Black Belt's resident film critic examines the Netflix original series that everyone is raving about.

When was the last time you heard of a TV show being renewed for its second season just 10 days after it premiered? Practically never. Yet that was the situation with Daredevil, a Netflix original series that's become wildly popular almost overnight. But wait — there's more! According to Netflix, Daredevil is but the first of four epic live-action adventure series. It will be joined by Marvel's A.K.A. Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and Luke Cage. The multiple launches will culminate with the title characters appearing in Marvel's The Defenders. Daredevil diabolically digs into the backstory of how the low-key, ethical and blind lawyer Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox, above, with Deborah Ann Woll, who plays Karen Page) evolves into the law-breaking, morally gray and remorsefully ferocious Daredevil, guardian angel of New York City's Hell's Kitchen. At the center of Hell's Kitchen's plumbing gone wrong is bald and bellicose madman Wilson Fisk, aka Kingpin (Vincent D'Onofrio, shown below), who's trying to remodel the Kitchen by first destroying it.


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In addition to the gripping story, which features superb caricatures of characters created by Stan Lee in 1964, Daredevil benefits immensely from top-notch martial arts. In fact, many regard the fights as the main event — even the mainstream press has chimed in on the subject. The brains behind Daredevil opted not to cast actors with a track record of doing swashbuckling adventure films. In fact, Cox and D'Onofrio don't fit the bill in any way, shape or form. Yet their action sequences deliver real gut punches and shock value to the show's demented dark side. The man responsible for all this belligerent brouhaha is stunt coordinator Philip Silvera. Although Daredevil is the centerpiece for the martial arts fights, Silvera said that when Fisk gets to a certain point, he likes to have the character lose control and let brutality take over. "When he's in rage mode, he just keeps going until he's done," Silvera said. "That is Kingpin, that is D’Onofrio. He's a very smooth, calculating individual, but when you bring out his rage, he's like a bulldozer." Whenever I'm watching Daredevil and see Fisk violently take apart his opponents with his sledgehammer fists, I find myself thinking, "It's clobbering time!" Hmm, now where have we heard that line?

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The fights in Daredevil aren't just stuck into the story lines for the hell of it. Apart from moving the plots forward, each fight contributes to Daredevil and Fisk's character development. Depending on the unique circumstances that lead up to each altercation, it can reveal a weakness or a strength. Either way, we know there's going to be a major showdown between Daredevil and Fisk. In my April 3, 2015 blog, I examined what was supposed to be Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D's flagship fight, but it turned out to be like the French loss at the Battle of Trafalgar. Everything that the fight should've had to make it superiorly smashing was done in what's considered the defining fight moment of Daredevil's first season — and it was done with panache by Colin Firth in Kingsman, as described in my March 13, 2015 blog. What battle am I referring to? The three-minute, single-shot fight scene highlighted in the second episode, which is titled “Cut Man.” In it, Daredevil viciously defeats a gang of Russian thugs. It's the first of its kind for television — so noteworthy, in fact, that I'll save it and the rest of my combat commentary for the second half of Black Belt's Daredevil analysis. Read Part 2 of this article here. (Photos by Barry Wetcher, Courtesy of Netflix) 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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