Monday, June 15, 2015

Videotape Your Taekwondo Techniques

If you're reading this "Seniors" blog, you probably remember when filming yourself involved a movie camera, an 8mm cartridge, a projector, and a folding screen.  But you probably don't remember capturing your Taekwondo moves on film, because the process took much too long.
   Welcome to 2015.  Today you most likely own an iPhone or an iPad.  If not, a good friend of yours does.  And since videotaping your Taekwondo techniques is a two-person job anyway, call upon that good friend to play director while you play action star.
   We're now in June, and the halfway point of the year is an excellent time to assess your progress in  forms, or poomsae, as well as individual techniques.  It doesn't matter whether you're a beginner or a seasoned black belt.  Taking a hard look at your stances, kicks, strikes, and blocks always produces some useful feedback that will help you improve your Taekwondo skills.  And thanks to modern hand-held technology, shooting some video footage is quick and painless.
   Videotaping training sessions is something that most members of the USA Taekwondo National Poomsae Team do on a regular basis.  Even though a number of these team members are world champions in their respective age divisions, they realize that they can always improve something: the way the thumbs are held in a ridge-hand block; the speed and fluidity of a double punch; the foot position in a back stance; or the height of a side kick.  Eliminating even minor technical flaws can easily spell the difference between finishing first and fourth in championship competition.  More importantly, it can distinguish between the old you and the new you.  Taekwondo is about a lifetime of improvement, so you never outgrow the need for objective feedback.
   Why do videos help?  I offer two important reasons.  First, how you feel you're executing a particular technique is probably quite different from how you're actually doing it.  Example: we all sometimes feel that our kicks are sky high when, in fact, they're barely face high.  Even when kicking in front of a large mirror, you're likely to overestimate the height and speed of your kicks.  Watching a video can correct that misinformation.  You may not like what you see, but it's nice to identify problems in the privacy of your own home rather than in the center ring of a major tournament.
   Second, the nifty videos that an iPhone and iPad produce will allow you to zero in on particular frames and, if you wish, to print them out.  Why not capture your key problems in a series of still photos, then refer to them in the weeks ahead of a test or tournament?  Because we all have an infinite variety of techniques and combinations to master, we sometimes lose track of the movements that need extra work.  Tape a few pictures to your wall, and refer to them whenever you train.  Naturally, it may make sense to bring some of these photos to the dojang and let your master instructor comment on what he or she sees.  A little tough love never hurt anyone.
   If you're not videotaping your Taekwondo techniques, you're missing out on a simple but highly effective means of elevating your performance.  Before the year is half over, please shoot some video and see what happens. 
   Train well.