Yesterday I had a private lesson with one of my regular clients, Terry. During this lesson, I realized the importance of instant video in correcting a hitch in Terry’s “abaniko double action” technique.

NB: Terry gave me permission to discuss this private lesson and to use screenshots from a couple of videos that I shot.

The Late Professor Remy Presas demonstrating abaniko double action. To see the video, click here.

In the above clip of Professor, his shoulders are relaxed while executing the abanico double action. In particular, please note his right shoulder which is relaxed. Professor’s wrist is doing all the work.

During part of our private lesson, Terry was working on the abanico double action in conjunction with palis palis. I noticed that his technique had a hitch in that his right shoulder was rolling forward and as his stick rotated back to his shoulder, his head would momentarily pitch forward.

I explained to Terry what I was observing. My instruction proved inadequate. Then I had an “aha!” moment and fished my iPhone 6 out of my jeans pocket.

I told Terry: “I’m going to take some video of you doing abanico double action.”

I played back the 15-second video clip and pointed out the hitch that I attempted to explain.

abaniko double action.
The hitch in Terry’s right shoulder. His head would slightly roll forward right after this.

Upon seeing the video, he immediately realized what I was trying to convey. I gave him a quick demonstration of the abanico double action.

BOOM! Immediate correction!

Hitch begone! Terry after viewing the video of himself.
Hitch begone! Terry after viewing the video of himself.

This provided a reminder of the power of video as an adjunct to instruction. 

Many folks shudder to see themselves on video, thinking that they are imposters. That feeling is quite understandable and common.

That said, there is tremendous value in video for martial artists. I tell you, I have viewed many videos of myself and shuddered at what I was seeing. It’s one thing for an instructor to point out your flaws and the frustrating attempts to correct the shortcomings. But it’s another thing to see yourself on video and saying to yourself “holy crap, what am I doing? Why am I moving like that?” 

I can’t speak for others but it’s much easier for me to correct my flaws after seeing exactly what I’m doing wrong. It’s highly educational to watch myself. 🙂

If you are honest with yourself and can stand the sight of yourself screwing up royally, you can make tremendous strides by evaluating yourself on video.

Maestro Sonny Umpad used to film training sessions with his students and give them the videos afterwards for “homework.”  For example, check out Maija Soderholm’s YouTube channel (embedding has been disabled by Ms. Soderholm) to view some videos of her training sessions with Maestro Sonny. I have no doubt that these videos were invaluable to her and Maestro’s other students in diagnosing their shortcomings as well as divining Maestro Sonny’s tactics and strategies.

There are two keys to the successful use of video. First, you must take video of the training sessions, assuming that you have permission of the instructor. Secondly, you need to find the time and willingness to watch yourself. This can be tricky in our busy lives. However, today’s technology makes this task easier. For example, you can upload small sections of video onto your smartphone and watch at your leisure. For example, whenever I commuted from Oshawa to downtown Toronto, I often passed the time watching video of myself. You can learn quite a bit this way.

Over to you, have you used video as part of your martial arts training? Please comment and share your experiences!

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2 thoughts on “The Power of Video in Private Lessons

  • December 21, 2015 at 10:50 am

    I wholeheartedly agree that video is an important part of training. Yes it is weird watching yourself at first – get over it! But there is another side to the coin – video as instructional material. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been practicing at home and gotten stuck on a technique that I couldn’t remember. Or worse yet, remembering it incorrectly and practicing it 100 times wrong! Very frustrating. Video is so useful in many ways.

    • December 21, 2015 at 10:56 am

      Yes, you got it RoseAnne! If you can get your hands on instructional video and it’ll be quite helpful. I have tons that I have referred to over the years. 🙂


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