Company: Noble Learning
DVD Name: Accelerated Battlefield Combatives - Fundamentals
DVD Cost: ?
Length of DVD: 62 min
Number of Moves: 2+ concepts
Return Policy: NA
Instructor: Chris Pizzo (aka Lieutenant X)
Company Address: 400 D Lake Street, Ste C, Ramsey, NJ 07446
Company Phone Number: 917-546-6870
Web Page Info: TopSecretTraining.com
Primary Grading Criteria:
Production Quality: 2
Instructors demonstrated skill level: 5
Comprehension Score/Immediate Understanding: 2
Degree to which this will make someone a better Martial Artist: 2
Score on Delivery vs Hype: 1
Degree to which you would recommend this product: 1
Wasted time (The Higher the number, the less “Fluff “/repetition): 2
Playback score/watching it over and over again: 1
Would I purchase more of this company’s products: 1
Overall grade: 1
Grand Total: 18% (Poor = 1/2 Star)
Secondary Grading Criteria:
1. Beginning Student Benefit: Poor
2. Intermediate Student Benefit: Poor
3. Advanced Student Benefit: Poor
4. Time to benefit: who cares
5. The need to buy additional tapes to understand this one: None
: I felt there were many similarities between the ads for this product and the ads I saw about 10 yrs ago for Jerry Peterson's SCAR's material. It felt to me as if the same advertising tactics and implications that sold the SCAR's material were used here. I'm of the opinion that typically nothing new regarding fighting skills is really created, it often seems to me to be repackaged bits-and-pieces of material seen previously elsewhere, with alot of marketing hype added to it, and a much bigger price tag, so that we all think "this is the only thing I need to buy/know". And of course the companies peddling their goods to us know that all of us as humans, whether martial artists, or those looking for self defense, would ideally like to learn things as quick and easy as possible. So whose to stop someone if they claim they can teach us in days or weeks how to become "street lethal", versus the years they claim it takes most traditional martial arts schools to do so?
Lets face it, we're an instant gratification society, some companies seem to know that, and that if they can reach down deep into us and find 1-2 hot buttons that makes us react, they can pick our wallets clean! Between the video hucksters, and the McDojo's of the world, when are people going to stop taking the bait? And worse yet, why don't those who can get the word out, and should be helping warn us, do so (i.e. martial arts magazines)? We all know the magazines are perceived as an influential authority. Yet why won't the magazines use their influential position to do something good for their readers, and give them honest unbiased reviews about products like this? Just like in the movie Spiderman, is there any truth to the saying "with great power comes great responsibility"? What "great responsibility" do the martial arts magazines have to their readers and are they truly living up too? Is it mainly to give us a bunch of ads, or Instructor articles they want us to think they just dreamed up out-of-the-blue, when in actuality those Instructor articles are either often bought, or bartered for under-the-table, and done for a certain amount of guaranteed "advertising dollars" spread out over a certain amount of time?
Do readers of these magazines even have a clue that the articles done on certain persons are often bought-and-paid for in that manner? What credibility does a magazine have, when we're hoping they're researching people and objectively bringing us something new they've discovered, when in actuality for 5K-20K a video instructor can call a magazine and have an article done about himself next month. Don't magazines realize that publishing an article done for dollars is something readers don't know about, yet gives them the perception that the magazine has done their homework, and now blesses or endorses what that video instructor teaches? Am I the only one that doesn't see something wrong with that? This paying for publicity and credibility seems no different to me than what many of the various Martial Arts Hall of Fames do. Did you know that quite a few martial arts Hall of Fames call just about every black belt they can, and tell them "you've been chosen to be inducted into our Hall of Fame, the fee for you to attend the dinner in which this will be done is ____, can we go ahead and schedule that for _____". I'm serious, for a few hundred bucks a person can buy themselves into a Hall of Fame. Heck, I've been called many times over the past 10 yrs, and asked if I was ready to be "inducted-for-dollars" and I've refused it everytime! Whether it's Articles-for-Dollars or Hall-of-Fame-for-Dollars, I view both as a sham and shameful!
