Video Review – Die Less Often

I love watching martial arts instructional videos.  I used to collect them, but these days I spend 5-6 days per week training trying to just master the material I already have to work on.  Given that fact, it’s hard to justify spending a lot of money on videos that will just add to the backlog of stuff I need to practice.

This means that I was delighted when a friend recently gave me permission to borrow whatever I wanted from his extensive library of instructional DVDs.  I plan to spend a lot of my free time over the next few weeks indulging myself with video instruction.  To pass along the benefits, I figure I will write up reviews of the more interesting DVDs for anyone who may be considering purchasing them.

The very first DVD I inserted into my player was Die Less Often (vol. 1), with instruction by Marc “Crafty Dog” Denny and Gabe Suarez.  I’ve been interested in this one for a while, but the high price tag had discouraged me from picking up my own copy.

Marc Denny is the chief instructor for the Dog Brothers – a group known for full-contact stickfighting and their eclectic approach to thhe Filipino martial arts.  Gabe Suarez is a martial artist, former police officer, and a firearms instructor.

Die Less Often is compiled from video shot at a seminar the two men taught together.  Material covered includes recognizing potential assailants, controlling distance, close-range counters for common armed and unarmed attacks, weapon retention and deployment, and mindset.

Much of the instruction assumes that the student is likely to be carrying a weapon of some sort and time is spent on developing an approach that will allow the defender to protect himself and deploy his own weapon without getting stabbed or knocked out in the process. The title reflects awareness that there is no guarantee method for surviving a sudden close-range knife attack – the best you can do is maximize your odds and “die less often.”

Although the techniques that Denny demonstrates are relatively simple and straightforward, I would not categorize this as a video for beginners.  The emphasis is on concepts and principles rather than on exact sequences of moves.  This approach should make sense to an experienced martial artist, but may be confusing for some novices. The instruction also takes as given that students understand the difference between violence initiated by a predator versus fights that begin with the “monkey dance” for hiearchical dominance – a concept that some beginners may not be familiar with.

I would recommend this video for anyone who carries a weapon for self-defense and who has sufficent martial arts background to be comfortable with a conceptual approach.  Much of the material is also useful for those of us who are not habitually armed.  At $80, the price tag is rather steep compared to most videos out there, but if you can afford it this DVD will make a valuable addition to your video library.

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