3 Reasons to Record Your Training

Recently, I purchased a cheap digital camcorder, a tripod, a case, and a memory card with the intention of using it to record videos of training material for students at my Taekwondo school.  I have started to record some of that material and also decided to use it to record my Silvertails Competition Team competing at tournaments.  While doing some preliminary recordings of patterns and kicking techniques, I came across some interesting lessons that I had not had the privilege of enjoying previously.

1.       The camera makes you nervous

In the last fifteen years, I have practiced some techniques thousands of times, yet as soon as I turned on the digital camcorder, I became very nervous and had to think very hard about my material.  This has a side benefit that had not originally occurred to me – simulated test anxiety.  In my school, we have students complete a promotion test about every three months so they can progress to the next belt in the system.  This is a formalized promotion with some ceremony and lots of visitors to the school.  This can be a very nerve-racking time for the students.  Having the students record themselves doing their promotion material can help simulate the test anxiety many feel.

2.       Get an objective view of your practice

Nothing will show you all of your glaring mistakes like video.   There is no sugar coating or politeness, if you did a wrong, the video will show you in bright dynamic color.  As an instructor, I usually focus on one area of improvement for each student.  This means that sometimes a student is doing several things incorrectly but I will only focus on one area to improve.  I ignore the other areas so we can make that one part better.  A video will not be as focused, it will just show you what you are doing wrong.  This can be a very good thing for most of us. We sometimes think we are doing better than we actually are and a video can show us where we are weak.  For instance, I think I have a pretty good front stance, but…after watching myself on video, I see a number of areas I can improve, primarily in regard to my balance and back leg.  I hope I continue to see areas I can improve.

3.       See your progress over time

We all want to know we are improving with practice but it is hard to know for sure if we are actually getting better.  A video of your earlier performance can be the best way to know for sure.  My own experience is one of seeing the desired improvement but also witnessing another area that has lagged in progress.  This is then a net zero benefit, improvement came at the detriment of something else, that is not where I ever want to be.  I would not have been able to make this observation had I not recorded my practice on video.

Overall, I have found the use of video to be amazingly helpful in my martial arts practice, I guess this should not have been a surprise considering athletes and performers of all kinds have been using it for years.  I have not had the benefit of experiencing it first-hand like this and find the experience thrilling.  For me, it is a little bit like the experience of doing a wheelie on my bike for the first time when I was young, now I want to do it all the time.

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