Company: Goldstar Video
Tape Name: Gracie Self-Defense Vol. 1-4
Tape Cost: as low as $2.99 per rental!
Length of Tape/Time: about 30 minutes or less on each
Number of Moves/Techniques: Varies
Return Policy: Rental
Experiences in dealing with this company: Great
The Instructor: Carlson Gracie Jr.
Company's Address: 413 Briarwood Ridge, Carl Junction, MO 64834
Company's Phone Number: 888-884-7482
Web Page:

Primary Grading Criteria:

1. Production/Tape Quality: 70
2. Instructors demonstrated skill level: 80
3. Comprehension Score/Immediate Understanding: 70
4. Degree to which this will make someone a better Martial Artist: 50
5. Score on delivery vs hype: 30
6. Degree to which we would recommend this product: 50
7. Wasted Time ( The higher the number,the less " fluff" /repetition ): 60
8. Playback Score/Watching it over-and-over again: 60
9. Would I purchase more of this company's products: 60
10. Overall grade based on cost vs. value: 50

Grand Total: 58% (Fair-to-Good = 2.75 Stars out of 5 Stars)

Secondary Grading Criteria:

1. Beginners benefit: Very Good
2. Intermediate benefit: Good
3. Advanced benefit: Good
4. Time to benefit: Immediate, or a few weeks
5. The need to buy additional tapes to understand this one: Yes, refers to other series

Written Summary:

First off, I'd like to announce our collaboration with Goldstar Video and thank Billy Moody for helping us get our hands on these tapes. This is the announcement I eluded too about a week ago, regarding getting additional content. There are still some video companies that won't send us their tapes, and Mr. Moody has generously offered to help us. In many ways Mr. Moody's service, renting-before-buying, makes sense. That allows you to see a tape before buying it. Why is that important? Many tapes are still $30-$70, and why risk spending that to find out it's garbage, and then being stuck with it because the company doesn't offer a money back guarantee!

I have always had a problem with the "no refund" standard in the instructional tape industry and probably always will. Why? Because there are still companies and individuals that sell expensive tapes/dvds, over-exaggerate the benefits of the material they're selling, just to take advantage of people, and make a big bucks by saying "sorry, no refunds"! Until that ceases, or those companies/individuals ALL offer a satisfaction guarantee, I will always be against them doing that.

Martial arts and self-defense training should be first-and-foremost about teaching people to protect themself (or family), money should be secondary! Unfortunately it seems to more times than not be in reverse! Some it seems would rather offer garbage products, with garbage training, overpromote it to get your $70 for one tape, and afterwards say "sorry we sold you garbage, it's your fault for being gullible enough to buy it, no matter what we promised, and there's NO REFUNDS". I hate companies and individuals that do that!

I think the martial arts magazines share alot of the blame for allowing the tape industry problems to get out of control. The magazines were really the birth place of the video instructors! Prior to the internet, the martial arts magazines were more-or-less the only place for tape ads to be placed. For years the magazines allowed ANYONE with a checkbook to place ads for their garbage videos, promising quick solutions to all your training self-defense desires or training frustrations, which resulted in the loss of your money if you were unhappy. I think in the minds of consumers, those ads were subtly perceived as the magazine endorsing that video instructors material! Especially since the audience buying those magazines was typically younger, and didn't know better! I've always thought it's the responsiblity of the martial arts magazines to step-up-to-the-plate, police these ads, and clean up the problem they started! Did they or have they? Not that I can see!

Why haven't they? Probably numerous reasons that involve the economic loss of video advertisers, along with the embarassment of having to admit they contributed to the problem of allowing the video industry to get-out-of-hand, that admission possibly effecting their perceived credibility, and ultimately magazine sales if the public no longer trusts them! I remember at times I counted as many as 20-30 pages in each magazine that had FULL PAGE ads. Do the math, 20 pages times $10,000 per page! That's $200,000 a month in revenue! How much of that $200K/month do you think magazines are willing to give up, by saying "no" to a few of those monthly advertisers? Personally, I think the magazines are just as guilty for contributing to this problem, by holding their hands out for advertising dollars, and not caring what kind of garbage video instructors were offering us through their magazine! True responsibility would have the magazines saying to all video advertisers "You must send us your tapes, for us to see if they're good, before we'll let you advertise"! I haven't heard of that being done! Or, at a minimum, telling those advertisers "The only way you can advertise in our prestigous magazine for that is if you offer a money back guarantee". Have they even done that? Not that I can tell! Heck, that would require "responsible advertising"! Gee, what a concept! I have never seen the magazines EVER blasting a video instructor publicly as "no good"! You know what sometimes the magazines have done? If someone is a big advertiser, they have in the past had one of their writers do an article on that advertiser, which further enhances that advertisers perceived crediblity to the magazines readers! What does that lead too? More sales of course! I guess if someone is every month spending $10K or more in ad money, it's easy for that advertiser to say "Hey such-and-such magazine, I'm going to cut back on my ad spending, if you don't send someone out from your staff to do an article on me". The world is a crazy and corrupt place my friends. I just wish you knew all the dirty "inside secrets" I've uncovered about this industry!

Back to Goldstar Video, as you've seen me mention, there's a ton of content we still haven't gotten our hands on, because either we haven't got the funds to buy it, or companies are unwilling to send it for review. Well, Goldstar has a HUGE inventory of tapes (1000 or more), and they have indicated they will help us! With that in mind, if you like traditional martial arts or self-defense videos, I'd like everyone here to go visit Goldstars website, check out their inventory, and to think about renting before buying! Renting does make sense, especially with so many companies still offering "NO REFUND"! Be sure to check out the Goldstar link at the top and bottom of this review!

