Black Belt's resident reviewer delves into one fantastic fight that takes place in the Colin Firth feature film Kingsman: The Secret Service.

In last week's blog, I thundered on about the Matthew Vaughn-directed Kingsman: The Secret Service and how Colin Firth's performance makes his debut as an action hero a most engaging experience. Playing the character Harry Hart, Firth delivers in one fantastic scene a pugilistic storm of spins, strikes and blustering ballistics while the guitars of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Free Bird howl in the background. It serves as an exhilarating illustration of how to take a star who's already 54 — a man who knows nothing about action, fights or firearms — and have him cinematically challenge the likes of Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris and Steven Seagal with just one fight. Enter the Aussie Much of the credit for that accomplishment goes to Brad Allan, an Australian martial artist and action choreographer who worked with Vaughn on Kick-Ass (2010). Allan makes Kingsman … kick arse. As Kingsman’s stunt coordinator, Allan has Hart go psychotic in the climactic fight, which is set inside a church. Although Hart takes out the entire congregation in the presence of a lot of pews, the fight doesn't stink. In fact, it rocks. And here's the kicker: That two-minute scene was captured in one take! If you see Kingsman (again), note how Firth has no time to gather himself between opponents in that melee.


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If you recall, Tony Jaa did a four-minute fight sequence in one take in the 2005 film Tom Yum Goong (aka The Protector). However, the battle was choreographed so Jaa could walk up several staircases, which afforded him several seconds of precious time to mentally prepare himself for the next bad-guy encounter. In contrast, Firth’s fight is truly rapid-fire, gassed-up and nonstop. Comments From the Star Colin Firth described the stunt team involved in the church fight as a "league of extraordinary gentlemen" — a nod to the 2003 action film that starred Sean Connery, the original James Bond. "They all have their own sets of amazing skills," Firth said about the members of the Kingsman crew. "You have the Jackie Chan-like training team of Brad Allan, and then we a have a six-time world-championship Thai boxer, an Olympic gold-medalist gymnast and someone from the special forces to do the gun training. "I was training three hours a day, every day, for several weeks. I learned to use parts of my body that I’d never used and didn’t even know existed. It was painful.

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"The role appealed to the 8-year-old version of myself," Firth continued. "I relished in the playground fantasy of it — those elements of exuberance, high action and larger-than-life make-believe, where you have clear-cut heroes and villains who can do anything. “There’s a form of superpower here. We’re not people who can fly, but we have gadgets that can do the impossible, from lighters and pens to blades in our shoes." If you’ve been around the action-movie world as long as I have, you may be thinking that Colin Firth could just as well have been talking about Robert Conrad’s hit TV show The Wild Wild West (1965-69). And you’d be right. Trends in film and television tend to repeat themselves. Read Part 1 of this post here. Photos by Jaap Buitendijk © Twentieth Century Fox/Poster © Twentieth Century Fox 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.
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Do you want to maximize your self defense skills? Learn the game of combat chess and most importantly the queen of all moves.

Allow me to intercept those who would object to the title of this article. I'm not claiming that there's a secret move, shortcut or hack that will give you the edge in any fight. Even if there was an ultimate weapon or strategy, you likely would avoid it because you
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Looking to buy some weights to gain some strength?

Looking at Dumbbell, Kettlebells or Weighted bar? How about an all in one that won't just save you some good amount of money but also space? Look no further, we bring you the GRIPBELL!

Let's face it, when we do want to work on some strength building, we don't want to go around shopping for 20 different weight equipment things. That would just not want us to even do any sort of strength training. But what if we only needed a few, a few that can do the things we want without having 20 things lay around? That's where the GRIPBELL comes in. Let me clarify with you first, these are not some heavy duty, muscle exploding weights, they are for building the level of strength we as martial artists want without going crazy and insane in bulk sizing!

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Many different types of "blocks" are taught in most martial arts school. We are taught high blocks, low blocks, middle blocks, knife hand blocks, etc. Some schools will also teach how to use the legs to block an attack, as well.

The purpose of this writing is to possibly open some minds to the possibilities of going outside the box and considering alternatives to the basics.

