Tai Fit Basics, Workout & StrengthLawrence Whitaker
Year Released: 1999
Categories: Boxing/Kickboxing/Martial Arts
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I’m glad that kickboxing videos have proliferated enough that I don’t have to force myself to accommodate this one. Although its drills (at 148bpm) are faster than most (except the notoriously rushed Tae Bo), I couldn’t make the most use out of them because I was neither sufficiently warmed up nor particularly inspired by Lawrence’s instruction. I suppose I could use another video’s warmup in place of the small-range-of-motion calf pumps and wrist flexions, but I don’t think Tai Fit is worth the trouble. Even if this appeared free of charge on a well-chaptered DVD, I wouldn’t bother.
As others have noted, Lawrence counts out every repetition, sometimes grunting out “Hup!” on each repetition rather than counting. Although I don’t mind the counting in the Contender’s Club workouts, I found it more irritating here because I wasn’t as involved in executing the moves. Lawrence’s counting and cueing don’t strike me as “military-style,” unlike Scott Elliott (of AFS Heavy Bag workout fame), whose take-no-prisoners fierceness whips me to attention. Instead, the counting here just felt like it dragged on.
The lack of mirror cueing might be more easily overlooked if it weren’t for segments such as the “left right uppercut hook elbow elbow knee” combination. If he had simply identified the first two punches as “jab cross,” I wouldn’t have had to mentally translate his left to my right, nor would I have to remember for next time to do as he says, not as he does (or looks like he does). Of course, there probably won’t be a “next time” for me.
To me, it looked like Lawrence was just going through the motions of kicking and punching, not executing sharp strikes. His hooks looked like half a bear hug. I felt as though I were doing a hi-lo workout that had been choreographed (and not very inventively) with punches and kicks, rather than a martial arts workout. I think that epitomizes my disappointment in the workout: Lawrence’s presence as a kickboxer and as a video lead felt too lackluster for my tastes. I like instructors to have more spark and alertness in the way they move, speak, and make eye contact (with me or with the camera). Especially for kickboxing, I prefer instructors like TJ Storm and Ilaria Montagnani, who have an intensity in their eyes that commands your attention.
There are still plenty of kickboxing alternatives that are paced at a comparable tempo to Tai Fit. If you don’t mind more choreographed moves, try Powerstrike Millennium #1 or #2, or Aaron Lankford’s Power Kicks or Total Energy instead. Elite Forces is slightly more drill-oriented, although it too lacks mirror cueing. Debbie Burns’ TKO Boxing Body and CIA 2205: Knock-Out Hi/Low are two alternatives that focus more on punches than kicks. I would recommend any of these over Tai Fit.
Too lackluster for my tastes. I prefer instructors with more spark, alertness, and intensity. If I’m watching someone else punch unenthusiastically, I’ll end up punching unenthusiastically too.
Debbie and Dawn already did a very good breakdown of the videos in this set, so I'll just add my impressions. I just got Tai Fit this week, and I really like it a lot! There are a lot of kicking and punching combos, which is high up on my list for must-haves in a kickboxing video. The instruction video not only demonstrated proper form, but also many of the combos you use in the workout, so you can jump right in instead of watching the first couple to figure out exactly what he's doing. Lawrence isn't as charismatic as Billy, but he has the same habit of counting every single repetition, which some people could find annoying. I was able to tune that part out. As I got tired, I even appreciated the guidance! :-) The aerobic workout is about 35 minutes long. There really isn't any cooldown, and the warmup is a bit limited, so you have to take care of that on your own. If you've ever tried Power Kicks, imagine that STYLE of workout, with a big class. Some of the people in the class are obviously martial arts experts, while others are even more clueless than I feel sometimes! :-) I have a lot of fun doing this workout. I agree that the kicks where you torque the hips and swing your leg around the front are tough. I like the idea of substituting front kicks. I may do that if I can't get my form down on those within a few more workouts. I haven't done the strength workout yet. I'll probably do his ab work, but from the instructional video it looked like he relies heavily on various styles of pushups for upper body. I think he demonstrated 5 different hand positions! For someone like me, who only does pushups in Firm and Cathe because I feel guilty about skipping them, it looked like torture! So I will probably skip a large portion of the Strength. All in all, I think this is a winner!
