Company: MATI
Tape Name: Shorinji Kempo: Orange Belt
Cost: $19.95
Length of Tape/Time: 51 minutes
Number of Moves/Techniques: Too many to count!
Return Policy: ?
Experiences in dealing with this company: Excellent
The Instructor: Irwin Carmichael & Other Black Belts
Company's Address: ?
Company's Phone Number: ?
Web Page:
E-Mail: ?

Primary Grading Criteria:

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

Grand Total: 96% ( Excellent = 4 Stars )

Secondary Grading Criteria:

1. Beginners benefit: Excellent
2. Intermediate benefit: Excellent
3. Advanced benefit: Excellent
4. Time to benefit: Immediate on some things, some time on others
5. The need to buy additional tapes to understand this one: None

Written Summary:

Like Carmichael's other tape we recently reviewed, here's another one he knocks out of the park. This is without a doubt one of the most thorough traditional martial arts videos I've ever seen. I don't care what style of "kick-punch" you do, if you're a traditional martial artist that's into that, this is a MUST HAVE tape! The techniques were generic enough that anyone from a traditional "kick-punch" art, can benefit from what's shown. So who specifially would I recommend this video to? I would HIGHLY recommend it to anyone who takes traditional TKD. And why's that?

Well first you have to understand the history of Shorinji Kempo, as it was told by Mr. Couch. He says it came from the Chinese, it then went to the Koreans, and ended up with the Japanese. Along each stop one could assume it was refined and influenced. Mr. Couch describes Shorinji Kempo as being closest to Hapkido in appearance. Having come from a Chung Do Kwan TKD background, I can tell you it looks very very close to the TKD I studied. So close in fact that if you put the two side-by-side, I bet most TKD'ers, especially ex-teachers I had, would say it was TKD. This tape showed the exact same stances, blocks, kicks, punches, strikes, very similar one-steps and self-defense. In fact, having been a career brown belt in TKD, and assistant instructor, I can tell you I looked for a difference and couldn't see one! They did every single movement the same way! So why do I make a big deal about that? Because some TKD schools, at the higher ranks, want their students to come up with their own one-steps, self-defense, weapons defense, take-down combinations, and katas. Some instructors, especially the ones around here, require this so they can evaluate whether or not a student can "think on their own" at the higher ranks. This tape is a virtual treasure for anyone who faces those requirements and wants some idea. Here's the table of contents of what was shown on this tape:

Basic Stances
Basic Blocks
Basic Punches & Strikes
Basic Kicks
Formal Techniques/One-Steps: 10 techniques *
Self Defense: 10 techniques *
Throws & Takedowns (very similar to one-step): 10 techniques *
Weapons Defense (against club): 4 techniques *
Katas: 2 katas

* * * The 34 techniques listed above were each comprised of 2-4 sub-techniques, and if broken down, would give one a ton of different possibliblities. Then if one was astute enought to mix and match what was shown, (create their own variations), it could provide a huge amount of information.

OK, so why else was I impressed? Well, there are several reasons.

1. This is the 1st of 13 tapes, each showing the rank requirements for Shorinji Kempo. One is given so much information on this first tape (for Orange Belt), that it's truly impressive for any styles first belt! What do I mean by that? I've been into a lot of schools in my life, many different styles, especially in our town where there's over 200 MA schools (Dallas, TX area). If you watch what beginners are taught, you begin to see that many schools take it easy on them. They don't want to complicate them, hurt them, or risk losing them (can you say commercial dojo?). These guys at orange belt, are giving what's the equivalent of a blue-brown belt education at other schools. That's how thorough they were on this first tape of theirs. And just think, there are 12 more after this one, and they're only $19.95 each. What a bargain!

2. These guys were impressive - there were about 8-10 different black belts that helped throughout the tape, all different ages and ranks, and everyone looked like a REAL black belt. I haven't seen too many TKD schools, or other traditional MA schools, in our town, I'd say that about. In fact, out of 200 school in our area, I can think of less than 10 I'd say that about. Heck, if I was in Charolette, N.C. on business, a vacation, or whatever, and I wanted a workout, these would be the guys I'd look up, without a doubt! Remember that if you're ever in their area!

