When I first started as a martial artist I was fortunate that I had a great instructor. This was fortunate for many reasons but one of the least obvious was that back then it was very hard to get more information. The internet was very limited using a dial-up phone line connection, there was no way you could watch a video at those download speeds. As a result, if you wanted to learn more the options were to go to more classes or read a book or buy an expensive video.
These days the sharing of martial knowledge is super quick and easy. In an evening I can watch a Okinawan 8th dan Karate master run through the bunkai of the kata that I am learning, pick up a tip for my ground fighting game from a jujitsu black belt and refresh my memory of some self-defence from a gritty combatives expert. One of the best things about the internet and youtube, in particular, is that you can see how several experts solve the same problems. There is always more than one way to skin a cat and looking at different solutions broadens your understanding as well as your tool box.
Obviously watching videos is no replacement for training. As Mr Miyagi from the Karate Kid movie said: “No learn karate from book” (or video). And as Iain Abernathy says the fact that you know airplanes exist and you know what they do doesn’t mean you can pilot one. In the Martial world, knowledge must be invested in action. In order to practice most skills, you will eventually need to practice them on a partner. Not to mention that you can’t get personal correction from a video.
Youtube is a tool for broadening your knowledge and understanding.
One of the best things about Youtube is I can pick and choose what I want to watch and from whom I want to learn from. There are some amazing experts out there sharing skills. But be warned that there are plenty of idiots out there too who don’t know what they are talking about too, some of whom do a great job of presenting themselves as experts.
So it is really important that you think about and most importantly rigorously test what you learn on youtube before taking it as gospel. This is even true from a credible source. For example, Rener Gracie is an amazing Brazilian jujitsu exponent although he is a little preachy about how jujitsu is the best martial art. His solution for situations with multiple attackers is always run, which on face value seems like good advice but if you spend a moment to think about it you will not always be able to run. Firstly it presumes that you can outrun your attackers and that you are alone and don’t have a partner or your kids to defend. It presumes that they haven’t already surrounded you and cut you off from exits. It presumes that safety is close by and that there are no obstacles like furniture or other people or doors to get, though. It presumes that it is not a bullying situation where there may come a time where you have to stand your ground. So why does Rener give this advice that doesn’t work for a lot of people and a lot of situations? It is simple ground fighting which is what Brazilian Jiujitsu is all about doesn’t work against multiple attackers and rather than admit the flaw in his art he presents running as the only solution.
Just because I fervently disagree with Rener on this point doesn’t mean I throw the baby out with the bathwater and I won’t learn from him again. I still watch Rener he knows his stuff when it comes to his area of expertise.
So take what you learn with a grain of salt. Think about and most importantly test what you learn to see if it works and fits in with what you do and your philosophy of martial arts.
Here are my personal favourites