Company: Goldstar Video
Tape Name: F.I.G.H.T. Tapes 1-5 (entire original series) a.k.a. Haganah
Tape Cost: as low as $2.99 per rental!
Length of Tape/Time: varies, see "written summary"
Number of Moves/Techniques: Varies
Return Policy: Rental
Experiences in dealing with this company: Great with Goldstar, Kanarek never responded!
The Instructor: Mike Kanarek
Company's Address: 413 Briarwood Ridge, Carl Junction, MO 64834
Company's Phone Number: 888-884-7482
Web Page: http://www.goldstarvideo.com
Primary Grading Criteria:
1. Production/Tape Quality: 60
2. Instructors demonstrated skill level: 60
3. Comprehension Score/Immediate Understanding: 60
4. Degree to which this will make someone a better Martial Artist: 60
5. Score on delivery vs hype: 60
6. Degree to which we would recommend this product: 60
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: 60
Grand Total: 60% (Good)
Secondary Grading Criteria:
1. Beginners benefit: Good
2. Intermediate benefit: Good
3. Advanced benefit: Good
4. Time to benefit: Few months+
5. The need to buy additional tapes to understand this one: Yes, refers to other material
Every month Mike Kanarek seems to have 1-3 Full Page ads in well-known martial arts magazines, claiming how great his ISRAELI based F.I.G.H.T. system is, so lets take a peek!
In the 80's and 90's, it was Peterson's SCARS that seemed to dominate the military based self-defense market. There were a couple of other NAVY SEALS players picking up Peterson's crumbs, such as Paul Vunak, Lew Hicks'/SAFTA, and Frank Cucci's Panther and TRS stuff. Then of course there was the ongoing confusion often created, as to who was the official NAVY SEALS H2H instructor/system, along with who were the SEALS still really using? Well, looks like Peterson has practically disappeared, with the exodus of Larkin, and other than his website I haven't really noticed him placing full page ads in certain martial arts magazines month-after-month. Many of the tape companies have told me, "the industry goes through trends and cycles, and eventually gets back to the same stuff".
Now it seems ISRAELI based military self-defense is the craze. This of course creeped into the limelight in the 90's, with what I'd originally heard was an attempt to trademark/register the name Krav Maga. Now it seems there are others offering ISRAELI based training, and most don't, or maybe can't, use the name Krav Maga. I heard in the past there were numerous legal attempts made in who actually owns and can use the Krav Maga name in the U.S.! So we have others like Mike Kanarek here, and Moni Azik, who teach ISRAELI based military combatives, and label it something other than Krav Maga. Attempting to own the rights to the name of a certain style is silly to me. What kind of absurdity is next, David Caradine or Warner Brothers going after Kung Fu schools? ;-)
Several years ago we reviewed a "Krav Maga" tape series produced by ESPY-TV, that it appears a person can't buy anymore. That video instructors name was Rhon Mizrachi. If memory serves me correctly, I think this title was eventually "shelved", due to the legal use of the name "Krav Maga". Funny, I think I saw Mizrachi's name in Kanarek's credits, as some sort of technical advisor, at the end of Kanarek's tapes. Hmmmm? Also interesting, there's a mock terrorist-type hijacking scene on Kanarek's tapes, in which Kanarek, and a very helpful and proficient combatives practitioneer, separately dispose of (2) hijackers taking over a bus. That practitioneer's face is blocked out, yet is thanked in the credits anonymously. So Mizrachi's technical expertise is credited on Kanarek's tapes, Kanarek has obtained rank through Mizrachi, it seems Mizrachi can't sell Krav Maga videos anymore, and we have a masked man assisting Kanarek on the bus. I always heard 1+1=2!!! ;-) I can't help but wonder if Mizrachi caught some legal heat from certain Krav Maga people, and in some sort of settlement, agreed in writing not to appear in any more ISRAELI based training tapes! We all know Mizrachi exists, is supposedly an 8th degree Krav Maga practitioneer through Ira Lichenstein, was Kanarek's "technical advisor" for the bus scene, Kanarek received rank from Mizrachi, and the other guy in the bus scene it's said on tape "due to professional reasons his identity can't be revealed". Maybe it should say "due to absurd legal reasons, his face can't be revealed". Who knows! Will the martial arts in-fighting ever stop? The JKD community went through it, so did the Kenpo community, the Professor Vee community, and from what I've heard it seems maybe the ISRAELI combatives community too. Does everything have to be about power, egos, and money? Personally, I'm sick of it.
