How to learn techniques from video

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.

.

Comments

  1. Very interesting — esp. about making a video! It’s a side of things critics often don’t consider. The funny thing is I’ve criticized videos before. However, I don’t do it on YouTube — I stick to my blog. Also, I tend to at least try to make a good case for what I’m saying. Often I’m wrong and when that happens I’ll try to own up to it. I’m pretty sure Pat Parker, at Mokuren Dojo Rat, Nathan at TDA training, Chris at Martial Development, and a few others have corrected my rectal-cranial inversions before!

    I’ll be curious to see your pt. II!

    • Bob: It’s one of the things I only started considering after I shot my own videos. The experience of working with a professional crew, being in a studio, long hours, etc. You start seeing things in a different light when you see the end product and how some things come across great and others (that you thought would be cool) look like crap. The camera never tells the whole story.

      Part 2 coming soon!

  2. Very interesting — esp. about making a video! It’s a side of things critics often don’t consider. The funny thing is I’ve criticized videos before. However, I don’t do it on YouTube — I stick to my blog. Also, I tend to at least try to make a good case for what I’m saying. Often I’m wrong and when that happens I’ll try to own up to it. I’m pretty sure Pat Parker, at Mokuren Dojo Rat, Nathan at TDA training, Chris at Martial Development, and a few others have corrected my rectal-cranial inversions before!

    I’ll be curious to see your pt. II!

    • Bob: It’s one of the things I only started considering after I shot my own videos. The experience of working with a professional crew, being in a studio, long hours, etc. You start seeing things in a different light when you see the end product and how some things come across great and others (that you thought would be cool) look like crap. The camera never tells the whole story.

      Part 2 coming soon!

  3. Danny Young says

    Wim,

    Thanks for writing this, but this is my take on this, if someone wants to hide behind some phony name and e-mail, I don’t respond. A real man stands behind his comments and ID’s himself. A real man takes responsibility for what he says and does. Cowards are just key board Warriors. Anybody can claim to be anything on the Internet.

    All the Best,

    Danny

    • Danny: Generally, I try to give people one second chance to reconsider their words. In many cases, they apologize to me and see how they shot from the hip or might have gone overboard. In other cases, they persist in spouting their bile. When that happens, I mark them as spammers and they’re banned from my place. :-)

  4. Wim,

    Thanks for writing this, but this is my take on this, if someone wants to hide behind some phony name and e-mail, I don’t respond. A real man stands behind his comments and ID’s himself. A real man takes responsibility for what he says and does. Cowards are just key board Warriors. Anybody can claim to be anything on the Internet.

    All the Best,

    Danny

    • Danny: Generally, I try to give people one second chance to reconsider their words. In many cases, they apologize to me and see how they shot from the hip or might have gone overboard. In other cases, they persist in spouting their bile. When that happens, I mark them as spammers and they’re banned from my place. :-)

  5. Thanks Wim for taking the time to go through the fine details of making videos. Some of us are making it up as we go and don’t have much of a clue.

    Sure it’s easy to look at someone’s efforts, especially early efforts and see that they should have done this or that to make it easier on the viewer. We wonder why they didn’t think to wear a better choice of colors for instance to get better contrast; or why they didn’t control the lighting better.

    Obviously, those making the videos do the best they can with what they have (and you can’t always control the environment:-)

    I got lucky with my YouTube video because we picked a spectacular day (that was an accident) and I hired an award winning camera man – which I didn’t even know at the time. But since then I’ve done a couple of videos on my own with a friend and they are far from Oscar material – functional perhaps but not resale quality.

    Aside from the technical hardware issues it will be helpful to learn a few of the techniques that improve our GarageBand efforts. Actually, the technical hardware issues are also a barrier. A couple of us filmed a Nei Gong demonstration this past summer – which turned out very well except for the jumper (me) kept slipping on landing and… now I can’t figure out how to upload to YouTube what was captured on the video. It’s on a DVD but there are several file types which I don’t recognize. I am a Mac guy with iPhoto and iDVD. We are used to software doing most of the thinking so that the defaults are all intuitive and automatic. (Anyway, that might not be where you are going…)

    I look forward to reading the rest.

