We live in a time when you can acquire knowledge and develop skills in a wide-range of areas through virtual learning. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many gyms and martial arts schools have limited capacity, significantly reduced hours of operation, or closed down completely. In recent years, online learning and workout options for conditioning and training in martial arts from home have gained in popularity. These resources are not only useful during this time of social distancing, but also viable options for long-term training. In this article, I share information about several top options available for learning Nunchaku over the internet.
So, How Do You Decide On A “Learn From Home” Program?
There are a number of important things to consider when looking at options for training in martial arts from home. Having utilized several programs like this myself, I have a good sense about what’s important to make suggestions for others to consider. In writing this post, I focused on factual information about the programs I examined, not my personal opinion of them. It’s my hope that this will raise awareness about several top options for learning Nunchaku at home. Even if you’re not considering one of these, a close examination of the important features may help you when you look at other options. In other words, think of this article as a template for scrutinizing these types of programs yourself.
From the GMAU Nunchaku Program website:
“At the Global Martial Arts University (GMAU), we believe everyone should have access to the training they need to protect and better themselves. That’s why we built a better, proven way to learn martial arts. Your choice of style in the convenience of your home, across your devices. Achieve real rank at your own pace with one-on-one instructor feedback. All at the fraction of the cost of practicing at a traditional studio.”
The GMAU started as a DVD-based learn-from-home martial arts program and is now a global leader in online martial-arts instruction. The company offers training in: Shotokan Karate, Taekwondo, Krav Maga, Muay Thai, Bojutsu, Nunchaku, and a 12-week fitness boot camp called Combat Strong. GMAU serves thousands of students across its programs, from more than 50 different countries. All ranks are accredited and certified by the Global Martial Arts Association.
How The Program Works
GMAU has a lead instructor for the Nunchaku program. He holds a 3rd Dan black belt in Nunchaku. The program provides clearly outlined syllabi for each rank level. The program features pre-recorded lessons and follow-along classes to deliver instruction on all techniques, stances, footwork, drills, and kata (forms) required for each rank. These are supplemented with additional fitness or other specific instructional videos found in the student portal. In addition, live-broadcast classes are offered and other short lessons are regularly added each month and can be accessed anytime by GMAU students.
At each rank level, students are required to complete written or video-recorded assignments for the instructor to check their progress. After completing the number of required practice hours (varies by rank), students can submit recorded videos to their instructor to test for the next belt rank. Instructors evaluate test submissions and provide detailed feedback to students by video. If needed, students can re-test (usually only select portions) until they meet the standards to progress to the next belt.
” I have been training in martial arts for several years, and this program has given me some great new material to learn! I have some experience with traditional nunchaku work, but not much with freestyle/modern techniques. This course is easy to follow with quality instruction that you can view as many times as needed. The best part, though, is the feedback from Sensei. He responds quickly and with detail to questions you ask via e-mail, and the personalized test video response is a great learning opportunity as well. I am very pleased with this course, and I look forward to continuing my training with the Global Martial Arts University in the future. “GMAU Nunchaku Student Testimonial
The usual program cost for GMAU Nunchaku is $29.95/month. There are biannual or three-installment options that reduce the overall cost of the program. There are additional, one-time, assignment fees ($15) and rank testing fees ($60) for each rank level. If a student is required to re-submit an assignment or test they are not charged. The GMAU regularly offers promotional rates for new students and reduced rates for existing students to join additional programs. There is a 60-day money back guarantee.
All GMAU programs (except for the Combat Strong 12-week fitness boot camp) allow interested individuals to sign up for a “Beginner’s Course”, allowing them to try out most of the introductory level (e.g., white belt) for no cost. In addition, there are many classes, lessons, and informational posts available to anyone who can access YouTube, Facebook or Instagram.
GMAU students can communicate directly with their instructor through the student portal. There is also a message board in the student portal that can be used to interact with other students in a limited way (e.g., comment on another student’s written assignment, congratulate each other on progress). GMAU has a private Facebook community group where students and instructors can communicate freely. GMAU also provides blog posts (like this one) and has a tremendous amount of content freely available to anyone through YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. The parent organization, Global Martial Arts Association, also hosts an annual international online tournament that’s open to anyone who registers.
