Growing up in the nineties was awesome. Video arcades were as mature as they would get, and console gaming platforms were working furiously to replace the experience. As a kid, I remember fondly playing martial arts video games and watching scary movies (the more gruesome, the better). The characters displayed grace and lethality as you fought the time’s best “AI” or a good buddy of yours. The entertainment value was high, but it was not possible to escape the fact this was art produced by designers and choreographers. True martial artists were almost mythical. Playing the game was as close as I would probably get to physical combat with lethal weapons.
And rightly so! To study and train and devote one’s life to a school of martial arts like the monks of old is exceptionally rare despite the advances in communication and broadcast technology. Much of the visible forefront of martial arts seems to be either military development or the hybrid sport of Mixed Martial Arts, or “MMA”. This new sport is good fun, but the limitations and rules have caused it to devolve into a common routine once the match is engaged. Some may specialize in areas, but the separate arts are all but lost. Where is the place for the masters to compare the arts? Even using the traditional techniques and weaponry of their dojo?
One company is carving that home out of the modern technology landscape. The team at Unified Weapons Master have spent several years developing a suit of armor which fully protects the wearer from melee weapons, is loaded with sensor data to collect ersatz-damage reports and wearer life signs, and does not hinder the range of motion of the martial artist. Historically, weapon technology advancements have made traditional fighting styles and weaponry obsolete. Thanks to UWM’s research, armor advancements have also improved to the point of rendering those same styles and weapons essentially safe for play. Their beautiful success has created a modern suit of armor that any modern knight or ninja would be excited about.
David Pysden, CEO and Co-Founder of Unified Weapons Master, sat down with the Craig and Ben to talk about the armor from inception to vision. The armor’s design has several layers. At first, it must be effective protection. After sourcing design elements from standard issues to military, police, civilian, and other domains, the prototype is capable of sustaining blows from masters using their weapons of choice while the wearer feels nothing. At its next layer, the armor incorporates the latest in sensor technology to collect data inside the armor (i.e. the pulse, temperature, blood-oxygen content, etc of the wearer) and outside the armor (i.e. the location and force of each blow, the exact position of each body engaged in combat). The third and final layer is more abstract, which is the intended result of the armor in full use.
The Unified Weapons Master team expects two major changes to the current practice of martial arts: one, the arts will change from demonstration to practical combat techniques; two, the competitive element produced by this technology will be highly entertaining.
“There is nowhere in the world can you go right now and watch two people fighting with samurai swords, and we’re going to change that.” –David Pysden, CEO of Unified Weapons Master
Students as well will be able to practice their skills without fear of harming each other. Masters will be able to monitor the health of the students to ensure no one is pushed past a safe limit during training. These have been missing from study up until now. The competitive element will help build confidence and increase membership among the various arts. And the safety element will help parents feel confident that these skills can be acquired with little risk.
From here, things get more theoretical and exciting. Mr Pysden suggests that tournaments could be organized like any other sports; at different levels such as regional, national, by discipline, etc. At a professional level, the suits provide real time biometric data and 3D modeling of the fights. Matches would continue for time intervals with damage accumulation determining the winners and losers. Simulated damage can be rendered for an audience to demonstrate in slow motion the technique which caused it. The UWM team envisions this sport as being broadcast televised with expert commentators describing the fights, educating the audience, and raising awareness for some of these near-lost arts.
The next obvious question: “Where can I get one?!” Mr Pysden didn’t share that one with us, but there was plenty of reason to suspect the armor will be commercially available. Much like a set of golf clubs or a player’s cleats, the martial artist will most likely feel at home in their own suit. And most certainly will want that level of comfort before competitions. So, when you start seeing commercials in your neck of the woods for Ultimate Weapons Master, get ready to pick up a new hobby!