Thursday, October 22, 2009
A fans in depth review of Combatant: Extreme Self Defense DVD
· Jewel case - literature - slick cover, good content, and attractive main characters. Moni is most photogenic, Gaje most authoritative with uniform, Kipp is bland, Casey looks full of fear. Booklet has problem with dark grey background and black text.
· DVD interaction - set up - excellent set up with styles, scenario breakdown. Added features are good. Screen set up is ok in added feature but somewhat confusing in design. Separation of “funny stuff” and main menu from other features unnecessary.
· Props - environment, background, floor - good contrast. Main characters are dark on white background. The worst looking character is Kipp with his white hair. He washes out. Mats looked cheap and were noisy. Scenarios were real and well filmed. Decent acting although not of Oscar or Hollywood calibre, which is ok since they are not the stars, instructors are. Occasional boom mike intrudes on scenes.
· Lighting - colours - good basic colours on screen which adds contrast to moves. Everything was visible. Scenarios were at times too dark to tell really what was going on. Different effects could have been used to give atmosphere of darkness and danger.
· Sound - quality, music - sound quality was good. Slow motion action gave very good sound effects. Music was bad and choppy. Very poor editing on that front.
· Editing - very little editing performed. No cut and slice. All takes are real time. Sometimes it shows with instructors wishing a time out to explain a different aspect of the move but were kept in. makes for raw and refreshing presentation due to the charisma of instructors, but unpolished as production value.
· Concept - goals, purposes, achieved - excellent concept. Goal is a comparison, not to determine superior style. Very good. Objective breakdown of the styles and critique missing. Further reading and sources for more information also missing. No group pictures or interaction between the masters which is a shame - even if it's a staged love in. Would be wonderful to see.
o Ways to improve the Concept - some value added editing and commentary by the producer/moderator could include:
+ amount of force displayed in techniques and it's repercussions in different jurisdictions
+ pre-violence tactics
+ post conflict strategies
+ dealing with the authorities [some instructors are quite vehement about running away from the scene of conflict and never talking to police. Others are just as vehement about staying put and cooperating fully].
+ showing the Masters either together in a group discussing the scenarios shown or as individuals going over the scenario in detail as presented, asking questions about assumptions, environmental factors, etc.
+ give more details on the staged opponents to the Masters. Heck, interview them and get their perspectives as to what it felt like to be manhandled by these masters. Some took quite a bit of abuse. Most looked as deadly as the Masters themselves.
+ explain range of damage caused by the defence shown. Nothing so crude as a point system, but a rating of damage ranging from control to deadly after-effects.
+ show actual training of students in actual location. Outside or inside? Seedy or brand new and shiny? Who is doing the training? Children or bling-ladened urban types?
* Excellent intro. Covers the overarching narrative of present day martial arts in the West. Good explanation of the purpose of the video: comparing 4 different fighting systems for surviving in the streets. Good analogy of tools or music to martial arts. Good presentation by well spoken and well dressed [librarian-like I dare say?] announcer.
· scenario well staged. Nice touch about the "victim" victimizing whoever was on the phone. Tables can be turned so easily. Nice contrast between the Porsche driver and the good 'ol boy in a Wyoming Cadillac. Interestingly, no one mentioned the idea of getting back into the car and locking the doors then calling 911 on the cell phone in any of the road rage scenarios. Even as a poor option, it was not touched upon.
# CKM - cross-handed finger control. Use of body leverage to gain power [even though that was not explained - that is what he was getting at]. Very technical for CKM - requires timing and training.
· Wing Tzun - excellent point on offering no option for confrontation. Too many times assumptions are made in scenarios that there no way out other than violence. Scenario 2 is good in determining range and giving chance to walk away. Lacked verbal component of distancing and de-escalation [of which FAST excels in]. Interesting and divergent idea in using cell phone as weapon. I guess he owned a Razor :-). Pummelling opponent with the cell phone is rather unsophisticated and somewhat unconvincing. It could be the trademark light quick strikes of Wing Tzun or maybe just the way the opponent fell to the ground. It "didn't look right".
