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Paul Herbert 5th Dan
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Matt Price Winning Kumite Strategies Volume 1: Punches and Strikes

The first in a series of DVDs ‘Winning Kumite Strategies’ is exactly what it says on the tin, a DVD packed with strategies and tips for a successful kumite experience. Having had the pleasure of watching Matt Price fight in competition, from a self indulgent viewpoint, I was hoping for more competition footage of him, but actually Matt’s competition successes are not the focus of this DVD. Aside from a brief introduction section introducing Matt and his fighting past, the DVD focuses on effective training drills and techniques to improve your own fighting career.

Once through the Introduction Section we come to the ‘meat’ of the DVD, the Training Section. It comprises of 26 individual chapters, ranging from individual techniques and their roles in competition to effective drills to develop a range of skills.

The first section ‘Distances’ discusses range and how this relates to guard position and timings, and also discusses brief referencing to the rules of clinch distances.

‘Front Hand’ explores the use of Kizami Zuki, and the sharp techniques by the two young lads demonstrating throughout the DVD is shown in great effect here. Matt also discusses telegraphing when punching to make you aware, both as a defender and attacker, of the role and effects that telegraphing can have on a fight.

Sections on ‘Reverse Punch’ or gyaku zuki and ‘Over the Top’ or kura zuki highlight the importance of the timing of the body movements in relation to the attacking arm. This body timing particularly becomes more evident with the use of the slow motion shots, highlighting the range of timing and the relationship between legs and the attacking arm.

It is also in this section we get our first glimpse at the speed and quality of Matt’s technique as he demonstrates the correct timing and distance for the Kura Zuki beautifully.

‘Shimmy Over the Top’ which as it turns out is a lot more technical than the slightly amusing (maybe just to me…) chapter title would suggest. Here we are treated to the details of using angle and footwork to make the Kura Zuki work from a range of distances. As in every chapter, switching the positions of the demonstrators means that we see the techniques from both sides, making us aware of what both arms and legs are doing during each technique.

These first chapters are full of hints and tips from his own time spent competing, such as his explanation of the importance of timing, explaining that body movements are far more easily noticed than hand movements and so often should occur as a secondary action. From a teaching perspective, there are also ‘games’ or drills suggested and shown to identify and correct common telegraphs and issues with front arm attacks in competition.

After the ‘Uraken’ section we no longer have a focus on single techniques. Now that the basic groundwork has been laid we focus on various combination set ups of the techniques discussed previously in detail, focusing on a full body support system and effective timing and distancing for each combination. Sections entitled ‘1-2 – Combination Punches’ (Kizami Zuki, Gyaku Zuki), ‘Back Hand, Front Hand’ (Gyaku Zuki, Kizami Zuki), ‘Double Over the Top’, ‘Treble’ , ‘1-2 Switch Reverse Punch’ , ‘Reverse Punch, Pull back, Over the Top’, ‘Fake Front Hand Smother’ and ‘Fake Reverse Punch Smother Over the Top’ place a far higher focus on advanced fighting techniques, on controlling the tatami and opponent effectively and on having an active role in a fight as opposed to simply reacting. The section  on the ‘1-2 Switch Reverse Punch’ particularly highlights how much more advanced the combination drills are becoming, requiring far more adept footwork in order to deliver the techniques effectively and successfully.

The final twelve sections place a focus on useable, helpful drills rather than techniques or sets. These drills come together to develop and improve a range of skills required to be an international competitor, including timing, speed, focus, accuracy and distance. From a teaching point of view the final nine sections will be the ‘go to’ drills for many a kumite session. The section on ‘Pulling’ is particularly helpful. It places a higher focus on making your opponent react or ‘give’ you a technique rather than simply on what you can do as an offensive competitor. This works particularly well against defensive fighters, and is something that can over be overlooked or used incorrectly in many kumite classes.

 There are drill sections on ‘Timing Punches’, placing emphasis on counter attacking effectively and attack made by your opponent, ‘Timing Punches 2’, including drills to improve the punch timing, ‘Turning to Target’, a drill that develops and improves reaction time and targeting, ‘Angle Drill’, ‘Clinch’, ‘ 1 for 1 drill’, ‘Moving Targets’, ‘High Low Counter’, ‘1,2,3 Counter’, ‘1’s Drill’, and ‘Leg Stregth Drill’.

The DVD is over two hours long and is absolutely rammed with training aids, tips and techniques that can’t fail to help your kumite develop, from beginner onwards and upwards. It is clearly professionally produced and no more so is this evident than in the sound quality, often an indicator of the quality of the recording. The set up is of a very high quality and as the first in a series of Kumite DVDs by Matt Price, I for one am certainly looking forward to the next installation.

All in all a professional, content-driven DVD that should be on the shelves of any karate-ka, competitor or coach.

Emma Robins