Cardio Karate: Cardio Complexes

Amy Bento
Year Released: 2011

Categories: Boxing/Kickboxing/Martial Arts

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This is the first DVD in the 12-disc Cardio Karate set, a JB Berns production with several instructors, including Amy Bento. I would consider Cardio Complexes to be a steady-state cardio workout, and it clocks in at 56 minutes including warm up, cardio, abs, and cool down. There is a countdown bar timer at the bottom of the screen. Amy instructs with two female backgrounders in a small Asian-decorated studio. The music is appropriately Asian-sounding and I found it motivating.

After a warm up, Amy leads you through six “complexes” which are a combination of two or three exercises. They are then repeated on the other lead, then repeated (2x-one on each lead) using 2# sand weights, then repeated (2x-one on each lead) using 3# sand weights, and for the 3# weight part some of the exercises are executed at a slower pace. So you really go through each complex a total of six times, before moving on to a completely new complex. The first two complexes were all low intensity (variety of squat, lunge, block, and kick combinations), and it seems like the next two are shorter but mixed intensity (more squat, lunge, block, and kick combinations but one complex includes plyo lunges and another includes burpees), and the final two blocks revert to kicking/punching/blocking/squats/lunges. Lindsey listed many of the exercises. At about the 18 minutes (to the end) mark, Amy says the cardio complex workout is over and leads you through a very quick cool down, then on to abs. The ab work included an interesting roll and donkey kick series, banana rolls, and a roll up/rolling like a ball type series. The stretch was about 6 minute and was somewhat yoga-inspired.

This was my first Cardio Karate workout, and I enjoyed it but would have enjoyed more advanced moves – the complexes I enjoyed the most were the ones with burpees and plyo lunges! As a steady state cardio workout, I didn’t really start feeling it until about a half an hour in, but then it really picked up after that. It was a little confusing to follow (I kickbox a lot but have no karate experience so was completely new to me) but sometimes Amy demonstrated a move beforehand, also, due to the repetitiveness (as I mentioned you basically repeat a complex six times) I was able to catch on quickly. The choreography certainly kept me engaged but wasn’t TOO complicated (which is great for me).

I have started doing Tapout XT lately too, and the ab work here was interesting and functional but disappointingly easy after Tapout which has similar exercises but takes them a lot farther. But this is the first DVD in the set, so hopefully they will get a little more advanced (but hopefully the choreography won’t become too hard to follow!)

I certainly think the workout has a fun factor and I plan to incorporate it for lighter cardio days. In the future I will probably shorten the workout to about 40 minutes (the warm up and main cardio portion) as the ab/core work was simply not challenging enough for me. I would consider this workout to be intermediate (I would consider myself to be low-advanced for reference). Thanks to the light weights I felt a pleasant toning aspect in my arms and torso. Overall grade A!

Instructor Comments:
Amy is a hit and miss for me – I enjoy some of her workouts, but really didn’t like others, and some are way too complex for me to even approach. It’s probably not her fault but I found the constant references to JB (and thanks to whoever provided the studio, and mentioning the webpage, etc.) to be annoying. She does not mirror cue, which is also disappointing given the complexity of the choreography and the unfamiliarity of the exercises. She also says “yea?” after many of her instructions. Nevertheless, she cued well enough for me to keep up (mostly) and she seemed encouraging and friendly with her background exercisers. Also, she demonstrated excellent form and added a quality of professionalism to the workout.

Emily B.


Amy leads this 56 min cardio workout w/ 2 backgrounders in a martial arts studio. You will need a few sets of light dumbbells or sandweights for this workout. Amy offers modifications for some exercises.

The workout is comprised of 6 pods. Each pod starts w/ an un-weighted base move and then progresses up to 2 lbs, then 3 lbs. Exercises include: hi block-punch-kick combo, slow & tempo lunges & blocks, cat stance, diagonal lunge & block- adding 1 plyo lunge in the combo, burpee to isometric sumo squat, side kick & back punch, and finishes with 17 minutes of cool down, stretch, & core work. The weighted core section includes:elbow strikes, crane oblique tilt, panther roll & kick outs, banana rolls, & triangle leg choke rollups.

I rate this an intermediate workout that could be modified up or down pretty easily. Amy is a great instructor and I really liked the unique ab work and structure of this workout. This one is a bit more choreographed than the others but I had no trouble following along. I received this dvd to review.