Combat sports have grown rapidly over the years. With the popularity of the UFC and mixed martial arts in general, it was only a matter of time before the development of other combat sport concepts. There is Team Fighting Championship where five-on-five matches take place in one gigantic ring at the same time. Personally, it sounds like an interesting idea up until the numbers game comes into play and the fight goes from five one-on-one matches to one five-on-one match in a matter of seconds. While I am not saying MMA has lost its appeal, I for one was always interested in weapons fighting.
The use of weapons is a pretty key aspect in multiple martial art disciplines. For instance, Filipino Martial Arts was designed around using weapons whether it is a short stick, a machete, knife, or dual wielding a combination of the three and being able to translate those moves to open hand. Kendo is an ancient Japanese style focused primarily on sword fighting with a shinai (kendo stick), bokken (wooden katana) or a steel katana. Many disciplines such as karate, tae kwon do, and kung fu often incorporate some form of weapon training into their curriculums as well. With all this in mind, wouldn't you think that some form of in-ring sport should exist? Well guess what fight fans, it does!
Since 2015, M-1 Global, an MMA fight promotion out of Russia, has put together M-1 Medieval. And yes, it looks and sounds exactly like what you would think it would be!
But like everything in life, it is only a matter of time until someone else tries to improve on the core concept. Enter Unified Weapons Master!
Conceptually, this sounds like a fantastic idea! First of all, pitting multiple styles and weapons against each other is definitely a great thing to see. Viewers and martial artists can see the pros and cons of each style. Whether it is how to capitalize offensively, the proper use of defensive maneuvers or the vulnerabilities that may be exploited, it's always smart to weigh the effectiveness of different tactics.
Also, the idea of having a high tech suit that can determine what would have been a killing blow, a debilitating strike or maybe a butterfly kiss is pretty valuable information as well. In terms of scoring the bout, it will help determine the effectiveness of the attacker and whether he or she is making contact with the opponent or if someone is blocking efficiently.
It's safe to assume that the overlords of UWM are making this sport as fool proof as possible in terms of keeping the fighters safe. After all, this is weapons fighting and despite using blunt weapons, there is still an ever present danger of actual injury or even death. In fact, another video posted on their site shows that one of the wearers of their new and improved suit did not feel in danger of his life despite being attacked at full strength.
One aspect that somewhat worries me is the use of a "health bar." Like I stated before, some of these attacks could be a killing blow if done correctly. Case in point, check out one of their demo matches.
As you can see, one strike can turn an entire fight around much like a knockout blow in a striking match. However, my concern involves strikes to arms or legs. While these are not finishing attacks in a fight, they do go a long way in slowing an opponent down or taking away some of their attacking power and ability. My question would be how this will be reflected in the health bar? Will each appendage have its own health bar or will these attacks slowly drain one main health bar?
At the same time, will this take into consideration the fighter's ability to ignore strikes to their arms and legs and fight through the pain? Speaking from personal experience, there is a huge emphasis on continuing the fight despite being hit with a hard shot. Even a seemingly debilitating blow to an extremely tough fighter might not put him or her away, much like this gem of a knockout from a few years ago:
This sport is very much still a work in progress as UWM still makes improvements on their technology and other mechanics of the sport. So far, it seems like they are definitely going in the right direction and we could possibly see the next big thing in the combat world. I for one am definitely interesting in seeing what this sport will have to offer and what will come next. Might not be long till we start seeing some Real Steel action after we get tired of watching humans fighting.