Company: TRS Direct
Tape Name: Viper
Tape Cost: $97.00 (for 1 dvd?...come on!)
Length of Tape/Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Number of Moves/Techniques: Numerous
Return Policy: 6 Month Money Back Guarantee
Experiences in dealing with this company: Fantastic
The Instructor: John Nottingham
Company's Address: 606 E. Acequia Ave., Visalia, CA 93292
Company's Phone Number: 1-800-899-8153
Web Page: TRS Direct
Primary Grading Criteria:
1. Production/Tape Quality: 50
2. Instructors demonstrated skill level: 50
3. Comprehension Score/Immediate Understanding: 50
4. Degree to which this will make someone a better Martial Artist: 50
5. Score on delivery vs hype: 50
6. Degree to which we would recommend this product: 50
7. Wasted Time ( The higher the number,the less " fluff" /repetition ): 50
8. Playback Score/Watching it over-and-over again: 50
9. Would I purchase more of this company's products: 50
10. Overall grade based on cost vs. value: 50
Grand Total: 50% (Fair)
Secondary Grading Criteria:
1. Beginners benefit: Fair
2. Intermediate benefit: Fair
3. Advanced benefit: Fair
4. Time to benefit: Couple of weeks
5. The need to buy additional tapes to understand this one: None
"Nodding-Off to Nottingham"(you'll understand later in the "Dislikes" section)
Here we have John Nottingham, very young looking ex-military guy, charismatic talker, very skilled martial artist, who if one reads-between-the-lines at his website, appears to have a black belt in WTF style TKD and is a full certified JKD instructor by Paul Vunak. Nottingham has created a self-defense system he calls "Viper", whats next, someone here in Texas creating a self-defense system called "Rattlesnake"? ;-)
Speaking of Nottingham's JKD instructor, Paul Vunak, I'm going to jump ahead to something. Vunak has a great technique in Street Safe # 1 that I personally like, a quick loose-hand type of whipping backfist, you learn to do at lightning speed, trying to get one of the loose fingers to stike a persons eyes. Nottingham says in this dvd that technique won't work! He insists a person will flinch before it gets there, and it won't make it. Hey John, I disagree, you need to watch Street Safe # 1 very close, and see the ungodly hand speed Vunak has. In fact, I bet if Vunak lined up a dozen or so of the average type of attackers you might end up encountering, I think he can pull-it-off, and tag them in the eye before they flinch. Also, Nottingham recommends biting, but somewhat discourages the viewer from biting too deeply, and getting their blood in your mouth! Didn't Vunak just tell us in Street Safe # 3, to go pitbull on someone, and literally try to tear out a piece of their flesh? Wait a second, if you check out Nottingham's website, it looks like he has alot of different Vunak certifications, and offers training and certifications in Vunak's stuff. Yet he's going to pick apart Vunak's material and say to us "Don't use this-or-that of Vunak's because it won't really work". I wonder what Vunak thinks about that! And why would someone offer Vunak certifications when he doesn't agree with some of Vunak's techniques? And why would anyone get Vunak certifications from a guy who cleary says in his own Viper material some of Vunak's techniques don't work? The more deeply one looks into TRS instructors beliefs, the more confusing it all seems! Once again, we can't seem to get the TRS instructors on "the same page" about what techniques we're suppose to use! Vunak says use certain techniques but Nottingham says don't. Who are we to believe, Vunak or Nottingham? Should we just flip a coin?
Note to Bob Pierce (TRS President) - "Hey Mr. Pierce, have you seen the last couple of TRS reviews? If so, you'll see this isn't the first time we've run into conflicting technique recommendations from your hand-picked TRS instructors. Have you noticed these conflicting recommendations? I think this confuses TRS consumers, regarding who they are suppose to believe! As TRS consumers, aren't we suppose to trust the instructors you recommend? Can you please get them all on the same page and sort this out for us?"
