How to make instructional videos for martial arts and self-defense

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:

  • Introduction.
  • 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…]

How to use the Hyperice Viper 2.0 for Martial Arts and Self-Defense Practitioners

Last month, I published my “Stretching and Mobility Exercises for Martial Arts and Self-Defense” instructional video and promised to do an additional video for the resources page. It took a while due to technical problems, but here it is, my review of the Hyperice Viper 2.0 and how to use it as a martial artist or self-defense practitioner. The first part explains the basics and theory. The practical demonstration starts at 11min.25sec.

Here goes:

I can say without a shadow of a doubt that the Vyper is worth every cent for me, and not just when it comes to mobility. It’s not cheap, but it has done so much for my recovery that it’s hard to put into words. I still use it every day, usually twice a day.

There are knock-off products available at a much lower price point. I haven’t tried any of those, but in my experience, there is often a reason why they are cheaper: lower quality. If you are feeling adventurous, feel free to give those a try. I prefer to save up a bit longer and then invest in long-term quality.

Go here to get your Hyperice Viper 2.0

How to make a fist: the myths, the truths and everything in-between

A few years ago I wrote an article here called Open hand or closed fist striking, which is best? and it got a lot of feedback. A little while ago, I posted something on facebook about how to make a fist and it triggered some responses too. As a result, I just created a discussion on Patreon on how to make a fist. You can join us there for loads more details and information.

It’s with that discussion in mind that I made this video. I wanted to illustrate that there is lots of misinformation and dogmatic thinking when instructors give advice on how to make a fist. They claim only one specific way of making a fist is correct and the rest is not. As always, the truth is more nuanced and it depends on so much more than you see at first glance.

So watch this video with that in mind:

This video is just an example, a proof of concept if you will. Obviously, the “Shaka fist” is nonsense: I made it up just to make my point. I would never advise anybody to punch like that. But the proof is now in front of your eyes that you can use that kind of fist and hit pretty hard with it. If you are to believe what so many instructors claim as an absolute best way to make a fist, I should have sprained my wrists, broken knuckles or hurt myself in a variety of ways when I was punching my heavy bag like that. I was supposed to lack all kinds of structure and stability in my hand; it wasn’t supposed to work.

But it did…



There are tons of considerations when training how to make a fist and there is no easy, one-stop-shop answer. On my Patreon page, we are going to dig deep into those factors so you can make informed decisions on which way to go, so feel free to join us there.

To help you get started, here is a more detailed picture of the two main ways I made a fist in the video.

How to make a fist

How to make a fist

Good luck with your training!

How to fight in an elevator against multiple opponents

Here’s a free video in the Violence Analysis series on my Patreon page: How to fight in an elevator against multiple opponents?

I have no additional information on this incident. I read somewhere that this was in Russia, but I can’t confirm it. So we don’t know what happened before the video starts rolling or what the aftermath was.

To be clear: I am only commenting on the tactics used. As I explain in the video, I very much doubt his actions would be seen as legitimate self-defense in pretty much any Western court of law.

The reason I analyzed this video is because it debunks one of the myths about violence: you can’t win against multiple opponents. As with other martial arts myths like “high kicks don’t work in the street“, they need to be nuanced and that’s my goal. Obviously, this doesn’t mean that fighting multiple opponents in an elevator is a good idea or that you should assume it’s easy. I cover that too in the video, that the guy is lucky and things could have gone very wrong for him.

All that said, here’s the video.

If you enjoyed this video, you might want to check out all my other violence analysis videos on my Patreon page. There is lots more there: instructional videos, Q&As, my newsletter, etc.

And there’s loads more to come…