· Kali - never EVER point a finger at a Kali guy. You will become an instant pretzel. Moves are highly technical. Requires a lot of training. Lovely double finger hold and control. Opponent seemed too compliant. Danger of rolling on the ground with opponent in parking lot scenario self -evident yet not touched upon - one becomes an easier target for others coming to the aid of the attacker. Rather humorous when he demands that the attacker kneel, when he's obviously kneeling and willing to go down even further.
· FAST - believes in the power of verbal de-escalation. Talked him down. Swallowed pride. Kept distance. Fight your own machismo rather than your opponent. All excellent points. Interesting point of view on cell phone and briefcase - do not use them, set them aside.
# scenario well staged - attacker had proper "attitude". Given the attack displayed, a simple duck could have given the victim survivability to the initial attack.
· CKM - timing and range is paramount. Requires lots of training. Very good explanation of range and power zones of club. Good move which depends entirely on timing deep penetration of attacker's space then powering him around setting him up for a "coup de grace" [I think he really hit him - this was not a fake moan after the blow]. Good joke about Canada. Only time Moni mentioned after conflict repercussions but it is of paramount importance. An assessment of the tactics used by the Masters in different jurisdictions would be an eye opener and definite value added.
· Wing Tzun - use of briefcase as shield and weapon interesting "old school" street defence.. Good strategy. Still unconvincing finish with quick succession of light strikes. There is something odd about continuing to strike the opponent while he is on the way down. Power and accuracy must be compromised in doing this.
· Kali - odd defence. Didn't look like it should work, probably feels like it will. Defender looked very vulnerable when deflecting the blow. Take down and locks using the bat is complex and cumbersome - more artistic than effective.
· FAST - good points on cringing and the psychological impact of someone coming at you with a bat. Good points on upper body struggle and on running away. Excellent point of legal liabilities of assault once disarmed. Good basic moves, body mechanics after a groin shot, and using the bat while attacker still has hands on it.
# scenario well staged. attackers looked suitably angry and hick-ish. Wonder what scenario would look like if it was some rich kid in a Porsche doing the attacking on some poor farmer going to the co-op? This might play better in the Heartland of America.
· CKM - excellent point on survivability - slim chance of survival. Positioning in corner of bar good but should mention something about positioning the stand for a fight in order to escape. One cannot escape from a corner. Stacking opponents in front is good. Taking down leader is a good point. Technique demands perfect execution on first try because other guy is coming. Does not go into "Plan B" in case initial defence fails. Bat swings are basic power swings. Nothing fancy or Kali about them.
· Wing Tzun - good explanation of isolation and stacking up opponents. Unconvincing attackers and strikes. Did not disarm initial attacker. Poor example of disarming the bat when he got around to doing it in second try. I wonder what all this would look like if Boztepe had accepted the invitation?.
· Kali - "Break the leg. Break all the legs that you can see". Not exactly gentle or restrained. Major post-conflict issues with this one. Displays lots of fancy swings of the bat - more show than effect. Opponents are definitely fearful of this man and not willing to even try to "play it up". Disarming was interesting [check block on outer elbow and cross-handed control of bat hand to disarm] but requires high degree of training.
· FAST - good psychology using diversion. Stacking up opponents good point. Built on previous moves like CKM. Idea of children is interesting added factor. Very difficult to stack opponents while protecting children behind you. He should have told then not only get behind him but to run away as far as they can - get inside the store, go back inside the car, whatever.
Round house Punch
+ scenario well staged. However, the darkness/lighting is a problem. Lighting coming from the back of players obscuring the details facing the camera. Blue filters or other methods could be used to convey "seedy darkness".
· CKM - good instruction, good context, good demo of principles. Good ideas on nose, palm strikes and "faking out" with hand position. Good point on avoiding ground fighting - do not punch while on the ground. Effective for purposes of the DVD - not very good for significantly weaker victim such as a petite woman facing a roundhouse. Actually powers attacker to the ground with leveraged arm/elbow wrap.
· Wing Tzun - good discussion of range and explanation of one motion attack/defence. This is where Wing Tzun excels. Is somewhat effective but requires a lot of training.