Let's get to the Content on this dvd:
1. Concepts and Theories - on the first 20 minutes or so of this dvd there was an overwhelming amount of talking, with Nottinham giving us a bunch of concepts and theories. Here's a quick rundown from my notes of this portion:
A. National Crime statistics
B. Assess-Act-Assess (he calls the Triple A's) - watch for attackers facial expression, breathing, eyes, upper body, chin drops, back-up, wind-up
C. Premonition of Danger
D. Escalation (cues)
E. Assessing the Threat
F. How to remove the threat
G. How to leave safely
H. Cant see/Cant breathe/Cant Move - this is his primary suggestion for weapons and target selection.
2. Recommended Targets:
3. Recommended Weapons (Gross Motor Skills):
B. Front Kick
D. Palm Claw (Palm Heel/Clam)
E. Triangle Blast (Double Handed, reinforcing one hand, push - akin to Clugston's "Wedge"?)
4. 3 Deadly Mistakes:
A. Improper Training of mind, body, spirit
B. Proximity Threat Breakdown - protect your personal space and attack if someone gets in it
C. Initiation and Intensity - not fighting hard enough and soon enough
5. Adrenal Stress Conditioning - Someone suits up in that entire-body-padded "RedMan Suit", randomly picks a student, does a typical street approach in which he asks for money, tries to rob them, whatever. The attacker starts cussing, demanding this-or-that, and often tries without letting up, to provoke each student, to see if they "flee or fight". Fleeing is the recommended first choice, students are shown running away, and fighting the second, but only if you are cornered, or the aggressor crosses over into your personal space! Good drills, reminded me alot of the Tony Blauer type stuff!
6. Predator or Prey Mentality - become the predator and not only might an attacker not expect that, but he might back-down. Nottingham states (akin to Peyton Quinn's videos), that sociopaths go through a victim selection process. If you become the predator, this will eliminate you from the victim profile they seek.
7. Knife Confrontation - this section was weak in my opinion, and should've been more thorough. Basically, I didn't feel enough time was spent on knife defense, or actual techniques shown, to disarm them. Nottingham has a male defender, who looked to me like he was a teenager, go through about 5 knife attack scenarios. This defender kept doing it wrong, over-and-over, and Nottingham coached him through each scenario, until he finally on about the 5th one, got it right! But again, Nottingham didn't spend enough time going through and showing knife disarms, and breaking-down how a persons does those, in this Viper system of his.
8. Threat Perimeter Triggers (Zones of Awareness) - Nottingham says "striking is easy, but knowing when and where are the key"
A. White Zone - our normal daily activites, when we're not really thinking about being attacked
B. Yellow Zone - something doesn't seem right
C. Orange Zone - you have correctly confirmed that something is wrong
D. Red Zone - you're in the process of being attacked, or believe you will be
9. Gun Confrontation - Nottingham says "there's a 4% chance you'll be shot if you run", and that unlike moving away from a knife, one should move close when dealing with a handgun. This is the section in which Nottingham shines. He specifically goes through disarms and breaks down the techniques. I'd say he spends about 30-45 minutes on this.
10. Disarm Concepts:
A. Clear the line of fire
B. Control the weapon
Likes - The last part of this tape dealt with handgun disarms, and Nottingham did a very good job on that.
Dislikes - Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk! The first half-or-so of this dvd almost put me to sleep! Thus, the "Nodding-Off to Nottingham"! Too much time is spent on a $97 dvd talking and providing theory, versus showing someone what to do! You ever heard the saying "Don't tell me, show me"? It's one of my favorites. Talk is cheap, but not here on a $97 dvd ;-) Theory, concepts, philosophies, are all good, but you need physical tools to make them work. Nottingham is giving his audience one-shot with this one dvd, to fully understand this Viper system of his! I think this video falls short on fully tying concept into technique. Nottingham does talk fast, very fast, is charismatic, and one can tell highly intelligent, but dear god, if I want to hear something, put it on a cassette or two, or provide me stuff to read. On video, I want to see technique, or have enough of it shown with the concepts you're talking-me-to-death about, that it connects-the-dots and I "get" your system. It's like we hear lots-and-lots of talking in the first half of this dvd (when their should be action). We're shown in the first half how to practice using the suggested "weapons", one-at-a-time on pads, but there wasn't enough mixing-up all 7 of his suggested weapons (strikes), showing combinations of them all, and how to put it all together via mock scenario attacks. You're shown how to go after someone with strictly knees, then just hammerfists, just the triangle blast, often "single weapon" strikes/responses to attacks. I kind of feel like most non-martial arts viewers, who just watch and try to use the info from the first half of this dvd, will be kind of be running around doing single strikes instead of any flowing combos.
Nottingham didn't really address knife defense as well as I would've liked to have seen. No significant time was spent on the slash or stab. Most of what he shows is how to disarm someone brandishing a knife (pointing it at you). Against someone skilled in knife fighting, I've always felt extremely rapid slashing is one of the most difficult things to defend, if not near impossible to do without getting cut. Nottingham spends significant more time on handgun defense than knife defense, and thus I felt (1) dvd making someone completely ready for the street, with this Viper stuff, kind of falls short on the knife side of things.
