"Everything you should know about seoi-nage" DVD
I still don't know, after watching it 4-5 times in a row, if I am disappointed or if, reversely, it is exactly everything I've ever wanted.
Looking at the title of the DVD, I wondered what "seoi-nage" exactly covered. At least where I come from, it is very rare to simply use "seoi-nage". We tend to think of the three throws as kindred, but distinct techniques and we are taught accordingly. This DVD refers to "seoi-nage" as the backcarry action behind the group of throws, and links all three version (ippon, morote and eri) together accordingly plus a few more.
A major problem with the DVD is that it does not know whether it wants to be an introduction, a sort of encyclopedia, or a technical demonstration. It is like if the exponents had so many ideas about what to include that they became somewhat confused and forgot some of them.
Basics are covered insufficiently for an introduction : 15 seconds is spent talking about rotation patterns (or mawari), and 0 seconds for the breaking of balance (kuzushi), although grips are fairly well-covered, and the "most common mistakes" is a bright little addition.
For an encyclopedia, it is also lacking : the "types of seois" chapter lasts from 7 minutes in to 12 minutes in, ie. over in more or less 5 minutes. Even with the brisk pace employed, there are obvious, glaring holes that could've been filled.
A technical demonstration? Seoi-nage technique demonstrations are over 30 minutes in the DVD.
So let's try and define this DVD by examining its contents :
The DVD covers :
Grips covered are inside, outside, single lapel, double lapel and the cross grip. In keeping with the theme of the DVD they are covered very quickly, with commentary limiting itself to one or two very key points.
What they mean by angles is that you should attack with seoi-nage by being positioned directly in front of them. The DVD then shows you two ways to achieve this depending on the configuration of the grips.
Types of seoi-nage
Covered are two morote-seoi-nage "variations" (one from an outside grip, one from the inside), ippon-seoi-nage, eri-seoi-nage, two-hands on same lapel seoi (Korean), double-lapel seoi (Rio), and Cuban #1 (breaking an opponent's outside grip and using it as an attack) and #2 (best seen than defined, but looks like kind of a "windmill" action).
This section is a disappointment. It is over extremely quickly. From 7 minutes in to 12 minutes in (ie. 5 minutes) you get to see seoi-nage.
The coverage is also spotty : we have access to the "Korean" type seoi with two lands on a single lapel and the Cuban #2 windmilling-thingy action, but no "drop knee" variations (which is by far the most commonly seen seoi-nage in randori or shiai), no soto-muso (flicking the thigh with the hand), or the Koga seoi-nage (which might be explained as being covered by a competing DVD).
Most common mistakes
Ding ding! We have a winner here. This section is sorely needed in any technique DVD but rarely covered. It brings home the point that perhaps if, as a player, you did the basic seoi-nage correctly, you wouldn't need contest tricks to flop down other kyu grades. I managed myself to identify one or two mistakes existing in my own seoi-nage. Bonus brownies for Isvael Sport here.
Pretty large coverage of defences. I liked how the DVD separated avoidance action from blocks. Shown at a brisk pace but one shouldn't need 5 minutes to explain why moving out of the angle of a seoi attack is a good idea.
Interestingly, the DVD demonstrates no drop knee variants, but most defenses and counters are executed against a drop attack.
Same caveats as above, actually. Fun part : a good mix of tachiwaza and newaza counters.
In all seriousness, this must be the weakest part of the DVD. Combinations are hard to teach in a book or even on a visual media. Combinations are by nature a pretty touchy-feely subject as they will not work if the opponent's reaction isn't the correct one, and they depend entirely on one's senses.
This DVD doesn't even try. These sections look more like a highlight reel than anything else, complete with the epic music. ZERO explanation or commentary is given throughout this portion. It would've been nice at least to have specified which reaction Mr. Hernandez is exploiting to throw his opponent with a given combination, although that can be done ourselves with slow-motion or freeze framing.
As for fusion techniques, these are techniques done off a mostly ippon-seoi grip. No explanations and brisk pacing. I hope the remote's near, because you will need it.
