Little free advice for DC.

AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. premiered this week and its getting good reviews and people are liking what they see so far.  Marvel is firing on all cylinders to the point that in an interview Chris Hemsworth was asked about the rivalry between marvel and DC and he pretty much replied "What rivalry?"  Such is the extent of whupping Marvel is putting upon DC on both the large and small screen.

Right now, I'm firmly in the Marvel camp.  They're giving us these really fun movies and on the DC side we and given a whole lot of dark and grittiness.  The creative directors over at DC are pushing the dark crap to the point that they don't want their heroes to have pleasant personal lives.  They're current big event is all the villains taking over their books.  Meanwhile, Marvel is serving up insane space adventures with its heroes rising up against threats that I can't begin to fathom how they're going to beat, but the good guys have Captain America so we know the good guys have got this.

Right now, Marvel's got a better paradigm about its creative direction, but what I'm looking at is its paradigm in its direction into other media.  They have major movies in different franchises linking together in a shared universe, and now a network TV show linking to that.  Disney is loving this.  They don't have to look far to get their stuff out.  They have a successful movie business already and they own ABC.  They're being smart.

DC Comics is owned by Warner Brothers.  Warner Brothers has a TV station, the CW and they make movies.  So why can't they put two and two together and start making things exciting for fans?  The season premier of ARROW will be hitting soon.  Think they'll mention the huge alien invasion in another city?  Even in passing?  Of course not.  They refuse to let the chocolate mix with the peanut butter.  So instead of dropping a line or two and linking the show to the new Superman franchise MAN OF STEEL launched, their big news is a TV show about Commissioner Gordon before Batman came on the scene.  

Everyone, including Warner Brothers, wants a Justice League movie to happen.  The new Superman movie will have Batman in is played by Ben Affleck.  Some of you are upset by this casting choice.  I'm upset that they aren't firing Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder and letting Affleck write and direct it as well as play Batman.  There was the GREEN LANTERN  movie that did not do too well, but it did indeed happen and has established the character.  There's talk of a Flash TV show spinning off from ARROW.  A big hang up for a lot of people is that Wonder Woman hasn't made it to the big screen yet.  We can work around that a bit.

My suggestion: link the TV and movie properties.  This gives you Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, the Flash, and possibly Black Canary to play with.  The Justice League movie can introduce Wonder Woman.  Give people something to really get excited over.  

TV Review: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

There's been a whole lot of hype around this show, but in case you've been living under a rock, here's the breakdown.  Marvel has been releasing movies that all tied together and culminated in 2012's THE AVENGERS.  Marvel is continueing to release movies, and has now released a TV show on ABC tha exists in the same shared universe as the films.  This TV show is being helmed by Joss Whedon who is also overseeing the Marvel movie projects.  This is not a knock off show with a couple of characters that you may recognize the names of from a successful movie.  This is a continuation of what we saw in theaters.  This is what happened after the credits rolled.

This delivered on all the hype.

Gregg Clark returns as Agent Coulson who we all saw die in THE AVENGERS.  The details of how he's still breathing are gone over and its fairly satisfying for five seconds until we get a major hint dropped that all isn't what it seems.  Coulson assembles a team that is going to be specializing in containing the emerging superhumans that are appearing.  If you're going into the first episode expecting huge action and stuff blowing up left and right, you're going to be disappointed.  What you will be getting is a very thoughtful, very careful pilot episode that does exactly what its supposed to do.

If you never saw any of the Marvel movies you can get through this with no problem.  Sure, you may miss a reference or two but the story does not hinge around the viewer's knowledge of the Marvel flicks.  Brilliant move.  This is about expending the audience, not just catering to the established fanbase.  Yes, THE AVENGERS happened, and is referenced.  IRONMAN 3 is referenced as well, and pretty heavily, but again, you don't have to have seen that movie (and if you didn't, you can Redbox that thing soon, but no rush) you're still good to go to keep up.

The cast was great.  The writing was sharp.  The action scenes were very nicely done.  There was a lot of heart to this.  Some of the scenes really grabbed me, and yes, I did gasp out loud at one point.  I had a lot of expectations going into this, and I can honestly say they were exceeded.

5 Simple Rules for Karate Judges

Last weekend I competed in and judged at the Old School Classic Karate Tournament.  I'm happy to report that I won the grand championship for forms.  First time I've ever pulled that off.  While I'm happy with my results, there's been some issues I've had in the past with judging, and these are things that I try to teach my students about so when and if they are called upon to judge at a tournament it'll go smoothly for them.  I'm writing these as a person who has completed for over 20 years in open tournaments and has been judging for nearly as long.

FIRST: If you are new to judging in open tournaments makes sure the other judges know this before things get started.  They should help you along the way.  Also try to get in a ring that handling younger kids.  Its a great learning experience and five year olds typically don't get too crazy when they don't like how you're scoring things.  And if you are a more experienced judge and you have a newbie there to help, make sure you let them know what they need to know.  I teach my students how to judge, but not all dojos do.

SECOND: Know the rules of that tournament.  There is usually a black belt meeting before these events in which the rules are gone over, and that's when questions are asked.  Go to that meeting.  It does not matter if you've done these things a hundred times, everyone needs to be on the same page before getting into a ring.

THIRD: It is not your tournament, it is only your ring.  The rules are in place for a reason, and you don't get to change them.  It does not matter if you are a 9th degree black belt.  It does not matter if you are yourself a tournament promoter.  You stick by the rules established.

Years ago, back when I fought in these things, we were being staged for our weight class and the center judge informed us that she would be allowing face contact in our division since we were black belts.  The rules as established and gone over repeatedly stated clearly, "No face contact", and I informed her of this.  She told me if i had a problem with this then I didn't have to fight.  I informed her that if she had a problem following the rules of the promoter, who was paying to insure the event, then she shouldn't be judging and I had no problems getting the arbitrator over to sort her out.

Just last weekend, one of my black belts was judging a ring and one kid split the other's lip.  There's a no blood rule in effect for this event.  You make the other guy bleed and its a DQ.  My students stops the match, pointing out the blood.  The center judge tried to keep the fight going.  Fortunately my student announced loudly enough "Blood" that it caught the arbitrator's attention and he got in the ring to sort it out.

When its your tournament and you are paying for the insurance on the event then you can make the rules.  Until then, know the rules and enforce them.

FOURTH: Make your calls quickly.  Don't look to the other judges to try to see what they are saying so you can follow suit.  You've got to make a call and make it quickly.  This is especially true in fighting.  Nothing gets everyone ticked off faster than a late call.

Remember: the "no point" and "didn't see" calls are perfectly legitimate calls.  Judges are positioned in different spots in the ring for a reason.  Everyone can't see everything thing.  If a judge calls a point and you didn't see it, there's no harm in calling that you didn't.

FIFTH: Go over the rules briefly with the competitors when they get to your ring.  Helps things go smoothly and there's a lot less confusion.  This could be the first time out for some of these folks and they may have questions.  They paid their money to enter so taking a minute to make sure everyone's straight on everything in good for the tournament.

There's other little tricks I know and I try to make sure that everyone has a good time when they get into my ring.  These five points that I touched on are important and should always be considered when you are judging.  These tournaments are supposed to be fun, and the best way to ensure that they are is with good judging.