From the Virtual Nunchaku website:
“At an Affordable Price, the goal of our school is to provide each student with a Structured Learning Environment in which they can master Nunchaku for Wellness or Physical Fitness, Tournament Competition and Self-Defense while receiving Personalized Instruction and Certified Rank when earned.”
From reviewing the website it appears that Virtual Nunchaku training is comprised of two systems. The first system, American Style Nunchaku, is where students begin their study of this weapon. This system, founded in 1992 by Grandmaster Michael Burke, covers techniques and katas for both single and double Nunchaku. Students progress through Orange, Purple, Blue, Green, Brown, and finally Black Belt levels.
After achieving the foundational training, students can elect to transfer into the Ken-Fu Nunchaku Jutsu system, developed by Shihan Eldridge Hawkins. This system fuses American Kenpo, Ju-Jitsu, American Style Nunchaku, and Shihan Hawkins’ own techniques. It seems the Ken-Fu system is not yet available online (but will be in the future) through the Virtual Nunchaku site. It is unclear how many students Virtual Nunchaku serves.
How The Program Works
Students are not required to test for rank but have that option. Training consists of progressing through online materials at his/her own pace from Yellow Belt through Brown Belt via a “weekly lesson”. Lessons automatically “unlock” every seven days after the student registers and purchases his/her subscription.
Lessons are organized as follows: Yellow Belt material (weeks 1-5), Orange Belt material material (weeks 6-9), Purple Belt material (weeks 10-17), Blue Belt material (weeks18-22), Green Belt material (weeks 23-26), Brown Belt material (weeks 27-33).
According to the website, access to Black Belt course material only becomes available to a student who has successfully passed the Brown Belt exam and maintains an active subscription. There are no additional weekly lessons released beyond the conclusion of the Black Belt program. Student access remains to previously unlocked course material provided the student maintains an active subscription to the Virtual Nunchaku online program. Lastly, the path to black belt for someone with no previous experience is estimated to be three years (as noted in the FAQ page). No student testimonials appear on the website.
“ It is a teacher’s greatest wish to see a hard working student evolve. As my highest ranking Black Belt in the United States, Shihan Hawkins has constructed a solid online program that remains true to the American Style Nunchaku fundamentals and worthy of certified rank, while simultaneously including new martial arts elements that are broken down in a way that’s easy to learn. ”Grand Master M. Burke, 6th Dan, Founder of American Style Nunchaku Federation
The usual cost for this program is $49.99/month. At the time of this blog post, a $29.99/month promotional rate is in effect. In addition, the student can choose a belt-level “stand alone” program (only covering material from a single belt level) with prices ranging from $100 to $195 per course. It is unclear if there is a trial period or money back guarantee for any of the Virtual Nunchaku training programs or if there are additional fees for testing.
Virtual Nunchaku has a Facebook presence. No other video or social media outlets were found.
In doing your own research and choosing the program that’s right for you, it ‘s important to consider program features such as cost, requirements for advancement, the quality of instructors and instruction, trialability, and the ability to interact with other students and instructors. Having said this, some of these things may or may not matter to you. For example, you may want to train and advance and have your rank recognized and accredited. Or you might want to use an online-training platform to get through times when you’re traveling, under pandemic restrictions, or just for extra practice on your own. Therefore, rank accreditation may not matter to you.
Ultimately, you need to decide WHY you are looking for an online-training option and WHAT you want to get out of the experience. To me, these are the two biggest questions to ask yourself. Cost is another common consideration (by most of us) when comparing such choices. Features such as social media presence may or may not matter to you.
So, now you have the basic information you need to know how to evaluate options like these and I have provided you detail on two top “learn Nunchaku from home” internet programs. I hope you find this blog post educational and helpful, and I wish you well as you search for a program that is right for you!