Company: Stadion Publishing
Tape Name: Secrets of Stretching
Tape Cost: $49.95
Length of Tape/Time: 98 minutes
Number of Moves/Techniques: 30+
Return Policy: Return anytime!
Experiences in dealing with this company: Excellent
The Instructor: Tom Kurz
Company's Address: P.O. Box 447-W, Island Pond, VT 05846, USA
Company's Phone Number: 1-802-723-6175
Web Page:

Primary Grading Criteria:

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

Grand Total: 90 % (Fair = 2.5 Stars)

Secondary Grading Criteria:

1. Beginners benefit: Fair
2. Intermediate benefit: Fair
3. Advanced benefit: Fair
4. Time to benefit: a few months, if you don't mess up your back first!
5. The need to buy additional tapes to understand this one: None

Written Summary:

THE SPLITS, every martial artist that's attended and watched Wallace at one of his seminars, or seen a Van Damme movie, knows that achieving them, or even getting close, can make all the difference in ones kicks. It's a scientific fact that the more flexible ones muscles are the faster and easier they move. They get less tired, due to their ability to retain oxygen, and displace lactic acid. And of course the more flexible they are, the greater range of motion they typically have, which leads to higher kicks. Plus, achieving a high level of flexibility can help keep one from "telegraphing" their techniques, by not bending to throw a kick, and thus allows one to do well in sparring. OK, that's enough discussion of kinesiology as it relates to flexibility and the martial arts.

Almost every martial artist who participates in a kicking art, and has difficulty achieving the splits, would like to uncover those elusive stretching secrets, that we know the masters must be hiding from us. ;-) Thus there seems to be a never ending cry for stretching videos! I just wish someone like Jerry Peterson would come along and guarantee if a person buys theirs, they will achieve the splits. ;-)

This was the 3rd martial arts video I bought. I got it hoping it would help me increase my flexibility, and help me achieve the splits. At the time I was a brown belt and had an unbelievably hard time doing head high kicks "cold". I could do them, but it took about 20 minutes each day, to get stretched out enough. My main problem was tightness in what doctors tell me are the rotators in each hip joint, not the adductor muscles. And Mr. Kurz, I was able to pass your test for hip flexibility! The only way I've ever been able to loosen the rotators in my hip joint, was by doing the pancake/butterfly stretch, and slowly, yet forcefully, having myself, or somone else, force my knees to the floor. In a natural pre-stretched state, sitting in the butterfly position, my knees on each side would always be about 11 inches off the floor. If you want to see what I mean, sit on the floor in the butterfly, heels together, lift each knee about 11 inches off the floor, that was my natural position, and one I could never, after years of trying, improve. Even as a kid, my hips were so tight that I was never able to sit comfortably on the floor "indian style" with my legs crossed. Anyway, it ususally took about 2-3 minutes of having my instructor, or someone else, slowly apply pressure by standing on my knees, and then I could get as low as 3-4 inches off the floor. After that I could easily do head high roundhouse, side, and heel/hook kicks. Now I know this may sound like a bizarre and crazy way to stretch, but after years of getting nowhere, daily doing the splits for 30 minutes or more, buying 3 different stretching machines, trying this tape and others prior to it, this was the only way I could kick at head level, compete, and do well against other brown and black belts. My hope was that this tape, and it's techniques, would make me more natually flexible. Well I tried the techniques shown for over 6 months, and it didn't help. Mr. Kurz, who I personally called to ask how long it should take to reach the splits, said it should take 3-6 months. Well at the end of 6 months, using his techniques, I hung up the towel trying and shortly thereafter my TKD career too. I had spent many hours outside the dojo working on my kicks and flexibility. In fact I had developed tons of speed and power, but little flexibility. At that time I was still able to throw roundhouse and side kicks faster than most people could avoid them, and had enough power to break (3) 1 inch boards with a single side kick. However I was having lots of problems with my knees and lower back due to a previous motorcycle accident, and that was further aggravated by me trying in vain to get past my flexibility limitations. My knees got to the point, when I'd walk, that they'd often buckle under me. I believe Mr. Kurz's methods further aggravated these conditions.

