Why YouTube is Toxic to the Martial Arts

It was absolutely stunning to see in person. Both the speed and accuracy was awe-inspiring. I am referring to the cutting demo done by Hasagawa Sensei at this weekend’s annual Toyama Ryu Batto Jutsu seminar.

If you had a gun and Hasagawa Sensei had his sword, you would be significantly less confident of victory than you would think. Yes, THAT good.

Moments like this in martial arts can only be appreciated by being there. Sorry, YouTube, you cannot, nor ever will compete with in-person experiences. You may come close but with technology, there comes a Gap and in this Gap, the real magic is experienced. Nothing will ever serve as an adequate substitute for human interaction and experience.

Sorry, YouTube, you cannot, nor ever will compete with in-person experiences.

There are sites and so-called “experts” that view YouTube clips and then draw conclusions based on what they think they saw. I had a somewhat unpleasant experience recently attempting to defend Michael Rybako (not that he needs it by any means) against those who saw a clip and therefore, knew “exactly” what Systema was all about and how “poor” Michael’s skills were. Fools.

You can view an endless number of clips or read 1001 blog posts on a subject, but unless you experience it personally, your view of it is limited at best and distorted at the least. Your opinion about it carries zero weight also.

You will never understand the difficulty of running a marathon by reading about it. You will never appreciate the beauty of a sunrise by seeing it on TV. You have not the slightest idea what delicious steak tastes like because someone forward you a meal via snapchat. And you sure as hell will never appreciate a martial art by seeing it on YouTube.

Want to watch a master Swordman? Come to a Toyama Ryu seminar. Want to see if Michael or Vladimir is the real deal? Go to a Systema seminar and take some strikes from them. Then tell me how “ineffective” it is. Sitting in a comfortable chair, it is easy to defeat any opponent. Stealing a line from Bruce Lee, “YouTube doesn’t hit back.” 

Feel and experience, live-and-in-person, the object of your criticism or interest, then draw conclusions. Love it or hate it, at least your answer will be true and accurate for you.