Although there is a good point, and well-made, that combinations are the material representation of a fighter's artistic creativity, and thus mostly spontaneous, there is still zero excuse for not having one bit of commentary on what is shown.
Believe it or not this is the single longest section of the DVD. It focuses on obtaining strength for seoi-nage without weights. I really don't know what to make of this section.
I did learn a lot of exercises I had never seen before, some of which can be done with zero material and no partner which is perfect for off-days or even dojo work. Some of them are to fix some of the "most common errors".
On the other hand, gyms are now plentiful and very cheap. Why not just do squats, bench presses and other core, shoulder and leg exercises? One answer is that you would not be able to do core technical work while doing weights at the same time, while with most of these exercises, you can. But then why not just do seoi-nage for technical work, and weights for strength development?
There's also the concept of relevance. The DVD boasts itself as being devoid of fluff. On one hand, yes the concept of supplemental exercises are relevant to seoi-nage. But are they so relevant as to take up almost half of the DVD? That's up to the viewer to decide, I suppose.
And a little interview with the DVD's main demonstrator, Israel Hernandez. The fluff part, I suppose.
Koga or Hernandez?
Everything you should know about seoi-nage is a weird DVD. It explicitly distances itself from its obvious main competitors, the Koga : A New Wind DVD as well as the Jeon : Korean Judo Master DVD by Fighting Films, but cannot help itself but introduce some contest tricks, as well as some "fluff" we've come to expect from the FF "Judo fighters" series DVDs. It's a little like a wink to these DVDs.
At their core the DVDs are very different :
-The Koga one devotes some time to interviews with Koga in order to gain an insight in the mind of a competitor, while that part is relegated to the last 5 minutes in the Hernandez DVD.
-FF also wants to showcase Koga's competition technique to the world, while Isvael Sport is more content to work a little more on the fundamentals, while distancing Hernandez's competition experience from the material of the DVD.
-The Koga DVD is not really meant for beginners and those watching it are expected to know how to do a technically correct seoi-nage. Everything you should know about seoi-nage is not quite accessible to beginners because of the lack of very basics, but seems more geared towards the intermediate player that has the basic blueprint of the throw, but needs a correct toolbox to build it.
-The Koga DVD focuses on technique more than Isvael Sport's DVD, which has a larger, but thinner coverage.
By and large, the DVDs cover two different audiences. Although the comparison might seem interesting at first, the two DVDs really each aim for something different. While not exactly comparing apples and oranges, it's more like comparing Roman and Iceberg lettuce.
I'm sure most people remember Mike Swain's DVD series, the one demonstrating the gokyo and newaza as well as combinations, with the horrid, ever-present techno beats. The presentation was tacky as all hell but it was still a pretty good DVD series.
This DVD is kinda but not really in the same boat. The presentation gains or suffers, depending on people, from a certain sense of youthful grandiloquence attached to it. When present, music is decidedly epic. Video effects are hardcore badass. You basically get slapped in the face at each transition. The best example is the trailer. Some people might find it tacky and unappealing. I did not really care either way.
The video and sound quality, however, is crisp and clear.
Everything you should know about seoi-nage is definitively a jack-of-all-trades, master of none DVD. It tries to cover everything about seoi-nage, while stressing importance on the basics. However, some imperfections in the content remain and the general presentation is an acquired taste. For a first effort, it is not a bad one.
+pretty broad overview of seoi-nage
+basics are stressed instead of shiai tricks
+Hernandez is definitively an able demonstrator
+common mistakes section is a really good idea and ought to be seen more often on DVD
+supplemental exercises are interesting, even if one considers their relevance dubious
-commentary and explanations are scarce, and the pace is quick, freeze-framing is a must
-there seems to be missing some pieces in the content
-the combinations/fusion techniques section could use improvement
All in all I would recommend this DVD to those intermediate players who already know how to do seoi-nage, but need to fix inconsistencies in their technique before using it in shiai. I would also recommend it to coaches for the supplemental exercises, as some are really clever and are easily introduced in a conditioning session.
I would not recommend this DVD to someone looking for a bag of contest tricks or a more personal expose of the competitor who is demonstrating.