“You can’t learn qigong online,” he said.
I was chatting with a colleague via Skype. He was expressing his concerns about my new project, a comprehensive online qigong course for beginners.
His concerns are actually common in the qigong world. Many teachers share this idea that qigong can’t be learned online.
“I used to think the same thing,” I told him. “But you know me. I need to test everything. And when I tested my theory, it quickly became obvious that I was wrong.”
If you still think that qigong can’t be learned online, then you’re wrong. It can.
The truth is that online learning works amazingly well for the art of qigong.
Here are 9 reasons why:
1. Harry Potter Pictures
I love books. I’ve got hundreds on my shelf, and many of them are about qigong.
Some of you probably started learning qigong from a book. I did too.
But the truth is that books don’t cut it for an art like qigong.
With books, you can’t teach the smoothness of a qigong pattern, or the correct sound for an exhalation, or the proper speed of a technique.
I have one book that used an innovative technique. There were little pictures of a technique in the bottom corner. By flipping the pages quickly with your thumb, you could see the technique in motion.
Very cool…for 1995.
But it’s not 1995, and there are better options today.
Online learning is like one of those pictures in the Harry Potter series where the characters move and talk.
Actually, it’s better than that. Keep reading, and I’ll explain why.
2. DVDs Suck
What about DVDs, you ask? Aren’t those better than a book?
Yes. In some ways, DVDs are better than a book.
But they still suck. I could write an entire blog post on why DVDs suck, but here are the top 5 reasons:
- DVDs are uni-directional. You watch, and that’s it. You can’t ask questions or get feedback.
- You can’t use other types of media, like guided audios, charts, or documents.
- There’s no sense of community, of connecting with other likeminded students.
- You can’t stream a DVD to different devices.
- Navigating a DVD is a pain in the neck.
- You don’t get instant access to a DVD. I don’t know about you, but in the age of Netflix, I don’t want to wait 2-3 days for my DVD to arrive. I want it NOW!
Every week, I get emails asking if I have any DVDs.
Then answer is no. I have no DVDs, and no plans to make any.
Why would I make DVDs when online learning is a much better teaching tool?
You can do so many cool things with online learning! (Click here to see all the cool things that are included in my new online qigong program.)
3. Stop, Rewind, Review
If you come to my retreat in Costa Rica, you’ll learn a ton of material in a week.
Let’s be honest. It’s hard to remember everything. Especially when you’re constantly being distracted by beautiful scenery and delicious food.
Online learning is a wonderful compliment to in-person learning because it allows us to review techniques at our own pace.
I know what you’re thinking. “You can do that with DVDs too!”
But DVDs are inferior.
With online learning, you always have the lessons handy — whether it’s your phone, your tablet, or your laptop. You can even log in using someone else’s device.
My students often take their online lessons outside with them on the porch, or with them while traveling.
Plus, online learning allows me to record the actual retreat itself, and then send the materials to the participants.
Can’t do that with a DVD!
4. Shopping for Teachers
When I was in college, we had something we called Shopping Week.
During the first week of the semester, you could sit in on any class, whether you were registered or not.
Needless to say, the good teachers had packed classes, and the bad teachers had empty ones.
Personally, I love this kind of meritocracy.
The internet gives you the ability to shop for good teachers, no matter where you live.
And you know what? People want good teaching.
They’re tired of having to settle for a mediocre local teacher, or having to fly thousands of miles to learn from a good one.
Here’s an email I received from a gentleman who recently signed up for my online course:
I looked at the videos on the first part of the course this morning and all I can say is that it is all even more than I expected but also it is exactly all that you said it would be.
I have probably seen at least 50 different qigong teachers, mostly on dvd, some on Skype and a few in person. From those that I have seen teach, I would say you would be the best for anyone who is a beginner.
You know how to break it all down into steps, whereas most teachers just demonstrate their form with not enough or in most cases, no break down at all. The student is just supposed to get it all by watching.
