UWM’s vision is to honour, preserve and reignite weapons martial arts that have been practised and developed over thousands of years and using modern technology create a new, global combat sport and entertainment experience.
Until now the opportunities for weapons martial artists to compete in true, full combat have been limited due to the risk of serious injury, and the inability to objectively determine the outcome.
To solve this, UWM created ‘The Lorica’ (from the Roman body armour) – a high tech suit of combat armour packed with force measurement sensors, computer processors and state of the art communications technologies. The Lorica armour and our patented scoring software allow us to objectively measure the force and location of strikes to a weapons martial arts fighter in real time, while providing high levels of safety, and to display the damage that would occur to an unprotected fighter on a video screen. The current version of the scoring system is based on medical research including blunt-force trauma and fracture profile data, and virtual damage accumulates until a fighter is ‘knocked out’ or ‘killed’.
Not since the age of the Colosseum have large-scale audiences been able to watch live, full contact, weapons combat in a dynamic format. UWM has changed this forever.
We have patented a combination of technologies to create an intelligent armour and scoring system. This technology suite objectively measures the force and location of strikes to the armour in real time. The software utilises medical research including fracture profile data to determine the level of damage and severity of injuries that would have been caused by each attack to the body of an unarmoured fighter.
Software then calculates and displays the damage that would have occurred in real time and processes a score – much like a video game, but based on real combat with real weapons. A virtual ‘life’ is lost when the Lorica scoring system (operated by the UWM Combat Control team) records in real time a strike of sufficient force for the applicable anatomical location to have genuinely “broken” it (had the fighter not been wearing armour). Where a ‘life’ is lost within the UWM arena, whether by cumulative damage or single ‘kill shot’, a STOP call is issued by the Referee and he signals to the fighter via a raised arm and “throat slitting” gesture of the fighter’s virtual “death”.
Strikes that cause damage, but not death, do not warrant a STOP call, unless the cumulative strike damage suddenly exceeds the ‘life taking threshold where the Fighter is deemed incapacitated by repeated damaging strikes to the same anatomical location.
In a three-life round format, such as that used in the VTC1, once a fighter has lost all three lives (three kill shots or ‘KOs’ recorded), the Referee issues a STOP call and signals the end of the round. Once this call is made, both fighters must cease combat and step away.
From an entertainment perspective UWM is an extremely data rich sport. We use features like super slow motion video to replay attacks that are often too fast for the eye to see. In future, helmet cameras will show a competitor point-of-view of combat and the suits will include two-way communication allowing competitors, their coaches and the referee to communicate during bouts. This can be relayed to viewers to bring them right into the action.
When a kill shot or ‘KO’ occurs an on screen graphic appears that shows who was hit, the anatomical location of the impact and the damage sustained e.g. “Frontal Fracture”. The graphic also shows the round score at the time of the KO i.e. who is winning that round.
Downstream plans include CGI representation of the damage sustained, and a second screen experience where fans will be able to stream live fight data or download historical fight data and view and interact with their favourite fighter’s stats and fight histories. All of the data is linked via time code including the video footage, so fans will eventually be able to download data, video and audio and to replay fights with all of that metadata, providing a unique insight into each fight.
There is a rich tradition of weapons arts that have developed in different regions over thousands of years. Of the 303 distinct styles of martial arts around the world nearly 1/3 of them are weapons arts. Until now, because of the risk of serious injury, many of them are unable to be practised in a full-combat situation. UWM has changed that by creating a competition that unifies these arts into a single competition where the winner is determined objectively using our patented combination of technologies.
You only have to look at the popularity of weapons combat in video gaming and in movies to know that it is exciting to watch fighting with weapons. What we have created is the ability for people to watch skilled weapons masters fight each other in real life full contact combat, with the winner determined by science.
Justin Forsell (one of the Co-Founders and current Chairman) has trained around the world in a number of martial arts and has instructor level qualifications in four different arts. In 1998 Justin was training Krabi Krabong (traditional Thai Weapons arts) at the Buddhai Swan Sword Fencing Institute in Bangkok, where the Thai Special Forces and Thai Royal security guards trained. The instructors and students were highly athletic and incredibly skilled, but they had no forum in which to compete. Justin felt that many of these arts were slowly becoming lost and that no-one really appreciated their incredible abilities.
Justin had a vision to create a forum where weapons martial artists can compete in their chosen art in a full combat situation and to objectively and scientifically determine the outcome of the fights, but with high levels of safety. UWM is opening up a new world for weapons martial artists by enabling them to showcase their skills in an entertaining new combat sport competition where for the first time ever there is an objective measure (through the force measurement technology) of who would have won in a real combat situation.
In March 2016 we held a ‘minimum viable product’ underground test event at Avalon Film and Television Studios in Wellington, New Zealand to test the Lorica Mk II armour, sensor technology and scoring system in full contact Weapons Martial Arts (WMA) combat for the first time. NEP – the largest outside sports production company in the world filmed the event. For this first ‘Vital Target Combat’ test event called ‘VTC1’, only the vital target areas of the Lorica were sensored, including the head, neck, shoulders, chest, back, abdominals, kidneys and lower lumber. The arms, legs and groin were not sensored, however we intend to sensor the arms for our next test event.
The objectives of VTC1 were to learn how far the armour and technology had progressed and identify areas that require further development, and to gather feedback from our online audience to help us shape the UWM experience. Our development teams are working on key improvements to the armour and sensors and software based on what we learned from this important test event. Feedback from the fighters about the armour was very positive in terms of safety, and we are working towards further improving mobility for the fighters.
