Review : Title: Zach Whitson – Kenpo CounterPoint
: Zach Whitson, assisted by Derek Hibben
Reviewer: Bob Hubbard
+ $3.50 S/H
380 Pine Orchard Road
Buttler, TN 37640
is an 6th degree kenpo black belt and holds a guru rank in Pekiti-Tirsia.
The Kenpo CounterPoint system is his adaption of the Pekiti-Tirsia ‘flow’
drill to the techniques of Ed Parkers American Kenpo. Mr. Whitson developed
this to aid his students fighting ability by presenting them with multiple
open-ended ‘what-if’ situations, and to improve upon their
ability to respond and instinctively counter their opponents. This tape
covers 16 kenpo-counterpoint techniques and some of their variations
who want to skip to the end, here is the summary. Content wise this
tape provides well over an hours worth of quality instruction, marred
only by some minor technical glitches in the reproduction. It is well
worth investing it and making a regular part of your training regiment.
I’m going to get the bad out of the way first as the positives
outweigh the negatives, and I like to end things on a good note.
At my request,
I was sent a copy to review. I’m going to look at the whole ‘package’
as it were, rather than focusing solely on the tape content. I’m
also going to nitpick a little bit on the ‘production’ aspects.
When ordering mail order, it is often times hard to know what you will
be getting. My package was securely packages to avoid damage to the
tape. In addition, it was sent in a hard plastic ‘book shell’
type VHS box, which further protected it through the riggers of the
postal system. The box contains a color sleeve (insert type) with a
flowchart on the back outlining which techniques will be covered. Also
included was a brief flyer with additional information. The tape was
professionally shrink wrapped and labeled.
the tape into my VCR, I hit the first of what will be several very minor
hiccups. The disclaimers (which most people ignore) went by at a rate
that wasn’t consistent, and didn’t allow me to fully read
some screens. This is a nitpick.
More glaring is the change in the audio ‘volume’ between
techniques early on in the tape. While you could still hear everything
clearly, the change was noticeable. The only major audio error occurred
at the very end during the “Bringing it all Together” section
where there’s a short overlap, then the voice over is out of sync.
While still watchable, after this point impact sounds were out of sync
with the video. Thankfully, this happened at the very end, and does
not otherwise harm this review. My biggest complaint about the audio
is the music during the section introductions. The abrupt cutouts were
a bit more intrusive that I cared for. A fade out at the end, rather
than the cut out would allow for a more graceful lead in, and smoother
transition. The music itself was rather soothing, of an asian/tropical
More glaring was the video issues. Of minor note, there were a few ‘stutters’
in the video (but not the audio) which didn’t find to be too noticeable.
My biggest complaint about the video was that many of the scenes seemed
too close. By this, I mean while you could see most of the techniques
motion, you missed the top of a head here, some footwork, the motion
of a strike. The most glaring seemed to be during the “Thundering
Hammers” section, where Mr. Whitson was instruction on how to
do the counterpoint techniques. It is very obvious that this was shot
with a hand or shoulder held camera, rather than a stationary tripod.
The shakiness and cutoffs detract a little from an otherwise fine product.
don’t buy this then? You ask. No, buy it.
I was going to nitpick this, and I did. That is all that I could find
bad with this tape.
and video despite the issues above, are clear and crisp. I’ve
seen some tapes where it sounds like a high school project, and this
is pretty darn good. The other thing is, you’re not buying this
because of pretty pictures, and music, but because you want to learn
something. On this front, Mr. Whitson delivers the goods.
are gone over in great detail, and from multiple approaches. This, combined
with the constant repeats of the techniques at a slowly increasing pace
allows both the beginner and advanced student easily follow along, and
get up to speed. The video has a very intimate flavor to it, almost
like a private lesson rather than a lecture. Variable finishes or setups
are covered adding to the depth of the instruction. Repeatedly, Mr.
Whitson returns to the core techniques such as Raining Claw, showing
the kenpoist where to pull it out of, and how to apply it in particular
counter-situations. Those familiar with the Filipino arts, or some Chinese
arts will see many familiarities with their techniques. For example,
the opening section on Crossing Talons reminded me of a Chi-Sao sticky-hands
drill, that had been applied to Kenpo.
does require some familiarity with Kenpo to be truly effective. A beginner
will find some value in it, however the most use will be found by those
approaching black belt and beyond. As with all training, repeated review
and practice will improve what you will discover on this tape. The first
viewing will only wet your taste for more in my opinion.
this video, it comes in at a 9.5 out of a possible 10. The minor glitches
in the audio and video keep it from being a perfect 10. Despite the
small flaws, I have no problem recommending this tape to anyone looking
to further their studies of American Kenpo, and it will be in a prominent
place on my video shelf. Mr. Whitson succeeds here with his kenpo-counterpoint
program, and I look forward to seeing his next release. As always, a
video is no substitute for qualified personal instruction, so be sure
to see him on the seminar circuit this summer, information on which
can be found at the website listed above.
Hubbard is an administrator of the popular martial arts portal site
MartialTalk.com. A student of all the arts, he is currently studying
Modern Arnis. Bob can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
published in MartialTalk Magazine July 2003
Copyright ©2003 Bob Hubbard - All Rights Reserved