· Kali - excellent moves but complex with little explanation. Requires much training. Poor explanation of moves [bad angles displayed], better explanation of knife orientation of art and context. Using knife to damage the way displayed could pose post-conflict problems.
· FAST - very verbal, psychological, very basic power moves based on adrenaline rush. However, the verbal component doesn't really de-escalate anything - too aggressive as played out. Roundhouse unconvincing from bulletman as displayed. Very good explanation of psychology and pre-assault set-up. Good explanation on breaking out of the freeze response. The only one that discusses witnesses and legal implication.
# scenario well staged. same problem with lighting. [nice kick by the way].
· CKM - nifty basic move, new leg hold not covered in his class. Good idea on sidestepping attack and trapping leg. Not very good on explaining counter kick [Kali was better at that]. Finish is good but not appropriate for weaker opponent.
· Wing Tzun - basic move, based on WT principle of attack/defence at same time and reliance on speed and timing. Finish with “death of a thousand cuts” with weak punches and slaps. Looks ineffectual throughout the DVD but it is never explained that it is meant to disorient opponent, not take his head off [even with or without the 1” punch.]
· Kali - a figure 4 leg lock? Wow. Haven't seen that since Verne Gagne did his thing in the ring. WWF like defence. Poor explanation, beautiful locks as a finish. Interesting take on "muscle/tendon destruction" as basis of moves. Attacker very cooperative once on the ground. Maybe he knows what will happen if he doesn't cooperate [!]. Tendency of art to go to the ground and apply controls. This ties defender up on ground and is open to other attackers.
· FAST - prefers verbal assault/defence to a physical finish/finish. Makes the encounter longer but may result in less violence. Stays out of range of the side kick. Goes with common response to back away rather than side stepping - ok strategy but allows the attacker to come again and again. Defeats the attacker not on a sidekick but on a roundhouse punch.
# scenario well staged - lighting somewhat improved.
· CKM - good points on ground fighting. Do not go to ground. Suckering attacker deeper by taking leg back ok but doesn't answer the obvious problem of attacking the other forward leg or aiming for the waist. Defence is simple and devastating and is a "kissing cousin" to the Kali defense that was so strange. The side-step and blow makes more sense rather than the Iron Man stance of the Kali Master.. Should explain that this move could kill the guy [along with hitting the nose on other sections of DVD]. Good points on striking to the ground - spine and Achilles tendon. Disable in order to prevent pursuit - not to punish.
· Wing Tzun - unrealistic demo, despite showing 3 different variations of the take down. He never goes down. If he ever did, I suspect he wouldn't know what to do. 1st variation of close up shoot and then attempt to lift is good. Defense was puzzling but decent - interesting strike and sweep..2nd variation using energy of attacker to turn body and avoid take down. Good concept, but puzzling in stance and balance. An Aikidoist would do this much better with better balance and stronger grounding. 3rd variation with attackers head going to the inside - proper response with knee to face. Finishing punches merely window dressing.
· Kali - strange defence, elbow to the neck? Attack was too high and uncommitted. Very unconvincing. Locks and controls were beautiful and painful to watch. Using knife on controlled and proned opponent must have major legal issues associated with it. Strange paradox - this art is most appropriate for police yet the way it is displayed is the most vengeful and needlessly bloodthirsty of the lot. "If he is under proper threat of the knife, you are in better position to control". And if the opponent is too drunk to realize the threat, what then - slice him open?
· FAST - slapping opponent down is not that effective but may infuriate attacker even more. Getting off attack line is good. Breaking freeze response good point and not really discussed by anyone else . The idea that if someone has buddies around or has a knife that would prevent you from running away is odd. If anything, that should be more motivation to run away. I do not know what he means by "finishing the situation". Sounds exactly like the machismo flaw in the untrained he described so well earlier.
* scenario well staged but again, same problem with lighting. Cut away to attacker is jarring. Needs better editing.
