04 June 2008

Fight Club

Born to fight, Jimmy Smith and Doug Anderson travel across the globe to discover new methods and styles of hand-to-hand combat.
Heard about the two crazy American guys who went toe to toe with Shaolin’s famed fighting monks; the same two guys who also took painful beatings from Latin American fight experts as part of their “training” and closer to home, fought some of the toughest silat masters in Indonesia and lived to tell the tale?
In Discovery Channel’s brand new series Fight Quest, which premiers tonight, viewers are invited to meet and follow two brave and resilient individuals – seasoned mixed martial arts fighter Jimmy Smith and rookie pugilist Doug Anderson – on an amazing journey around the globe as they take the idea of cultural immersion to dangerous new heights.
The hosts of Discovery Channel's Fight Quest Jimmy Smith and Doug Anderson, say they put their bodies and souls on the line in a bid to deliver an absorbing show. From dojos to street fights; from the cosmopolitan but tough port of Marseilles to the chaotic streets of inner Manila, Smith and Anderson are on a (painful) mission to rediscover some of the world’s oldest martial arts.
On Fight Quest, this pretty much involves the plucky duo soaking in the local culture of each location they visit – be it Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro or Bandung – and training with local masters.
After several days of intense, sometimes hazardous instruction (“basically a five day torture session” according to Anderson), the two guys will then endeavour to take on a local expert.
“It’s a show that is very vicious and very brutal,” offered Anderson during a recent press conference for the show held in Kuala Lumpur. “It’s very exciting to watch intense fights where people get hurt – us most of the time – but at the same time, there’s a very good balance as people also get to enjoy an in-depth look into the history and culture of a fighting style as well as the country in which it originated.”
Among the martial arts that the two hosts explore on Fight Quest are Asian fighting styles like wushu from China, kali from the Philippines, Kyokushin karate from Japan and pencak silat from Indonesia. During the course of the series, the guys also try their hand at mastering Brazilian jujitsu and Mexican boxing as well.
In between training and getting beaten up by their senseis, the guys also find time to do the regular travel host thing, taking to the streets and immersing themselves in the sights, foods and smells of the local scene. Occasionally, they come across some exotic local cuisine that incites more fear in them than a large armed man who’s about to attack.
“A big part of the show for us was to get out of the gym as much as possible,” explained Smith.
“It was every important to everyone involved that it not just be about fighting but also the country where the fighting style originated from. With the format of the show, where one of us goes out to a more natural location to train while the other stays in the city – and always with different masters – we hope to give people a broader picture of the country we are in as well the style we were training in.
“You’ll definitely see a lot of the spiritual and cultural aspects of the country we are in on every episode. It’s not just us being manhandled and beating people up. It’s very unique,” Smith added.
Hopping from country to country learning about various forms of hand-to-hand combat – sometimes an ancient art, other times brutal street fighting – and then facing off against an experienced local in a no-holds barred test of skill at the end of each episode, Anderson and Smith are basically putting their bodies and souls on the line in a bid to deliver an absorbing show that strives to entertain with its unflinching (controlled) violence.
Make no mistake, ladies and gentleman: this is one tough, reality TV documentary that pulls no punches. The blood, bruises and battered bones on the show are most definitely real.
“I’ve personally had five or six hospital visits on account of this show,” shared Anderson. “I’ve broken couple of bones, suffered a few concussions and even temporary blindness at one point.”
As hosts of Fight Quest, Anderson and Smith are two tough but personable individuals with very different personalities but both are studious fighters with serious attitudes.
In person, both guys turned out to be quite the opposite of what tough guys are perceived to be – polite, accommodating and friendly to the max with a tendency to smile easily.
Despite never having met until Fight Quest, both Anderson and Smith have a chemistry that is easy to warm up to. With their different sizes and attitudes, the two guys compliment each other well.
“We instantly got along great,” reckoned Smith about his Fight Quest partner.
“I fought him the very first day we met and I told the producer that ‘I think this guy is trying to make me break his arm’ because he was just enthusiastic and wouldn’t back down. One thing that struck me about Doug and one of the reasons why I like him so much is because he has no ego at all.
“You can put Doug in a washing machine and he would enjoy it for some reason.”
At 25, Anderson is the younger of two and a self-confessed former “angry guy who has calmed down a lot” who got the gig on Fight Quest after answering a casting call notice at his gym.
Born of a restless soul and an indomitable fighting spirit, Anderson became interested in martial arts during his time in the US military.
Leaving the army in 2005, Anderson – who has a blue belt in jujitsu and is a passionate Muay Thai kick boxing fan – continues to pursue his training.
With a record of six wins and one loss, Smith is one of mixed martial arts’ rising stars.
A former maths teacher, the 31-year-old UCLA history major was born with fighting in his blood, with both his grandfather and father having been boxers.
After graduating, Smith continued his martial arts studies and fought his first pro fight in 2001.
Currently based in LA, Smith continues to fight professionally when not kicking butt on Fight Quest.
Even after all the pain and battering that they have gone through on Fight Quest, both guys are still waiting eagerly for their next assignment for the show.
“To get a chance to do another series would be awesome,” smiled Anderson winding down the interview. “After all, there is still so much for us to see and learn.
“As long as we are still able to train and fight, we will always want to do this. It’s a dream job, really.”
Fight Quest premieres today on Discovery Channel (Astro Channel 551) and airs every Tuesday at 10pm.
By Zack Yusof

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