Company: WIN
Tape Name: The Art of the Ninja (Vol. 1)
Tape Cost: $29.95
Length of Tape/Time: 50 min
Number of Moves/Techniques: 12
Return Policy: Don't Know
Experiences in dealing with this company: Excellent
The Instructor: Jack Hoban
Company's Address: PO Box 30338, Stockton, CA 95213
Company's Phone Number: 209-466-3573
Web Page:

Main Grading Criteria

Production/Tape Quality: 9
Instructors demonstrated skill level: 9
Comprehension Score: 9
Degree to which this will make someone a better Martial Artist: 9
Score on delivery vs hype: 9
Degree to which we'd recommend this tape: 9
Wasted Time ( The higher the number, the less " fluff "): 9
Playback Score/Watching it over-and-over again): 9
Would I purchase more of this company's products: 9
Overall grade based on cost vs value: 9

Grand Total: 90 % ( Fair = 2.5 Stars )

Secondary Grading Criteria:

Beginners: Fair
Intermediate: Fair
Advanced: Fair
Time to benefit: Not immediate for most people.
The need to buy additional tapes to understand this one: None

Written Summary:

When I first got this tape I said to myself:

"Oh dear God, I'm not sure if I want to grade this thing. If it turns out bad I'll have every Ninja in the world, with their little black pajamas/jumpsuits on, trying to track me down, waiting for the chance to use their stealthy assasination techniques on me. If I have to depart this earth, I'd rather it not be from a poisonous blow dart hitting the side of my neck, or a shuriken sticking out of my forehead." ;-)

We've already had enough death threats here at MAVR. All I need is "mysterious puffs of smoke" and "black shadows" moving around in my back yard late at night! ;-)

I started thinking about all this, flipped over the box the video came in, only to see a picture of the Ninja instructor named "Jack". Jack? What kind of name is that for a Ninja? So I threw the tape on my shelf and forgot about it, for over a year.

Finally, one day I picked the tape off the shelf and said to myself, "Well, we've pissed off Clugston, Dill, SCARS, LaTourrette, and Shaw, I guess it's time to get the Ninja's pissed at us too". ;-)

So I pop it in my VCR, sit down with a pad of paper to make my outline and notes, and here comes the shocker. Some of this stuff wasn't half bad. But let me empahsize the word HALF. Read on and you'll see what I mean.

Jack Hoban, a former marine captain, who would probably more appropriately pass for a soap opera actor than a Ninja, is a 30ish - 40ish looking 10th degree Ninja. He actually impressed me with a few of the things he showed. So what did he show? Here's the table of contents:

1. Brief Narration/Overview of Budo Tai Jitsu - Ninjitsu (a minute or two spent here)
2. Rolls and then Stetching (about 5 minutes worth of basic stretches)
3. Stances (some very long stances were shown, which I had practical concerns about)
4. Sa Shen No Kata (earth, water, fire, wind, void techniques - self defense stuff!)
5. 8 Basic Techniques which were: (more self defense type stuff)

a. Ichimonji
b. Jumonji
c. Hicho
d. Omote Gyaku
e. Ura Gyaku
f. Oni Kudaki
g. Musha Dori
h. Ganseki Nage

OK, so much for an overview of what's on the tape. #1, #2, and #3 from above are somewhat similar to what people put on other martial arts tapes, minus the rolls shown. Meaning, they explain what their art is, show some basic warm up stretches, and then show various formal fixed stances they use.

Let's first look at what I didn't like, since it was shown before the stuff I kind of liked? I had a problem with some of the formal fixed stances shown, and how they could be used in a combat situation. And why's that you say? Because a couple of the assistants, especially one black belt female, moved too slow, in my opinion, when showing self defense techniques. Watching what she demonstrated, I wasn't impressed. I'm sure some will wonder, "Well maybe she was trying to move slow?" No, I don't think so. Have you ever seen a person try to move fast, and you can tell they are, but they're just slow? That's what I saw. Maybe it's the long exagerated fixed stances that were used, who knows. But I know one thing for sure. Ninja or no ninja, using the stuff she showed, at the speed she did it, would probably get her hurt in the street. Why's that such a big deal to me? Because if you're a black belt, demonstrating self defense, you better be able to move fast, otherwise you'll get clocked. Well she didn't move fast! Part of the problem may have been that many of the stances she used placed like 80-90% of her weight on her front foot. So picture this, a person trying to move fast, but ends up moving slow, using stances that place alot of weight on their front foot. Can you say "sweep/takedown"? OK, hopefully you get my point. This ongoing display lost this tape a bunch of points. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against females, or Ninjas. What I have a problems with is someone showing me stuff that's suppose to work fast in the street, and seeing the person showing it moving slower than X-mas, and making themself a sitting duck for a front leg sweep! What impression did that leave me? It left me saying to myself: "I'm glad I'm not a Ninja!" The stuff with the female was from #4 above, the Sa Shen No Kata part, or self defense type techniques. What's next?

Jack steps up to the plate and shows "The 8 Basic Techniques of Ninjitsu". The first 3 I had doubts about. And why's that? More long fixed stances with lots of weight on the front foot. However 5 of the last 8 techniques actually looked like they might work well in the street, if the stances were adjusted. Now I'm starting to almost get impressed, maybe half way (remember the word HALF?). Why only half way? Jack moves faster, in fact ALOT faster than his black belt female assistant. Several of the last 5 techniques shown also used VERY LONG fixed stances that were still a little slow for my taste, but as said before, he was alot faster than his assistants. So why did I like 5 of the 8? Because if you use the 5 techniques shown, with shorter and less formal stances, that would be quicker for most people, you'd have 5 pretty cool techniques. So, what were the 5 techniques I liked? Most were basic Aikijujitsu type techniques, used in self defense scenarios, that you can easily find on other tapes.

So how do I summarize this tape? Personally, I wouldn't buy it. After seeing it, I now know that I don't have any interest in being a Ninja. I'm not saying it's a bad art, it's just not for me. The long formal fixed stances, that many times showed 80-90% of a persons weight on their front foot, looked a little slow, dangerous, and didn't impress me. On the other hand I'll probably watch the tape another time or two for the aikijujitsu type stuff, practice that a little, and then shelve the tape. So out of 12 techniques total, 5 techniques I liked, the other stuff I didn't, we have a tape in which maybe H-A-L-F of the stuff shown I'd personally use. But again, that's stuff I'd have to alter a little (mainly the stances) for my liking. I don't know about most of you, but me having to adjust some techniques, and liking less than half that were shown, isn't enough value in a tape to make me want to go out and buy it.

* Editors Note - Please, we don't need any hate mail or death threats from the Ninja community. This was simply one reviewers opinion of what he saw, what he liked, and what he didn't like. It's simply his opinion, which you're welcome to discard. Thank you.

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