Record yourself, and study your own movements
There is so much you will be able to see regarding your form, fluidity, and more that makes recording yourself an absolute must. Each time you think you have something down, record yourself, and you will likely be able to find at least one, if not a handful of aspects that could be improved. The best time to record yourself is when you think you’ve perfected something, and when you have been taught new minute details that need to be corrected. But really, any time in general works wonders. You can also record those that are much better than yourself (with permission of course). That way you can do a side by side comparison with your own video. You can also use the recording as a stand in sensei when you are practicing alone.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
You might be new and not know much, but that doesn’t mean that you have to train like it! Get into the habit of working on techniques at home. There are obviously aspects that can’t be done alone, but nothing is stopping you from working on your strikes, kicks, forms, weapon swings, terms, and more! You become the best by training like the best. Go home, and practice what you learn in any way you can, especially if there are days where you don’t have practice. If your training days with the sensei are limited, use that time as a way to learn new material, correct any errors that only your sensei will notice, know how to correct, etc.
You can take this to an even higher level by finding times where other students from the dojo can meet up and practice with you outside of dojo hours. This will help you both and a second pair eyes or body to work with really makes a difference.
Master the Basics
This may sound a bit obvious, but many people try to hop the boring, repetitive basics and shoot themselves in the foot by doing so. I can’t say I blame people, who doesn’t love to watch the flashy, jumping, spinning movements. And yeah, they can look cool. Is it worth it though? You’re much more likely to injure yourself and likely to never use most of the techniques in a real situation if one was to arise… I hope not anyways.
If you try to quickly memorize or even bypass the basics and try to move on to the more advanced, cooler-looking moves too fast, you are setting yourself up for failure. I’ve been there, and done the same, and I’ve had to stop, go back, and relearn everything that I did halfheartedly (and worse, take time off and restart after injury)… Definitely not something I recommend to anyone.
This is by no means an all-inclusive list, but if you can do this, you’ll be well on your way to improving. More thoughts to come.