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#360335 - 09/09/07 12:54 AM Complaint about Human Weapon I posted
SpeedyGonzales Offline

Registered: 08/16/05
Posts: 320
I posted this in their discussion board, I hope to get some feedback.


Okay first let me say I enjoy the show. It's overall well made and an interesting frame for exploring the world's martial arts.

However, even as a doctor does good work for hundreds, it only takes one medical malpractice suit to tarnish his career.

I am not going to suggest that the show has no worth but there are some serious issues I would like to address, starting by pointing to an overall trend then pointing to some examples.

1. The trend of making "connections."
This is part of how the human mind works, and it does give the audience a good feeling about the "history" aspect of the show, but the fact is that any martial art with have at least three similarities to any other martial art in the world without the prerequisite of being linked somehow. There are some claims of connections and lineages which are, for lack of a polite word, absurd. But I don't blame your team entirely.

For example, the history of Takenouchi-ryu jujutsu was probably a result of misinformation, misinterpretation/language barriers and/or pride of the dojo. Claiming to be the first style with jujutsu and being the father of all jujutsu in all Japan is nonsensical since the Tatsumi-ryu school came before and since many "jujutsu" styles are completely unrelated.

There was also the idea that the hip throw in judo was linked through the Shaolin temple, the Indian martial arts, all the way back to Pankration. The fact is, many techniques pop up in all parts of the world that may have never seen each other. This is another aspect of the Judo episode that got to me. Dr. Jigaro Kano, in addition to learning jujutsu, must be credited with inventing techniques. Also, the idea that the Shaolin temple is the father of all eastern Asian martial arts is simply absurd and in fact contradicts one of your opening lines, that martial arts have always been practiced in every nation.

However, the biggest I issue I had was with the Krav Maga episode. There seemed to be assumptions made by the producers (or worse, intentionally baseless claims) regarding so-called connections and derivations. Rather than basing which techniques came from where based on research, the claims were attempts to connect techniques with moves and arts from previous episodes, while shying away being specific on what arts actually influenced Krav Maga and making broad statements about its history (Muay Thai elbow strike, Judo wrist lock, Karate block, etc.) In fact, had some research been done about "bursting," maybe other uninformed statements could have been cut, such as how "unique" it was to other arts.

In fact, this and many techniques were influenced by Aikido:
You can see examples of not only the roots of "bursting" around 0:06 - 0:19 seconds and even the influence of freestyle training around the end. Also, some weapons disarm influences as well (although Krav Maga's disarms do not solely derive its weapons techniques from Aikido.)

In addition, the vague pseudo-relation with the Jewish uprising against the Romans which gave the feeling of connection while avoiding a damning direct claim bothered me. I would expect this sort of vague, psychological appeal with lack of direct claims or detail/evidence from the Oxygen channel, not the History Channel.

Also, trying to emphasize Judo's link to "samurai," I can't blame the History Channel for that because that is really the legacy of the militarization of pre-WWII Japan and the former government's nationalistic propaganda, but really you guys didn't give Dr. Kano enough credit for basically developing his own techniques.

Regarding similarities in general, I lived in a rough area of Los Angeles, California, and I have seen completely untrained individuals using some techniques and combinations that are strikingly similar to certain martial arts' techniques. Some moves are instinctive, some moves are just common sense, and some moves are just discovered and repeated just because they are found to work from experience.

2. The trend of hyping your hosts.
Okay this one is very understandable and you are probably acting out of both courtesy and out of the fact that you have to make this show exciting. You can also not be blamed that much since most of your info seems to either come from your hosts or some some source sympathetic to your hosts. However, there are some major claims made that bothered me. Directly related to this are the claims of lineage - both in originating and deriving (or lack thereof). Pankration's throw being the proto-Judo throw. Judo coming from Samurai. Avoidance of the specifics of which martial arts were incorporated into or influenced Krav Maga.

Saying that "Judo beat Jujutsu" when competing for the police endorsements is far too open ended and misleading. And the statement that Judo is endorsed by "the Japanese police" is much to open ended; for example the Tokyo Riot Police have their recruits take the one year Senshusei program in the Yoshinkan Aikido Hombu Dojo. I'm sure many jujutsu schools did not appreciate the use of the umbrella term of "judo beat jujutsu" either.

