In this post, I’ll describe how to improve your punching technique using slow-motion video and the benefits of getting up first thing in the morning whilst doing exercise that you love.

For the last few months, I have been struggling to motivate myself to do exercise. So with my Krav Maga instructor Sam, who was up for the weekend, he asked me if I wanted to do some pad work early on Sunday morning. He had already tried to set a basic plan for me to implement, but that just didn’t happen as my head wasn’t with it.

Also, since I had not done any serious punching for some time, I wanted to see how my technique had suffered and how it could be improved. Using the learn, take action and succeed methodology, I began to think of the best way to achieve this and identify what other benefits there were to training early on a Sunday morning.

Deciding what I wanted to achieve?

For some time I have been wanting to get up first thing in the morning and do some exercise. I wanted to see what effect it had on the rest of my day, but getting up at the crack of dawn to exercise didn’t fill me with motivation. I tend to come alive at night. I also wanted to see if I would see it through by doing something I liked rather than going to the gym.

So to make the best use of our time, I also decided that it would be a good idea to film parts of our session so that we could review our technique, to see where we could improve.

So our aims were;

  • Test exercise done first thing in the morning and assess what effect it would have on the rest of my day.
  • Would doing something I liked help me stay motivated and help me see it through?
  • Improve our punching technique through the use of slow-motion video.

What did I need to learn for it to be a success?

For our first aim, our learnings would come through actually getting up and doing it. I just needed to be aware of what my brain would be telling me if I felt I wasn’t up to it. Being aware of this when I got up and being aware of how I was going to feel afterwards were the main points here. I also needed to be focused on the fact that I would be doing something that I loved and which I hadn’t done for a while.

As we both have experience in martial arts, we already knew the techniques we were going to perform. We also had a set of hand pads and MMA gloves. What we decided to do though, was to use the techniques we were going to focus on as a warm-up. This would refresh our mind and body into what was going to happen. It would also ensure we were getting the best out of our session and help prevent injury.

Learning how to use slow motion video is not a complicated task these days, however, we did come across some technical issues with the iPhone 6 when low on storage. We did a few test runs to make sure we were in focus so it captured a good angle to assess our technique.

Time to take action

The night before I realised I had to take my youngest daughter to her gym comp, as my wife needed to take my other daughter over to York that morning. I was a little ‘cheesed off’ as I felt motivated and had got my head around getting up and doing it. I sent Sam a message early in the morning to say I had to pull out. Sunday morning came and we got confirmation that my eldest could go to the comp early, leaving a free morning again.

I had a choice. Stay in bed or go and do what we had planned. This is why we decided to do something we loved rather than going for a run as when it came to making the choice, the answer was already there. Finally, I’m getting up and doing some exercise!

Soon after breakfast, we met and whilst Sam was getting ready I tested the best place for the iPhone and took some sample footage. We began by going nice and light on the pads to warm up the muscles and took it one technique at a time, slowly building up the techniques into a combination. This was part one. We then did the same with parts two and three and put them together.

Warm Up – 5 mins

Part One – Jab, cross, left hook, knee.

Part Two – Jab, cross, jab, low right roundhouse.

Part Three – Roll the right hook attack, counter with left hook, cross and push kick.

After our warm up we spent some time focusing on our technique going at around 50% power, swapping over at timed intervals. We then went at 100% power for a time ensuring that we focused on our technique. We would also throw in some counter attacks to keep us on our toes and aware of attack, always staying focused.

Our session lasted roughly 45 minutes and we spent the last 15 minutes shooting some footage to review after. We both wore hoody jackets to get a good sweat on during the session.

Did this help us improve our punching technique and what did we learn?

This part is very important as, whether we have succeeded or not, we have learnt in every way. How to do it, or how not to do it. Remember, we can’t fail, we only learn. As this post is titled, how to improve your punching technique with slow-motion video, we’ll look at this first.

Aim 1 – Improve our punching technique using slow motion video

Slow motion is available on most phones now and is easy to use. You can get creative and use whatever means you can to get the right angle. As we didn’t have anything to support the iPhone, we just laid it on its side and propped it against the outside window and supported with another phone. We did come across some irritating issues though when your phone is low on storage. So make sure you follow these tips before shooting.

  1. Back up and delete any videos before you start and check your storage space as it will just stop half way through your recording.
  2. Another pain in the bum is that when you get a storage warning, the iPhone then asks you if you want to store to iCloud instead. It won’t let you drop anything until you have answered the option for this.
  3. Make sure you delete your recently deleted items or you will spend time scratching your head thinking why have I still not got any storage and I’ve just deleted a load of videos?
  4. As we were in a confined room with all the windows shut and hoodies on, this made the room get warm and we noticed condensation appearing over the iPhone lens when next to the window.
  5. Make sure that you focus the camera in the direction of where the footage is going to be shot.

It was really interesting looking back at our slow-motion footage. I noticed things that I didn’t even know that I did like dropping my right hand when pushing out the left jab, not getting back to a good base and other little pointers. When taken by surprise in the street and we have to defend ourselves, it may be these small imperfections that open us up to getting caught.

By focussing our attention on these finer details they become part of our subconscious, the part of the brain that is responsible for reacting in the way you were taught it. By not knowing where your weaknesses are, you can’t correct them, but we often don’t see where they are. Doing a simple exercise like this enables us to see them and correct them.

Aim 2 – Would doing something I liked help stay motivated and help me see it through?

As I said before, I’d been struggling to get up in the morning to do some exercise, despite already knowing that this would be the best thing for me. By choosing an activity that was part of my life for over 10 years, it enabled me to have the motivation to get up and do it. It also helps if you have a motivated training partner who has the same interests. I guess what I’m saying here, is if you don’t like running, don’t do it. If you like dancing, then get up and do that. Do what makes you happy as part of your exercise regime and you will always be motivated to get up and do it.

Aim 3 – Test exercise done first thing in the morning and assess what effect it would have on the rest of my day

I spent a lot of my day having ups and downs either from a bad diet or too much coffee. What I had thought was right, the effects of doing exercise first thing in a morning had a massive effect on your mood for the rest of your day. I felt balanced, positive and full of energy. I’ll never forget what the community councillor said to me when I went for my assessment before I had CBT, he said that I needed exercise and couldn’t live without it. Interesting.

Apply what you have learnt by repeating the process

By analysing what we have learnt, we actually go back to the learning phase of the methodology. We then take what we have learned and apply to other areas. By setting a small goal, like this little exercise session, it’s just a small part of the process but essential for development. We shall implement the same process for other techniques and scenarios so we continue to improve in the most efficient way possible.