The VTC test event fights are available exclusively on the UWM website, and the first fight is also available on our YouTube channel. Highlights of the action will be available on the UWM Facebook page and YouTube channel. As this is the first time that we will have released footage of UWM in a sports format we welcome comments and feedback on how we can improve and refine the viewer experience.
We are actively listening to our fans and taking on board their feedback on what they think works and doesn’t work and are addressing as much of that as possible in post-production as we progressively release the fight series. This is an iterative process and we will continue to engage with our fans by listening to their feedback on what they like and don’t like and how we can improve the viewer experience.
We love MMA but UWM is quite a different proposition to MMA. UWM is the first time that weapons martial artists are able to pit their skills against one another in a full combat situation with science determining the result.
We provide a complete entertainment experience from both a viewer and a fighter’s perspective. In addition, downstream we will be able to portray (using CGI technology) what would have happened to the fighters if, for example, a bladed weapon had been used.
Fighting in armour is always going to be more restrictive than fighting without armour. We have tried to find an optimum balance between mobility and safety. The UWM team has spent the last few years working with leading armourers, designers and medical specialists to custom-build armour from advanced materials that is as light as possible, allows our fighters to move relatively naturally, and provides high levels of protection. During the design phase the armour was tested on several highly experienced martial artists from a variety of styles and their feedback has been incorporated into the current Mark II design. We have reduced the weight of the armour by about 30 percent from the Mk I prototypes, which weighed around 26 kg and we will continue to reduce the weight and further improve mobility with subsequent designs.
The Mark I armour weighed about 26kg. We have reduced this by about a third to approx 19kg with the Mark II version by using strong but lightweight materials such as carbon fibre.
The fighters are identifiable by their custom liveries, which were based on each fighter’s personal background, including their country of origin, weapons system / style and related historical references. Fighters are interviewed and shown training without their Lorica armour on in each of the videos to provide viewers with a background on each fighter before being introduced in their custom Lorica. The fighters’ helmets are removed before and after the fight and between rounds. The fighter’s names are also displayed on the scoring system alongside their colour coded livery designs. We have produced a short series of documentaries on the fighters which can be viewed on the UWM website and our YouTube channel, and we are using a number of channels to promote our fighters including our website,Facebook page and YouTube channel.
This is real combat. If it were just choreographed weapons fighting we wouldn’t need such high levels of protection for our fighters, or objective technology to determine the result. UWM is a way for experienced weapons fighters to compete in their art holding nothing back and have an objective measure (via the technology embedded in the protective armour) of who won. This is the first time that this has been possible.
Absolutely! The feedback we have had to date has been phenomenal. Some recent videos about the VTC1 test event have had over 8 million views, and a press release about the event had 51 articles written about it in China, and 46 articles in APAC, which suggests that there is a very large audience for this type of combat action.
One of the great things about UWM is that we can continually adapt the format to keep it visually fresh and interesting. For the audience who have a martial arts background or who are interested in watching a new combat sport we believe that the skill of the fighters will be highly entertaining. These martial artists have spent many years perfecting their individual art and are athletes in their own right, and the audience can see them compete in full contact action for the first time.
In addition, for those spectators who may be interested in seeing what would really have happened if the competitors weren’t wearing armour we have the capability in the future to CGI the outcome to the fighters’ avatars on-screen along with the supporting force measurement data. This will add an additional entertainment perspective.
The simple answer to that the technology doesn’t allow us to cheat. Every blow (whether landed by weapon or fist, knee etc) is automatically measured by the armour’s integrated force measurement system and the data is transferred to the scoring computer in real time. This is a very data rich sport as we can track the location and force of every blow that hits the armour.
We intend to hold some further “Vital Target Combat” (VTC) test events to test the enhancements to the armour and software made after the VTC1 test event. These test events will most likely be held in Wellington where our armour development team are located. We will likely hold the inaugural open fights in key Australasian cities once these test events are completed and will post details of the rollout of these events once the development work is completed.
The best way to stay up to date with UWM and future events is to subscribe to our UWM Newsletter from the UWM website, and to like and follow us on social media including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
The six fighters who were invited to compete in our first “Vital Target Combat” live test event in Wellington New Zealand were all Gladiator Members. Once we are ready to start holding larger events we will issue an open ‘Call to Arms – In Search of Warriors’ asking weapons practitioners interested in taking part to submit a video entry of them fighting and training with weapons (safely) and introducing themselves and their backgrounds. Keep watching the UWM website and Facebook page, we will post more information on the process as we get nearer to launching our first open competition.
There is a lot of preparation required in staging large-scale live events. We need to select the fighters, secure venues, custom-build multiple suits of armour to fit individual competitors to name just a few. Our first “Vital Target Combat” live test event in March 2016 in Wellington, New Zealand was an important first step towards holding our first live events. We learned a lot from that event which is helping us to prepare for subsequent live events. Keep an eye on our website and Facebook page for updates on our progress.
Currently the Lorica suits are not for sale as they are still being developed for our first competitive events. These suits are currently highly bespoke and very expensive to produce.
Once we have improved on the Mark II design we intend to produce training versions of the suits, at a more affordable price point than our combat production suits. We intend to have low tech and no tech training versions which will allow weapons martial artists to experience the feeling of being inside UWM’s Lorica and to train to one day compete in UWM.
We have spent the last few years refining a combination of highly sophisticated force measurement technologies that give an accurate and objective reading of any impact. The force measurement technology combined with our medical database, which includes fracture profile data, allows us to determine what would have happened to the fighter had they not been wearing armour, while providing high levels of safety.