This workout starts with about a 2-3 minute warm up with no stretches at all, you do some side stretches then you do a move where you bend forward and back, a few plies to warm up the lowerbody then you do 4 sets of calf raises doing different things with your hands, opening and closing your hands, to warm up the upperbody, some shoulder shrugs, some balancing moves to the front, side and back and then you start the workout.
It starts with punches to the front, hook alternating sides, uppercut alternating sides, jab alternating sides, elbows alternating sides, right knee up for 2 sets then left knee for 2 sets, then back to the right knee for another set and back to the left side. Then you do a jump rope move, jumping jacks, back and forth shuffle, hop to the right and left with feet together, that's your cardio segment everytime.
First combination is a punch with a front kick done on one side and then the other, next is a side kick with a front punch doing one leg for a full set and then the other leg. Next is a back kick with front punch done on both sides. Next is a roundhouse kick with front punch doing 2 sets on each side. Then you do a reverse kick with front punch, this is a kick to the front but you make a circle with it, really works the hip flexors. Then you do your little cardio section again with the same moves.
Next is a punching series with plie's doing punches up and then doing a plie and punching, then the same move with a hook, then uppercut, then jabs and you are constantly doing plies the whole time.
Next is a series, kind of long, of nothing but blocking moves, then you do one with elbows up. Then you do a punch on each side and then a blocking move to work the obliques. Then you do alternating uppercuts to the side. Next is a front kick with a back kick with punches doing 2 sets on each side. Next is a front kick, roundhouse kick and a punch doing 2 sets on one side and then 2 sets on the other side. Next is a punch, punch, knee up, roundhouse kick, 2 sets on each side. Then you do a punch, punch, knee up, side kick, this one he does one set on one side and 2 sets on the other side, other than that he is very even on his moves. Next is elbow, elbow, knee up, one side then the other. Next you do a punch, punch, front kick, side kick, front kick, side kick alternating sides as you go. Then you do a punch, punch, reverse kick, one set on each side.
Next you do your short cardio section again and then you do a short upperbody combination ending with 2 knee ups. The last thing is very fast punches to the front, then slow uppercuts and then you do very fast uppercuts. The cooldown is only about 2 minutes long, if that, no stretches at all. You do a little tai chi and you're done.
The strength section of this workout starts with a super short warm up, no way you could do that section on your own with no other warm up. You do a few waist twists, side bends and the forward and back move using your waist, that's it!!! Not even a minute long.
You start the workout with the same little cardio section done in the workout. Next you do punch, punch knee up, front kick, knee up & front kick other side alternating as you go. Then you do punch, punch, knee up, side kick alternating as you go. Elbow, Elbow, knee, knee alternating as you go. Then you do the short cardio section once again.
Next is some killer ab work!!!! You do one exercise and rest a few seconds then you do a different ab routine, rest a few seconds, then you do some crunches, then rest, next is leg raises using your abs, then you do scissors using your abs to stabalize yourself, then you rest, then you do this move where your legs are out and you are resting on your hands with your upperbody off the floor and you push and pull your legs in and out. Next is stabalization exercises, you do a V with your legs and hold for 5 seconds, then for 5 seconds again, then 10 seconds. Next is oblique work done on both sides, then pelvic raises, then you do a reverse up to work your back laying on your stomach. Next you hold yourself up on your hand and do innerthigh work using your abs to stabalize your body. Next section you start off with the short cardio section once again. Next is punch, punch, front kick, roundhouse kick alternating sides as you go. Next is punch, punch, front kick, side kick alternating sides. Next is a punch, punch, back kick, back kick. Then you do your short cardio section again. Back to floorwork. You do 4 sets of push ups and then tricep dips. Next you are back on your feet doing your short cardio section again. Then you get in a plie position and stay down while you do a bunch of punches done fast and slow, very intense since it is the end of the workout and your legs are tired from all the kicking. Once again the cooldown is very short.
I really like this workout. You really work the legs hard. It's not as intense cardio wise as Tae Bo but it is better than Power Kicks, you work both sides very evenly and you'll be feeling it in your lowerbody very quickly. The cardio section is 35 minutes long and the strength section is 20 minutes long.
