I first wanted to title this post “How to learn fighting techniques form a video and avoid making a fool of yourself.” but that’s probably a bit too much. So I left out the last part but you know it’s there. :-)
I’ll get to “learning techniques” in a bit but I want to cover something else first. Namely, this post is a case of several random things coming together:
- I first wrote something on this subject in the last couple paragraphs of this post.
- I just finished taping the introduction to the free-video lessons for those who subscribe to this blog. In there, I comment on negative reactions on Youtube.
- Two days ago, I read Bob’s post about some of the feedback he received on-line.
- But what kicked if of was a a pretty rude reaction I got last week on one of my Youtube videos.
This is a rather old video, one I shot in LA a couple years ago with the help of some dear friends.
As I said before, I’m used to getting silly, stupid and rude comments on my videos and that’s fine. Somebody saying I can’t fight my way out of a wet paper bag doesn’t change my skills for the better or the worse. So why should I get upset about it?
However, when my teachers tell me I’m doing a terrible job, that’s when I bang my head against the wall in both frustration and shame. After picking myself up from the floor, I do all I can to fix the problem they corrected me on. But some anonymous person on the Internet? Fughedaboutit! ;-)
Anyway, “80KungFu” left the following comment on that video:
What are you talking about? The man (Wim Demeere), clearly says, him self, that he is using Tai Chi techniques! Grasp the birds tail and single whip fucking whip! Now I dont agree with his knowledge (mostly I think his Tai Chi skills and knowledge are terrible), but he stills says that he is using Tai Chi techniques! So what the fuck are? you talking about?
80KungFu actually deleted his comments after I sent him a mail explaining:
- I was talking about other comments, not his.
- I am sorry he doesn’t like my skills all that much but look forward to his videos so we can compare notes. :-)
- Am close to deleting his comment because though I don’t mind profanity, I don’t want it on my Youtube page.
- I also thanked him for inspiring me to write this blog post.
It’s sad to see he now deleted his comments but that’s his choice. Thankfully, I copy/pasted them in the mail I sent him and still have the email notifications from Youtube, the ones with his comments in quotes… :-)
Anyway, he replied to my mail with:
- An apology for his tone. Apparently a lot of people “try to fuck with him” and he thought I was one of them. (I most certainly am not, please take my word on it!)
- He still thinks my tai chi skills suck because the applications doesn’t look like the form.
- How the last technique (Single whip) wouldn’t work in real life because the attacker wouldn’t “let me do the armbar.”
- I don’t understand what he said, brag about my tournament trophies and think I’m great for having them.
When you put it all together, it isn’t much of an apology really… Especially the last part. Though I admit I did have a good laugh when I read his mail. In the face of such bile and ignorance, it’s hard to do anything else but find humor in the situation.
Here’s the thing: It’s pretty easy to pick on a video, regardless of what is shown or who’s in it. It’s called being a “Monday-morning quarterback” and doesn’t really prove much. Especially if your commenting with flawed knowledge and a truckload of assumptions about the guy showing his stuff. Which is the case with my friend here.
But the biggest issue is this: Loads of people seem to have no clue about how making a video actually works. It doesn’t matter if you’re filming a martial arts technique or showing a ballet move, there are certain structures and guidelines to follow. These have a direct impact on what you’ll see on the screen, what goals the presenter has with the video and how he shows the content.
Another thing 80KungFu doesn’t seem to understand is related to that but also germane to how people view training in general: Bob Orlando nailed it when he said (paraphrasing):
Accept that all training is nothing but a simulation of reality. The operative word being “simulation“.
A real-life attack is not the same thing as training for such an event. Training prepares you for something and by definition cannot be the identical to the real thing. I though that was obvious, but apparently, it isn’t. Especially in the fighting arts, people seem to miss this point. Not so in other sports though. When was the last time you heard somebody claim line drills in football are useless because nobody plays football in a line like that? Well, duh!
Training is simulation. Simulation has benefits and drawbacks. The main benefit is that you get to analyze and practice specific skills, techniques, concepts, etc. The drawback is that there’s always one or (many) more elements missing from the equation. But just because these elements aren’t there, that doesn’t mean the drill or training exercise is useless.
That’s where 80Kung Fu drops the ball: He compares apples with oranges.
Of course I know that “in real life” an attacker won’t leave his arm out there. Of course I know he’ll want to attack me again when he notices his first punch didn’t land. That’s hardly rocket science. But in that video, I’m also not doing the technique like I would in real life. I’m showing it so the camera picks it up in the best possible way. I’m not trying to beat up my partner.
That’s it for the first part. In the second one, I’ll go into the different types of videos and give some more details on those missing elements.