So what's the best way to describe this FIGHT system of Kanarek's? I guess you could listen to Kanarek's lengthy-and-time-consuming explanation on his first tape, in which he uses alot of ISRAELI names to say it's a combination of 4 different things. But I don't think that will help most of us who don't have exposure to those 4 things, to really understand it. Thus, I'm going to describe what I saw, based on other tapes and systems reviewed here.
If you were to take bits-and-pieces of David James techniques, along with some of Paul Vunak's Street Safe techniques, add a Muay Thai/JKD twist, throw in some universal military type combatives, you've just about got Kanarek's FIGHT system. Almost sounds like an ideal system, doesn't it? Well, I wouldn't make a mad-dash to place an order just yet! In my opinion, Kanarek started out on the right road, but hit a few potholes along the way!
Here's what you get across 5 tapes:
Tape 1: Principles and Concepts - Kanarek wastes the first 10-15 minutes giving a thorough history about his system. Personally, point me to the website, and I'll read about that if I have an interest. Don't eat up valuable video time doing that! I'd rather get techniques on video vs history! Once you get past that stuff, he spends the rest of the tape going through and identifying many of the strikes he recommends. To his advantage, this is a lengthy tape, clocking in at 1 hr 48 minutes, and he does tie concepts into techniques. I counted about 40 different numbered lessons on Tape 1.
Tape 2: Street Attacks/Pt. 1 - Roughly 10-20, shorter 45 min tape, going through various self-defense grabs/attacks, and how you should respond.
Tape 3: Street Attacks/Pt. 2 - Continuation and more of the same (just like Tape 2).
Tape 4: Knife Defense - Roughly 45 min, addresses the various knife attack angles and how you should defend against them. Much of it I'd seen from other video instructors. I had no issue with most of what Kanarek showed.
Tape 5: Gun Defense - Roughly 45 min, addresses the various angles and ways a gun can be pointed at you, and how to defend against that. Much of it I'd seen from other video instructors. I had no issue with most of what Kanarek showed.
Things I liked: low roundhouse kicks to the legs (but not used as often as I'd recommend), knee strikes, front kick, some trapping, jab, reverse punch, diagonal punch to the ribs (sort of between a hook and uppercut), numerous different angled elbow strikes, eye strike (just like Vunak's Street Safe # 1), opponent standing ankle break ("incapacitation"), opponent on stomach or his knees ankle break (looks like he took it from David James), palm heel strikes, neck cranks (head twists), neck breaks ("termination"), throws, reaps, and more.
Here are some of the techniques/concepts I had issue with:
1. Throat Strike - Great concept, questionable technique! Kanarek's hand position for this strike is certainly not my preference. He pulls the thumb back as far as you can, and strikes with the rounded "web area of the thumb", to the middle of an opponents throat. Although this could be a stunning strike, I feel the impact becomes disspersed! So you understand what I mean, extend your thumb back as far as you can, and press into the web strike area with the index finger of your other hand. Do you see it giving in a bit? That's a soft tissue weapon striking a soft tissue target! Furthermore, you're suppose to make that rounded web area have impact into a rounded throat area. Due to the arc of that webbed area, there's room-for-error regarding hitting the throat area dead-on, and thus creates dispersion. Why not make a Kenpo style "half fist" and strike to the throat with that? Then you have bone striking soft tissue! If you dare, carefully test both and see which is better! Tighten up your throat, and whack yourself a few times with both, slowly increasing the intensity each time until you can't stand it, and see for yourself which one hurts more. If you don't like the half fist, then I'd personally rather see a spearhand to the throat. If your goal is maximum damage, would you rather have bone striking soft tissue, or soft tissue striking soft tissue?