Assessment - One TRS instructor says "do this" another says "don't", and we've mentioned that a couple of times now on recent TRS reviews! If I was a faithful TRS customer, I'd be confused. I'm beginning to wonder if TRS is mainly about finding-or-creating new quick-and-easy-to-learn self-defense systems for consumers, building up a bunch of hype via advertising about them, just to try and push product out-the-door and make money! I'm beginning to wonder if the TRS business model might sort of be like the music industry, keep bringing in new artists, offer the public something new, because that's what people want. However, I'm beginning to see the same sort of techniques, over-and-over again, once a person gets past owning a small handful of TRS titles. Once you get past that handful, it kind of seems to me I keep saying to myself "Nice technique, but I saw that from one of your other instructors already". I can't help if other TRS customers notice this, and after a few titles kind of get a "blah" feeling about the wide assortment of TRS materials, and then just sort of stop buying their stuff. Not that their stuff is really bad, alot of it is good, I just feel if you end up buying a few of their titles, you might say to yourself "Well this one isn't really anything new, because I saw half these techniques on 1-or-more of your other titles".
At the time of this review, the TRS website shows this to be a $97 dvd. You get (1) dvd and more "talking" via a cassette tape on "Multiple Attackers". As best I can tell, $97 is the highest price we've run into yet for (1) dvd! And at that price, this dvd better be lighting the world on fire to be worth that, yet I didn't see anything revolutionary! It's an OK dvd, but certainly not worth paying the premium price of $97. Nottingham has taken what I feel are basic CQC/H2H techniques, you can find on almost any ex-military instructors combatives video, adds some Tony Blauer type of reality based drills, and throws in some Peyton Quinn type of concept training, along with odds-and-ends seen from other TRS instructors! Personally, if you were to ask me "What's this dvd worth from a cost vs value perspective?" I'd say it should be priced in the $20-$40 range! I just think after seeing it, and for what you get, there's no way I'd spend close to $100, and if I had, I'd be wanting a refund after watching it! This dvd feels to me like a hodge-podge mix of stuff, taken from other video instructors that I've seen elsewhere!
This premium price of $97 really bugs me! And if you go to Nottingham's website, you'll see he offers (3) different Viper (also Python?) training packages, one that offers Vunak's RAT (soon we'll review), at the following prices: $2K, $8K, $20K! Yes, there's a $20K training package! Heck, why stop at $20K, maybe Nottingham should go-for-more and up the price, or create a package that costs $100K. And Mr. Pierce (TRS), why stop at a $97 dvd, why not create one that sells for $200! When are video companies and instructors going to stop reaching in our pockets, and trying to take out every last dollar we have? Well, like they say, I guess "there's a sucker born every minute"! After looking at Nottingham's $97 dvd, feeling its a mix of alot of techniques I've seen from other instructors, and his highest $20K certification package, I need to stop doing these reviews and start teaching! ;-) I'm beginning to worry my bank account doesn't look as good as Nottingham's! Is getting "paid" all these companies and instructors are about? Maybe it's time for me to start thinking about getting "paid" ;-)
Recommendation - The last portion (#9 and #10) of this dvd was "good", possibly "very good", but that's not enough to rate the whole dvd as "good" or "very good". Other than #9 and #10, the rest was simply "OK". Nothing was shown to set the world on fire, and justify all the ad hype about this dvd at the TRS website. Nottingham didn't connect-the-dots with his weapons/targets, as I felt he failed to provide enough combo techniques so anyone "gets" his system, and he skipped through some knife defense essentials that should've been shown on a one-shot dvd. I'm going to rate this as a Fair-to-Good video, 2.5 out of 5 Stars, a 50 percenter, and once again I might be feeling a bit generous by offering that high a grade (as compared to $97)! In my opinion, definitely not good enough to spend $97 on! Spend $20 and get "Scott Rogers - 12 Shots to Escape any Street Fight" from Century, or pick-up Paul Vunak's Street Safe # 1 for H2H, and Abel Villareal's Terrorism tape - which has some excellent knife/gun disarms! To me, any or all of those choices provide a much better value than this $97 "coaster". However, should you feel like you've got $97 burning-a-hole-in-your-pocket, and that you've just got to spend it on something, please go to the bottom of this page and click on my PayPal button! I have a feeling I could use a little cash alot more than Bob Pierce at TRS or John Nottingham could ;-)