3. Dr. Estwanik - Personally I feel many adults quit kicking arts due to their flexibility problems and limitations. Some instructors I've seen resort to unsound methods to try and push adults beyond their limitations. Like me, a person can end up with all kinds of hip and lower back problems, if they follow bad advice. Dr. Estwanik, whose an orthopedic sports medicine MD, goes through an extremely thorough explanation about the hips function in doing the splits. He shows an actual hip joint, and explains why some people, especially adults, will never be able to achieve full splits. INVALUABLE INFORMATION! Just seeing this part, for me, made the tape worth $19.95. Estwanik also implies that one shouldn't spend too much time trying to achieve full splits, because there are some people that no matter how hard they try, won't achieve them, due to their hip structure.

I wish some MD had told me that a few years ago! I use to spend up to 2 hrs a day, everyday, for years, trying to get past 120 degrees and never could. What a waste of time, and now I have major back problems because I listened to a stupid instructor I trusted, who said I was being a wimp and wasn't forcing my stretches enough. Contrary to what Kurz, Health for Life, Lala, and others imply, I don't think EVERYONE can achieve the splits. Especially if you try the splits for a year or two, and you're doing them daily (at least 20 min or more), and not seeing any results.

I think it's better to give up on the splits, or just accept your maximum stretch, than to force them. I'm a living example of a guy who listened to a stupid instructor, and after patiently doing the splits for a couple of years, started forcing them. And I mean forcing them to the point daily where I wanted to rip out my own hair it hurt so bad. I did them like that for 6 mos - a year. I had a perfect back before forcing things, and now I have so many lower back problems (including arthritis), and frequent lower back outages, that numerous doctors can't figure out whats totally going on, or how to fix it. There is one thing all the different orthopedic doctors I've seen consistenly tell me, and agree on, guess what it is? NO more kicking or stretching ever!

You've heard people say don't overdue it when stretching, and probably few ever tell you why. I'll tell you why. 6-8 major painful back outages per year. Each one so bad and painful that you can't walk, or even defecate, for the first 3-4 days after each happens. And each leaving you so debilitated, that you walk crooked or bent over, for 2-4 weeks, before you can even begin to straighten up and walk normal again. And that's not the end of it, imagine pain in your lower back similar to a bad headache, that stays with you daily, and NEVER, for 3 years, goes away.

So what's my advice? Don't sacrifice your body for your art. It ain't worth it. So what do you do? If you're at a sticking point, and you 've spent a year or two and you're not making any progress in your flexibility, and it's REALLY holding you way back in your art, find another art that doesn't require as much flexibility. So how does one determine if they have flexibility limitations? I'm not sure I could define that for everyone. I know how I'd define it for me. After doing the chinese splits for 2 hrs a day, everyday for 2 yrs, and not getting past 120 degrees, I'd say something was wrong! And I tried all the different tapes and stretching machines along the way. If you never listen or believe another word I say, believe it about all this flexibility stuff! Be very careful, or you may risk going through excruciating pain so many days and weeks per year, that it really wears on you!

Enough about my problems, back to the tape. OK, now you know what all I liked, was their anything I didn't like about the tape? Yeah, but it was very minor.

1. No warm up - they went right into the stretches without doing any kind of warm up to heat up the leg/inner thigh muscles, hips, or back.

2. Lack of Explanation - the 34 techniques, and the 2 katas, lacked detailed explanation that I felt beginners would need to consistently reproduce what was shown.

Even though this tape was labeled for beginners, I got the feeling that the way it was produced was to supplement the personal instruction a beginner was already receiving. What does that mean? The intricate details of how to properly do a side kick, hook kick, punch, etc, were left out. I got the feeling that this was more of a "rank requirement" tape than an "instructional" tape. Meaning that even though it was listed as a beginner tape, it was for the beginner that knew how to perform the basics, but wanted to have something to refer to so they could see the 34 techniques, in case they forgot them.

If you're taking a "kick-punch" art, and are an intermediate or advanced martial artist, you should have no problem understanding what is shown on this tape and GREATLY benefiting from it.

P.S. - For those that remember my other review of Carmichael's, and also remember me guessing about his rank, here's an update. This tape was done in 1991, and it shows him with 5 red stripes on his black belt. As for his ability, there is no question in my mind that Carmichael looks and performs like a 5th degree. He showed a couple of side kicks that had ungodly speed and power! So remember, if you're ever in North Carolina, he's a sheriff. So I wouldn't mouth off to the police in his area if I were you. You might just end up with him!

Click here to go to reviews 301-400

© 1997-2016 Martial Arts Video Reviews. All Rights Reserved.