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Like Mortal Kombat, but in real life
July 8, 2014 4:05 PM   Subscribe

Imagine if you could toss two trained fighters into a ring, give them whatever weapons they want, and and let them go full-on Spartacus on each other without anyone getting seriously injured. With the death element removed, even the most die-hard pacifists would have to admit that it’d be pretty damn entertaining. With their new carbon fiber damage-measuring armor, that’s exactly what Australian startup Unified Weapons Master wants to do.
posted by shivohum (60 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sort of halfway between Mortal Kombat and One Must Fall...
posted by en forme de poire at 4:15 PM on July 8


Sure am glad they put in those helmet camera shots, they were very elucidative.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 4:16 PM on July 8 [1 favorite]


Aim for the knuckles.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:20 PM on July 8


Bruce Wayne: How will it hold up against dogs?
Lucius Fox: We talking Rottweilers or Chihuahuas? Should do fine against cats.
posted by valkane at 4:20 PM on July 8 [4 favorites]


Great. Another sport for me to be uneasy about the concussion risks of.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 4:21 PM on July 8 [2 favorites]


From the 6th paragraph: “Since then, there’s been no forum in which to see weapons-based marital arts practiced, and we want to change that.”

Best typo ever.
posted by billyfleetwood at 4:21 PM on July 8 [28 favorites]


So it looks like it's basically this, except without the entertainment factor of having a bitter old man shouting invective from inside the suit.
posted by koeselitz at 4:25 PM on July 8 [2 favorites]


From the 6th paragraph: “Since then, there’s been no forum in which to see weapons-based marital arts practiced, and we want to change that.”

Best typo ever.


Somebody clearly failed to do their market research.
posted by clockzero at 4:25 PM on July 8 [2 favorites]


I'm 99.9% sure this would never become a viable spectator sport. The guys just look too goofy, and a computer screen showing a shoulder flashing red doesn't really impart any sense of force to the viewer.

I think it's also kind of silly to think in terms of stuff like "kendo vs. smallsword" or whatever. If it's a legit competitive sport, then it will be individuals vs. other individuals. A given competitor could have something they favored, but there would also be broad trends in training, as well as an overall syncretic approach to techniques. No one's going to take something that works and ignore it because it's not from their background martial art. They're just going to try to win.

Or they would, because it's really not going to happen. It's neat technology though, and maybe it will lead to something viable somehow.
posted by kavasa at 4:26 PM on July 8 [1 favorite]


even the most die-hard pacifists would have to admit that it’d be pretty damn entertaining.

Um, they don't seem to understand what the word 'pacifist' means. Also, doesn't really seem entertaining.
posted by signal at 4:30 PM on July 8 [6 favorites]


At first I was thinking "I bet there's a good reason why there's no video". And then I got to the bottom and watched the video.

I was right!
posted by gurple at 4:34 PM on July 8 [3 favorites]


Lorica: making impeccably-trained martial artists look like breathless, flailing, 11 year olds since 2014.
posted by nathancaswell at 4:36 PM on July 8 [6 favorites]


That was a lot more rubbish than I thought it was going to be.
posted by biffa at 4:37 PM on July 8 [2 favorites]


Um, they don't seem to understand what the word 'pacifist' means.

They are just trying to put the "fist" back in "pacifist," that's all....
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:38 PM on July 8 [1 favorite]


How can it beat / boots full of meat
posted by benzenedream at 4:38 PM on July 8


How can it beat / boots full of meat

so much pork... lost in time... like tears in rain
posted by nathancaswell at 4:43 PM on July 8 [4 favorites]


UFC has more blood and circus.
posted by uraniumwilly at 4:48 PM on July 8


So pacifists are Scotsmen now? Because I'm a pacifist, and I'd love to watch this.

The video was naff, but that's to be expected: it's not an actual match (I'm expecting those would mostly last just a few seconds). It's "let's do some swordplay long handled macheteplay for a few minutes to get some dynamic and exciting video" (note: not guaranteed to be dynamic or exciting). Also, nobody was actually striking like they were trying hard enough to down their opponent. In actual matches, that situation would be different.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think this will take off as a new sport. The first few matches will probably last like 10 seconds each, and then they'll add rules to make the matches last longer and be more audience-friendly, and eventually they'll be boring 5 minute fights with little relationship to the real world. But in the magical world of my mind, where they wouldn't fuck with the rules and would be totally cool with 10 second, non-flashy fights: man, an opportunity to see which actual combat styles would come out on top is something I've dreamed about since I was a kid.

