In this post on how to make instructional videos for martial arts and self-defense, I’ll cover some of the basics and typical errors to avoid. My goal is that with this information, you can improve the quality of your recordings right away. You don’t have to be a professional with expensive equipment to make good quality instructional videos. Nor do you need Hollywood-level post-production, providing you take into account these recommendations. With some forethought, planning, and experimentation, you can quickly make progress.
FYI: I made my first instructional video over 15 years ago with Paladin Press. I worked with them regularly before they closed down and have produced numerous ones myself. For the past few years, I have made over 150 instructional videos for my Patrons. There are people who are better at it than me, obviously, but I do have plenty of experience and will share it with you. Use what works for you and discard the rest.
Let’s get started.
Planning an instructional video
First things first, what is the goal of the video? Detailed instruction of a specific technique? Highlighting the flow of a drill? Showing a kata or form from beginning to end for reference? To get a good finished product, you need to work towards it from the beginning: you can edit the footage to improve it but it is difficult to show what you didn’t record. Re-shooting is not always possible and pick-ups only go so far. So save yourself some time and think before you start:
What do you want to teach with this video?
Determine that first and then you can proceed.
Obviously, you can have multiple goals at once, that’s fine. But then adjust the rest of the planning accordingly. I would suggest keeping things simple if you are new to making instructional videos. As you get more experienced, you can take on more complex projects.
Script or Outline
Now that you know the goal of the video, it’s time to specify all the elements that need to be in it. Let’s say you make an instructional video about how to throw a straight punch. Here are some of the elements you might want to include:
- Theory and context of the technique.
- Slow demonstration of the technique for reference.
- Highlighting the individual components of the technique: legs, left arm, right arm, torso, footwork, etc.
- Demo with a partner at different speeds.
- Demo on a heavy bag or focus mitt.
- Common mistakes.
- Final thoughts and outro.
Add and subtract to such a bullet list depending on your goal. Also, go into as much or as little detail as you need and create sub-bullets if that works for you. For some scenes, I have everything written out but for others, it’s just a word or a sentence. It all depends on the individual video or the series I’m making. For instance, this is the beginning of the outline I used for my Hardcore Heavy Bag Training instructional video: [Read more…]