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Winning - Kicking Techniques
by Hideharu Igaki

The Winning series of competition karate programs by U.S. National Coaches Marutani and Igaki, not only broke new ground when they were released, but set records as well.

In the U.S. they were the fastest selling Tsunami programs for the first three months after release; in Europe they went on sale simultaneously in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Holland and were greeted with ecstatic reviews; in Japan they remain, to the best of our knowledge, the only professionally distributed programs on the subject not made domestically. All this, however, is simply data that measures sales and the desirability of the product. The real strength of this series is the amount and the quality of the information it contains on competition karate, and the effect it is having on the karate world as a whole.

Each of the first two parts of this series contain around fifty separate combinations of techniques, every one a strategy designed for winning, and winning emphatically. They come complete with instructions for use, training methods to bring them to perfection, and on-screen demonstrations at full speed and in slow motion as to how they are best applied.

Tsunami has wisely maintained the same format for Part III, which deals with kicking techniques and their effective use in competition. Once again we are given an interesting and thought provoking introduction, excellent demonstrations of the techniques by Hideharu Igaki, applications where appropriate with a partner, and clear explanations of everything that is not obvious to the eye. Ancillary material covered includes training for speed development, with a partner, bag training and sparring with the legs.

Igaki Sensei was a professional kick boxer as a young man, and this is evident from the fact that he uses his legs the way most people use their arms. His control of power and motion is excellent--a virtue much appreciated by his assistants in this program no doubt--and his demonstrations have a fluency and grace about them add greatly to the obvious power of his technique.

I have always greatly appreciated the quality of the slow motion used in the Tsunami programs. It's extremely smooth and well balanced to the extent that it's impossible not to see what's happening. This, combined with multiple camera angles (4), a professionally lit television studio, and the latest video technology makes this, and the two programs that preceded it, a joy to watch and invaluable sources of information.

It's interesting to note how quickly and how wholeheartedly informed martial groups overseas have endorsed the Winning program series, often before they have even been released in their own country. For example Fighting Arts International magazine in the United Kingdom, one of the world's premier martial arts publication, are running as their cover photo for edition #94 an image of Marutani Sensei, and are also publishing an interview with him in the same edition!

This excellent series of programs has already changed the face of competition karate in the U.S. and elsewhere, yet it has done so with a measure of realism and dignity that is refreshing. The techniques are not just tricks to deceive an opponent--or a referee for that matter--in order to score a technical point in a competition. They are down-to-earth, practical techniques that will work as well in the street as they do in the competition arena.

As reviewers we see everything that is published in the martial arts world, be it books or videos, so people often ask us what our "favorite" is. Of course we all have our favorite titles, but in the case of the Winning series I have a favorite technique.

In Winning Counterattacks, Marutani Sensei, the ultimate counterattacker, is matched against Steve Robinson, a talented fighter and current competition champion, who is noted for his speed. Marutani, almost thirty years his senior, stops Robinson's lightening attack by grabbing his leg, and in the same movement delivers a punch to the throat that dumps his young opponent flat on his back before he realizes what is happening.

The moral of this is clear. If you come up against someone in competition who has practiced what these programs contain, take care--you are bound to have a problem! Winning III is every bit as good as the programs that preceded it and a must buy for every competitor.

"Winning: Kicking Techniques" by Hideharu Igaki. 50 minutes.

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