The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews

With so many products available we often need a little help in making our curriculum choices. The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine family understands because we are in the same boat! Do you need more information on a product before you buy? With over 5,500 products listed in 52 easy-to-use categories, much of the information you need to know is only a click away! Let our reviewer-families help yours.
Do you want to get the word out about your product or service to the homeschool community? Email Tess Hamre and share a little about what you´d like showcased, and we can help with that!

Cross Training DVDs Review by Donna Campos

Mike Szotkowski
PO Box 1164
Sandpoint, ID 83864

Cross Training is a Christian self-defense program designed to be used in homeschool environments. We reviewed the following instructional DVDs:

  • Dealing with a Bully (approx. 30 min.)
  • Beginner's Karate (approx. 55 min.)
  • Intermediate Karate (approx. 55 min.)

There is a fourth DVD, Advanced Karate, but it was not included for this review.

Each DVD comes with a corresponding workbook that includes an outline of the material, a practice schedule with memory verses, a testing sheet, and parental tips. Mike Szotkowski, the instructor, assures the viewer that this program will not have any of the Eastern mysticism that often accompanies martial arts programs. Nor will you find immodesty, bad language, or anything else offensive. The program is complete and ready to go. The only thing you need is an area large enough for viewing together and performing the exercises and stretches. Optional items, such as uniforms, are shown in the program and are available through the website. The DVDs are divided by chapter so that you may jump to whatever particular portion you may be currently working on throughout the program.

The first DVD, Dealing with a Bully, is considered a prerequisite for the rest of the program. The workbook stresses what the Bible says about self-defense and what Jesus taught. The DVD itself strongly promotes avoidance and biblically based methods for handling difficult situations in church and school. Scriptures are consistently presented, and the instructor teaches clearly so that even young children will understand how to avoid trouble and diffuse it when necessary. The DVD presents the ultimate self-defense (Eternal Self-Defense) as salvation in Christ Jesus. Mike Szotkowski identifies himself as a born-again Christian and presents the plan of salvation at the end of the DVD.

Beginner's Karate covers Exercises and Stretches, Stances, Blocks, Strikes, Kicks, and Self Defense. Intermediate Karate covers Warm-up and Stretches, Blocks and Form, Kicks, Footwork, Self-Defense, Nunchakus, and Workout Session. The introduction of each workbook focuses on Scripture-reading, witnessing for Christ, and self-discipline as a follower of Christ. The three-month Practice Schedule is presented simply with blocks to be checked off as your child works on each particular skill. The schedule also lists the Memory Verses for that particular level of the program. The Student Testing page presents a Grade Key for parents to follow as they observe the student (once each month over the three-month period). Total score grading is presented at the bottom of the page, and the student has the option of writing or emailing Cross Training for an official Certificate of Completion upon completing the workbook with a satisfactory grade. The program is specifically designed to be a homeschool curriculum in self-defense. It could certainly work for a variety of learning styles and ages.

Our family continues to enjoy this program, and I fully expect to utilize it for many years to come. We have set aside an area of our family room for the exercises and are using floor mats we already owned. We found that most of the workout didn't require much floor padding, but when you work on the kicks and jumps, you will appreciate a padded floor. Our children who are participating in this program are 15, 7, and almost 2. I had not planned to include the two-year-old, but he became involved nonetheless. We love the convenience of pausing the program to practice some moves or re-watch anything we aren't quite following. Our oldest, who did not participate in this program, took Tae Kwon Do lessons years ago. Watching the Cross Training DVDs is far more convenient than the old process of running to weekly martial arts sessions, hoping my daughter was paying enough attention, and then trying to encourage her practice throughout the week. My children are picking up the basics quickly and easily through this method. I am quite sure that the ability to review material at will has a great deal to do with their learning it so well. I even find them practicing moves together outside of "class time."

If I had to pick a downside, it would be the schedule chart in the workbook. I wish it were a little more detailed. I ended up coming up with my own so that I could mark exact dates rather than simple check marks. We also do not plan to stop the program after three months, so we will simply photocopy the schedule page and continuing using it over additional months as desired.

We really appreciated the Scripture memory aspect of this program, something we've never before seen in a martial arts program. The presentation of the gospel of Christ, although very short and direct, quickly caught the attention of our son who is on the autism spectrum. Comparing physical self-defense and the need for eternal "self-defense" was a useful way to explain a concept that he has had a very difficult time grasping. The combination of Bible truth and quality martial arts instruction makes for a winning homeschool karate curriculum. The fact that the entire family can be involved is an added benefit. If your family is struggling with the area of physical education and/or self-defense, this program may be just what you need!

Product review by Donna Campos, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March 2007