He's nothing like Billy Blanks but he is still a very likable instructor, counts every single rep but since I really liked the workout it didn't bother me that much.
Tai Fit comes in a 2 video set. The first video is called the 'Basics' in which this is strictly a 30 minute instructional tape (no workout). What is nice with this tape is he demonstrates about 95% of all the moves/combos so you can practice them...even the moves in the warmup and cooldown and all the strength exercises which mainly consist of abs and pushups. The only moves he doesn't demonstrate are the blocking upper body movements (but they are easy to catch onto). He even stresses that it is perfectly okay to modify your kicking height and shows you the different height variations.
The second video has two complete workouts in it called 'The Workout' and 'Strength'. The 'Workout' is 35 minutes long and the 'Strength' is 21 minutes. You could put these two workouts together for one long workout or do them separately. They both have a very short warmup and cooldown (no stretches though). Every 5-10 minutes the tv screen will flash how many minutes are left in the workout which I thought was a nice touch. The production quality isn't the greatest, but it was in no way bad enough to affect the workout. It just seemed unfocused during parts of the workout (especially towards the back of the set). Up close was just fine. The class participants are no fitness buffs...they look like your average every day person and there is no live interaction with them. I didn't hear a peep out of anybody except of course Lawrence. There were a couple of people right behind Lawrence that seemed more pros at it(You could tell by their form). The music is low and the style is more jamming rock type music. When I previewed this tape on my big screen tv with stereo surround sound system, I could hear the music much better than when I used it in my regular stereo/vcr without the big speaker setup.
I consider myself an advanced exerciser in regards to stepping & Hi/Lo and probably more of a higher intermediate in kickboxing since I'm still relatively new at this type of training. But I do LOVE Tae Bo and like Power Kicks. Power Kicks is like my vegetable tape. I get pretty winded doing both tapes. So with this in mind Tai Fit left me feeling just as wiped out as the advanced Tae Bo and Power Kicks, however it was not as 'fun' as Tae Bo, but not as boring as Power Kicks. I was breathing hard and my hair was very damp.
He has LOTS of kicking/punching combos that are not complex at all. I prefer kickboxing to have lots of kicks and this definitely meets that requirement. He uses all the basic punches and kicks, but there are a few new moves...such as round elbows, backward elbows and a reverse kick which works the hip flextors (you torque your hips and swing the legs in a circular motion in front of you). This move seemed awkward and until you catch onto the form you may need to be very careful with it or you could hurt yourself. He doesn't do alot of these and you could always modify it to a front kick.
He doesn't do any of the speed leg drills like Billy Blanks does, but he does have a couple of speed punching and uppercut drills. He does alot of 'toe drills' as he calls it which is a mini routine of jumping jacks, side hops, back & forth alternating feet hops, boxer shuffle throughout the workout and strength video. The strength workout consists of various ab work which is not your traditional crunches. He does alot of lifting your butt off the floor and does scissors, leg lifts while you have to stabilize your abs. More different exercies with your butt resting on the floor and an exercise that targets your inner thigh and abs by lifting your body up off the floor.
A couple ab exercises were similar to Tae Bo's. He also does different arm variations of pushups and even does those one arm swings (your on your toes and hands and raises one arm up behind you and keep alternating). A few pelvic lifts and tricep dips. One thing to keep in mind is there is some kicking, jumping or hopping on toes with no cooling down before the abwork..then back up with more kicking combos, toe drills and immediately back down to the floor for the pushup work.
This tape left me feeling really great afterwards even though I thought I wouldn't make it to the end. I plan on incorporating this video into my regular kickboxing schedule. If your expecting a motivational type workout like Billy Blanks Tae Bo...you won't get it with this one, but it is very effective and powerful!
Lawrence is no Billy Blanks. He is more serious..doesn't smile alot. His cuing is very good as he always says what combo is coming up before you do the moves. However, he does count every single repitition which may grate on some people's nerves and he doesn't mirror you, but he is consistent with this so you get used to his style throughout the workout. His workout style is very athletic, appears to have good form and gives some good form pointers in the instructional tape as well as a few reminder pointers throughout the workouts. At times he loosens up and you hear a little Billy Blanks motivational speech come out.