A reader writes:
Q: “How does one best utilize instructional video tapes and what are the best out there.”
A: Let me preface my answer by saying that as someone who spends a lot of time producing and selling instructional grappling DVDs I am not exactly a neutral party! I definitely believe that good instructional videos can significantly improve grappling skills, especially when the viewer is prepared to put in some mat time to work the material.
This being said, I don’t think that there is a single best way to use instructional videos.
Sometimes one can watch an entire video and come away with only a single useful technique (or even a single detail of a single technique). Does this make that video worthless? Not always, especially if you end up using that technique on a regular basis.
Some videos are worth watching carefully. A few times I have sat down with a willing training partner, an instructional DVD and my labtop. We then watched the techniques one-by-one, paused the video and practiced the technique several times. For the right video this is a very good way of absorbing the material and I should use this method of study more often. This method is also very useful for kinesthetic learners who need to feel a technique in order to understand it (rather than being shown it or having it explained to them).
The best videos are reference works that one can return to again and again. The first time that you watch a video like this you might come away with some techniques and/or strategies that work really well for you. Eventually, however, your training partners start countering these techniques, and then you can return to the video to find some options, counters and details that allow you to impose your game anyhow. This is I am trying to create when I plan, film and edit my own videos. With this type of video you don’t need to watch it from beginning to end every time – you might only want to return to it in order to clarify some point you’ve forgotten.
Not surprisingly, the most crucial part of absorbing information from a DVD is the willingness to drill the techniques in question, and then try them out in live sparring.
As for which videos are the the best, as a manufacturer of quite a few training DVDs and downloadable instructional products myself I’m pretty biased. But it’s never a bad idea to google the name of a potential instructional DVD along with the word ‘review’ in the search bar and see what other grapplers thought of your potential purchase…