Most of us don’t live in a home which has a built-in studio with a wall to wall mirror. Even if we did, mirrors are only good as long as you’re looking in them. Many forms will always have some portion where you may not look directly forward. For instance a downward strike, you’d want to look where you’re striking.
A great way to improve, especially when you’re practicing alone, is to video tape your form or movement in order to watch yourself and improve. Videotaping ones performance is done a lot when one is working on competitions and perfecting how you perform. But even in a more intimate and personal setting, videotaping is a great way to be critiqued in a safe environment. After all, we are often our hardest critiques
As should be obvious, taping yourself performing a particular form will give you a chance to review your movement after you’ve finished and without having to rely on catching glimpses in the mirror. Make sure to perform your form facing different directions so you can get a look from all angles.
As you review the tape, focus on different parts with each run. One run you might want to watch the feet and see where you’ve positioned them. Then the next time, look at your hands. Then the next, watch your eyes. And so on. This way you can work on individual parts of the form with each progression.
Many people tape bouts that they have and those they respect have and watch them in hopes to perform better in sparring and full-contact events. Action is often happening very quickly in the ring and thus being able to review and slow down the video helps.
Reviewing the tape allows you to find both your strengths and weaknesses. Observe what the winning side did differently that allowed them to win. Watch for flaws or openings that might have been missed and will need to be corrected, even if they didn’t cause a point loss (you got lucky this time). Observe patterns like, do you always favor your right side? Pay attention to use of the ring, did you fully utilize your space and minimize the attacks possible?
Even the basics like punching drills or stance work can be videotaped or photographed to help with your training. With stance work, it’s important you become “self-realized” if you’re doing something wrong. But often, seeing how you’re doing it wrong is worth more than having a instructor point it out. If you can visually absorb the image, you can begin to feel where you’ve gone wrong.
Likewise with drills. Taking from both forms and sparring, watching a video of you performing your basic drills can often help you improve. You can slow down the action, spot where perhaps your stance or focus was off, and use that knowledge to improve.
Knowledge is power. And using technology like video and camera allows you to know how you’re performing and improve.
Good luck and train hard!