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Intelligent body armour re-ignites weapons-based martial arts combat

05 January 2018

The armour features in-built sensors and software that calculate and display the actual damage a strike would have caused if unprotected, in real-time.

The UWM VTC Gladiators try out some moves wearing the Lorica Mk II training armour (Credit: Unified Weapons Master)

The armour and supporting technology have been developed by Chiron Global, an Australian-based company that has spent the past four years developing, building and patenting the technology solution. It can withstand kill shots from some of the world’s best fighters and has make full-contact, weapons-based martial arts combat a reality.

A team of highly experienced engineers, technology experts and product designers, including an armour manufacturer who worked on films including 'The Lord of the Rings' and 'The Hobbit' designed and built the intelligent armour which provides martial artists with high levels of protection from weapon strikes. The armour has already been tested by a number of highly respected martial arts experts including "The Arch Angel", Sone Vannathy, World Muay Thai Champion. 

“Going up against a competitor wearing the armour, I can strike them to the best of my ability without fear of causing serious injury. The experience is unlike any other, but it still feels good to hit,” says Vannathy. 

Of the 303 martial arts systems practised around the world, 96 are weapons-based or include a significant level of weapons training in their advanced curriculum. The technology paved the way for a new global sport, Unified Weapons Master (UWM), that pits the world’s best weapons martial artists against each other. 

“UWM’s vision is to create a large-scale sport and entertainment experience where martial artists can compete against each other with real weapons, with an objective measure of who would have won in a real combat situation. This is something that has not been possible since the days of the Gladiator,” said David Pysden, UWM CEO and experienced martial artist. 

“We believe this new sport has the potential to generate similar levels of interest as MMA by unifying the weapons-based martial arts community. UWM will take a wide variety of ancient arts from around the world and bring them together for the first time ever, using modern technology,” says Pysden. 

UWM Chairman, Justin Forsell, holds instructor level qualifications in multiple martial arts and has been practising various forms for over 30 years. He was inspired to develop UWM through a desire to re-ignite interest in the many hidden and unknown weapons arts, many of which are at risk of being lost forever. 

Armour and technology 

A UWM scoring computer, where the force and location of each blow is displayed in real-time (Credit: Unified Weapons Master)

The UWM armour features state-of-the-art technology that objectively measures the specific location and force of strikes to a competitor’s suit of armour. Using medical research (including fracture profiling), software calculates and represents the actual damage that would have occurred to an unprotected competitor. It then processes a result much like a video game, but based on real, full-contact martial arts weapons combat, all in real-time. The armour has been designed to withstand high-impact strikes from real (but blunt) martial arts weapons. 

Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) can also be incorporated to represent what really would have happened had the fighters not been wearing armour, or had bladed weapons been used. CGI can enhance the entertainment experience further by depicting fighters as samurai, gladiators, or characters from a popular movie, but in real combat. 

Scoring system 

Damage caused by strikes accumulates until a competitor is virtually ‘knocked out’ or ‘killed’, with a strike or a series of strikes of sufficient force to render an unprotected competitor incapacitated. Competitors can have multiple ‘lives’, just like in a video game, in order to prolong the duration of the bouts. When a competitor is virtually incapacitated or killed, a referee will step in giving a ‘standing 8 count’ and a life is deducted from their score; the fight then recommences. The winner can also be determined based on points but with an objective measure of the scoring using real-time impact data from the fight.

Lorica Mk II

Unified Weapons Master (UWM) has since unveiled its Lorica Mk II, the next generation of its intelligent combat armour. 

Six international weapons martial artists battle tested the new armour during UWM’s Vital Target Combat (VTC) underground test event in Wellington, New Zealand.

Made of carbon fibre and other composite materials, the Lorica Mk II is embedded with enhanced force measurement sensors and scoring software that objectively measures the location and force of strikes to the armour, as well as the damage each blow would cause to an unprotected body. 

The armour and supporting technology have been developed by Chiron Global, an Australian-based company that has spent the past six years developing, building and patenting the technology solution. 

Rick Walker, UWM’s Managing Director said that since launching the first generation Lorica Mk l in 2014, the company has conducted extensive research and development to further fine-tune the armour and its technology. 

“The knowledge we have gained over the past two years through extensive mobility, comfort and impact trials has enabled us to achieve significant technological milestones and take a huge step towards making the armour combat ready. The Mk II is lighter, has better articulation, more advanced sensor technology and a reduced profile. The 30 percent weight reduction from the Mk I prototype suits means the fighters can move more explosively and the Mark II suits are also cooler, allowing the fighters to compete for longer without taking a break.” 

The armour has been designed to withstand high-impact strikes from blunt martial arts weapons, providing high levels of protection during combat. It consists of three layers: an undergarment with integrated harnessing and cooling, a chassis layer that is embedded with advanced force measurement sensors, microprocessors and radios, and a removable exterior shell. 

A specialised team that includes defence contractors and software engineers has spent the last six months enhancing the sensor technology and scoring software

Data from the sensors is processed at a rate of 10,000 samples per second (10kHz), processed by on board microprocessors and transmitted via radio to a scoring computer, where the force and location of each blow is displayed in real-time.

Video courtesy of Unified Weapons Master (UWM)

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