Once upon a time, there was no such thing as the internet. However, since the invention, many things have become possible. Information, as they say, is now at our finger tips, and through new advancements and innovations in technology it is almost possible to do anything through the use of the internet. YouTube, for example, is flooded with tutorials on just about anything. Makeup maybe the most watched type of tutorial, but you can also learn how to cook, play the piano, and even fix things on your car.
Let’s switch gears to academia for a second. Students all over the world are earning degrees online, and competing alongside students who attend classes in person for the same jobs. Employers look at an online degree that same as if it was attained by actually sitting in class. In fact, they may not even be able to tell the difference. Honestly speaking, neither earned degree is better than the other as long as the person has the requisite skill set. Who cares how the skills were attained?
So why isn’t the same true for the martial arts? If someone can earn a master’s degree online, why can’t they earn a Black Belt online? Some argue that the martial arts being a physical activity requires a high-level coach present to develop skills properly. I know holograms haven’t been invented yet, but video conferencing has. Is this not a viable option as being present to develop skills? Others may say that learning online goes against tradition, and I’ve even heard that online learning takes money away from school owners. I’d argue back and say that the martial arts need to evolve with the times, and that school owners shouldn’t worry as there is still a base of students who prefer to learn in the classroom.
But really and truly, it all boils down to reality and science.
The reality of the matter is that adults don’t have the time to attend traditional classes. When an adult gets off from working a 9-5 job the last they want to do is drive home, wait until 7:30pm, grab their martial arts uniform, head to an 8 o’clock class, drive back home tired, wash, watch TV, sleep, and wake up the next morning to repeat. This light schedule isn’t even considering other obligations adults have; and don’t let me get started on having kids. This is why online learning is so popular. It allows a busy adult to multitask in the comforts of their own home, and hop online when it’s convenient for them. Learning martial arts online has an appeal to busy adults who want to learn self-defense, but need instruction to be more available within their schedules. Also, schedules change. Adults have a hard time committing to 8 o’clock every Tuesday and Thursday for 3 years. Classes on the go that are flexible, and movable, during the week are better for adults.
Although the martial arts are not heavily researched in educational science, many of the same general concepts apply. For instance, in education it is proven that for children to acquire new skills, it is best that they are learning in a structured environment with a person present that can give them attention. On the other hand, adolescents and adults (13 and up) learn best in a far less structured environment, and are often times more motivated to self-learn. For example, adolescents and adults are able to learn the martial arts on their own while being monitored, assessed, provided with feedback, and graded periodically. Any quality online program will meet these parameters if they provide quality instruction, monitor your learning, give assessments, provide you with feedback on assessments, and grade you at each stage in the process. Colleges and universities must use this method to remain accredited by higher learning commissions. Martial arts aren’t government regulated, however, a quality program would have these guidelines in place for online learning just the same.