Especially since high school: My friends and I were working on a school project involving lots of PVC pipe...so of course we made foam-wrapped PVC swords, which we'd fight with every once in a while when we needed a break. And then (we found out later) one of my friends found a book in the school library about samurai swordfighting technique. He fucking trounced us. It wasn't like he got marginally better. I didn't even see the sword, I just knew that I blocked a high blow and all of a sudden my stomach hurt like hell.

So the ability to see which sword style would come out on top, a European style or samurai style? Awesome. Also: which of the teenage mutant ninja turtles had the biggest advantage due to their gear? Bo vs. sai vs. sword vs. nun-chuk. I'm guessing sword, but the bo reach is also promising. The ability to actually see this tested, as opposed to debated drunkenly, would be great. Shame it probably won't actually pan out.
posted by Bugbread at 5:00 PM on July 8 [5 favorites]


Just add Ender's Game limb-specific paralysis and you've got yourself a sport. Maybe.
posted by WCWedin at 5:00 PM on July 8 [5 favorites]


The article whiffs on an incredibly important point:

I'd be more like Soul Calibur, but in real life.

Mortal Kombat was still primarily unarmed combat.
posted by Imperfect at 5:14 PM on July 8 [9 favorites]


Also: which of the teenage mutant ninja turtles had the biggest advantage due to their gear?

And this system starts out with the advantage that the suits are already shaped like ninja turtles. Just add a custom paint-job and they'll be unmistakable.
posted by anonymisc at 5:19 PM on July 8 [7 favorites]


I'm sorry but if you can't rip your opponents spine out it's nothing like Mortal Combat. That's like the defining feature.
posted by fshgrl at 5:23 PM on July 8 [5 favorites]


I'd be more like Soul Calibur, but in real life.

In an ideal world it would be like Bushido Blade, but in real life.
posted by nathancaswell at 5:26 PM on July 8 [9 favorites]


A video of two muscular men, having a "sword fight", posted on the internet for us all to watch! Que bella!
posted by Greg Nog at 5:28 PM on July 8 [3 favorites]


The biggest flaw I see with this is that a large part of weapons fighting (or any fighting) is to actually injure your opponent. This thing allows you to score a point or whatever for hitting your opponents' arm, but your opponent doesn't then have to fight with a bleeding arm. And a big part of the entertainment factor of watching fighting is seeing how people cope with being injured -- limping, gushing facial cuts, broken noses, etc. Crowds love a fighter with "heart" who just keeps going despite multiple injuries.

If you want to see something close to full-contact weapons fighting, Dog Brothers is probably it (though they don't use sharp blades).

I'm also a little baffled by the title of this article. This doesn't seem particularly Australian to me at all.
posted by retrograde at 5:29 PM on July 8 [2 favorites]


I think it's also kind of silly to think in terms of stuff like "kendo vs. smallsword" or whatever...A given competitor could have something they favored, but there would also be broad trends in training, as well as an overall syncretic approach to techniques. No one's going to take something that works and ignore it because it's not from their background martial art.

That was true of the UFC, but I don't think it would be true here. Techniques that work with one weapon often just don't work at all with other weapons. Extreme example: broadsword technique has exactly nothing in common with rope dart technique.

But why bother thinking about technique when this playground brawling is what they show us. My sword technique is better than that of the guys in this video and I'm rubbish. If they don't get better fighters than this the event is best ignored.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 5:33 PM on July 8


The first few matches will probably last like 10 seconds each, and then they'll add rules to make the matches last longer and be more audience-friendly, and eventually they'll be boring 5 minute fights with little relationship to the real world.

Yes, we already did this, it's called fencing.
posted by danny the boy at 5:37 PM on July 8 [8 favorites]


Christ, and I thought SCA was nerdy.
posted by loquacious at 5:40 PM on July 8 [3 favorites]


retrograde: "The biggest flaw I see with this is that a large part of weapons fighting (or any fighting) is to actually injure your opponent."

Very true. I do full-contact karate (but not in tournaments, because fuck that), and while some matches are decided by individual strikes ("Strong kick to head! You win!"), the majority of sparring matches are decided by who did best overall in the fight. And a major contributing factor in that is the actual pain. When you get punched really hard in the stomach, the pain makes you generally fight worse from that point on. So what's important isn't just that punch, but also its impact on the rest of the fight. This would be way moreso with serious weaponry. I don't just mean silly "Your arm got cut off, you now have to fight one-handed" stuff, but even "You got hit with the side of the blade really hard. You are not cut, nor are any bones broken, but your arm hurts so bad you can barely concentrate, and you will now likely do worse for the rest of the fight, until you are eventually slain". With big armor on the pain factor would be severely reduced, meaning that non point-scoring hits wouldn't have any impact on the fight, further divorcing it from reality.

danny the boy: "Yes, we already did this, it's called fencing."