· CKM - good points on psychology of attack. Cuts to the chase, attack attacker. Don't give him money? Why not? What he meant to say in his preamble was that is someone holding a gun or knife wanted to harm you, you'd be dead or bleeding or both. This is a hold up situation allowing for deception, positioning and surprise. Classic aikido move with kotegaishe. Am worried about attempt by attacker to withdraw knife at first hint of defence. This move won't work well with that. Good finish with control, kick head, then move away - escape.
· Wing Tzun - give up the money now go in peace. Realistic and sensible. Interesting there was no follow up with attack from attacker. To be covered later, I guess.
· Kali - attacking a Kali person with a knife is like a fish at a market giving a sharp knife to a Sushi chef. This is where Kali shines and is most at home. Defence is over the top and sadistic in nature. Defender not only defends himself but also carves up the opponent. This has gotta be highly illegal, even on the street where there are “no rules”. Very good explanation of moves and logic. Beautiful use of slow motion. Once again, goes to the ground in order to control, slice and dice - no escape and no protection from this guy's buddies.
· FAST - same as WT with deeper psychological explanation. All valid and good points.
· CKM - good explanation of timing. Slashing defence like stick defence. Good idea about going with attacker's energy and capitalizing on it, bringing him down as he tries to [inevitably] pull away. Good disarm. Standard quality move. Sad to say, attacker lacked conviction.
· Wing Tzun - go with energy and follow through. Good concept. First rare lock/control from WT. Strike until he goes down. Need more info on disarming technique. "Pluck knife away after attacker bludgeoned into unconsciousness"? What?
· FAST - basic gross motor moves. Late in disarming attacker. Does mention damage done in attack. Where to get cut if necessary covered - very good. WR like in approach. Grabbing blade of weapon is highly dubious. What if the blade is serrated? The hand touching blade is immobilized - no movement allowed because the blade will cut. Keep it safe, keep it simple. Very good advice. Good detail on disarm.
· CKM - this is where CKM shines. Excellent move. Some confusion about bringing arm back then going for top of gun. Did not go into 80-20 rule. Magician-like quickness necessary for this to work - not covered in Moni's explanation. Good idea about keeping distance and verbally taking control. There are issues with post conflict problems if the attacker tries to take the gun away or walks toward the defender. Does the defender squeeze the trigger? Why? Defender is armed and attacker is not. Of course when in Texas or Manila, virtually anything goes. But try this in Boston or Toronto and you'll get a very different post-conflict effect.
· Wing Tzun - sensible response. Give money. With an honest attack the gun is used almost as a knife. Very unrealistic. Good idea of controlling the weapon and disabling firing mechanism. Sloppy disarm. Good distancing. Accidently shoots attacker? Nice humour.
· Kali - odd defence. Looks good but highly dubious on second thought. Barrel of gun is actually placed in line of attack by defender in trying to disarm attacker. Don't like idea of crossing arms. Opens up too many counters to that. After disarm takes place, it's pretzel time. Is careful about muzzle placement during control and locking phase. Should have been just as careful in initial defence. . Remains close to opponent after disarm and possessing gun which may be tactical mistake.
· FAST - give the money. Good talk on awareness. 10 second rule well explained. Don't toss and run with a gun. More appropriate with a knife. However, no one mentions the range of effectiveness with gun vs. knife. Also the idea that most people are terrible shots and not very well trained not covered. With honest attack, attacker uses gun almost like a knife. Defender bludgeons attacker first then disarms. Delays controlling the weapon. Very risky with a gun. Good point that a grab is fine motor skill. His strike is gross motor skill. But then he follows up the strike with a grab, so, what gives? Still, good points on grabbing and focussing on the weapon - do not grab and try to punish like classical Krav Maga [not CKM] teaches. Good points on to shoot or not to shoot after disarm. Also, if gun play is involved and one needs to practice disarms and controls, learning about guns is essential. Learning about safeties, cocking, loading and unloading guns, bullets in chambers, etc. All must be learned. Same with knife. One must learn to use knife if one is to defend against one.
* scenario well staged with proper lighting except for the last two crucial seconds during the grab.
Grab from behind
· CKM - No mention of keys. Would it work as displayed in the scenario with a fearful woman and big attacker? Good point on control of upper vs. lower body. Remember the strikes once on the ground is to the groin. Get up then escape.
