Monday, February 22, 2010

Deadliest Warrior: Apache!

The Apache are a linguistic group of Native Americans from the American southwest. There are many different groups, but they have many cultural similarities. But I’m not here to talk about their culture. I’m here to tell you why they were on Deadliest Warrior.

It is not known for certain where they got their name, but it could be from a Yavapai word meaning “enemy.” Just knowing their name gives you an idea of their legendary ferocity. Probably the best-known Apache warrior was Geronimo, who, like others before him, waged guerilla warfare to drive white people and Mexicans off his land. Even though the other guys had all the guns, the Apache had other ways to fight.

One common technique was that of a predator silently stalking his prey. Groups of warriors would coordinate their efforts and surround their enemies, some infiltrating the camp, others holding their bows at the ready. By the time an enemy knew they were being attacked, it was usually too late, falling to a deadly assault by arrow and knife.

Adding to their frightening reputation was the practice of scalping defeated enemies, sometimes while they were still alive, (ouch) although, to be fair, they weren’t the only Native American people to practice it, and white people also used it as terror technique against them. The Apache also wore face paint, often using a black and white pattern that mimicked the face of a raccoon. They used other patterns, too, but they all served to make them look scary to whoever was on the ouch-end of their blades.

So, what weapons did the Apache use? Well, the ones tested on Deadliest Warrior were the tomahawk, the knife, the war club, and the bow and arrows. They also used spears, and bucklers made from hide, but these weren’t featured on the show. The experts brought in to test the weapons were Alan Tofoya, a world champion knife fighter, and Snake Blocker, a U.S. Army Combat Instructor, both Apache by descent.

Snake demonstrated two types of tomahawk, one made of stone, and another made from a horse’s jawbone. Both of them can give you a head injury that you’d need more than a band-aid to recover from. After European people began trading with the Apache, steel tomahawks would have been added to their arsenal, but these were not put into play on the show.

The stone knife was up next, and Snake was able to throw three knives at three different targets in as many seconds. In response to critique that if you throw your knife, you wouldn’t have anything to defend yourself with if you missed, Snake pointed out that an Apache warrior wouldn’t have just one knife. He’d have as many as he could possibly carry. Well put, sir!

The bow and arrow was tested against the gladiator’s sling. The bow got the edge for accuracy, speed, and range. Tafoya used it to put so many arrows into a gel torso that it looked like a porcupine. Another fact worth noting was the Apache used more than one type of arrowhead, much like bow-hunting aficionados do today. When asked what his favorite arrowhead was, Tafoya responded, “The one that pierces your heart.” (cue nervous laughter)

The war club was the only weapon that failed in the tests. It could crush a skull, but it couldn’t put a dent in a gladiator’s helmet. Snake hit the thing like ten times, but all he managed to do was break the head off the club. The air of embarrassment around him was palpable, even through the TV screen.

So, even though the gladiator’s weapons were more impressive for shear killing power, the Apache won due to versatility, and probably the fact that they would have been used to fighting people with bigger toys than them. So, Apache, my hat goes off to you. Unless of course, you’re thinking of scalping me. LOL

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