Let's move on to this Gracie series. It seems like it might've been 10 yrs ago when I first saw these tapes for sale. If memory serves me correctly, I believe at one point when you ordered them, they also came with a "Gracie Certified Self-Defense Instructor" certificate. I think at some point that stopped being offered. Hmmm...wonder why?

The tapes are short, about 30 minutes each, and for the most part they deal with common self-defense situations, such as using BJJ techniques against: Front Choke, Rear Choke, Front Bear Hug, Rear Bear Hug, Lapel Grabs, Front Hair Grab, Full Nelson, Side Choke, Guillotine, etc. There were lots of techniques I'd seen before, a few I hadn't, and some that kind of bothered me a bit. What bothered me? Well, at times I felt like Carlson Jr forced the use of a BJJ technique when it wasn't the most quickest or easiest solution. I saw situations where you could just eye gouge someone, or palm heel them to the chin or nose, versus a series of jujitsu moves to get you out of the same situation. I was thinking while watching some of those situations, of the best way to describe it here. Compare it to going from Philadelphia to DC, and instead of driving south a few hours to get there, going north and all the way around the world (complete circle almost) to get there. Do both ways get you there? Sure! But why do that, unless I guess you're into sightseeing.

Seeing that at times really bothered me. As you've probably figured out from my reviews, I'm a huge fan of the quickest and easiest way to handle a situation. If you can get a guy to let go of your hand, lapel, or throat, with a single strike (hand or foot), why show something where you twist and turn, then do this, then that? Come on guys! I felt at times as if Carlson Jr's tape was meant to show-off and say "Gracie BJJ works best for all self-defense situations, forget whatever simple things you might've been taught, and let me impress you with our stuff".

If these tapes were meant for "street self-defense", and not some ring-with-rules, then why didn't I see some rule breaking? All I kept seeing was Gracie tournament type rules-based-techniques being applied to self-defense situations! Why not just do a simple finger flick to the eyes, or a gouge if it's serious, a fish hook, pinching a sensitive area with both hands until a guy lets go, a kick to the groin or shin, or palm heel to the chin, or fast open palm slap (or backhand) to the end of a guys nose to water his eyes, boxing his ears, or punching him in the throat? Soften him up with a little pain, or get his eyes watering a little, and then destroy him? Why do people have to try and impress us with advanced rules-based-skills that require all this twisting-and-turning, followed by this-and-that, for "self-defense"? Remember how recently in another review I more or less said "Rules based training creates rules based fighting". Fighting with rules isn't always the best and quickest solution, especially for street self defense, and I felt this tape was proof of that! Why would someone show a multiple move technique to get out of a situation versus a quicker-and-simplier breaking-the-rules technique? Let's think about some of the possible reasons:

1. Impress us with the ability of his style to handle any situation
2. Too use to learning, training and fighting with rules, can't think "no rules"
3. Might be mindlessly following what he was taught, as the best solution for that situation
4. Pressure by someone else (above him) to "do it this way" or else
5. Possibly doesn't know of a better way
6. Possibly knows better and either doesn't care or want to admit to something simplier
7. Or to keep selling the Gracie system, classes, seminars, tapes, etc

Maybe there are other reasons I missed, but it is something to ponder!

A couple of weeks ago I said I wasn't going to "hold back" with regard to the reviews and I meant it. Let me make something clear. I've got nothing against the Gracie's or against BJJ, and this review isn't meant as an attack on either. I actually like many techniques the Gracie's have on their other tapes, with regards to groundfighing. But when it comes to "self defense", I am a 100% believer in simpliest and quickest solutions being the best! If the Gracie's have that, fine, I'll applaud it. Or if "Doe-Ray-Me Ryu has it, I'll applaud that! But if it's someone who's famous, or has a great reputation, yet shows something that looks complicated, or too time consuming, and I've seen other techniques that are quicker-and-simplier, I feel compelled here to point that out to you!

I saw numerous instances on these tapes, where all you had to do was grab a guys chin with one hand and the back of his head with the other, pull each in opposite directions (neck crank), and your opponent would stop what he was doing. Was that shown even once? No!!! Isn't that technique almost a form of grappling? Don't the Gracie's teach grappling? Sorry, but I kept finding myself while watching this tape shaking my head and saying "Why do they feel they have to show all that for a simple situation?"

Spanning across all 4 tapes, I saw a couple of excellent self-defense techniques, and quite a few that for a self-defense situation were taking someone down a long-and-winding-road. Tapes 3 and 4 were the best, Tape 4 was actually better for me than Tape 3.

Here's a synoposis:

Vol. 1

1. Front Choke Defense - couple of variations
2. Hair Grab Defense
3. Front Bear Hug - couple of variations
4. Front Kick Defense - couple of variations
5. Hook Punch Defense

Vol. 2

1. Rear Bear Hug Defense - couple of variations
2. Rear Choke Defense - couple of variations
3. Full Nelson Defense
4. 2 Handed Choke from Behind Defense

Vol. 3

1. Front Head Lock Defense (Guillotine) - with variation
2. Side Head Lock - with variation

Vol. 4

1. Escape from the Mount
2. Escape from Side Control (100 Kilo's)
3. Overhand cross choke from the Mount
4. Passing Guard to the Side Mount
5. *** very quickly going through about 10 other things, quicker than I could write 'em down.

I'm going to classify this tape as being somewhere between "fair-to-good". That's because I saw a few things I thought were great, some that were ok, and numerous I wouldn't do in a self-defense situation. Average all that out, and that's what I think this series is worth!


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