Online learning and martial arts: is it possible?

Can a total beginner learn Kung Fu (or any other martial art) online?

The first thing to say is that: the answer cannot be universal.

There are cases where it is possible and cases where it is not but before asking ourselves this, we have to focus our attention on a few other important questions:

  • Are we talking about ancient martial arts? – All the ancient martial arts are born to be studied with the live presence of an expert master (for example, in Kung Fu, each form has an infinite number of details to be cured); this does not make the distance learning impossible but it reduces its effectivity to people with extraordinary capabilities and to those who are already expert
  • Are we talking about modern martial arts? – Some of the most modern martial arts are born for our century and (in some case) they could be natively designed for online learning (with home exercises, individual / group training, periodical sparring sessions, etc.)
  • Are we talking about an interactive course or about VHS / DVD / Blu-ray / Youtube / eBook / etc.? – If we have no contacts with an expert (an instructor), we could fall in an infinite number of misunderstandings that will lead us to bad results and to errors that we will difficultly correct; no static course can meet the specific needs of each student, the communication must be two-ways (we need to be seen and listened); it is the eye of the instructor that makes the difference between what works and what not
  • What kind of result are we searching for (self-defense, sports competitions, give a vent to our stress, build self-discipline, wellness, etc.)? – As we continually repeat, to understand the effective practical application of the fighting techniques is a choice that must be taken consciously but if we want to learn to fight, we have to fight (and this has nothing to do with the type of learning, read Why martial arts do not work: 5 reasons); if our goal is not to learn to fight (e.g. wellness, fitness, etc.), our school does not force the practitioner to do sparring (read The meaning of sparring fighting in martial arts) but it is very clear in ensuring that he will never be able to face a real fight
  • What level of dedication are we able to reach? – The error is to focus our attention only on the external factors and not on the level of sacrifice we are willing to bear; the point is that to gain real martial skills (read All the skills of 6 Dragons Kung Fu) is not for everyone (and this, again, has nothing to do with the type of learning)
  • Are we trying to find a fast low-cost, all-in-one, shortcut to become invincible? – In this case, we could be even in the most fantastic place, in strict contact with the most prepared master of the world, we will learn nothing, we will fail; again, martial arts (and especially Kung Fu) are made of deep daily dedication

A note by Master Kongling – Let’s sincerely reply to these questions before proceeding. Having frequented the martial environment a lot, I have seen a lot of people convinced that they could buy Kung Fu (or Silat, or Karate or other martial art) with money, buying private lessons with high-profile masters without having acquired anything: why? No discipline in day-to-day training. I have much more to learn from some of my students who, among a thousand difficulties (economic, work, social, etc.), never stop training before the canonical 3 hours a day (read Practical examples of daily training time subdivision) rather than those buffoons with a thousand diplomas, certificates of participation and belts undeserved. The reason? Because when we interact, we know what we are talking about, we share all those details that cannot be transmitted but only lived through a serious and prolonged practice (body mechanics, fight dynamics, etc.).

What are the necessary and sufficient conditions to learn a martial art?

In general terms (despite the fact that the learning is online or not), the necessary and sufficient conditions to learn a martial art are:

  1. Discipline – Daily practice (using strong passion as a trigger and self-discipline then)
  2. Preparation – Serious, intelligent, active and thorough study of the theory
  3. Concentration – Intense practice to maximize the constant increase of our performances
  4. A place to train – An always available adequate space for the workout
  5. The training tools – All the necessary materials and the basic equipment
  6. Common sense – To operate safely and within our psychophysical limits
  7. Training partners – Even if not necessarily every day, we need at least a partner with which to interact (without which, in most cases, we simply lose the concept of martial art)
  8. A precise didactical path – Gradual, clear and complete learning lessons (printed, illustrated, video, with presence, etc.)
  9. A periodical check – At least a “periodic” supervision of an expert (for corrections, questions, insights, tips, etc.)

These are the minimum requirements to have the chance to effectively learn a martial art (“online” or “offline”, it doesn’t matter).

A note by Master Kongling – I’ve seen a lot of courses where, due to the number of participants (or due to the superficiality of the teacher), only a few students are followed and even them, partially. Anyone who has attended a martial arts course knows what I’m talking about.

What are the necessary and sufficient conditions to learn 6 Dragons Kung Fu?

In our specific case:

Is it possible to learn 6 Dragons Kung Fu with a home study course?

Yes, it is possible to learn it at a distance because:

  • The path and the materials are exactly the same as the live students (read From white belt to black belt: your path)
  • We have only one method, born from the past knowledge but developed in the present and it works as for the live as for the offline students (read 6DKF: what does it teach?)
  • Even the graduation is the same for online and offline students (read Kung Fu exams: online graduation)
  • The one we offer to the online students is not a second choice, a simplification or an adaptation of something else

A note by Master Kongling – Our school spent many years to design the 6 Dragons Kung Fu’s methods, to share something that can be transmitted even at distance and after a long work we have created a training path able to build real martial skills.

Final notes

A few final tips:

  • The partners shortages can be filled by generic martial arts courses as long as the instructor is not too traditionalist and has an open mind (read Recognize a good / bad master: 5 characteristics); it is also important that the training would not be too delicate (we need to be prepared for real fights) and that the instructor does not force us to use too specific or limiting methods (techniques, body sides, etc.)
  • Needless to say, in groups or alone, with or without an instructor, to absorb a martial art and to make it really ours, we need to give our best, do not leave any detail to chance and use all our resources (this is the path to high-level results, in any field; if we think to sit down and leave the responsability of our understanding on a passive learning, it is better to do not start at all, this way we risk to fall in embarrassing illusions, read MMA vs Tai Chi 10 seconds knock out: an explanation)
  • Nobody also forbids the practitioners to come here at our headquarters and take private lessons, seminars or other (many of our students have done it) but this makes more sense after having developed a good physical base (at least after the first phase of awakening, read The basics of 6 Dragons Kung Fu)

In-depth articles


Reply in the comments and share your experience:

  • Have you ever attended an online course? 

Author: Master Kongling

Founder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.

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