My copies of Stephan Kesting and Emily Kwok’s latest instructional DVDs, How to Defeat the Bigger, Stronger Opponent, arrived earlier this week. I will be writing down my impressions and doing a preliminary review as I watch the 5 DVDs, starting here with Disc 1, “Drills, Gi and No-gi Gripfighting.”

Emily teaches the techniques while Stephan plays the role of the “bigger, stronger opponent” and demonstration partner. Emily’s instruction is enjoyable to follow because she is descriptive in her explanations and doesn’t commit the mistake of just doing the move and saying “you grab here, you go there, you go like this…”

Stephan isn’t mute either, and he chimes in to say what the moves feels like if there is a detail or pressure that isn’t obvious, or to ask questions and get Emily to explain points further.

The topics of this first DVD—drills and gripfighting—are unrelated, and you can treat their sections like two separate instructionals.

The drills start simply with basic breakfalls and shrimping, and if you have seen Kesting’s Grappling Drills DVD, you will be familiar with many of the other drills. The material is well taught, but I found it dull until Emily started showing the advanced drills (the granby roll in particular is very good) and the partner drills, which I did enjoy.

I ran a beginners class right after watching this section of the DVD, and I had people doing Emily’s partner drills like the partner drags and crabwalks, and they were a lot of fun.

Like with the drills, the gripfighting section starts with basics, but eventually builds up to advanced strategies. The grips and grip breaks are high percentage, but they’re nothing new, especially if you have any judo experience.

The part I found most interesting was where Emily showed how all the grips and grip stripping acts as your first line of offense and defense (a point that Marcelo made to her, and one I have heard from many other black belts), and demonstrated it by fending off Stephan, and answering his questions about specific grips.

This first DVD is fairly basic but very well taught. Keep in mind that I’ve watched tons of instructionals and have seen most basic moves many, many times, so I am hard to impress at this point. There is also a danger to being “unimpressed” with basic moves, because I believe Emily is honestly teaching what she would teach to a flesh-and-blood class, and her instruction is very good.

I had a similar attitude toward at first too, thinking it was “too basic,” but then I found myself returning to it and finding value in its very good explanations of the fundamentals, and now I always refer beginners to it.

This is also the first out of 5 DVDs, so it is understandable that it would be the simplest. Looking at the chapters of the later DVDs (and watching the preview clips), I see the topics get more advanced, so I am sure my overall opinion will change once I have seen all of the material.

Who would I recommend this DVD to so far? This disc would be most interesting to white and blue belts, since most of the material is fairly basic. Higher belts can find value in it too, especially those who runs classes like a college grappling club or garage training groups.

Next time I will review “DVD 2: Compensating for Strength.”

(If you want to get How to Defeat the Bigger, Stronger Opponent, you should act fast because there are only 40 copies left at the $97 price tag, then it jumps up $50 with the second batch. Stephan is also offering free shipping and an unconditional 365 day guarantee.)