National Geographic: Fight Science

I caught about half of this show last night on National Geographic, and it was pretty friggin’ awesome. They took some engineers and had them measure various techniques used by leading marital artists (gold medalists, world champions, etc) of several disciplines.

The first part I saw had them measuring the force of punches by using a crash test dummy. The kung fu punch registered at over six hundred pounds of force, for example, while the boxer’s punch topped the charts at over one thousand pounds of force. The whole show was cool stuff like this.

They measured kick attacks, and the Muay Thai dude’s knee attack apparently hits like a car crash at thirty-five miles per hour. I think they measured something like two inches of chest compression on impact.

They measured attack speed, with Kung Fu dude’s attacks being eight times faster than a striking snake. (I think this was also thirty five miles per hour.)

The coolest thing, I thought, was the test of reaction time. They had four targets matched with little lights, and when the light went on the fighter had to attack it. The Tae Kwon Do dude can apparently get a strike off about as fast as it takes the average person to register that the light is even on.

They measured the balance of some ninjitsu dude, and it was pretty impressive. They also measured the fabled “Dim Mak” from same dude, and it was pretty cool.

Last part I saw, they did some measurements on two guys who…erm…break things professionally, whatever you want to call that.

Anyway, it was pretty neat stuff, and you can read more about it in this article.

No, I’m not marketing anything, I just thought it was pretty cool and dorked out about it.

Yep, seen this a few times. Quite cool. It does exaggerate the impact of some of these moves, though. The knees were supposedly doing enough damage to kill or at least seriously damage internal organs… and I’ve seen a ton of guys get kneed in the chest by professional Muay Thai fighters… and no deaths or major injuries of yet.
But still, a very cool show. Did you see the one with weapons? I don’t recall if it was the same show or not.

No, I didn’t see any weapons. I’d be really interested in seeing that. I don’t remember when I tuned into the show, so I might have missed it. Checking the listing, it looks like what I saw last night is on again next Monday (the 7th), so I’ll try watching it from the beginning.

Were those the two guys who had increased their bone densities to be something like 5x that of a normal human just by inflicting all sorts of trauma to themselves?

Agreed. Same with the ninja death blow (Dim Mak or whatever they were calling it).

To be fair, these fighters were also delivering strikes under optimal conditions - maximum time to prepare, perfect spacing to deliver the maximum impact, immobile “opponents,” etc.

But if those blows routinely delivered the organ destroying, maiming damage they were discussing on the show, a lot more fighters should be dead right now.

A lot of chinese martial arts training involves strengthening your hands and elbows by beating against solid targets.

Someone shoot the freaking announcer. Everything’s ancient. Including jiu-jitsu, apparantly, which is just over 100 years old as a style.

I liked the ninjutsu dude, but I wonder how he’d do in a fight against Rickson Gracie.

The whole weapon segment was mainly crap though. Swords can cut through flesh? Amazing! And apparantly nunchucks were made when a Chinese emperor’s body guard got his staff broken and were not simple peasant threshing tools. Another minus for only showing off oriental swords. I’d like to see how that yin sword compares to a rapier.

Actually, jujutsu dates way back at least to the 16th century in various forms if you follow the Takeda daito-ryu lineage.

I liked the ninjutsu dude, but I wonder how he’d do in a fight against Rickson Gracie.

Hahahahhah…that would rock.