Using Video to Improve Martial Arts Form & Application

This past Sunday we worked with local boxing champion Louis Sargeant to improve our sparring skills. In the second half of the class, we all took turns doing some boxing-style sparring with Louis coaching us. As part of the experience, we decided to film everyone’s sparring so people can watch themselves and get a better idea of what things they need to work on.

Video and Sparring

Sparring is one of those forms of training that gets the adrenaline pumping. And when that happens, it can be hard to focus on the advice you’re given while doing so, or even afterwards. Sometimes I tell people that they’re winding up their hooks, or dropping their hands as they spar and they *think* they’re taking corrective measures to fix things. As a result, they even sometimes get a little defensive in their minds thinking that they ARE fixing the things I tell them about, so why are they still getting hassled about it? The truth is that despite the best intentions sometimes it’s hard to really know what your instructor or coach is talking about without seeing it for yourself from an outside perspective. That’s when video really comes in handy. People are often surprised how flagrant their mistakes are when they see the video replay of their performance. Below is a video of me sparring with one of my students who happens to have his black belt in another style of Jiu-jitsu with 10 years experience under his belt.

Considering I haven’t been sparring as much in the last little while, I’m reasonably happy with my performance in this video. It looks like I opened up a bit more than I would have liked on a couple of my hooks, but other than that I think we both did reasonable well.

Video and Martial Arts Technical Trouble-shooting

Sometimes students have a particular technique that they are struggling with. They may have a mental block and are having trouble moving past it. Video can be really useful for working out issues in such cases. A little while back, one of my students was having a bit of trouble with one of his breakfalls. He was pro-active about working on it and asked if we could film him doing it after class. I was happy to do so and, as a result, he was able to figure out what the trouble which helped him work on the issue. Below is the video.

In this case, the student wasn’t kicking his leg back aggressively enough and was keeping his head up too high, making it so that he wasn’t getting enough rotation into the fall. He also needed to keep the leg he was swinging straight, which would have helped him kick back more aggressively as well as serving to protect his knee on impact.

When it comes to making these videos, it doesn’t have to be super high quality footage as long as the student can see what is going on. iPhones are great for this purpose, which is what I usually end up using. It can be useful for working on issues for any aspect of the martial arts, including punches, kicks, throws, etc.

Have you ever used video to work on improving your martial arts skills? Please feel free to share your experiences in the comments. 🙂

Comments (2)

2 thoughts on “Using Video to Improve Martial Arts Form & Application

  1. Excellent post! I do a fair number of private lessons with my students and I often use video to point out the things that they need to work on and it’s often quite invaluable. Quite often, there is the “aha, I see what you’re talking about” moment where they see where their technical flaws are. By the same token, I use video diagnose myself as well. So this is a great tool on the road to self improvement.

    1. That’s a great idea to use video in private lessons. And it’s definitely helpful for self-diagnosis so instructors can critique their own technique. Thanks for commenting! 🙂

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