Travel. History. Kicking butt. That’s “Human Weapon,” the new History Channel series that each week follows two Americans — mixed martial arts fighter Jason Chambers and former pro wrestler Bill Duff — as they visit a different land, learn about its culture and take a crash course in its signature fighting style.
No, you haven’t seen anything quite like this before on the tube, including each episode’s culminating hand-to-hand showdown between one of the hosts and a native master of a martial art.
“The reason we need two hosts on this show is because there is a very real element of danger,” Chambers says. “I’ve split my finger on episodes. I’ve had hematomas on my leg. I’ve fractured my ankle. Bill’s got cuts and bumps and scrapes. I mean, if we’re not bruised or bloody, we need to do another take.”
Still Duff understands why some viewers may regard the threat of bodily harm on “Human Weapon” as somewhat exaggerated.
“Even I’ve been guilty, when I was younger, of looking at a kung fu guy in competition and saying, ‘Oh, I could beat him up.’ ” Duff says. “But the truth is, when you’re in their country, in their culture and doing their deal — and I played professional football for eight years and wrestled for 15 — it’s a lot tougher than you think it is from the couch.”
So did these guys know what they were getting into?
“(The producers) lied,” Chambers says. “They were like, ‘Want to travel the world?’ I’m like, ‘Cool.’ They’re like, ‘By the way, we’re going to punch you in the face.’ ”
In Friday’s premiere, Duff and Chambers travel to Bangkok, Thailand, where they get down with the centuries-old fighting art of muay thai, also known as the Science of Eight Limbs.
The “eight limbs” consist of a fighter’s use of both fists, both elbows, both knees and both feet.
As much as muay thai fighting fascinated Duff and Chambers, the legend behind it also grabbed them.
“In muay thai, they have a hero — every martial art has a hero or folklore — where one of their brethren was taken hostage by the Burmese,” Duff said. “And the Burmese king said, ‘If you can defeat 10 of my men, you will be set free. If not, you will be killed.’ So, one after the other, the hero took them down — all 10 — with muay thai.”
The series premiere of “Human Weapon” airs 10 p.m. Friday on the History Channel.