Is the almighty advertising dollar more important to the magazines, than doing what's right and either moderating, reviewing, or doing investigative reports, on the wares of video hucksters, or on giving us truly objective, unbiased, and 100% unpaid for articles about them? I know, I've been preaching this same sermon for years now, and still not one martial arts magazine has stepped-up to do something. Seems dollars rule, creating false perceptions with readers doesn't matter any more than taking advantage of them does, and to perpetuate revenues, it's best no one knows these things! Years ago, before I started doing the reviews, I wondered why many black belt instructors didn't buy or subscribe to certain magazines. I asked some of them and kept hearing them say over-and-over,"many of them are dirty and tainted". Later on, many video instructors confirmed that, by explaining to me in detail the dirty under-the-table deals the magazines use. Even today you can often look in a magazine, find a big article done on some video instructor, and then see full page ads for his videos in that magazine too. Constant coincidence without any reciprocity? Come on!
Sometimes I think it's kind of sad, regarding the commercialization, direction, and perception of martial arts here in America. Hopefully someday there will be some real magazine-to-reader accountability, ethics, integrity and eventually monumental changes! Maybe that's too much to hope for, especially since martial arts is an industry that has no government regulation here, and combine that with a free enterprise society, and it seems ethics and accountability take a backseat to the almighty dollar. Due to that, anyone can say, do, or imply whatever they want, regarding martial arts products and services, without consequence. At least there's the internet, this site and a few others, to dish-out a little Yin-Yang (balance) to offset what the hucksters claim. Oh well, I've digressed as I often do, so let's move on and get back to the review.
While reading Lt X's controversial yet enticing arm-twisting ads, I felt as if he was saying the following to readers:
1. "Martial arts doesn't work and will get you killed in a real street fight"
2. "I developed a secret fighting system for the military"
3. "Learn in days or weeks how to become effective with what I can offer you, not years, like traditional martial arts"
4. "This material is so good, and the military knows it, that Congress tried to ban me from teaching it to the public, but due to a military loophole I can bring it to you"
Well if those 4 thoughts don't start things off with a raised eyebrow, I don't know what would. Okay, so let's be fair to Lt. X and not go into this closed-minded. Who knows, maybe he is the next best thing to sliced bread. So let's pop-in the dvd and see what he's about.
First thing the viewer sees is Lt. X, who remains fully hooded throughout the entire video in a black ski mask, and he's pointing us to a messy and cluttered whiteboard with dozens of lines and circles, with writing in the circles that I can't hardly see. Even more distracting is the background surrounding his whiteboard. It's some kind of green jungle backdrop that appears to either be cheaply blue screened or super imposed onto the video, due to the way it kind of pixelates and bleeds into the whiteboard area ocassionally. Then there's the video freezing weirdly and edits between "takes" not being smooth. First thought I had, this has to be one of the cheesiest video productions I've ever seen!
But what about "X" as a teacher, maybe he can deliver an engaging message to us. Yet when Lt. X speaks to us, there's something about the way he talks that bothers me. He constantly says "Um-um" when he talks, his presentation is frequently littered with "pregnant pauses", he often rolls his eyes or looks away while talking, and he often makes a loud exhaling sound as if he's frustrated making a certain point or sighing. For some reason he's not instilling in me the level of confidence, authority, and expertise that I was expecting. What suprises me even more is that in his online advertising he claims "teaching others" is something he's good at...okay. Maybe these sorts of public speaking faux pas' can keep others focused on him, but I'm having a problem with it. So let's keep going, maybe it's just me and he'll blow-me-away with the concepts or techniques he can teach us.
But he didn't, and things for me, didn't get better! Have any of you ever had to sit and listen to a Powerpoint or Overhead Projector presentation for an hour that bored you too tears? This is what I'm feeling as Lt. X whiteboard presentation drags-on for the first 30 minutes of this video, while wearing his ski mask! All I kept picturing was "X" as a Nacho Libre wrestler, while he whiteboarded me into complete and utter boredom. During his schtick "X" tells us we really have "3 brains" and how they all do different things yet work together. 3 brains huh, okay! "X" continues throughout his ramblings to clutter up a whiteboard faster than any elementary school teacher or college professor could. Inbetween his chicken scratch we're shown circles with scribbling in them I can't read, and lines that connect all these circles in every way possible. Later, "X" demonstrates how we should practice doing geometric 3D cube and cylinder drawings to help us better comprehend the 9 angles of attack (a filipino concept which he doesn't credit). All the while I'm thinking "Oh man this has become painful to watch, will someone please nudge me or get me a Red Bull, so I stay awake through this?