    DD

    • Dennis: Your vids looked REALLY good. The cameraman did a great job and the lighting/scenery was indeed spectacular. I shot one of my ta ichi vids on Youtube in the middle of the Sonora desert at 6am. Though you can’t tell by how I’m standing on a grass field (long story). That shoot was fun too. :-)

      In part 2 I won’t go into the hardware/software issue as much but I do feel your pain. For my tai chi videos, I had to learn to work with one such program and it was a steep climb to make it do what I wanted it to. Still have to use workarounds for some things. But I learned some cool things anyway and can now edit basic videos. No fancy stuff yet. :-)

  6. Thanks Wim for taking the time to go through the fine details of making videos. Some of us are making it up as we go and don’t have much of a clue.

    Sure it’s easy to look at someone’s efforts, especially early efforts and see that they should have done this or that to make it easier on the viewer. We wonder why they didn’t think to wear a better choice of colors for instance to get better contrast; or why they didn’t control the lighting better.

    Obviously, those making the videos do the best they can with what they have (and you can’t always control the environment:-)

    I got lucky with my YouTube video because we picked a spectacular day (that was an accident) and I hired an award winning camera man – which I didn’t even know at the time. But since then I’ve done a couple of videos on my own with a friend and they are far from Oscar material – functional perhaps but not resale quality.

    Aside from the technical hardware issues it will be helpful to learn a few of the techniques that improve our GarageBand efforts. Actually, the technical hardware issues are also a barrier. A couple of us filmed a Nei Gong demonstration this past summer – which turned out very well except for the jumper (me) kept slipping on landing and… now I can’t figure out how to upload to YouTube what was captured on the video. It’s on a DVD but there are several file types which I don’t recognize. I am a Mac guy with iPhoto and iDVD. We are used to software doing most of the thinking so that the defaults are all intuitive and automatic. (Anyway, that might not be where you are going…)

    I look forward to reading the rest.

    DD

    • Dennis: Your vids looked REALLY good. The cameraman did a great job and the lighting/scenery was indeed spectacular. I shot one of my ta ichi vids on Youtube in the middle of the Sonora desert at 6am. Though you can’t tell by how I’m standing on a grass field (long story). That shoot was fun too. :-)

      In part 2 I won’t go into the hardware/software issue as much but I do feel your pain. For my tai chi videos, I had to learn to work with one such program and it was a steep climb to make it do what I wanted it to. Still have to use workarounds for some things. But I learned some cool things anyway and can now edit basic videos. No fancy stuff yet. :-)

  7. Steve Holley says

    I’m fairly sure the felons I’ve used an armbar on weren’t “letting me” use the technique. But, hey, it worked anyway.
    I liked the first technique a lot. That forearm shot in police DefTac is called a brachial stun. I think Choy Lay fut calls it “Sow choy”.

    And maybe if he wasn’t such a Butthead, people wouldn’t try to “fuck with him” so much. You tend to get back what you put out.

    • Steve: Thanks, glad you enjoyed the clip. The brachial stun is indeed a good one. Loren first brought that one to my attention a few years ago. I didn’t know the name, only that it sucked to be hit like that. I got that technique from the hung chia pai I learned. Lots of forearm swings in there.
      Indeed, you reap what you sow. :-)

  8. Steve Holley says

    I’m fairly sure the felons I’ve used an armbar on weren’t “letting me” use the technique. But, hey, it worked anyway.
    I liked the first technique a lot. That forearm shot in police DefTac is called a brachial stun. I think Choy Lay fut calls it “Sow choy”.

    And maybe if he wasn’t such a Butthead, people wouldn’t try to “fuck with him” so much. You tend to get back what you put out.

    • Steve: Thanks, glad you enjoyed the clip. The brachial stun is indeed a good one. Loren first brought that one to my attention a few years ago. I didn’t know the name, only that it sucked to be hit like that. I got that technique from the hung chia pai I learned. Lots of forearm swings in there.
      Indeed, you reap what you sow. :-)

  9. I think this 80kung fu guy sems to be another one of them “guys”. Im sure you know what I mean.

    I think the video was very good, well explained, layed out and has inspired me to look for more of your vids.

