Can you learn qigong, or any movement art, online? This is a burning question for me right now. My immediate reaction is "NO!". However, I believe there is a significant role for supplemental online material in the overall learning process, even for movement arts.
Here's why it's a bad idea to learn movement online:
- Learning movement is a kinesthetic experience, not a visual one -- you have to feel where you are in space and you certainly can't get that from staring at a screen
- You need feedback -- when you are learning something new, you need refinement and guidance, usually hands-on
- Some things need to be felt on another person -- we get into this all the time with more subtle qigong principles and there is no way around feeling what's going on in the instructor's body to learn what you are trying to do in your own
Those are my big 3 "No way!" reasons you can't learn qigong online. Or I should say, the reason why online learning shouldn't be your sole way of learning this stuff. Let's look at it from a different point of view.
Assuming you have some in-person feedback, at some time, can online resources supplement your movement education? Absolutely!
- You need practice. If you really want to "get it" you need to practice more outside of class time with an instructor than in class time. So, will a double-check of something you already learned help keep you on track? Yup.
- Say you don't have regular access to an instructor. Are there certain things that you can begin to work on so that when you do meet up, you'll make the most of your time? Uh huh.
So, I think you can see, while I doubt how effective it is to learn movement exclusively online, I'm in favor of online resources for movement education that support live training. I think there are novel uses for prep to maximize in-person time and follow-up to keep personal practice on track.
Using Moodle, I've been developing an online qigong program with Energy Arts Senior Instructor Paul Cavel and we'll be rolling out a version for Brookline Tai Chi in the coming months. Paul developed the course material initially to keep his workshop students on track between seminars. We're going to use some of the same content to help people interested in starting at BTC get a jump start before new classes roll around.Â Of course, you'll hear more about how this all goes.