2. Blind-and-High Diagonal Rear Elbow Strikes - Elbows are great and powerful impact weapons. I personally like them alot. However, I have technical issues with the way Kanarek does a couple of them. On a couple of occassions in this series he throws them to the rear, head level and without looking, assuming while doing so that his target is going to be where he's striking. Not looking is a partial concern with this technique, but even more are the behind-the-back-and-diagonally-upward angles he uses. If you're going to use an obscure technique, and at a diagonal angle, then you need to more-than-ever be sure about your targets location. Also think about this, many elbow strikes, such as this one that Kanarek uses, have an "arc" to them. And due to that arc, your targeting needs to be precise. Unlike a straight line weapon, an arcing weapon requires incredible precision, visual targeting, and even with that, you can often be only an inch or two off from missing, due to the curving nature of the arc. I feel there's a high probability for misses, regarding an arcing weapon blindly-and-diagonally attempting to connect, upwards at head level, with a behind-the-back target!
3. 2 Man Attack - On the first tape in this series Kanarek goes through a 2 man attack. Specifically, he's facing one opponent, and then with his peripheral vision, sees someone else approaching from the side. He insists that you don't look at the side opponent, and don't even attempt a quick glance. He says stay focused on the one in front of you, assume whoever is approaching from the side is an enemy, and blindly throw a strike at whoever is approaching from the side. I guess you better hope if its dark outside, whomever is approaching isn't one of your friends, a bouncer, girlfriend, or policeman coming to your aid, or one of that guys friends trying to break-things-up before they get started! I guess his approach is "blindly strike first and ask questions later".
4. Prematurely Rushing into Close Range - Close Range is one of the more dangerous ranges to fight from. Things in that range can happen very quick! Some instructors, like David James, say that the concept of "action/reaction" comes into play, making ones reaction time in close range problematic. Meaning, the closer you are to an opponent, and the faster his strike, the less reaction time you have. Simply put, the hand is quicker than the eye! Action/reaction states you're extremely unlikely to stop a strike from that range. It basically says that close-distance-and-high-speed prevent a persons brain from picking up the strike quick enough, along with being able to tell your brain, and then your body, to respond in time! Lets say you're 0-24 inches from an opponents torso, if that opponent has any skills, lets say a moderate or high level of hand speed, and he suddenly attempts to strike, in essence "action/reaction" states there's a high probability he will connect! And if you're in close, and all of a sudden hit with an uppercut, hook, palmheel, elbow, knee, or eye strike, guess who now has the upperhand? The dynamics of a fight, moving in-and-out of ranges, along with that opponents range preference, require that one adapt and be well rounded in all ranges, if you want the strongest possibility of succeess. Personally, I prefer lots of long and mid range softeners-and-stunners, like low kicks and hand trapping, before jumping into close range. I didn't feel Kanarek place a high level of emphasis on that. Close range certainly offers the most opportunity for unskilled practitioneers to do damage, but it also requires excellent defense, precision timing, and should be setup with fakes, and/or long-to-midange softeners-and-stunners. Kanarek does show some of those softeners-and-stunners from those other ranges, but I didn't get the feeling he tried to always emphasize using those before rushing into close range, or using more than 1-2 of them. Kanarek implies a person can become proficient with his system in 3-4 months. I think developing and obtaining a high degree of close range speed, and good defensive skills in that range, isn't something one can develop that well in 3-4 months.
5. Leaving yourself wide open - Kanarek uses a block/cover-up similar to one we mentioned recently in our George Vranos review. I think Kanarek calls his a "sensor elbow". Vranos uses something close to the same he calls a "half shell", to defend against strikes to the head. Best way I can think of describing it, would be to take your hand, and on the same side, reach over the top of your collarbone, and grab the back of your shirt. This isn't exactly it, but that high vertical elbow position, in relation to your head, is what I'm trying to point out. Now with Kanarek's version, imagine almost the same thing, but instead of grabbing the shirt, grab the crown/top of your head, making sure that the bend of your elbow is lined up over your nose. Most of your arm will now be covering up your face (vertically, not horizontally). This is a block/cover-up that Kanarek recommends using. Not something I would use, but to each his own I guess! Kanarek has several quirky things like this, that you see throughout his series, that in my opinion at times leave a persons torso wide-open, or half open, to their opponent!
