Next month I will probably try sparring at my new Krav Maga school. I have not sparred anyone in 15 years. It occurred to me that there might be videos online with tips for better sparring. I visited YouTube, searched for "sparring tips," and found 10 Sparring Tips for Beginners | GoPro POV Fight. At this point, I had never heard of "fightTIPS," so I did not have a sense of his reputation, abilities, point of view, or other characteristics which could play a role in the quality of the video. However, after watching the video, I noticed that what he said made sense, and that it aligned well with what I had learned when training a long time ago. Furthermore, the comments section tended to reinforce my perceptions. A related video by the same person, 10 Advanced Sparring Tips for MMA, Boxing, & Muay Thai, was also helpful. Even doing a mental exercise, where I imagined that the fighter seen in the GoPro camera as my actual opponent, was helpful. So far, so good!
On a different occasion I was trying some of the Filipino martial arts movements I once practiced. I remembered a double stick pattern that I believed was called a "sinawali." I searched YouTube for "double sinawali" and found many results. I watched the first one and got the sense that the instructor knew his material, but the way he presented it seemed different than what I remembered. Looking through the comments, I found that one of the viewers had noted an aspect of the demonstration that had caught my attention, as shown below:
|Comment on Double Sinawali video|
The final example is a "bad news, good news" story. For Krav Maga class this week, I decided to wear boxing wraps. With the cold weather and dry air, my instructor recommended to the class that we wear wraps or MMA gloves. I found my 20-year-old wraps and realized I did not remember how to tie them! YouTube to the rescue? Possibly.
First, the bad news: I searched online and watched one of the videos with the top results. The example didn't look quite right to me. Scanning the comments, I saw they were universally critical, eg., "Totally WRONG wrap technique!" I rejected that video and moved on.
Now, the good news: I returned to the search results and picked another video. This one made more sense to me, and the comments implied that they liked the technique demonstrated. I used this wrapping technique once I got to class and had a good workout.
The bottom line is that there is indeed a ton of very helpful information for martial artists in the form of free online videos. However, viewers should watch with a critical eye where possible, and, better yet, consult with your instructors for guidance. Video comments can sometimes appear as a morass of hate speech and vulgarity, but sometimes they can help differentiate between quality content and content that does more harm than good.