Read the conclusion of our film critic's examination of the martial arts in the latest installment in the Furious franchise.

In the first part of my Furious 7 blog, I noted that action-based movie franchises that feature martial arts have a tendency to act like the month of March: Enter like a lion and exit like a lamb. In other words, each sequel usually has fewer and fewer fight scenes, with the Taken and Bourne films being prime examples. However, since the release of Furious 5, this franchise has made fantastic fights and awesome automotive duels a staple. The formula seems to be working — Furious 7 became the fastest film in history to earn $1 billion globally. Photo by Scott Garfield/Courtesy of Universal Pictures For those who came in late, in Furious 7, villain Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) seeks revenge against Dominic Torretto (Vin Diesel) and his family, along with CIA agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), for what they did to his brother in Fast & Furious 6. An explosive early scene in the latest movie pits Hobbs against Shaw — two military-trained he-men overflowing with self-confidence — in an all-out test of strength, technique and mental acuity. Being athletic and in possession of profound pugilistic skills, Johnson and Statham were committed to perfection during the filming. "When it comes to fighting action, Jason brings authenticity to this franchise,” Johnson said. “He’s a pretty tough guy, and he’s legit. He's all about wanting to make every scene incredible, and with the action sequence put together, I was happy. It’s Jason showcasing his well-versed martial arts and me inflicting Hobbs’ very straightforward, hard-core way of fighting." Photo Courtesy of Universal Pictures One of the most challenging fights in Furious 7 is set inside a speeding, out-of-control bus. It features Paul Walker and Tony Jaa — a tricky task for Jaa because running, jumping and flipping are integral parts of his style. On the subject, fight choreographer Jeff Imada shared the following: "My goal was to utilize the tight confines and give audiences a feeling of great action and have Tony show off his signature moves. It was nice to use traditional techniques but to also allow improvising while incorporating their precarious environment.”


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In Furious 6, Michelle Rodriquez (Letty) takes on MMA standout Gina Carano, and in Furious 7, Rodriquez mixes it up with reigning UFC champ Ronda Rousey. To ensure the two fights looked different, Rousey fought in high heels while wearing alluring attire. Imada managed to keep the choreography fast-paced with constant and relentless movement from both combatants. Photo by Scott Garfield/Courtesy of Universal Pictures Then there's the Dom-vs.-Shaw street fight that accelerates from zero to full throttle in seconds. In it, Dom's visceral emotional power is propelled by the desire to protect his family, and he rages against the stone-cold assassin out for revenge. Diesel, a fan of Shaw Brothers kung fu flicks, stepped up his training and worked out with Jaa during his downtime to ensure the sequence was as ferocious as it was sinuous.

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Statham remarked, “Furious 7 is full of testosterone, and the best way to show it is to get down and dirty with bare knuckles — that’s the way Shaw and Torretto wanted to do it.” But what really ensures that all the fights work and blend with the over-the-top, high-octane automotive stunts is the way all the action was filmed using a “shaky camera.” Normally, that’s not something that appeals to martial artists, but in Furious 7, each shot was held long enough to prevent the fight sequences from devolving into the kind of visuals seen in music videos. Photo Courtesy of Universal Pictures Note: In my Furious 7 write-up, I didn’t dwell on the fact that co-star Paul Walker died during production. By now, most of the world knows about his death. However, it’s worth mentioning the fatal car crash occurred while the vehicle was doing 93 mph on a stretch of road in Valencia, California, that was signed for 45 mph. Life is not an action film — please drive responsibly. Read Part 1 of this review here. Go here to order Dr. Craig D. Reid’s book The Ultimate Guide to Martial Arts Movies of the 1970s: 500+ Films Loaded With Action, Weapons and Warriors.

Black Belt Magazine has a storied history that dates back all the way to 1961, making 2021 the 60th Anniversary of the world's leading magazine of martial arts. To celebrate six decades of legendary martial arts coverage, take a trip down memory lane by scrolling through some of the most influential covers ever published. From the creators of martial art styles, to karate tournament heroes, to superstars on the silver screen, and everything in between, the iconic covers of Black Belt Magazine act as a time capsule for so many important moments and figures in martial arts history. Keep reading to view the full list of these classic issues.

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When Black Belt Magazine was born in 1961, the Beatles were a start-up band, Sergeant Elvis Presley just left the Army, 77 Sunset Strip and Bonanza were the hot TV shows, and phone numbers started with letters. The mainstream martial art of the era was judo and the Dead Sea was just sick.

Black Belt Magazine is the martial arts' most popular and influential publication and has been so since the early 1960s when the first issues were published. From the contents of those early issues, readers recognized that honor and integrity was behind this new martial arts resource and that its objective was not just profit-making or commercialization. The 1960s work here includes three phases in Black Belt's development. Phase one spans 1961 thru 1964 prior to Black Belt becoming a monthly magazine. Phase two spans 1965 and 1966. Phase three is 1967 thru 1969.

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Matcha has got it all for a martial artist.

It creates focus, energy, concentration, curbs the appetite for weigh-ins. These are some great qualities matcha has. Learn more about matcha and how to get the best matcha to improve your health and performance.

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The quality of matcha should be vibrant or bright green. The vibrant green is called, ceremonial matcha, and is the best. It is used in very important Japanese ceremonies. Less fresh, lower grade or bad matcha will be a dark or dull green without the brightness and almost greenish yellow. Color is very important when choosing matcha. The consistency of matcha will be in a very fine powder form.

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