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Iain Abernethy
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A Basic Guide to Online Martial Arts Teaching

With a third of the world on lockdown due to the Coronavirus, many martial arts teachers are turning to online training. If you are new to online teaching, it can seem confusing and dauting. However, it’s simpler than most suppose and not beyond the reach of anyone. Here are some basic things to consider:



It’s hard right! As soon as you try it, everyone develops a newfound respect for how effortless and natural professional TV presented make it seem. As you know from your martial arts training, the key to improving is to just to keep doing it. Here’s some things to keep in mind:

1) There are people at the other end.

Talk to those people, not the camera. If it helps, visualise the camera as a friend or family member. If that’s not for you, ask someone to stand behind the camera and talk to them. That will keep it as natural and engaging as possible.

2) The people at the other end are your friends and students.

They will be supportive and grateful to you for trying to add a little normality to abnormal times. They will be very forgiving of any quirks and glitches in your presentation to camera. It’s the content, motivation, and continued connection with you and their martial art that matters.

The key point is to just do it!


I have all the cameras, lights, backdrops, radio mics, etc. However, 95% of everything I do is filmed on my mobile phone! If you’ve ever watched one of my “talking head” videos on YouTube that has the blue background, then you’ve seen me talking while kneeling down in front of my phone, which is balanced on the edge a mat, which is propped against a wall! You simply don’t need loads of fancy kit. If you have a phone, a tablet, or a laptop with a camera you are good to go!

It’s the content that people really care about. So long as the sound is clear and the lighting adequate, you are golden.

The key point is to just do it!


There are loads of good editing packages, but 100% of my online content is done with free software that was included by default on my phone (iMovie) and on my PC (Movie Maker). It’s not hard to do, and to start with all you need to do is edit off the bit before you start talking / demonstrating and the bit where you walk toward the camera to stop it recording.

The key point is to just do it!


You can’t beat natural light. No need for lighting rigs. Film during the day if you can; either outdoors or near a window.

The key point is to just do it!


You can share your videos with your students in loads of different ways. Here are some key ones:

Facebook Group

It’s very easy to set up a private group on Facebook which you can then invite students to join. You can then upload pre-recorded information and instructions, or you can even do a live feed! The downside is that the students can see you, but you can’t see them.

How do I create a Facebook group?


How to I share Video and Go Live on Facebook?



Zoom is very popular and allows a two-way feed so your students can see you and you can see them. I’ve used Zoom to teach transatlantic remote seminars and it’s great! It can work on most devices and is free providing you have less than 40 participants for up to 40 mins. If you want longer, it’s pretty cheap too.

You can find more info on how to get set up here:


Pricing info can be found here, if you decide to move beyond the free package:



It’s very easy to set up a YouTube account. One thing you may not know is you have the option of having the videos public, private or unlisted. Public means the whole world can see it. Private means only you can see it. Unlisted means the video is unsearchable so only those with a direct link can view it. I would imagine that for most of you, it is unlisted that you will be after. You can send your students the links, or post them in private groups, and only they will be able to see your content. 

Here is how to set up an account:

1) Set up a Google account if you don’t already have one:


2) Set up your YouTube Channel:


Your Own App?

My app has been something of a lifeline when it comes to keeping me in touch with my community. The company that I’m in partnership with for that is Kinapptech / Budo Code. They are an awesome team of people and they’ve been a joy to work with over the years. The app is really simple to populate, and it will be a good resource for students when all this is over. If I can do it, then anyone can.

You can find out more here:


If you’d like to chat with them, then fill in this form:



The law and what is deemed best practise will vary cross the globe. However, you will need to give consideration to privacy, child protection, risk assessments and insurance. Live feeds will allow you to see into other people’s home and potentially record them. Zoom, for example, does allow you to record all “meetings”. Personally, that’s something I’d never do, but either way you will need a policy on that that is in accord with local laws, and that you, parents and your adult students clearly understand and agree to. This is even more pressing if you are teaching children remotely. Data protection considerations will also apply. You also need to make sure you instructor insurance covers remote teaching and that you have adequately risk assessed things. This will include guidance for students / parents to ensure that their home training area is safe and fit for purpose. WHEN IN DOUBT: Consult with your governing body!

I hope this helps!

All the best,