One of the main exercises Mr. Kurz's shows in his video to increase ones flexibility are isometric splits. Basically you do a standing chinese split, and sort of squeeze your legs together forcefully, as if trying to pinch the air between your legs. This technique can put an extreme amount of pressure on ones knees and lower back. I then followed Kurz's strengthening exercises for awhile to counter that, but to no avail. I continued for months, attempting to be tough by enduring the pain, and using his flexibility techniques anyway, and now I have what doctors call a messed up S.I. Joint. The SI Joint is very low in your back, roughly located around the crack of your butt. Anyway, I'm told it has muscles and ligaments which provide stability for your lower back/spine. If these become overstretched your back can frequently go out. And mine now goes out about once every month or so just bending over to do something routine around the house. When that happens it's very painful, and best described as having a sledgehammer all of a sudden hit you in the back. It literally drops me to the floor. And folks, I've been hit plenty hard in my day, by some our areas best full contact fighters, and it takes alot to drop me! Anyway, afterwards I'm usually bedridden, and I have to literally crawl just to get to the bathroom. On a much more personal note, just so you know how serious the back outages are I'm talking about, my body during these is usually in so much pain that I can't do #2 for 3-5 days. It takes a week or more each time after these outages for me to just begin getting to the point where I can walk, and then I'm bent over, or to one side, for a few weeks, physically unable to walk fully erect. Typically it takes about a month for the pain to subside, although it has yet to ever fully subside. And yes Mr. Kurz I've gone to Kinesiologists, per suggestions in your book, and they haven't been able to fix it either. Now my Orthopedic doctor, whose done several MRI's on it, has prescribed physical therapy. I'm making some progress, but I'm now told absolutely NO MORE STRETCHING and NO MORE KICKING, EVER! He says I will probably always have to some degree permanent arthritis and problems in my lower back. So my advice, when using the techniques in this tape, or other split techniques, is be very careful, and no matter what your instructor says, enduring pain while doing the splits doesn't make you tougher, nor get better or quicker results, or make you more of a man. (Hear that LW?) So what did I get out of this? A firm opinion that everyone can't do the splits, no matter how hard they try! But hey, at least I gave it hell, and I won't have any regrets about not trying hard enough!

OK now about this video. Some of you may have better luck getting results using this video than I have. However I felt the video was very confusing and hard to understand. The viewer is shown tons of exercises, and 98 minutes later, it's mind boggling trying to figure out which ones to use. Well due to this I decided to converse with Kurz and I ended up creating my own manual of his routines. I sent him a copy of the routines I'd outlined, which he edited and sent back, to make sure what I thought I should do coincided with his theories. Basically there's 4 workouts buried in this tape, along with various other strengthening exercises. There's the: Beginner workout which one should do for 1-2 months, Intermediate 2-4 months, Advanced 3-6 months, Super Advanced 6 months + . The heart of Kurz's workout is having one perform a brief 2-3 minute warmup, followed by several sets of dynamic leg raises (front, side and rear), adductor pull downs with weights, isometric splits, then a cool down. And each morning and evening Kurz suggests a person do additional sets of dynamic leg raises to "regulate the nervous tension of the muscles". The essence of his workout, and getting results, he claims are in doing the exercises reasonably, using the correct order, and frequency. Well, I tried doing that the best I could for 6 months, and never got anywhere close to the splits.

As mentioned before, I felt this video was very confusing. The techniques may work for you, but they didn't for me. Combine that with the fact I had to create my own workout manual, to know what exercises to do, how many reps of each, their order, and the likely probability that these techniques may have further aggravated my back, and I have a problem giving this tape a high grade. Therefore I would classify this as a FAIR tape. In fact, while doing this review I noticed Mr. Kurz offers a lifetime refund policy. Now that I've practically ruined myself for most arts, have gone through dozens of lengthy and painful back outages, spent tons on doctors and prescriptions over the past few years, have been told I can't do the splits, or kick anymore, I don't see any use for this tape. In fact I'd like to take Mr. Kurz up on his lifetime refund offer and see if he'll really give me my $50.00 back. I only wish he'd allow me a refund on the accompanying $20.00 book I bought that goes with this tape. However, based on the fact I seriously studied it, and while doing so highlighted key parts of it, that may be too much to hope for.

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