Learning martial arts properly requires access to a teacher. And for the purposes of this thread, teacher means someone with far greater experience, knowledge and ability than yourself in your chosen art.

    So lets consider the pros and cons of self-teaching.

    • Total freedom to train as and when you like.
    • Total freedom to train in anything you like.
    • You can train even if you don't have access to a teacher, club or sparring partner.

    • Dangerous mistakes go unchecked and uncorrected.
    • Bad habits become ingrained.
    • The student will move onto more complex training before they are ready and neglect the basics.
    • The student is vulnerable to developing a poor understanding of both simple and complex concepts and principals.
    • The student develops a false sense of confidence.
    • Without proper guidance, there is a greater risk student may injure themselves or others.
    • The student may become untrainable at other gyms or clubs.

    So what is the alternative if there is no club or teacher near you?

    Work on general fitness. It may seem like a bit of a cop-out. But it really is the best option. Martial arts generally require their practitioners to be fit and healthy. You do not need to be fit and healthy to begin training. But it's a good place to start.

    So work on flexibility, cardio and strength. And remember not to neglect functional fitness. There's no point in being able to lift twice your body weight if you can't put that strength to work once you start moving around. It's also a good idea to look at your diet and nutrition. Ask yourself "could this be better"? Make small incremental changes to your lifestyle in the direction of better all round health and fitness.
  2. Bronze Statue

    Bronze Statue Valued Member

  3. Pretty In Pink

    Pretty In Pink Valued Member MAP 2017 Gold Award

  4. aikiwolfie

    aikiwolfie ... Supporter

    Seems to be advocating self-teaching. Which I certainly don't. I hope I read it wrong.
  5. aikiwolfie

    aikiwolfie ... Supporter

    There's room for discussion. And that should be "standalone" ;)
  6. mark linu

    mark linu Valued Member

    You can teach yourself by knowing more about it from google or other search engines. Nowadays, all informations are stored in google. So, it is not so a big problem .
  7. Simon

    Simon Back once again Admin Supporter MAP 2017 Koyo Award

    The point of this thread is that you can't effectively teach yourself from DVDs or online resources.
  8. Hannibal

    Hannibal Cry HAVOC and let slip the Dogs of War!!! Supporter

    No, you really can't

    All that happens now is more people have access 24-7 to material they cannot really learn from as opposed to a small niche market buying books and VHS videos from Panther Productions
  9. Southpaw535

    Southpaw535 Well-Known Member Moderator Supporter

    Depends on the style and how you define effective. I'm still convinced that a group of 4 or 5 people can learn a reasonable standard of bjj for instance. I don't think it carries over to striking arts very well, but grappling I don't think is impossible.
  10. Simon

    Simon Back once again Admin Supporter MAP 2017 Koyo Award

    I'll have to bow to your knowledge on this, as I've never done BJJ.
  11. Hannibal

    Hannibal Cry HAVOC and let slip the Dogs of War!!! Supporter

    Actually I will half concede this...although it takes three times as long and you will make a TON of mistakes along the way!
  12. aikiwolfie

    aikiwolfie ... Supporter

    Other than wrestling being a somewhat natural innate method of fighting for humans. What is it about BJJ that allows a group of 4 total beginners to teach themselves to a reasonable standard without an experienced hand offering guidance?
  13. aaradia

    aaradia Choy Li Fut and Yang Tai Chi Chuan Student Moderator Supporter

    Well, it starts off with "yes you can." Regardless of what the rest says, that opening statement gives an impression. An impression I respectfully, but strongly disagree with.

    I also think the critical issue of not getting feedback and corrections when you don't have an instructor needs to be spelled out more clearly.

    I think it is good that you are posting this.
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2014
  14. aikiwolfie

    aikiwolfie ... Supporter

    The issue really is the quality of the end result and the level of proper understanding the student can achieve on their own.
  15. furinkazan

    furinkazan Valued Member

    Im of the opinion books and dvd's and other sources can supplement training, but by no means can they replace an instructor. They should be used in conjunction with, so long as you make sure you can apply the theory

    say I pick up a dvd on chinese straight sword, and I have studied some sword, I would need to make sure I understand why the blade was moving in the way it was. For example, its no good me thinking a pattern with lots of thrusts at head height is just for the sake of. I have to understand that this may be used to put the enemy off by putting the blade in their face while I move to the next technique to capitalize on the distraction.

    Books can only be a good reference in context, context you gain in training with someone who can teach
  16. blindside

    blindside Valued Member

    I mentioned this on another thread, but my first exposure to FMA was the Dog Brothers first "Real Contact Stick Fighting" series, at that point I was a fairly experienced martial artist and I had great training partners, but I think we were pretty effective learning off of them. Well, with the caveat, two of us were visual learners and the third guy was a kinesthetic learner, video was useless to him, we had to get the motion down and then show it to him. We really didn't have any issues or any conflict when we started learning PTK directly from an instructor.

    I don't consider stickfighting to be as difficult to learn as the tactile feel and sensitivity that you need for most of the close range stuff, I don't think that would transmit well on video. I think any martial art would be tough to distance learn for someone with no experience.
  17. Southpaw535

    Southpaw535 Well-Known Member Moderator Supporter

    My opinion? Having to work with another human means there's less room for error. An armbar or a choke is either on or its not and the mechanics of applying one aren't complicated to learn or understand. Especially when learned from an instructional.source that explains them. If you exclusively used a grappling dummy you'd suck still, but a human is different.

    Sweeps are tougher since beginners naturally have an awful base but, as well as there being advice for that, it improves with time.

    I'm not sure how far I'm I'm convinced you could go with such a group (although the Gracie Academy seems to think you can at least reach blue) but even if you never get beyond reasonable whitebelt that's still not a bad standard of grappling.
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2014
  18. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    Where do you get that from?

    I think that "innate" wrestling skills are just as sloppy and inefficient as "innate" striking skills (innate placed in inverted commas because I suspect there is a much bigger environmental factor to how untrained people fight than many give credit for).
  19. aikiwolfie

    aikiwolfie ... Supporter

    They might be sloppy. I never said we were automatically expert world champion fighters. But the fact of the matter is. This is how people fight by default. It's what we do as children before anybody shows us how to fight and it's what we do as adults who've never been shown how to fight. We push and pull, trip, kick and pin.

    No matter where in the world you go there is some form of wrestling. Even if it's just a brawl in the street.
  20. FunnyBadger

    FunnyBadger I love food :)

    I would argue that the same applies with striking. Young children wth no training hit each other, adults with no training hit each other and that is the same pretty much everywhere. Not everywhere has a codified method of striking but hitting some one that you don't like is pretty innate - primates do it and I've never seen a oragutan studying wing chun.

    The quality of what you see might be extremely low but I think striking and grappling are both natural reflexes to violence and so exist across the planet. That des not mean that anyone can learn a codified method without an instructor though.

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