Thirteen countries. Fourteen fights. Hundreds of body slams, groin shots, and even a few laps around a Cambodian village on the back of a Water Buffalo, join the ultimate quest to experience the greatest martial arts the world has to offer. It hasn't been easy. In fact it's been downright painful. Recount the nastiest fights, toughest fighters, weirdest encounters and wildest training from Season 1. See how hosts Jason Chambers and Bill Duff have earned their "Passports to Pain".
Muay Thai-or Thai Boxing-was born on the battlefields of the 15th century, during the legendary clashes between Thai (or Siamese) armies and their bitter rivals, the Burmese. Trained in the weapons-based fighting method known as Krabi Krabong, these early Thai soldiers also became famous for their toughness in close-quarters weaponless combat, where legs, knees, elbows and hands took the place of swords and sticks. This type of weaponless fighting became Muay Thai, known as the “Science of Eight Limbs.” Though the Thai army still uses its lethal techniques, Muay Thai has also been the country’s most popular spectator sport for hundreds of years. There are more than 65,000 professional Muay Thai fighters in Thailand today. Many of them are poor peasants who begin training when they are as young as six years old, studying with highly respected teachers and risking injury-or worse-for the chance to compete. Up until the 1930s, Muay Thai fighters fought bare-knuckled or with their hands wrapped in hemp rope that left nasty cuts. Because of the high number of deaths in the ring, the Thai government introduced new rules, including weight classes (though the great majority of fighters remain in the lighter weight classes) and mandatory use of gloves, cups and mouth guards. As a result, modern Muay Thai boxers rely less on punches and more on their lethal kicks, elbow and knee strikes and grappling. Speed, accuracy and power are the buzzwords in Muay Thai. Fighters use kicks as both offensive and defensive weapons, often aiming to strike their opponents in the thighs for maximum impact. The knee and elbow strikes used in Muay Thai are almost unique to the sport. Executed correctly, with all the force concentrated in one spot-often the opponent’s head-the hard bone of the elbow can act like the blade of a knife, devastating the opponent and sending him bleeding to the mat. In the devoutly Buddhist Thai society, Muay Thai is governed by ritual and tradition, and many fighters practice meditation as an integral part of their training. Devoted Muay Thai fans and fighters all over the world see it as the toughest martial art, and dismiss all challengers to its dominance.
Eskrima (or Escrima), a fighting style indigenous to the Philippines, is believed to have evolved from Chinese, Malaysian and Indonesian martial arts forms brought to the islands by South China Sea traders around the 2nd century. It is a mostly weapons-based fighting style that combines punches, kicks, takedowns and joint lock techniques with stick and sword or knife fighting techniques. Eskrima was first introduced to the non-Filipino world in 1521, when Spanish explorers led by Ferdinand Magellan arrived in the South China Sea to stake their claim on the Philippine islands. Soon after the invasion, Magellan himself was killed on the small island of Mactan by native resisters armed with hardened sticks and led by the island’s chief, Lapu-Lapu. Spain eventually gained control of the Philippines and outlawed all indigenous martial arts. Over the next several centuries, many fighters continued their practice in secret, by disguising Eskrima techniques in what they pretended were ceremonial dance-like rituals. The ban was lifted after 1898, when the United States won control of the Philippines from Spain, but an air of secrecy remained around Eskrima and its practitioners. During World War II, Filipino fighters used the stick-and-sword techniques to resist Japanese invaders, compensating for a lack of firearms with powerful, swift movements of their sticks and knives. By the 1970s, however, organizations such as the Doce Pares association and the World Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation (WEKAF) had managed to turn Eskrima from a martial art used primarily for killing into a sport, with organized competitions and generally sanctioned rules and regulations. Eskrima techniques are still employed by the Filipino army, especially in its struggle against guerrilla members of the militant Islamic organization Abu Sayyaf, related to Al Qaeda. Adapted from the Spanish word esgrima (fencing), Eskrima is variously referred to as Arnis (from the Spanish word for harness) and Kali. Unlike other martial arts, each strike in Eskrima is designed to be used three different ways: empty-handed; with a knife; or with a baston, or stick, often made of a lightweight bamboo-like wood called rattan. Eskrima fighters can use single-stick, double-stick and stick-and-dagger techniques. Some key moves in Eskrima include tapi-tapi, a system of defensive checks and counter-attacks, and labai, a violent takedown where a fighter checks his opponent, locks his opponent’s elbow over his arm, and uses leg thrust and momentum to throw the other fighter to the ground.
Hosts Jason Chambers and Bill Duff travel to Okinawa, Japan, the home of one of the most famous and deadly martial arts, Karate. Their journey takes them to a 600 year-old castle where they spend time practicing Iron Body Training, an ancient temple where they learn heart-stopping vital point strikes and go through training regiments of ancient Karate masters, and finally leading to a Kumite(sparring match) with a real black belt, and Okinawan Champion fighter.
Jason and Bill travel to France to learn the ancient art of Savate, the official hand-to-hand combat technique of the French police. After exploring a castle from the 14th century, and causing an uproar when they interrupt a special training session, one of the guys will go it alone in a ring with a Savate champion.
Hosts Jason Chambers and Bill Duff again travel to Japan to learn and fight in the modern Japanese combat sport.
Jason and Bill journey to Athens, Greece to study what might be the world's first ever true martial art. This martial art was made famous by the Spartans and was first formed nearly 4000 years ago. It is also the known origin of wrestling, boxing, grappling and kickboxing. At the end of their journey either Jason or Bill will face a 6 time national Pankration champion.