6. Headbutt - I thought I'd seen every variety of headbutt there is over the course of hundreds of tapes! Kanarek doesn't recommend just headbutting a guy on the end of the nose with your forehead. He recommends that you reach around the back of your opponents head with both hands, grab, and then pull his nose into the top of your head (not forehead). Consider it almost a reverse headbutt. Personally, I don't think that delivers the amount of impact the old forehead version would. With the weight of ones head, combined with speed and momentum of your own body mass moving forward, I think the old way has a better chance of splattering a guys nose across his face, or creating more damage! Also, I like the idea of being able to deliver a headbutt without reaching behind an opponents head with both hands, nor making that mandatory! In fact, why not use your hands to check/trap both of his hands, while delivering your headbutt? Grabbing the back of an opponents head with both your hands means both of your hands are busy, and there's a chance he could react to you reaching around his neck, before you can deliver the headbutt. I feel just doing it, dead on without telegraphing by grabbing, delivers it quicker, adds a higher degree of successful delivery, and the momentum of your own neck snapping forward, along with your body mass, provides more impact, power and damage.
7. Transitioning Moves - Grab this, hold on to it, now do this with your other hand, then replace that first hand with the other one, now you can do this, now both hands are free to do something else... I'm not a big fan of complicated transitioning moves!
8. Raging Bull Mentality - If you have an interest in Kanarek's system, I suggest you either be ready to take some shots, or be one tough SOB that can swallow scrap iron and spit nails! Heck, even Kanarek said on one of his "Street Attack" tapes, in which its obvious you might take a shot, "he might hit you, but don't worry, it won't really hurt". I don't know about you, but I don't like playing Russian Roullete, and trading shots "Raging Bull" style, to see whose left standing.
9. 1-2-3 He's Done? - I didn't feel Kanarek instructed viewers to deliver enough power shots, before you get to one of his "reference points", or before you choose to "incapacitate" or "terminate" your opponent. At times, I saw him do the equivalent of a 1-2-3 combo, mostly 3 knee strikes placed anywhere (often to the thighs), then assume based on that, the opponent was then ready for one of his signature finishing moves. 3 strikes aren't enough in my opinion! Especially knee strikes to the thighs, in which Kanarek says "don't worry about 1 or 2 of them missing, just keep kneeing". His targets with the knees were: thigh, groin, stomach. Yet often, it looked like most of his knee strikes were mostly going to the thighs! I tend to think that with a moving opponent, your strikes might have a tendency to slide up a persons thigh, in the heat of battle, versus impacting into their muscle. And back to his 1-2-3 they're done philosophy, we've all heard stories of policemen having to place a significant grouping of shots in a perp's center mass, that was on Meth or PCP, before he went down! Best to have a flurry of 10-20, non-stop power shots, happening all over an opponents body, before you assume he's done! I'd rather leave a guy knocked out on his feet, and keep striking him 15 more times, than ask him "are we done yet", or try to gauge that!
10. Speed - Kanarek is fast, faster than most opponents he would likely ever run into, and he even shows a couple of Pak Sao type drills that show his speed/agility/dexterity, but he didn't have anything close to the almost inhuman type hand speed of someone like Vunak, Geyston, Blauer, Keating or Worden. I don't think Kanarek's tapes can take anyone with no previous training, and in 3-4 months make them fast enough to handle a broad range of attackers, they might encounter in the street. I think implying that can be obtained in 3-4 months is a huge stretch to help him sell more tapes! It always seems video instructors who imply "I can make you street effective quicker than anyone else", will sell the most tapes and make the most money, due to our own human desire of wanting maximum ability/results in minimum time!
I felt while watching Kanarek that he was more tough, confident, and strong willed, than he is a close range speed-demon. Add to that his healthy amount of technical knowledge, along with the amount of speed he does have, and I have no doubt he's street ready. The point I'm trying to make is this, I feel you have to either match what he is, for his system to work, or develop a higher level of speed. Meaning, be tough and able to take some shots, combined with a strong will that you're not going down, nor will you quit, until you destroy your opponent! That my friends, giving someone "heart", and/or the mental part, is a hard thing to teach, especially through video. Personally, I'd rather start an attack with some long-to-medium range setups, such as several leg kicks (not just 1 or 2 like Kanarek SOMETIMES shows), followed by some speedy hand trapping, then a palmheel strike to an opponents nose to water his eyes, or a loose and whipping type of backfist finger strike to the eyes, or a half fist throat shot to effect his breathing, to help insure an opponent is softened-up, before charging into close range and attempting to deliver knees and elbows everywhere. An instructor once told me many yrs ago "If an opponent can't see you, breathe, or move, he can't hurt you". He further added, "your initial attack should be a flurry of strikes, up-and-down an opponents body, attempting to hit multiple targets that accomplish those 3 things!