I found that to be most frustrating and stressful to the point where I usually would just give up on that form since it was too hard to learn. It was not the form, it was the lack of correct teaching.
– Steve M.
Of course, I’m not the only good teacher out there. But I think many of the best teachers aren’t particularly well known — yet.
I believe that online learning will gradually allow the cream to rise to the top, letting good teachers shine.
5. Qigong is Forgiving
Qigong is a forgiving art to learn. Your physical form doesn’t need to be perfect.
In fact, I encourage my students to butcher the form because it’s the least important thing we do.
Olympic weightlifting, on the other hand, isn’t forgiving. If your form is wrong, you can really hurt yourself.
As long as you have good instruction, it’s hard to hurt yourself with qigong. This makes it ideal for online learning.
6. Qigong Isn’t a Martial Art
Whenever people say, “You can’t learn qigong online,” I vehemently disagree.
But when people say, “You can’t learn kung fu online,” I have to change my tune a bit.
Whether it’s Shaolin Kung Fu or Tai Chi Chuan, here’s what you CAN learn online:
- You can learn the fundamentals.
- You can learn the forms and routines.
- You can learn internal power training methods.
- You can learn strength and flexibility exercises.
- You can review techniques that you’ve learned in person.
Here’s what you CANNOT do online with kung fu:
- Partner work.
If you’re learning a martial art, then you need to do partner work. You need to drill your punching, kicking, throwing, and grappling techniques with another person.
No exceptions. Otherwise, it’s not a martial art.
Luckily, qigong ISN’T a martial art, so it does not require any partner work whatsoever.
7. Group Learning Isn’t For Everyone
By necessity, most qigong is taught in groups. It’s just more cost effective for everyone involved.
But group learning can be problematic for many people.
For example, people with anxiety disorders, people who are known as HSPs (Highly Sensitive People), people who are highly introverted — all of these people will struggle in a live, group setting.
Online learning solves all of these problems. You can learn from the safety of your own home, without the group dynamic.
In other words, for many people, learning online is their ONLY option.
8. A Teacher’s Dream
In the old days, you went to your master’s house every day to learn. Or you lived in a temple, and learned there.
This method didn’t involve actual lessons the way we think of them today.
The masters would just give you small pieces of instruction, and then watch you practice.
When you were ready for something new, the master would give you another small piece of instruction. This allowed you to learn at the perfect pace.
When I ran a brick-and-mortar qigong studio, it was hard to set the perfect pace. I had 18 group classes per week, of all different levels.
From a teaching perspective, it was absolute chaos.
It was impossible to control the curriculum because students jumped from class to class.
Online teaching allows me to have complete control over the curriculum.
Honestly, it’s a teacher’s dream. I can choose the EXACT order for students to learn the material in. And I can even see if they’ve completed the lessons!
Teachers of all subjects are falling in love with online learning, and this is one big reason why.
9. It Works
The proof is in the taste of the pudding.
With qigong, the “taste” is measured in results. If students are getting remarkable results from learning online, then that’s all the proof you need.
And my students are getting results online. Period. (If you’re one of them, then please back me up by adding your voice in the comments below.)
Many qigong teachers insist that the art can’t be taught online — and yet they’ve never even tried it.
They reject the idea on principle, despite their lack of evidence.
If they tested it, they would see that they’re wrong.
I thought you couldn’t learn qigong online. Then I tested it. I was wrong.
You absolutely can.
I’ve taught over 5000 live classes, and I’ve also taught over 5000 people online, and I can say — scientifically — that online teaching works.
It’s not the same as learning in person, but there’s no question that it works. Mindfully yours, Sifu Anthony I’m Anthony Korahais, and I used qigong to heal from clinical depression, low back pain, anxiety, and chronic fatigue. I’ve already taught thousands of people from all over the world how to use qigong for their own stubborn health challenges. As the director of Flowing Zen and a board member for the National Qigong Association, I'm fully committed to helping people with these arts. In addition to my blog, I also teach online courses and offer in-person retreats and workshops.