Jamie and Adam wanted to test two myths this week. The first was the classic saying, “Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight”. The second was an ancient samurai saying, “The person to move first will lose”. Grant, Tory, and Kari wanted to test an ancient myth that the Chinese were the first to use a two-stage rocket that first went into the air and then shot out arrows from the mouth of the dragon headed original rocket.
The “knife at a gun fight” myth started with the premise of a duel situation with one guy throwing a knife while the other guy drew his pistol. After some training for Jamie in the art of knife throwing, Adam and Jamie tested the myth. Jamie used water balloons to simulate a knife’s weight and Adam used a paintball-shooting handgun. Early tests had Jamie being hit with a shot, but not before he could release the knife, meaning both participants would be killed. Later, Adam perfected the art of dodging the knife while still shooting accurately, thus proving a knife is not good in a traditional duel format. Later in the show the guys tested the time it would take for someone to pull their gun and shoot an oncoming attack from a person with a knife. They found that someone running from 16 feet and closer could most likely stab a person before he or her could pull and fire their gun. This made the myth BUSTED, as knives can be very useful in close combat and even from a relatively long distance away if the person does not already have their gun drawn.
The Samurai myth means the guys had to learn the art of Kendo fighting. They learned proper technique for using their wooden swords. They also had to hit each other. Adam created a rig that would ask one of the guys randomly to move first and then lights of their helmets would indicate who was faster. Nearly every time, the person who initiated the attack hit first, thus easily busting the myth. I think they could have gone a little further, but they said they were just testing reaction vs. initial action. I think the saying really means that the first to move may end up out of position and defense can be a better offense. Most martial arts movies seem to confirm that as the attackers thrusts and wild attacks are often used against them.
The dragon rocket myth required a lot of building. The crew started small and tried to go with a model similar to the one described in ancient texts, but a trip to NASA found that model to be not aerodynamic enough for flight. They then settled on a traditional rocket body with an aerodynamic dragon’s head for the tip. Tory then was in charge of rigging a two-part ignition system so arrows could be fired while the rocket was in mid flight. All the small-scale tests worked perfectly and Kari built 12 6-foot tall rockets all filled with a quiver of 10 arrows. It was discovered through testing that the two-stage rocket did in fact mean the people firing could hit a target further away then just by using rocket arrows. The full-scale test was then shot and the team set up lines of stuffed dummies at 800 yards away for the arrows to hit. In the end the blast off and 2nd ignition worked on 10 of the rockets, but the accuracy of the arrows was way off as none of them hit the scores of dummies. Many arrows went hundreds of yards too far, but the wind could have had something to do with it. Grant, Kari, and Tory seemed to say the myth was busted as an effective weapon, but I think they were thinking too small scale. What if the Chinese fired 1000 of these rockets, even the lack of accuracy would stop its intimidation and destruction. I think these rockets would have been great weapons in the 14th century.