Beware the Martial Art DVD? What does that mean? Does it mean that I think you can't learn from a DVD? No, you can certainly learn aspects of a martial art from a DVD, although you get the best results from attending a martial art class.

The "beware" is about those DVDs that were originally filmed in VHS format and then years later are re-released in DVD format without any editing.

Tonight I watched a Small Circle Jujutsu DVD from Black Belt Magazine Video and I knew right away that I had a VHS "DVD" :( The first indication was the word "Start", that’s it! No menu, no chapter, just press play and on you go. The second indication was the cheap heading that said "Tape #1", we all know that a DVD is not a tape. The third indication is that when you press the next scene button on your remote, you get not the next scene, but the end of the "DVD"; you see, back in the VHS days there was no such thing as "next scene" as the video was recorded on one long strip of plastic like tape.

Now I am one of those ancients that still have a VHS player sitting under his DVD player. I enjoy picking up "disposable" movies in the .50 cent bin as I tend not to watch them more than once. However, when it comes to instructional videos, I LOVE the DVD for the ability to go straight to the scene I need to learn from rather than fast forwarding through the whole video every time I put the DVD in as if it was a VHS tape. It gets worse! If I am watching a VHS tape I can stop it and come back to where I left off days later. With a VHS "DVD" I have to fast forward every time when I stop the DVD (there is the pause button but with instructional DVDs you want to be able to put it away and start where you left off days or even weeks later).

So what can you do? Well apart from digging out copies of your Fighting Stars Ninja magazines from the 80's and comparing the list of VHS titles with the list of DVD titles in your UFC magazines from 2010, there is little that you can do. Most companies don't advertise the fact that they took a VHS tape and put it straight on a DVD without reformatting, that would be extra work for them. You could write the company but there is no guarantee that the sales person even knows what you are talking about if they have never see a VHS tape before. If you read the DVD ad closely it may list the various chapters on the DVD but that still is no guarantee that "chapter" equals "next scene" ability. Your best bet? Go online to the various martial art forums and ask in the Video section if anyone has the DVD that you are interested in, then ask them if it has the next scene feature or if it just plays in one continuous line like the old VHS tapes.

Martial Arts instructional DVDs are not cheap, make sure you are getting the most modern features for your money.