I do not know much about Muay Thai, Eskrima, Karate, or Savate history, and though I enjoyed those episodes, I know have a disillusioning doubt of the claims made in those episodes.

Other than that, there were some details that were inaccurate, but that wasn't a big deal in my opinion. There are Krav Maga governing bodies that do use ranks and belts. However, these are less serious than the claims and generalizations made above.

I know it's probably too late to say this for this season, but in future episodes, please, consider that inaccuracy is one thing, but when you make claims about one art in relation to other arts, and above all, to its history, more caution and care should be made for representation.

P.S. Before I am accused of bias, I do not practice Yoshinkan Aikido, any form of Jujutsu, and I am not a big fan of Anthony Yates Sensei (the guy in the video I posted a link to). I do practice a martial art, but in relation to this post, I am just a history and martial arts enthusiast who wants to clear some issues.

#360336 - 09/09/07 09:25 AM Re: Complaint about Human Weapon I posted [Re: SpeedyGonzales]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6665
Loc: Amherst, MA
Reality check: it's a tv show.

#360337 - 09/09/07 09:13 PM Re: Complaint about Human Weapon I posted [Re: SpeedyGonzales]
MattJ Offline
Free Rhinoplasty!

Registered: 11/25/04
Posts: 15634
Loc: York PA. USA
Good post, Speedy. It would be interesting to see if they address any of these complaints in the course of the show. But as Harlan noted, I doubt it. A certain amount of "dumbing down" is to be expected to maintain tension and interest for the show.

I am curious if those that have seen it think it is more accurate than past shows have been, and if there is a less-sensational trend in regards to martial arts documentary type shows on TV?
"In case you ever wondered what it's like to be knocked out, it's like waking up from a nightmare only to discover it wasn't a dream." -Forrest Griffin

#360338 - 09/10/07 11:55 AM Re: Complaint about Human Weapon I posted [Re: MattJ]
Neko456 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 01/18/05
Posts: 3260
Loc: Midwest City, Ok, USA
In series like this as in other research forums unless spefically designed for the field they usually generalize. And though your informantion maybe more exact, I'm sure there are some that would question or debate your findings.

Like you I enjoy the show but I don't put much stock in most of research data, as Harlan's stated, it is just a show.

It does show that demonstrating the sport aspect of a system and fighting is different.

Edited by Neko456 (09/10/07 12:03 PM)

#360339 - 09/10/07 12:06 PM Re: Complaint about Human Weapon I posted [Re: Neko456]
seito Offline

Registered: 09/30/06
Posts: 53
Loc: PA
It may be a just a show. But, it is on the HISTORY CHANNEL. They do need better fact checkers. I have to keep telling myself it is probably interns writing the show with no MA background.

#360340 - 09/10/07 01:49 PM Re: Complaint about Human Weapon I posted [Re: seito]
Neko456 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 01/18/05
Posts: 3260
Loc: Midwest City, Ok, USA
Really nothing that hasn't been assumed or thought about. They are just generalizing being on the history channel doesn't mean that the topic should fix into a mold.
History is slightly different in each nation, as History is His Story, its the events of victor. And even thats not exact.

Take what you can use and discard what you find useless or incorrect.

#360341 - 09/11/07 08:08 PM Re: Complaint about Human Weapon I posted [Re: SpeedyGonzales]
UechiMan Offline

Registered: 09/03/07
Posts: 4
I like to think that any exposure of martial arts to the general public is good but alas, I too was let down by this show. While I'm not a history expert in any particular style (although the Karate show did showcase my style as practiced by Kiyohide Shinjo, Uechy Ryu) what struck me first was that a person could spend the equivilant of an hour show in a style of martial art that wasn't thier primary style and by the end of the show be able to compete with a particular schools "best" or most elite. Kind of reminds me of a smorgasborg view. Jacks of all trades but masters of none. The other thing I noticed (or is it just me) was that they were not really struck, thrown, or kicked really hard. There seemed to be some holding back. I've heard too many stories of americans going to Japan, Okinawa, China, etc. and having a hard time enduring actual dojo training there. Then again I guess we'd be out a host or two if that occured..............


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