Every few months I get contacted by someone who wants to learn from me remotely on Skype, Messenger, WeChat or some other digital platform. They come from as far away as India and Australia and everywhere in-between. I recently got contacted from a guy in Dubai, it amazes me. I understand the desire to learn this art and that there are so few people who teach it so it seems this is the only way. This is very problematic. I know there are teachers that have online correspondence courses and it's a big deal to them but you really have to think about this intelligently. People engage your brains and intellects when it comes to topics like this and exercise rational thought. It has to do with the mystification of the arts. Tell me is there any western sport that you think you can learn online? Can you learn to box, grapple, play tennis or bowl online? How about soccer or baseball? You will undoubtedly say of course you can't learn theses but when it comes to martial arts....well that's a different story; but it's not. You can learn to play the guitar on line or paint and even speak a different language but you cannot learn something that requires reacting in real time to another person's weight, speed and mass. You can learn dance moves but you won't learn to dance with another partner. Three dimensional spatial learning can only be done in real time and real location. If you have a very strong foundation in fighting you can perhaps learn techniques to incorporate in your training but you've already got a foundation. I was working with Raul Marquez (Former-junior middle weight world champ, ex Olympian boxer) last week and I asked him to go over some pad drills with me and if he had some online and he replied, "Dude, you've just got to come to my gym in Houston, it's the only way to learn them. Come down, ok?" Yes, you can learn forms; the bane of Chinese martial arts, but you can't learn any real time application.
The obsession people have with forms amazes me although I do confess that in my youth I was a bit fascinated with them thinking, "If I only knew the 108 I could beat anyone". That train has long since left the station. Can you imagine a boxer wanting to learn a form with the proper focus, direction of qi and breathing and thinking he can fight? "Hey Floyd I'm coming after you, I learned the Heavenly Fist Boxing form online and I'm gonna own you". Of course this doesn't exist in boxing but when it comes to gungfu folks think they can learn Som Bo Gin or 18 Point or whatever and they magically have something of value. They don't, they have a dance. I'll bet on anyone with a real year of boxing or Muay Thai and put them against anyone who's done forms for ten years. There is nothing that can replace real time training and conditioning, nothing.
I had a fellow recently send me several letters about spending a week with me training. I agreed it was possible and he kept pushing me to set the dates. In one correspondence I said, " If you're coming for forms you're coming to the wrong place. It's application here not imitation". I never heard from him again. It's not that I don't know the forms it's that I don't stress them. They are like recipes for the different moves so they get catalogued and preserved. I know there are those of you reading this that are appalled thinking this dude really doesn't get it because the 'xyz golden bell form' will make you invulnerable in a fight. Well, nope and wearing an amulet around your neck won't stop a bullet or keep tigers away. But you know a story of your master's master's master that could break bricks with a dandelion and couldn't be cut with a knife. I suggest you read the history of the Boxer Rebellion and enlighten yourself.
You can't learn any contact sport online. You can learn to parrot it, imitate it but you can't learn to apply it or fight with it. You cannot stress your brain to react to a larger, quicker guy rushing you and have the proper reaction. I actually had a fellow come to me after years of training online with another mantis person and he wanted to show me his skill. He asked me to throw a punch at him and I did, without malice but with intent, and he shrieked, jumped away and shouted, "Man, you're trying to hurt me"! Duh, I am. I didn't touch him and didn't intend to but he wasn't used to aggression. Can you imagine learning baseball online and then facing a 93 mph fast ball? You'd be crying for your mom. I've said it over and over again; you cannot learn to swim standing next to the pool, you have to jump in. You can't learn from some video correspondence course. You have to touch hands and mix it up real time, free style to see what reality is. Sorry folks it's true.
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