    • Mark: I guess. I don’t really mind the trash talking but I don’t want too much of it on my pages. It’s disrespectful. I allow comments on my blog and youtube pages but people who abuse that privilege get booted.
      Glad to see you enjoyed the video!

  10. I think this 80kung fu guy sems to be another one of them “guys”. Im sure you know what I mean.

    I think the video was very good, well explained, layed out and has inspired me to look for more of your vids.

    • Mark: I guess. I don’t really mind the trash talking but I don’t want too much of it on my pages. It’s disrespectful. I allow comments on my blog and youtube pages but people who abuse that privilege get booted.
      Glad to see you enjoyed the video!

  11. Kudos on the video, Wim.
    You’re very skilled in applying
    and teaching.
    I definitely picked up some
    really helpful pointers.
    Keep it up, man.

  12. Kudos on the video, Wim.
    You’re very skilled in applying
    and teaching.
    I definitely picked up some
    really helpful pointers.
    Keep it up, man.

  13. Garry Hodgins says

    I have to say that I’ve been impressed with your videos and see you as being very good teacher because, from my point of view,
    1.You are able to break techniques down into their component mechanical parts, thus making the material more easily digestable for students.
    and
    2. You clearly communicate what you are doing while you are doing it, thus engaging the students with the material while it is being demonstrated i.e. making it real for them.
    I got your san shou videos and also like the way you structure the things that you teach so that students get the bio mechanical habits engrained before the techniques are presented. Tell them what you are going to teach them, teach them, remind them of what they’ve been taught. The problem with you tube and the internet in general is that the ” viewer ” only ever sees things in isolation and never gets a sense of the process which is involved in learning a new skill or method. People who turn up at martial arts classes with this mindset will give up quickly because it is a negative mindset and sets up a culture of failure in the person. These types of people will probably never learn because, in a perverse way, they wont let themselves. Anyway, I think you are doing a great job and recognise the value of a good teacher when I see one. I hope you and yours enjoy the holidays.

    • Thanks Garry. I work very hard to make my as worthwhile as possible for the buyers. That includes trying to get as much information as possible across but also in a format that gets the best results. I’m never entirely happy with the results but it’s great to hear people appreciate the effort.

      The thing with Youtube seems to me is people not only see things in isolation, they don’t seem to realize process and context even exist. that’s understandable from people who’re new to the arts but after a few years, you should know those things are important. Oh well… :-)

      Hope you’re having a great holiday too. Over here’s it’s been nothing but family gatherings and too much (most excellent) food. :-)

  14. Garry Hodgins says

    I have to say that I’ve been impressed with your videos and see you as being very good teacher because, from my point of view,
    1.You are able to break techniques down into their component mechanical parts, thus making the material more easily digestable for students.
    and
    2. You clearly communicate what you are doing while you are doing it, thus engaging the students with the material while it is being demonstrated i.e. making it real for them.
    I got your san shou videos and also like the way you structure the things that you teach so that students get the bio mechanical habits engrained before the techniques are presented. Tell them what you are going to teach them, teach them, remind them of what they’ve been taught. The problem with you tube and the internet in general is that the ” viewer ” only ever sees things in isolation and never gets a sense of the process which is involved in learning a new skill or method. People who turn up at martial arts classes with this mindset will give up quickly because it is a negative mindset and sets up a culture of failure in the person. These types of people will probably never learn because, in a perverse way, they wont let themselves. Anyway, I think you are doing a great job and recognise the value of a good teacher when I see one. I hope you and yours enjoy the holidays.

    • Thanks Garry. I work very hard to make my as worthwhile as possible for the buyers. That includes trying to get as much information as possible across but also in a format that gets the best results. I’m never entirely happy with the results but it’s great to hear people appreciate the effort.

      The thing with Youtube seems to me is people not only see things in isolation, they don’t seem to realize process and context even exist. that’s understandable from people who’re new to the arts but after a few years, you should know those things are important. Oh well… :-)

      Hope you’re having a great holiday too. Over here’s it’s been nothing but family gatherings and too much (most excellent) food. :-)

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