· Wing Tzun - focus on awareness and scene acting very good. Using keys very good. Unconvincing strikes afterwards and kicks were snap kicks, not powerful ones. Problem with both controlling arm so he can breath and then jabbing with same arm with keys. It would have been so easy to control the arm to breath, use other arm with elbow to sternum, then using keys to throat.
· Kali - I love this take down move but would not work in scenario because car would get in the way. Screw the keys, this guy has a knife on the ready. Then proceeds to make sushi of the attacker. Very convincing and very illegal. Cutting off opponents fingers and ears ok in Manila but not in Toronto, not even in Texas. Slightly sadistic.
· FAST - only one who has both keys and bags to re-enact attack very good. Focus on psychology very good. Good points on mule kicks [bad] and foot stomps [good]. Good points on not worrying on possessions, worry about you. Used keys for defence [which is good] but does not want to use cell phone or briefcase when available and does nothing with handbag - why?.
Styles - selecting any category after selecting style does not revert back to the main menu of the style but proceeds to play everything nonetheless. This is inconsistent with other parts of the DVD in logic and behaviour of commands.
Most technical for the styles shown. Requires lots of training. Very good on blades, very dubious on ground attacks, inconclusive on guns. As shown most blood thirsty and "illegal" of the styles. When shown in "civilian" or "law enforcement" mode, looks to be the safest of all the arts because it focuses on locks and controls, not smashing or maiming the opponent.
Bio is good, well presented. He is the most lucid and understandable in all the sections he is in. Personal style is a little over the top i.e. the uniform, badges, beret and constant accompaniment of clinking keys and equipment. Visual display of authority may lend credibility to some, but to others seem to be a display of insecurity or shortcomings. Had a well know practitioner of Kali stick fighting in Ontario view the DVD in Ontario. He knew Leo T. Gaje well and has many recordings of him, but was surprisingly disappointed in his performance on this DVD. In his opinion the performance was centered too much on the complexities of the moves and was "showing off" more than was necessary. That said, however, I secretly yearn to take up this art and learn as much as I can.
Deadliest, easiest, second most confrontational of the styles on this DVD [Kali takes top “honours” on that score]. Successfully walks a balance between survival and escape and damaging, disabling opponent. Excellent with guns and escapes. Tips toward damage are emphasized in DVD. Escape is not emphasized enough. That may be an editing decision or an oversight on Moni's part. In his CKM classes [which I have taken], much more emphasis on escape exists. His bio is quite good but please note the controversies involved. Other organizations that claim "copyright" on Krav Maga are quite vocal and even vicious in their attacks on CKM. It is an unfortunate fact that there are very few martial arts that are as litigious as Israeli martial arts. That does not means this mud-slinging should make it to the DVD or even less in the section where they are victim of this mud-slinging. It only means that maybe a section in the intro by the narrator should cover issues of marketing, legalities, and ultimately the usefulness and earnestness of the Master involved is what counts. As for the optics on broader political issues involved with the art [Arab/Israeli conflict] that is fodder for another DVD. The historical, cultural, and political aspects or martial arts and modern conflicts. I know many people who wouldn't ever touch a Japanese art because of WWII. Same goes for Systema because of Spetznats behaviour in Chechnya and Afghanistan. Moni's art is as useful and earnest as any I have experienced.
Approach of Master makes this least confrontational of the arts on DVD. Least effective of the arts. Slapping someone silly that has a gun or knife pointed at you is not very convincing. If Bruce was doing this DVD in his prime, effectiveness would be unquestioned … for someone as talented as Bruce Lee. Then again, Bruce evolved well beyond just doing Wing Tzun. Boztepe should have been present for this. Bio is very good. Concept explained in a clear and concise way. Depth of the art well explained. The earnestness of this Master is unquestioned. He is someone I would love to learn from. The usefulness of this art in a street situation as demonstrated is suspect.