Blocking is taught as a way of protecting oneself from harm. Truly, we don't "block" anything, as a non-martial artist would think of it. What we call "blocking" is more of a redirection of an opponent's attack, or even a counterstrike against the opponent's attacking limb.

To block something would mean to put something, like your arm, leg or other body part directly in front of the attack. That would certainly hurt and possibly cause some damage. The goal should be to move the attack out of the way in order to prevent injury and provide a way to fight back. For example, many schools teach blocks as a limb moving toward the strike such as a circular high block.

The movement required for a block might have other uses, if you keep an open mind. The blocking techniques can also be used as attack techniques. For example, your "low block" may be used as a striking technique against the outer thigh of the attacker. Your high block might be used as a strike to the jaw. The set up for a block can be used as a deflection, as well as the actual block.

Doing a block or a series of blocks will most likely not end an attack. A block needs to be followed by a counterattack. While the block is usually taught as a separate technique in order to learn it correctly, it should also be used in combination with a counter.

The more you know, the more you realize how much you don't know. Intensive books can and have be written about basic techniques. With this writing, I am hoping to create interest in exploring the additional possibilities for what we have been taught and what we teach others.

About Grand Master Stevens

GM Stevens has been training in taekwondo for 47 years under the tutelage of the late legendary Grand Master Richard Chun. He holds an 8th degree black belt and is certified in the USA and in Korea. Grand Master Stevens is a member of the Board of Directors of the prestigious Richard Chun TaeKwonDo World Headquarters organization. He has been very active in his community and has been a volunteer with the Glen Rock Volunteer Ambulance Corps for over 11 years. He is a certified member of C.E.R.T. (Community Emergency Response Team).

Gary Stevens Taekwondo is located at 175 Rock Road in Glen Rock, New Jersey.

For more information: call (201) 670-7263, email: StevensTKD@aol.com or go to www.StevensTaeKwonDo.com

Having partners at or above your skill level is important for improving in your martial arts training. At some point, however, you will probably find yourself with a shortage of skilled partners, especially if you are an instructor.

This can happen for any number of reasons: students can move away, change their work schedules, start a family, etc., and just like that, you find that you're the highest-ranked student, or sole instructor, in your gym or dojo. This doesn't have to be a bad thing. In fact, if you take advantage of it, even working exclusively with lower-ranking classmates or students can improve your skills.

I used to host a twice-a-week training session at my dojo where I invited mostly black belts from other schools (as well as a few of my advanced students) to come and run drills. It was a blast. These were tough two- to three-hour sessions where I got to work with fighters of all different sizes, speeds, and technique preferences. My sparring improved dramatically over the next few months, and I don't think I've ever been in better shape. But unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way. And as the old saying goes, "You gotta work with what ya got." So, make it hard on yourself.

I like to set handicaps when fighting my students. Specifically, I focus on forcing myself to work on improving my weak areas. Is you right leg weaker than the left? Then only kick with the right leg when sparring your students. Not much of an inside fighter? Don't kick at all. Training with partners of lesser skill not only helps you improve your weak points but gives them an opportunity to improve as well by working on strategy. It's also great for building their confidence. It can also be a low-cost opportunity to test new techniques and combinations, which benefits you as well.

In grappling, just like sparring, there is little benefit to wrapping lower ranking classmates into pretzels over and over, for them or you. Instead, let your partner put you in a bad situation. Let them get the mount; help them sink in that choke or armbar. If you start standing, such as in judo, allow your partner to get the superior grip before attempting a throw. This way you will get comfortable working out of a weaker position and your less-experienced partner can perfect their technique (and get experience using multiple techniques, if you get out of their first one).

You might think that giving advantages like these to students who may be far beneath your skill level is much of a challenge. Trust me, you'll reconsider that sentiment when you wind up sparring a 6'5" novice with zero control over his strength after deciding to only use your weak leg, or have a 250-pound green belt lying across your diaphragm trying to get an armlock after you let them get the pin. Remember, this is exactly what you signed up for: a challenge.

If you find yourself at the top of the heap without partners who are sufficiently challenging, there is no need to despair. Use it as a low-stress opportunity to improve your weaknesses and develop avenues to help your less experienced classmates and students to grow. You may even be surprised. One day they might present more of a challenge than you ever imagined!
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