I was thinking of MMA, actually. "Hey, everybody found out that technique A works best, and now everybody does technique A as soon as they can. And it makes for bad TV. Ok, starting now, technique A is against the rules."
posted by Bugbread at 5:48 PM on July 8


Olympic fencing is far from boring, and the average touch is a lot closer to 10 seconds (often 2-3 seconds) than 5 minutes.
That was true of the UFC, but I don't think it would be true here. Techniques that work with one weapon often just don't work at all with other weapons. Extreme example: broadsword technique has exactly nothing in common with rope dart technique.
I guess? But if it were a sport, it wouldn't be "rope dart vs. broadsword". It would be "bring whatever you want to the ring and try to win with it." What would eventually emerge from that would be a few different dominant styles with a lot of borrowing between.

FWIW, I'm going to guess that the plucky rope-dart guys aren't going to ascend to the pinnacle of this hypothetical sport.

And yeah, it's missing the crucial fact in MMA that they're at least trying to win by removing their opponents' will or ability to fight.
posted by kavasa at 5:52 PM on July 8 [3 favorites]


A la Thunderdome, I wonder what a chainsaw would do to the fancy armour?
posted by wilful at 6:14 PM on July 8 [1 favorite]


They sure do look like they have a limited range of movement, especially in the shoulders. It looks slow and awkward.
posted by runcibleshaw at 6:14 PM on July 8


This evokes Project Grizzly for me.

It would certainly be more entertaining if we put a bear in the melee.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:21 PM on July 8


But more importantly, when the knights were fighting back in the medieval days, they weren’t throwing kicks to the head. They were generally on horses or on foot, and typically weren’t using marital arts as part of their combat.

This is officially where I stopped reading.
posted by thecjm at 6:29 PM on July 8 [1 favorite]


Weapons techniques are heavily dependant on context. Are you dueling? On the battlefield? In harness? What sort of harness? What are the limits of the materials your armor and weapons are made of? Pitting style vs style in modern armor and weapons simulators tells us only about how those styles fair in a context they were not really developed for. Moreover, if the goal is winning by points without fear of injury, it's natural for techniques to gravitate to those that do just that.

That's okay for entertainment or sport, but it hardly gets close to real life. Real life deals with armor by prying it open by halfsword, aiming for the gaps, or just plain wrestling until you can slip a dagger past the eye protection.
posted by Mister Cheese at 6:41 PM on July 8 [2 favorites]


After the apocalypse, the Lorica men ruled us all with a Kevlar-coated fist.
posted by gottabefunky at 6:49 PM on July 8


After the apocalypse, the Lorica men ruled us all with a Kevlar-coated fist.

PS they're called riot police and they already do
posted by nathancaswell at 6:52 PM on July 8 [2 favorites]


Well, it's no anbo-jyutsu, that's for sure.
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:53 PM on July 8


Olympic fencing is far from boring

I like fencing, but it should be aired entirely in slow motion. It's the only way a popular audience could get an appreciation of what's happening. The strategy is interesting but if you blink you miss it.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 6:58 PM on July 8


I give this maybe a dozen matches before some min/maxer figures out how to actually get the weapon through the armor and into his opponent, crippling or killing him. I've seen the scars that HACA/ARMA members get, and remember John Clements commenting about how he once accidentally thrust a waster (an edgeless pointless wooden practice sword) through his thigh. I've heard of SCAdians testing believed-safe weapons and doing horrendous damage to practice targets, seen what a sword can do to flesh ("The heads of others were split through mid-forehead and crown with swords and hung down on both shoulders. A most horrible sight." --Ammianus Marcellinus), and I think it is inevitable that in the flush of adrenaline and with the thrill of being on TV, deaths would be inevitable.

The producers probably realize this, and even before the show starts will most likely implement rules to weaken it to the point of professional wrestling or "american gladiator" type fighting -- remove the risk, and in the process probably removing anything that might make it worth watching.
posted by Blackanvil at 7:01 PM on July 8


It would be "bring whatever you want to the ring and try to win with it." What would eventually emerge from that would be a few different dominant styles with a lot of borrowing between.

This also happened with UFC. The fighters were all from different disciplines. Royce Gracie won the first one doing Brazilian Ju Jitsu which has a HEAVY emphasis on grappling. Then everyone started adding grappling skills.

In the first four UFCs, the rules were: no biting, no gouging. IIRC, they added "no crotch shots" for the fifth one. There were no weight classes either. In the very first UFC fight, the guy who lost had 200Lbs on the winner.

Grappling techniques became VERY effective but the bouts were boring. It was mostly two sweaty, nearly naked men rolling around on the ground. So they added a rule to limit the amount of time the two fighters could grapple. This made kicking and punching important again.