Hosts Jason Chambers and Bill Duff travel to Israel to study one of the deadliest and most effective Martial Arts in the world, Krav Maga. Krav Maga was designed in the 1940s by Imi Lichtenfeld specifically for combat situations and self-defense. Krav Maga was created on the basis of "no quarters", which means that during war no one will be taken prisoner and that all enemies must be killed. Krav Maga was later modified for the Israeli Defense Forces as well as ordinary civilians which resulted in the creation of the Israeli Krav Maga Association in 1978 and became the form of Krav Maga that is now taught all around the world. Traveling through the most sacred religious areas in the world, Jason and Bill learn techniques to escape deadly chokes, deflect weapons and to perfect the vicious counterattacks this brutual Martial Art is known for. To end their journey, Jason and/or Bill will fight against a full unit of high level ranked Krav Maga professionals.
Hosts Bill Duff and Jason Chambers travel to Quantico, Virginia to get a painful lesson in the martial art that has helped create the Marines' widely feared reputation, the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. The Marine Corps Martial Arts Program or MCMAP is the martial art developed by the United States Marine Corps to combine hand-to-hand and weapon based combat with a basis of morale and team-building functions. The MCMAP was created in 2001 to train Marines and US Navy personnel who were assigned to Marine Units to fight in unarmed combat as well as specific armed situations with a rifle or bayonet but it also teaches how to fight in weapons of oppurtunity situations which means whatever you find to fight with, use it! The MCMAP uses over 180 deadly moves derived from ancient martial arts all around the world which Bill and Jason will need to learn before they take the Human Weapon challenge of the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program.
Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is the fastest growing sport in the United States. Though many think of it as a recent phenomenon, the moves used by today's great MMA fighters date back hundreds, and sometimes thousands of years, and come from every corner of the globe, from Japan to Brazil and Greece to Thailand. Hosts Bill Duff and Jason Chambers explore the unique world of the American MMA phenomenon, its current success and its fascinating history. They will train with the sport's greatest masters and explore the history of the most successful moves used by these champions, eventually facing off against a skilled MMA fighter in a real exhibition match.
Hosts Jason Chambers and Bill Duff journey to China, home to one of the oldest and most famous martial arts of all; Kung Fu. From Beijing to the Great Wall, our hosts will travel this vast country learning techniques from some of the greatest living masters. After practicing flying kicks fifteen feet in the air at a kung fu film studio and learning the brutal moves of the Chinese police, our hosts will arrive at one of the most sacred sites in all martial arts to witness the awesome feats of the Shaolin fighting monks. And finally one of the hosts will step into the ring to take on a true kung fu champion.
Hosts Jason Chambers and Bill Duff journey to Moscow, Russia, the origin of one of the most versatile and deadly martial arts on the planet. Created at the instigation of Vladimir Lenin during the Bolshevik Revolution in 1918 to improve the hand-to-hand combat skills of the military and the police, the secret self-defense training eventually spread to the masses and became an official, competitive Soviet sport in 1938. In their quest to learn this complex and lethal fighting style, our hosts will learn Sambo street techniques from some of the toughest bodyguards in Moscow, travel to acclaimed dojos for instruction from world champions, journey to a secret military facility to train with Soviet Special Forces, and participate in a brutal exercise regimen in a remote, rustic camp. Their journey ends with a fight against an up-and-coming Sambo competitor at the annual European and Russian Sambo Federation Championship.
Bred in dark jungles of Southeast Asia, Pradal Serey is a devastating striking art of bone shattering kicks and punches. This ancient fighting art of the mysterious Angkor Empire, some argue that it's the forefather of modern Muay Thai. It's little known outside Cambodia's borders. From gritty urban fighting pits to the sweltering jungles of the north, hosts Jason Chambers and Bill Duff, journey into the heart of Pradal Serey to perfect the vicious strikes of this brutal martial art. Along the way they'll race water buffalo against natives in a 1000 year old village festival and learn the ancient killing techniques of Khmer warriors. Their journey culminates when they enter the ring to battle it out against a 4 time Pradal Serey champion.
Few martial arts match the exoticism of their country like Silat. Beautiful, yet deadly, Silat was born in the jungles of Southeast Asia. Practiced in secrecy for centuries, and with its strong ties to Islam, Silat is one of the most intriguing and least understood fighting systems on the planet. Now our hosts Jason Chambers and Bill Duff are going to face the world of Silat--and their fears--head on. They'll train in sweltering outdoor training compounds...in the shadow of the world's tallest twin towers...and jump through rings of fire in preparation for the ultimate test--a pitched battle against six Silat masters.
Jason Chambers and Bill Duff venture back to the Land of the Rising Sun to study one of the most mysterious, subversive, and deadly martial arts in the world--Ninjutsu. From the electric streets of Tokyo to the misty mountains of North Japan--our hosts will wield the swords, throwing stars, and violent takedowns of the Ninja. They'll explore the secret passages of a 300-year-old Ninjutsu barracks, and hone the secret fighting tactics of Japan's immortal shadow warriors. And it's all in preparation for one ultimate challenge: a back-to-back showdown with two Ninjutsu masters.
Jason Chambers and Bill Duff travel to South Korea, birthplace of one of the most acrobatic and physically punishing fighting styles in the world, Taekwondo. Our hosts travel to ancient fortresses, break marble slabs, and learn an insane arsenal of jumping, flying and spinning taekwondo kicks. They'll serve as bodyguards protecting a VIP from potential attack, and channel the fighting spirit of an ancient band of Korean warriors. It's all in service to their ultimate challenge: a full-on Tae Kwon Do battle with a former World Champ.