Most martial art schools have mirrors on the walls; it is as if there is some unwritten requirement for it.
Reasons mirrors are useful to instructors
- Give instructors "eyes in the back of their heads."
- Allow instructors to watch students when they do not know they are being watched. Students tend to get nervous and make mistakes when they know they are being watched by the instructor. Mirrors allow instructors to watch students in their more relaxed state.
- In children's classes, they allow instructors to catch students in bad in bad behavior when they students think they are not being watched.
- Let instructors see the entire class even when not facing it. Some instructors are so adept at using mirrors that they can spot a mistake in the movement of a student's pattern, even though the movement image is reversed in the mirror.
- Let instructors watch spectators, the lobby, or the entrance while they looking the other way. This keeps them aware of visitors, customers, or prospective students.
- Make a space look larger. This makes mirrors a good investment for new schools that start in small space. Mirrors make a small space look larger and more professional.
Reasons mirrors are useful to students
- Allow students to watch their own techniques so they may check to see if their form is correct. They are able to see their entire bodies, including the position of their feet. This gives students a different perspective and allows them to see problems they would not otherwise be aware.
- Allow students to watch the techniques of other students inconspicuously, so they may compare their own form against the form of other students.
- Allow students to see who else is in the class. While standing in the front of a class, students are not aware of other students who may have arrived late.
- Make shadowboxing more effective. If you pretend you are fighting yourself in the mirror, it helps you practice your sparring movements because it gives you a reference to which you may relate, and it allows you to see the effectiveness of your guard and techniques.
Quality of mirrors
Buy good quality tempered or unbreakable glass mirrors, or buy mirrors made of quality materials other than glass. These substitute materials may not have the same reflective quality of glass, but they may be less expensive and less subject to breakage. Mirror breakage can be expensive and it is always a safety problem, which may increase your insurance rates.
Size of mirrors
Since mirrors are used by students to check to see if they are performing techniques properly, mirrors should extend to the floor so students may see their feet and should also be high enough so that students can see their heads. Covering all walls with mirrors is ideal, but, at a minimum, one entire side wall should be covered with mirrors.
The safest way to hang a mirror is to let a professional do it; however, if you are a do it yourselfer or have a limited budget, here is some advice and ideas.
- Glass mirrors should be glued on a solid surface, either directly to the wall or on a sheet of plywood. This will prevent the mirror from shattering or breaking in pieces if it is accidentally broken. The mirror may still break, but the pieces will stay secured to the wall to prevent serious injuries. It is best to glue the mirrors to plywood and then attach the plywood to the walls. This way, if the school moves to a new location, the mirrors may be easily moved to the new location.
- Some schools attach bars across in front of the mirrors. The bars are used to:
- Protect the mirrors from behind stuck and broken by off-balanced students, especially while sparring.
- Give students something to hold on to while stretching or practicing slow kicks.
- Provide a place to hang frequently used school training equipment.
Much as the holes in the drywall on walls caused by students crashing into the walls while sparring, mirrors tend to be cracked for the same reason. Mount mirrors in a way to minimize damage and repair breaks immediately. While the breaks are not dangerous, parents will assume they are, and the breaks will also degrade the appearance of the school.