Americanized common sense. Survival and gross motor skills moves at its very basic and at its very best. Good psychology, very street wise in before and after of conflict. The most sensible of the styles here. Excellent use of the bullet man equipment. I'd love to see Wing Tzun take on a bullet man and see how far slapping an opponent will take him. Bio is very good, history of FAST, children and women training very good. Rather deep training of Bill Kipp in a variety of arts which is not evident in the techniques used in FAST. What was used and why? What was left behind? Why? Verbal de-escalation is very good but occasionally in the demos the verbal seems more like an instigator than a calmer. " I don't wanna fight you, man. I DON'T wannna fight you. ... I DON'T WANT TO FIGHT YOU!!!" Blam, wham OOOF. etc.
Master Talk [note: Master talk = Bio in arts specific section. recycling content in this case is unnecessary]
· CKM - very good summary. Very earnest and honest presentation. Good photo display. Good points on evolving.
· Wing Tzun - meek soft presentation. Good explanation of origins and present situation. Some eye candy with exposing his good physique. Training sample blindfolded very good. Idea of arm position and objectives explains a lot about why he does what he does. Range and tactics good explanation. Needs personal photos for personal touch.
· Kali - very good history. Personable - his best presentation on the DVD. Good differentiation between fighting system and martial art. See above.
· FAST - surprising personal history. His experience in variety of locations and art does not translate into his basic art. Very good with adrenaline and physiology of attack and being attacked. Bulletman background very worthwhile. Most talkative presentation, sales oriented. Good statistics used. Very street wise for North America. Most sensible of the arts compared. Most primitive of the arts compared. Excellent display with child and woman training.
Weird and groundless/baseless. What is the purpose of this section? It's anything but a kit. Most pointless part of DVD [including funny stuff!]. I was expecting something more from a section named like this. This is merely "more of the same - redux". However, having said that, CKM display was very good [wicked guillotine move on a punch]. One inch punch well displayed but staged with the chair placed to give extra effect. Good explanation of it. As demonstrated, though, is more of a push than punch. Chi Sao is most interesting part of Wing Tzun demo. Kali was most useless. Blade happy demonstration of machismo. Fascinating one on one sparring demo and long gun defence [will someone PLEASE explain the defense against a gun at a medium range i.e. beyond knife wielding range?]. Focus on his facial expressions says it all. With FAST knife attacker from the rear is interesting. Delay in action and feigning compliance could be deadly - surprising justification from Bill Kipp. Good talk about kidnapping and secondary location. Funny retake - almost like an out take. For some reason he loves to grab blade edge. Excellent ideas on awareness. Rear attack with gun is almost CKM like, but chooses to inflict damage while trying to maintain gun control. Good idea on muzzle control.
Should have imitated the instructors more [he did try the Gaje moves - good stuff]. Some good moments with southern good ole boys giving a tongue lashing [FAST taken to the next level]. Maybe include the instructors in there as well as “victims” of this comedian's wit. Martial artists take themselves too seriously. Interaction with court jesters and clown would lighten things up a bit.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
A gun guys view on why gun training sucks
this also probably tells us alot pertaining why martial arts suck as well. At least part of the answer I could say.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Self Defense on another level.
If you are into the martial arts, you are into depending on yourself and survival.. this web site takes it to a whOLE nother LEVEL... you know what I mean?
This is THE site for survival info, daily.
The end of the world as we know it seems so much more likely every day.
A fight over a gun
Sometimes you have to make the theories real.
Then instead of something you read somewhere.. you know.
The Bullet Man Bill Kipp on Facebook
If you ask me, this is the guy who invented reality training. He made an important contribution to martial arts regardless of style.
You finally get to hit a real human being hard under stress and see how your training works or doesn't.
He is great in the Combatant DVD, where he explains what his ideas are and how they work when he is making contact. see http://www.comparestyles.com for more info.
Combatant DVD on Facebook
Combatant DVD on Facebook.. What can I say 2 out of the 4 masters are fans! If you post here Moni or Bill Kipp may respond to your posts.
There are also videos on the site of the Masters of their art explaining there art and it's origins. Make sure and look for the videos on this facebook page.
The host of Combatant, Jason Baird.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
inactivating a gun at close quarters
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