I've shared my tips for instructors on how to launch a successful virtual martial arts program, but I hear you...
What about us, the students?
In the year 2020, students (and parents alike) have been asked to take on more when it comes to learning virtually. After all, virtual learning methods do not guarantee an effective experience based on the student’s preferred method of learning.
As a pedagogy enthusiast, and an experienced virtual / remote learner for 3+ years, I’ve been able to upgrade my personal practice. In fact, I just learned a very long form / hyung in 4 virtual lessons, each session lasting no more than one hour.
Here are my hacks to a successful virtual learning experience:
Tip #1: Stage your Studio
Just like my suggestion for instructors, it’s important that students appropriately plan their practice space. Here’s the same list of bare minimum technology essentials to have:
You’ll notice that I did not include the microphone requirement for the student. More on that later.
Test out your camera placement before your first lesson, ensuring that you are able to demonstrate techniques and move about within a measured space while still being in frame. Personally, our home workout space / dojang has ample room, as we elected to buy our home with the intention of having a dedicated space for it. If you truly measure out how much of the space I use for forms / hyung, I use approximately 11 ft. by 5 ft. of this space.
If this is not an option for you, then this is an opportunity to be creative with your footwork! Remember, analyze your mental and internal qualities in moving through your forms, and test how you would apply these qualities by creating variations in your movement based on external variables.
Tip #2: Learn your Application's Settings
Take time to learn about any settings within the application that can impact the overall experience for you and your fellow students. These include:
As you are the student moving extensively, an on-body microphone (such as an earbud or lavalier) may impede your movements. Your computer or mobile device’s internal microphone should be sufficient for your needs, as long as you keep your internal microphone muted for most of the class.
It’s the courteous thing to do to keep yourself on mute. Just like how a student would not talk over other students or the teacher in-person, we should be mindful of excessive background noises picked up by our microphones that will cause the instructor’s audio to cut in and out. When you have a question, approach your computer / mobile device, and politely “raise your hand” (by either unmuting yourself and politely stating your need, or use the application to raise a question or digital hand).
Please also learn to love these features on your application, especially when using Zoom:
And one last thing about staging: Please, please, please, with a cherry on top, use a tripod. Do not ask someone to hold your mobile device in hand while live-streaming a class.
Tip #3: Ask for Help!
It is extremely important to remain engaged with your instructors. Continue to maintain the courage to ask your question or to ask for help during class. It is highly likely that other students have the same exact question in mind, but simply are afraid to raise their hands. Help yourself, and help your fellow students achieve clarity in your practice!
Learn to record and submit video selfies of your techniques...
Help your instructors by giving them visual aids to know how to help you. We love to take photo selfies of ourselves with friends and family, but yes, I hear you: It’s a bit more intimidating to record your performance for the sole purpose of receiving feedback.
But we grow and build resilience by sharing our vulnerabilities and overcoming our fears. And like you, I am a Kyosa (instructor) who has to submit homework videos to my teacher too. Chances are that your instructor is required to provide the same type of homework. It’s intentionally a humbling experience but remember:
You are not alone!
Tip #4: Use Multiple Camera Angles
Unless you have one of those automatically-rotating tripods, the camera will be fixed in one position of the room. Your instructor will be limited to a 2D view of your movement, which is why it becomes important to stage your studio properly.
However, you can leverage your body's orientation to the camera by facing certain directions.
This is not the best example, but these two images are screenshots from two of my homework video submissions. Notice how the camera is facing different walls, but I land in the same position in the form / hyung.
When we were troubleshooting this section on a video conference, we isolated this section. But if I needed to demonstrate the full sequence and my teacher needed my body to end up in this position facing him, I would start my choonbee facing away from the camera (and respectfully show my back to my teacher just for this need).
Alternatively, you can dial into two different video conference sessions using two different devices, with one camera front-facing and the other rear-facing. To prevent audio feedback, one device should have both its output volume and microphone muted. But it does get "trippy" - only set this up upon receiving a request from your instructor.
Tip #5: Have Fun!
The world of virtual learning opens a new avenue of networking, collaboration, and camaraderie amongst martial artists of the same or different classical styles across multiple organizations. Personally, I would like to see more collaboration (and less comparison and competition) between members of disparate organizations. After all, we are all connected historically, evolving from similar - if not - the same parent style.
Do you struggle with any aspect of your practice, whether in-person or virtual? Would you like to feel more inResONEnce with your practice goals? Request your free informational call back today!