As the rules changed and techniques were borrowed and adapted to the new rules, a new martial art emerged that usually gets referred to as Mixed Martial Arts or MMA.
posted by VTX at 7:05 PM on July 8


yawn
posted by arnicae at 7:09 PM on July 8


I was totally on board with this until i saw the video, which looks deeply, deeply silly.
posted by empath at 7:09 PM on July 8 [1 favorite]


How did I know that Cold Steel (previously) was going to be involved in this somehow?
posted by sparklemotion at 7:36 PM on July 8


Some of my best friends are pacifists, and yeah, no, they are not that into fake fighting. Like, not even paintball, most of them.
posted by allthinky at 8:00 PM on July 8


I'm a pacifist, but I love fighting games and was really excited about this until I saw the video. Maybe it would work if instead of showing video of the bouts, they just displayed a slideshow of still shots.
posted by whir at 8:26 PM on July 8


somehow the outfits reminds me of The Bilestoad
posted by joeblough at 8:27 PM on July 8


even the most die-hard pacifists would have to admit that it’d be pretty damn entertaining.

Just like every vegetarian would love to eat a McDonalds hamburger if only they could do it without killing a cow, every pacifist longs to watch MMA ultimate fighting if only no one were getting hurt (shh! Don't tell this guy about pro wrestling, which is famously beloved by pacifists).
posted by straight at 8:39 PM on July 8


Can they just make this one of those cheesy team bonding activities instead??
posted by astapasta24 at 8:45 PM on July 8 [1 favorite]


They sure do look like they have a limited range of movement, especially in the shoulders. It looks slow and awkward.

Sure, sure, maybe just go with some light armor, and I mean a helmet is just going to limit your visibility. But for god's sake don't start monologuing.

I might be missing Game of Thrones a little bit.
posted by dawg-proud at 9:23 PM on July 8


Donatello has that bo staff so he has the most range

That's why you always save him for the boss fights
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 9:55 PM on July 8 [2 favorites]


Grappling techniques became VERY effective but the bouts were boring. It was mostly two sweaty, nearly naked men rolling around on the ground.

This is why UFC stands for United Federation of Cuddling.

It would be "bring whatever you want to the ring and try to win with it."

I would bring my WITS *uncorks flask of iocaine powder*
posted by um at 10:22 PM on July 8 [1 favorite]


I'd say that many folks here are being too quick to judge what this could ultimately become, on the basis of very early technology.

I thought the UFC was going to be a joke, and it turned out to be very interesting, technically speaking. Were the guys in the video trained martial artists? I kept envisioning the crazy chubby dude from Cold Steel in there... Anyway, I'd say that it's hard to tell what this might all look like in ten years.

I do wonder whether the armor can protect against things like side kicks to the knee, and joint locks. I don't know anything about the engineering, but it seems like it should be easy to prevent e.g. elbow and knee hyperextension...harder to protect against injury from an omoplata or key lock...

Hard to guess what the prospects are as a spectator sport...but I'm sad that I'll probably be too old to try out some amateur scrappin' in those things by the time they're widely available...
posted by Fists O'Fury at 9:37 AM on July 9


It would certainly be more entertaining if we put a bear in the melee.

Brienne would disagree.

but the bouts were boring. It was mostly two sweaty, nearly naked men rolling around on the ground.

Not that I watch UFC often but you and I have really different definitions of 'boring.'
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:03 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


I think if the boxing ring was replaced with an environment that could be used to advantage during the fight - different kinds of cover and height, maybe traps or drops or moving hazards, that would make things more visually and tactically interesting too.
But negotiating a difficult terrain requires full field of vision and ease of head motion, the suits as they are today look like they might make it difficult to operate on complex irregular surfaces. That's not a problem tactically - both gladiators have to deal with the suit - but it might make them look uncoordinated and foolish, which is a problem for TV.
posted by anonymisc at 11:25 AM on July 9


Not that I watch UFC often but you and I have really different definitions of 'boring.'

I should re-phrase. Before they added the grappling time limit (where they get them up off the ground after a few minutes, whatever they call it), large portions of their target audience found all the grappling boring.
posted by VTX at 6:51 PM on July 9


I would pay serious money to watch the audience reaction of a UFC match morphing into gay-sex.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:25 PM on July 9


I would pay serious money to watch the audience reaction of a UFC match morphing into gay-sex.

I'm pretty sure that that is what Competitive Tickling is all about.
posted by sparklemotion at 8:39 PM on July 9 [1 favorite]


I would pay serious money to watch the audience reaction of a UFC match morphing into gay-sex.

No gay sex in UFC yet but there's a surprising amount of kissing
posted by en forme de poire at 8:56 PM on July 9


They should just do Battle Circle already. Sticks on star, baby.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:24 AM on July 10


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