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Review: Self-Defense Training Camp for Xbox 360 Kinect

Self-Defense Training Camp for Kinect transforms your living room into a personal dojo. The “game” trains you in four techniques (Self Defense, Reflexes, Balance, and Cardio), with the aim of teaching you how to properly handle yourself in the event of an attack.

Self-Defense Training Camp screenshots
Self-Defense Training Camp screenshots
Self-Defense Training Camp box art

The self defense rehearsals are broken up into five families of techniques: wrist grabs, arm and shoulder grabs, attacks from behind, choke holds, and frontal attacks. In each you'll learn how to safely repel and escape from an attacker in six different scenarios. The result of these usually ends the same: breaking a hold and hitting your attacker somewhere in their “line of sensitivity” with a hit in the eyes, punch in the throat, or kick to the groin. Each of the solutions are meant to help you gain valuable time to escape from your aggressor.

After learning the moves via the game's easy to follow instructions, you must then perform them in a “timed mode”. Self-Defense Training Camp takes full advantage of the Kinect controls, however there were a some times during the self defense rehearsals where I encountered a noticeable lag between my actions and on screen movements. This resulted in performing entire move sequences and then having to wait several seconds for my character to do them.

As you complete the various routines within the game you'll unlock instructional videos with several insightful tips. However instead of playing the videos right away as they are unlocked, to actually watch them you have to exit out back to the main menu, select “Profile and Extras”, and scroll over to “Coach's Tips”. Some of the tips are common sense, like preventing a car jacking by parking close to where you are going and locking your door right away after entering. Others are more valuable, like walking with a pen or another everyday item in your hand that can be used protectively when in a potentially dangerous setting.

In the “Reflex” portion of Self-Defense Training Camp you'll learn how to evade and block punches, in addition to going out on the offensive to defend yourself. This is accomplished by arrows that pop up signifying different types of attacks,. You must react in response with the appropriate movement, block, punch, or kick. Each of these lessons become increasingly quicker, with a master lesson for each class that doesn't hold back.

The Balance Practices were the most rewarding part of Self-Defense Training Camp. Nothing is more relaxing after a long day than performing the calming moves of “Heaven and Earth” or the “Bow and Arrow”. Despite impressive visuals and a pleasing soundtrack, I couldn't help but find the amount and variety of zen exercises disappointing in comparison to those included in Your Shape: Fitness Evolved. Likewise, the cardio sessions just weren't as vigorous either.

The biggest weakness in Self-Defense Training Camp is that it provides you the knowledge without reinforcing how to effectively use it. After completing both the self defense rehearsals and reflex classes it would have been nice to have one final class that tied everything back together. Being able to remove the arrows from the reflex training or having to correctly identify and escape from a random attack without a narrator telling you what to do would have been a great way to reinforce the skills that were learned and added more replayability.

My girlfriend and I both spent half an hour a day for three weeks with Self-Defense Training Camp. In the end we came to the same conclusion: Self-Defense Training Camp for Kinect does a great job of teaching the basics of self defense. It's important not to let Self-Defense Training Camp give you too much self confidence though, as under no circumstances should it replace actual physical training.

Nobody should rely solely on a video game with their life. In the event of an attack, use whatever force you feel is necessary in order to get away. If you really want to be prepared, then take a clue from Audrey Ronquillo, Self-Defense Training Camp's instructor and “join a martial arts club or dojo.”

For more information about Self-Defense Training Camp, visit

Please note this review of Self-Defense Training Camp was based off a free copy of the game provided by Ubisoft.

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