About.com - Video Review

Power Punching
VHS, 60 minutes
Health For Life, $59.95

Power Punching, one of Health for Life's first video courses, teaches you the most effective ways to throw four basic punches: jab, cross, hook, and backfist. I initially was skeptical of this tape, after seeing the hype-laden ads in magazines and in HFL's catalog. But I must say that this tape is definitely worth it. With just four basic techniques to cover in 60 minutes, the tape includes minor nuances of each technique that most other videos would leave out.

Each punch is covered in detail, from hand position to footwork and stance, to recovery. A short segment on combinations is included at the end of the tape.

The program is loosely based on Jeet Kune Do (JKD) punching; instructor and HFL founder Jerry Robinson states several times that the techniques are not from any single style--rather, they are adapted and distilled from other styles to be the most effective--a basic tenet of JKD. Robinson also emphasizes control of the center line, the imaginary vertical line connecting your opponent's nose and navel, which is a primary principle of wing chun gung fu, Bruce Lee's first martial art.

Robinson himself demonstrates the techniques. Robinson seems like an interesting character in this 1980's vintage tape. Think of a bespectacled Bill Gates-meets-Rick Springfield, but with gym rat arms and a killer punch. Far cry from the muscle-head goons you see in the other tapes. Robinson's academic credentials (Ph.D) help make the instruction credible, especially when he leads off the tape with a discusion of momentum = mass x velocity and other physics concepts.

Another nice thing about this tape is that HFL seems to have used their L.A. base to their advantage, using more professional production, sound, and camera work than other martial arts videos. Too many of the other videos are just two guys in gi's getting it on in someone's garage with a sheet tacked up behind them--where you can't hear what the instructor is saying because they're lazily just using the microphone on the camcorder. The Power Punching tape uses multiple cameras and angles, slow-motion, and on-screen graphics to emphasize points. And you can always hear the instruction.

In summary, this tape is packed with information. As Robinson mentions in the tape, you won't learn how to refine your classical punches. But you will be able to perfect effective fighting punches. And that's what ends up being the most important in a fight, isn't it?

For more martial arts videos, check out the About.com Martial Arts Video Store.

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