This is an advanced copy review of Waysun Johnny Tsai’s Volume Two: Practical Tactical Impact and Edged Weapons DVD. The DVD is meant to complement Johnny Tsai’s Practical Tactical Pen Street Defense.
Master Tsai holds an eighth degree black sash certification in Tsai Family Shaolin Chuan Fa Kung Fu, and Tai Kit Kuen Kung Fu. He’s appeared in such publications as Inside Kung Fu magazine, Art of the Warrior magazine, and also has authored several books and has starred in several DVDs.
Volume two picks up where volume on left off — only this time Master Tsai covers the use of tactical flashlights, batons, and knives. As Tsai is quick to point out, the goal of this instructional DVD is not to make you a deadly knife or stick fighter. Rather, Mr. Tsai is attempting to teach you universal martial applications that can be applied to the tactical pen, flashlight, or knife in a self-defense setting.
All examples in this DVD start with an empty hand defense demonstration. Then Tsai shows you the same technique again with a tactical pen, flashlight, or knife. In addition, each example is demonstrated at a very slow training pace which is paramount if you are using the DVD as a learning tool. However, Tsai also demonstrates many of the techniques at a realistic combat speed.
As a martial arts enthusiast with some experience in security, several things in this DVD caught my critical eye. First, Tsai covers some simple empty hand techniques that can be used to escape from a front and rear bear hug. Much of the demonstrated material may seem elementary to you if you are a seasoned martial artist. However, it is necessary because not everyone who purchases this DVD will be martial arts masters. In addition, it is not realistic to expect that you will always have your tactical pen, baton, or knife at the ready and in your hand! So this basic lesson in bear hug escapes becomes very important if you ever are attacked. In addition to empty hand escapes Tsai also shows numerous bear hug escapes using various tactical weapons.
Second, Tsai expands upon the aforementioned volume one DVD by again demonstrating how you can take some basic empty hand techniques and apply them to the use of a tactical weapon. A prime example of this would be when Tsai demonstrates how you can use the tactical pen to enhance what I would describe as a flailing hammer fist strike. Is this particular lesson martial fancy like you’d see in a Hollywood movie or martial arts tournament? Probably not. However, having been in some use-of-force situations, I have to say that it probably would be martial effective if you are competent in your respective style’s martial arts fundamentals.
Lastly, whether he realizes it or not, Tsai demonstrates a balance of gross and fine motor skills techniques. Simple blocks, simple strikes, and basic pressure point tactics that stress large targets are all part of the gross motor skill category. In fact, techniques of this nature can usually be learned faster and are not as quick to degrade under combat stress. Thus, most military styles of self-defense focus their training in this area because this concept has been battle-proven. One example here would be Tsai's demonstration of a scaled-down, two-person kung fu fighting set. What Tsai does is remove the excessive martial baggage and create a basic two-person drill that teaches blocking, arm checking, and offensive striking. The end result is a simple drill that can be expanded to include tactical weapons.
My only criticism of this DVD is not so much a criticism as it probably is my personal bias. A portion of the DVD focuses on using the tactical knife as an offensive self-defense weapon. Tsai reasons that by demonstrating how to use the knife offensively you also learn how to defend against it. Moreover, as I noted earlier, Tsai also cautions that this DVD is not intended to make you a knife fighting expert. Rather, he is trying to teach you a few knife fighting techniques that you can apply to a street self-defense setting.
Regarding that last point, I do think that Tsai succeeds. However I also have to caution that many of these knife techniques could result in the loss of a life; or, at the very least, a lawsuit if your attacker survives your defense. So if you do purchase this DVD and practice or teach some of Tsai’s knife techniques I would encourage you to also become familiar with your country’s laws concerning self-defense and the use of deadly force.
Criticism aside, this is another solid DVD offering by Master Tsai. As was the case with his last DVD, Tsai once again bridges the gap between classical martial arts and effective and efficient 21st century street defense. Given that some of the material covers edged weapons I would not recommend this DVD for the martial novice. I do recommend volumes one and two of this DVD series for security or law enforcement personnel who have had training in the martial arts. I would also recommend this DVD series to martial arts instructors who would like to add some new street self-defense material to their curriculum.
Practical Tactical Impact and Edged Weapons can be purchased at Master Tsai’s website. In addition, if you are a fan of Master Tsai you might also want to pick up a copy of the February 2010 issue of Inside Kung-Fu magazine. Page 66 features a story on Master Tsai’s expertise in use of the tactical pen.