I remember once asking a famous teacher of a classical Japanese martial art if he thought a person could learn his budo by watching a video. His answer was, not surprisingly, “Of course not!” This seemed like a reasonable answer, one that I had heard many times before, and I thought nothing of it. Then, a short time later, someone at one of his seminars asked permission to videotape his class. “Dame da! Waza ga nusumareru!” (Absolutely not! My techniques would be stolen!) was his curt reply.
Later, he confided to me that a couple of students had visited his dojo from Eastern Europe. They had never studied with him or any of his affiliated instructors. Saying that they had merely been studying on their own by watching a videotape, the by-now-curious teacher told them to demonstrate what they had learned. He said he was amazed at how well they could mimic the martial forms just by studying the videos.
I never forgot what he said and, after many years, publishing and marketing videotapes, I have come to believe that such visual materials can indeed be a valuable aid for the martial arts learner.
This especially became the case after I began editing the Lost Seminars DVDs of Morihiro Saito Sensei. I realized that an edited version of a videotape containing complete subtitles would maximize the experience for the viewer, particularly if that person had some experience with Saito Sensei’s style of aikido.
Saito Sensei’s seminars presented techniques in a logical, organized manner as was his custom. What he presented was like a catalog of techniques ordered according to a specific theme. I myself attended many seminars with Sensei and served as his interpreter on numerous occasions. Nonetheless, I had forgotten how much had slipped my mind in the intervening years. I can’t tell you how valuable it was for me to see those old videotapes again.
Please have a look at our description of the Lost Seminars DVDs, view the sample footage, and see what you think! Can you learn from a videotape?