Close range certainly seems to be Kanarek's favorite range, as he clearly states, but what if it happens to be your opponents favorite range too? What if you encounter an ex-military guy whose had some CQC/H2H training? Now in likelihood, the odds are in your favor you won't. You'll likely encounter drunks, or street thugs who have no training whatsoever, next probably ex-wrestlers or football players who haven't grown up, followed by ex-military types, followed by those that did a bit of boxing, then next maybe someone that had some long-to-medium range martial art (karate), and last, people who have extensively trained in a close range martial art. Personally, I think close range is one of the best to train in for self defense, but I think one needs to spend more than 3-4 months, to develp speed and good close range defensive skills. Or even better, learn this, but add to it, training in all ranges, to greatly increase your odds and chances!
Bottomline - Kanarek is OK, and I feel comfortable in saying it's "Good/3 Star" material! Even though I made alot of his techniques sound bad, I think it's fair to say most of it is "Good", if you look past a few quirky things. If one were to push me and say "Do you feel it's 4 Star/Very Good or 5 Star/Excellent?", I'd say "no". If you had the $150 to purchase this set, I'd rather see you save up about $50 more ($200 total), and either get the whole David James ESPY-TV set for $150, and Paul Vunak's Street Safe from TRS for $40. Or, just order the entire David James "Black 'N Blue" set for $200! And maybe a good Knife/Gun defense tape like Abel Villareal's (hard to get now I hear, but I've got it if you want it)!
STILL INTERESTED IN FIGHT? - I have no doubt that some of you have seen Kanarek's full page ads each month in Black Belt Magazine. For August, I see he's done 3 FULL PAGE ads! Based on past ad rates we once verified, that could be a $30,000 check he wrote to have 3 pages in the August issue of Black Belt Magazine! You don't write checks like that unless your making alot of money each month! It appears Kanarek is riding a nice lucrative wave in the ISRAELI combatives market, and that he's created a working marketing strategy, that's likely generating a nice cash flow for himself. Each month he shows tons of "new schools" that are licensed to teach his FIGHT program! "Licensing" of course typically means he gets a backend piece, for his own pocket and to grow his business, which means he can perpetuate FIGHT by placing even more-and-bigger ads! The tape industry is like the music industry, ride the wave while it's hot! Should you have an interest in Kanarek's FIGHT series, I'd say rent this 5 tape series from Goldstar first, and then decide if you think it's worth spending $150 to own! Remember, support Billy since he supports us. Billy sent us this series to review, while Kanarek ignored repeated email requests about that, and didn't even respond once! I guess Kanarek doesn't know we have 10,000 readers a month, that are all tape buyers, or maybe he does, looked at our website, and decided it might not be in his best interest financially to send us some tapes to review! Like I keep harping on, there's often a good reason why certain instructors don't send us their tapes for review, and I think it's because instructors don't want to risk a bad review hurting their cash flow! Often seems this industry is so money focused, that once an instructor has invested in producing tapes, invested thousands in advertising, and finally creates a succesful marketing strategy that has the money rolling-in, they'd rather lay-low, be careful, and not risk a possible luke-warm or bad review effecting their cash flow or initial investment! It's easy to see that some in the tape industry are still focused more on money-money-money than proving their training is good through an unbiased source like ours!
Once again, I want to thank Billy Moody and his Goldstar staff for helping us get this series for review purposes! For the record, Kanarek ignored NUMEROUS emails I sent him, asking to help us with material for review purposes! Without Billy, this likely wouldn't have EVER been reviewed. If you're not a member of Goldstar, please think about becoming one, especially since Billy is helping us! Bottomline, we probably wouldn't be able to review series like this without Billy! So how do you thank Billy for hooking-us-up? By checking out the over 1000 tapes he has on his website and trying a few! And should you try Goldstar, please tell Billy we sent you! ;-)