Let me start by saying I started taking kenpo karate classes in 1985. Back then we didn’t have internet training…or internet for that matter. I had to go to a smelly dojo and go through repetitive exercises in a hot room with mirrors on every wall. I loved every minute of it. There was a great sense of camaraderie with the other students and a sense of pride every time I put the karate gi on.
The idea of training by myself never occurred to me. I remember buying Black Belt and Inside Karate magazines to see the new techniques and look at all of the neat gear that I could buy (if I had the money). I would discuss some of these techniques with my karate instructor, and would usually be told why these magazine techniques would never work. Looking back I realize my karate instructors didn’t have a very healthy self-esteem. Any new technique was a challenge to them rather than something to be tried.
I have now purchased several online video programs, DVD’s, VHS tapes, and books. I have taken and tried the techniques and practiced them over and over. I find that a person can take just about anything and play around with it until they can make it effective in their own way.
Youtube is full of great videos to help a person who has a base of learning to work from. I would still suggest a novice/beginner get involved in a local martial arts school somewhere to learn the basics before trying online/distance learning.
I used to love watching Jeff Speakman movies. As an American Kenpo stylist I was intrigued with where someone could take the training if they were dedicated. I know it is all choreographed, but the base of movement is real.
The question becomes, could someone be as good as Jeff Speakman without the benefit of a structured, brick and mortar school? The short answer is no. If your goal is to become an expert in something you have to seek out the best places to train, the best people to train with, and practice, practice, practice. But, if you want to work to develop your skills or sharpen them at a lower level than expert…online/DVD/VHS is perfect. You can train at your own pace and whatever time is convenient for you.
There will always be people who are against everything different than the way they do it. Don’t worry about them…keep training and live your own life. I love custom motorcycles, too. There is always someone who doesn’t like the custom bike someone else rides. Who cares? It ain’t your bike. Ride your own way.