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Paul Herbert 5th Dan
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Winning Kumite

Keith Geyer

If I am entirely honest, before watching this DVD, I didn’t really know a great deal about Keith Geyer. I had heard the name, as I’m sure most have in the world of karate, but I didn’t know why his name was so important.

This DVD highlights exactly why.

This DVD, accurately titled ‘Winning Karate’, is not merely a simple instructional karate DVD of what you should and should not do. Instead, it is narrated and taught from the personal experiences of Keith Geyer. All of the skills and techniques he teaches here were skills he successfully used in kumite competition. Too many books and DVDs, in my opinion, talk about ideas and theories that should work, but when used in a real street or competition situation just don’t. This DVD avoids this, for all of the topics covered were developed from Geyer’s actual personal experiences.

The DVD opens with footage of Stan Schmidt Sensei, a living legend, striking a padded tree with a gyaku-tsuki. Schmidt Sensei goes on to talk about the skill and abilities of Geyer Sensei, with many interesting photographs of Geyer with Senior Instructors such as Master Nakayama projected alongside the narration. Schmidt states ‘Winning Kumite graphically illustrates his innovative approach to karate competition’. With praise like this from one of the leading non-Japanese figures in the world of karate, you just know this is going to be interesting.

After a small introduction from Geyer Sensei, a reel of kumite footage of Geyer prepares the viewer for what is about to be taught. If you watch the footage closely after watching the rest of the DVD, you will see that he, during his competing years, used all of the skills that he teaches on this project. When you watch Geyer fight, you can clearly see why his reputation and name is so widely known. He fights with great passion, precision and beautiful timing. His fighting is quite minimal, and extremely accurate, with most of the techniques he delivers being scorers. Rare is it, in this footage at least, that he throws unnecessary techniques. Each punch or kick is delivered with purpose and determination. Quite inspiring, I must admit.

The DVD is broken down in to the following chapters:

Supplementory Training

Conditioning Using Punch Bag

Reaction Training

Evasive Techniques

Foot Sweeps

Blocking

Tactics

Final Preparation

The ‘Supplementory Training’ section is very interesting for both ippon-shobu and sanbon-shobu fighters. Although Geyer teaches primarily for ippon-shobu competition, all of the tactics he employs can easily be used by fighters of other systems. This section considers the fighters not simply as fighters, but as athletes, an idea commonly associated with the sanbon-shobu fighters. Along with Geyer’s narration, the fighters of the South African team are shown running around a stadium grounds, running up and down the steps, building a strong stamina and aerobic fitness. Clearly, Geyer Sensei appreciates the need for additional training, when he states ‘without supplementary training, your competition preperation is incomplete’. Here he advocates distance running, short sprints and stair running to encourage the ability to release short bursts of energy. He also encourages training that builds the accurate muscles for kumite, including weight training, with particular attention being paid to developing the hip, abdominal and back muscles.

The second section looks at the importance of impact training, especially training using a punch bag. Here Geyer Sensei is filmed in his own dojo with his students, working on the bags. Although considerably older than many of his students, his skill manages to outshine them. He then goes on to emphasis hip rotation using a combination of uraken uchi, gyaku-haito-uchi. Quite remarkable is that the karateka holding the punch bag is a strapping, muscular man, who is also very tall and you would imagine being exceptionally strong. With relative ease however, Geyer strikes with the uraken-uchi, employing reverse rotation, and sends this man stumbling.

Many books/DVDs - even those which directly deal with kumite - rarely deal with reaction training. Why? Because it is so difficult to develop. The ability to react effectively to an opponent is a skill usually developed on a personally basis, and comes with many years of hard training, and extensive partner work. Geyer Sensei in this section however demonstrates effective ways of honing your reaction skills. Using focus pads and particular footwork, he uses a member of the squad to react to his stimuli.

One thing I really like about this DVDs the fact that the instruction is filmed almost like he is teaching a normal class, and that you are lucky enough to sit in and watch. This makes the instruction that much more personal, and thus more informative. I suppose it also helps that his students are also very talented, making viewing that much more pleasurable.

‘Evasive Techniques’, ‘Foot Sweeps’ and ‘Blocking’ are equally informative, all showing various ways of becoming a better fighter. What is also quite brilliant about these sections, along with all of the sections on the DVDs, is for most of the points he makes, he has footage of himself in competition using the skills he is teaching. For example, in the ‘Tactics’ chapter, he teaches the team how to kick mawashi-geri from a mae-geri position in order to lower the opponent’s guard when they attempt to block a chudan mae-geri, enabling you to kick them at a jodan level. To give proof of this technique’s effectiveness, archive footage shows Geyer in competition scoring effectively with this technique. This is inspirational, for you learn through successful example.

In the penultimate chapter, Geyer Sensei discusses the need for mental focus and mental relaxation. This he feels is important in reacting effectively to the opponent, and he adds that the competitor needs to be ‘mentally tough’.

The DVD ends with footage of the 8th Shoto Cup in Japan, where the South African team (who you have watched training throughout the DVD) are competing.  The footage here focuses on many members of the team, such as Christelle Cauvin. It does however conclude by following the success of Geyer’s student Johan LaGrange. Here, Geyer provides a narration to the fights, describing the skills of his student’s opponents and highlighting the tactics used by Johan. Johan makes his way to the final, where he faces the reigning Shoto Cup holder. Despite defeat, you cannot deny the skill of Johan, the support of the South African team or the abilities of Geyer’s coaching. This is very inspiring, witnessing the skills taught in use.

I feel this DVD is very useful. Not just to competitors, but to karateka full stop. Although quite short in duration (Roughly 40 minutes), the educational value is indisputable. Quite rare also is that this is accessible to sanbon-shobu fighters as well as ippon-shobu. This is unusual, and will make this project very useful to all who watch. Even if you have no intention or care for competition, this DVD is well worth purchasing, for you will undoubtedly gather the information, ideas and skills that made Geyer such a success.

Mark Thompson

19/09/2006

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