Often, we look like Charlie Chaplin instead.
When I started my online internal arts "school" in 2008, I thought certification would be part of the package. If you could show that you have learned the internal principles and movement, and do the forms and techniques well, you could receive certifications.
It turned out to be a lot harder than I expected.
It is really difficult to learn through video only, because most people do not have enough body awareness to translate what they are seeing on a screen into what their body should be doing.
Everyone needs a teacher to correct them, over and over again, until their muscle memory takes over.
For 12 years, I tried to solve this problem by having members do videos and either put them up privately on YouTube or send them to me. I would watch and I would shoot videos correcting their mistakes.
I could see some progress in some people, but it was a labor-intensive process and it took a long time.
And then online video progressed, and Zoom, Skype and FaceTime got better and better as computer and phone speeds progressed.
And then Covid-19 hit, forcing a lot of us to do classes on Zoom.
I do a Xingyi class on Monday, a Taiji class on Wednesday and a Bagua class on Friday -- all live on Zoom, with website members from California to Texas to Sweden, Germany and Romania.
Besides the live Zoom classes, I also do live one-on-one coaching sessions with members of my website.
We have fun, we learn, and I see more improvement in members than I have since I began teaching online.
I am starting to send out certifications, and I am learning that this type of environment can produce quality results.
Achieving quality still takes a lot of work. I don't give certifications lightly. You don't "buy" a certificate just by joining. You must show you have achieved what you are after at that level, whether it is the five fist postures and Linking form of Xingyi, the Chen 19 form in Taiji, the Eight Main Palms form of Bagua., or whatever you are working on.
But I have seen that it can be done by people like Nikolaus in Sweden, Michael in Germany, Amir in Canada, Robert in Romania, or Michael in New Jersey.
A certificate of completion does not mean mastery. It is like a belt promotion in any martial arts school. It signifies that you have worked hard and shown basic competence. From there, it is the student's job to continue working to improve the form or technique, and it is the instructor's job to continue to guide the student toward improvement.
By the way, there are no fees for certifications on my website. And no additional cost for the live classes or one-on-one sessions. It is all included in the monthly website fee of $19.99 per month. Yes, I know, it seems very low. But my goal isn't to gouge anyone, it is to teach. I love it, and I am very happy that technology has finally allowed it to be a better opportunity for everyone, regardless of where they live on the planet.
--by Ken Gullette