We use video in a number of different ways for to help learn kendo. There are a few of Japanese instruction books that come complete with DVDs. These can be easier to follow than still photographs or book illustrations. Many people learn by watching videos or YouTube clips of top level shiai players or of high ranked kendo teachers.
Some kenshi also like to video themselves or their students as a way to highlight bad habits that need fixing. I am in two minds about doing this. Watching yourself in action is a way to objectively understand what you are doing correctly and what is wrong, but this can have a negative effect on self-confidence.
When I look at clips of my kendo or the few keiko or shiai that other people have filmed and posted on YouTube, the disappointment at the opportunities I see myself missing or messing up outweighs any feeling of pleasure for the techniques that succeeded. Perhaps it is a reflection of my own tendency to be self-critical, but watching a bad or mediocre performance can be very discouraging. Instead I prefer to keep an image in my mind of the quality of kendo that I aspire to and to work towards this, measuring improvement by the way I feel rather than by visual evidence.
This does not mean that I don’t like criticism. I positively enjoy advice from senior instructors and welcome input from peers if they see me doing something wrong. It is just seeing my mistakes on film that I find cringe worthy.
I am not alone in this view. I have spoken to a number of hachidan who are constantly having their tachiai and seminar teaching uploaded to the internet and have been told by several of them that they feel uncomfortable at having what they do not consider to be their best performances broadcast around the globe. Of course the rest of us less expert kenshi would give anything to be able to emulate these masters on a bad day.
To some extent this self-examination is typical of kendo, where we all constantly strive to be better. A kendoka who sits in front of the screen watching himself and whispering “Damn I’m good” or words to that effect would hardly inspire confidence.
Another interesting take on YouTube came from a hanshi who will remain nameless. He told we that he worries about the numerous uploads as they help his wife keep track of him. It is not so much the seminar and shiai posts that worry him, more the after keiko parties.