Human Weapon on the History Channel
The History Channel’s new show, Human Weapon, combines three things I enjoy: martial arts, history and physics.
The show takes Jason Chambers, a Mixed Martial Arts fighter, and Bill Duff, a wrestler and former pro American football player, and immerses them in the history, culture and training of a different martial art each episode. The ability to actually study with the masters that these gents have the opportunity to visit is every martial artists dream.
This show could have come off as quite cheesy and testosterone laden. But the inclusion of the discipline, history, training patterns and the kinesiology of some of the strikes, makes this more of a tutorial-travelogue through the martial arts.
The premiere episode cover Muay Thai, and doesn’t stop with the current bloody ring bouts, but covers the past styles, current training for the armed forces and professional fighters.
Each episode ends with either Jason or Bill in the ring with a master of the featured martial art. This was my least favorite part of the show but mercifully, it was short.
The Human Weapon web pages on the History Channel web site are so far well done, showing snippets of each martial art. They have some movie martial artist bios, but until they add Jet Li, it’s just not complete.
Next episode covers Filipino stick fighting!
Fridays at 9pm Eastern on The History Channel.
Episode 2 (which was shown 3rd in some places?) covered Okinawan Karate. Since I studied Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan I would have enjoyed the inclusion of Korean Karate as well, but show followed the same history, culture, strikes and training perspective of the first episode, with a match with a black belt at the end.
I personally respected that Jason and Bill, regardless of their training in other disciplines, were given white belts to start.
The renowned training, especially the Iron Body, carrying iron pots to improve the grip, smacking straw and stone and tossing weights with handles was quite realistic.
I still do not enjoy the fight sequences in the end, though I thought this one showed what should really happen (a black belt / master belt in any of these disciplines, with multiple years of study, should win these matches handily every time).
Episode 3 is the one on Escrima stick fighting.
Episode 3 – Escrima!!! My son and I watched this one together. Great stuff.
Lots of parallels with the Karate episode and history, esp. in how Escrima had to go underground when the Spanish conquered the Philippines (like the Japanese and Okinawa).
We especially liked the “old school” training, where they ran in muddy rice patties and tried grappling with a big water buffalo.
Many of the holds and joint locks look similar to a lot of the chin-na training.
And, no offense to Jason, but we knew he was going to get his butt kicked. I respect these guys for going against these masters, but there is no way they are ever going to win, unless they get to a discipline that is close to one they have trained in.
Episode 4 – French Savante fighting.
It looks a lot like kickboxing, except they make the point that in Savante the ratio of kicks to punches is even, where in kickboxing and many other martial arts (Karate) the punches heavily outweigh the kicks.
Nice combination techniques.
And this time they give Bill Duff a tie with the Savante master!