Sonny videoed all his classes. He kept one copy, and he had 2 recorders hooked up so at least 2 people could get copies of each session to take home. I'm pretty sure some never spent much time watching their tapes, but most did, and I certainly spent a few hours every week reviewing the workouts.
Video is a hugely useful tool for gaining insight into your gaps and tendencies, teachers can point out personal glitches that you yourself can't feel, but seeing them in glorious technicolor gives you a whole new level of certainty that you cannot deny.
Watching yourself 'in action' can be somewhat cringe worthy at first, but getting used to watching your own movement, objectively, is great training for separating ego from skill, and as a start point for troubleshooting what needs fixing.
One of my great insights occurred when I started to notice how I had a personal rhythm, a way of moving when I flowed. The more I watched the more I could see the pattern of my movement, it predicted when I entered and dictated my (weak) attempts at faking. No wonder I was easy to read! It pervaded all I did and once I'd noticed it it became almost embarrassing to watch.
Once I got over that ... ahem ...... I noticed that everybody 'suffered' from the same issue - a personal, and unconscious way of moving that was predictable. So I started to pay attention more to peoples' innate rhythms, and tried to notice what separated the higher skilled players from the beginners.
Sonny was a chameleon, so was a great person to learn from by watching, and what I noticed was this - We all move like ourselves - Sonny Umpad's movement is totally recognizable as his, so is Floyd Mayweather's, Bruce Lee's etc ..... but, all these guys, though each has a distinctive way of fighting, also has many rhythms and tempos within them, as well as a whole spectrum of break beats at their disposal.
That is what separated them from the beginners that generally have only one game to play.
Finding new or different rhythms and ways of moving is actually fairly tricky because by their nature they feel ... unnatural.
Until you can make them yours they will be stilted and self conscious, like the physical equivalent of bad acting. They will also take a great deal of concentration to do, which means you are a much easier target during training, and in essence become a beginner again. Your ego may have a problem with this - not only the losing part, but the part that links who you are with how you move ......
But, it is a worthwhile endeavor and will up your game considerably if you practice. You'll still be you, but just more so.
Part 2 will look at the relationship between what you do and who you play with.