About 30 minutes into the whiteboarding (seemed more like 3 hrs), finally it seems his scribblings have come to an end. Next we're shown certain exercises we should do, to make sure our Left and Right brain are communicating and firing properly! This consisted of neck circles, hip circles, knee circles, waist twists, judo pulls, leg sweeps, the "elephant", movements that he says forces us to pass our centerline, thus using the left and right side of our brain. Okay, well I've yet to notice my Left and Right brain have any centerline issues "X", but let's give you some more rope here to see if you can now reel-us-in, or if you're going to hang yourself!
"X" next goes back to the whiteboard (oh dear God, not again) and I'm now beginning to feel that the rope I just gave him, he's opted to make into a noose for himself. He talks about how we should take good notes when listening to his material, or attending any kind of seminar. He does so by suggesting we right down key points, put a circle around them, and connect the circles to each other in a logical progression. "X" went through a whiteboard demonstration of this, by putting in little circles what he felt were some of the key concepts in doing a hip throw. Within a minute or two the whiteboard is messy and cluttered, with lots of circles and lines connecting to each other, and to me, this is too messy of a way for me to learn things. The circles and lines aren't even numbered, and go all over the board in what appeared to me to be crazy directions. How in the world would someone months or years later be able to go back to this style of note taking, look at it, and remember where everything started? Why not just do a simple outline, or clean flow chart, versus tons of cirlces, lines connecting them all, ending up with a mess that looks 100x worse than a molecular diagram for some complex chemical formula?
Moving on, "X" shows us what he calls "the most important thing to know", which are basic and simple judo-type breakfalls. We're shown the rear fall (the egg?), front fall (the plank?), and side breakfalls (the floppy fish???). I'm still not impressed, as these are taught the first week in any judo school around here! Where's the stuff that blows away what he claims is taught in any traditional martial arts school?
The last few minutes of the video we're shown how to fight from our back. "X" says we shouldn't lay on our backs, we should lay on our sides and try to kick into an attackers knees or leg as they approach. Then he shows us how to do what he calls "freak and move", simply how to kick while on ones side and how to post and get-up quickly from that position. It wasn't anything new in my opinion that I didn't learn my first couple of months in martial arts! "X" also shows us how to scissor a persons legs while laying on our side, so we can knock them to the floor. Basically, using one of your feet, while on your side, you hook your foot around their heel and push into their knee with your other foot. Something else I learned about 27 yrs ago! And this is the amazing stuff that isn't taught in other martial arts schools? Which schools is he talking about?
To me, this video was poorly made. "X" couldn't keep me focused due to public speaking skills that bothered me, his silly ski mask annoyed me, the green jungle print bleeding through the whiteboard annoyed me, as did his excessive whiteboarding, and me being oversold on material that supposedly isn't taught in most schools I found problematic. During "X's" whiteboarding and pompous verbal presentations, I kept feeling like Charlie Brown in the Peanuts cartoons when he zones-out in class, and everything the teacher says begins to sound like "wah-wah-wah". Setting aside the criticism about "X's" presenting style, I truly felt there was very little value in the material shown. We're not going to rate this a "0" because I did think the last few minutes of the video regarding the leg scissor type takedowns had value. However, the amount of value from that was so minor, compared to the torture I went through to watch everything else, that I'm going to say less than 20% of this video had value. Thus, I'm going to rate this video accordingly, and stick it in what I call my garbage pile of videos that I'll likely never watch again!
If you want to know more about the hype Lt. X tries to create for himself, regarding this material, you can read the teaser stuff at http://www.topsecrettraining.com
Additional details can be read at http://www.topsecrettraining.com/abc/abc1.html
FYI - Jerry Peterson use to put 2-3 page ads out that were even more enticing, in my opinion. While doing this review I wanted to refresh my memory about them, so I did a Google search and found an old Jerry Peterson 1 page ad (not nearly as enticing as his old 2-3 page ads). If you'd like to read it and compare the tone of Peterson's ad to Lt. X's here it is: http://charltondirect.com/originalpeterson.pdf
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