Deadliest Warrior (2009): S01E01 – Gladiator vs. Apache


Deadliest Warrior is a 2009 documentary series in which the great warriors of history are examined for fantasy combat simulations.


An Apache – the greatest stealth fighter in American History, versus a Gladiator – crowd-thrilling killer of ancient Rome. It is stone versus steel, devious against direct, surprise versus slaughter, as these two go toe to toe in a no-holds barred battle to the death.

  • Apache team: Alan Tafoya (World Champion Knife Fighter), Snake Blocker (U.S. Army Combat Instructor)
    Apache weapons: Tomahawk, Knife, Bow & Arrow, War Club
    Apache armor: Rawhide Shield
  • Apache statistics: Height: 5 feet, 7 inches Weight: 140 lbs Gear Weight: 10 pounds
  • Gladiator team: Chris Torres (Ancient Weapons Specialist), Steven Dietrich (Gladiator Combat Instructor), Chuck Liddell (The Iceman)
    Gladiator weapons: Cestus, Scissor, Trident & Net, Sling, Sica
    Gladiator armor: Murmillo Helmet, Wooden Shield
  • Gladiator statistics: Height: 5 feet, 8 inches Weight: 185 lbs Gear Weight: Ranges from 10 lbs to 38 lbs
  • Though gladiators were class based and each had designated weapons, for this episode a generalised gladiator was used that combined weapons and armour of different classes. This was done so that the gladiator would be able to compete at different ranges, normally unnecessary in that they had one weapon combination (sword and shield, trident and net, etc.) and only fought other gladiators of opposite classes to optimise the entertainment.
  • For short-range weapons, the tomahawk was tested against the cestus and the scissor. Snake Blocker tested two types of tomahawk on a gel head: one made of stone and one made of the jaw bone of a horse, both of which tore off the back of the head. However, the tomahawk made from a horse’s jawbone visually appeared to cause considerably greater damage. The velocity of the stone tomahawk was measured, but the results were not relayed on the airing of the show. Alan Tafoya then threw iron tomahawks at wood targets and penetrated deep into them, two striking at 29 mph, and one at 32 mph. The cestus and scissor, wielded by Chuck Liddell, were tested on a 400-lb piece of beef. The cestus broke its ribs while the scissor almost cut it in half. Before the cestus test, Chuck Liddell’s natural punching speed and power were measured: Liddell’s punching speed was clocked at 14 metres per second – almost 50% faster than the average Olympic boxer – while his punching power was judged to deliver 1000 pounds of force – enough to break most facial bones on contact. The cestus effectively tripled this. A divided panel gave the edge to the versatility of the tomahawk.
  • For mid-range weapons, the knife was tested against the trident and net. The knife’s versatility was demonstrated when Snake Blocker threw three knives at three targets in under three seconds. Snake Blocker also demonstrated Apache knife fighting techniques, such as the “piercing buffalo”, on a dummy garbed as a gladiator and wearing a gladiator’s helmet. The trident, wielded by Chris Torres, was then tested on a gel torso and managed to puncture its heart with the main prong, a side prong puncturing the spleen. The trident and net was given the edge due to its flexibility as an offensive-defensive combo.
  • For long-range weapons, the sling was tested against the bow and arrow. Steven Dietrich launched a lead slingshot at 91 mph. The shot was then simulated by an air cannon which drove a lead slingshot into a gel head and shattered the upper jaw, penetrating just past the nose. Alan Tafoya, wielding the bow and arrow, first fired an arrow at a wooden target as the velocity of the arrow was clocked; the arrow’s velocity was measured at roughly 65 miles per hour. Tafoya then fired multiple arrows at a gel torso in quick succession, landing multiple death strikes, including a shot between two ribs, a shot to the neck that would have severed the spinal cord, and a shot along the jawline that would have jutted into the base of the brain. The edge was given to the bow and arrow due to its superior range, accuracy, and lethality.
  • For special weapons, the sica was tested against the war club. Steven Dietrich was able to almost cut off a gel arm with the sica, cutting cleanly through skin and muscle tissue to the bone. The war club, wielded by Snake Blocker, was then tested on two targets: a bare skull and a Gladiator’s helmet. It completely shattered the skull but was broken against the helmet. The sica was given the edge for its cutting ability and the club’s failure.
  • Both warriors did not bring one of their weapons in the final battle (the Gladiator’s scissor and the Apache’s horse jaw tomahawk).
  • The Apache is the first of thirteen warriors to win after scoring more kills at mid range and long range.
  • The trident and net is the first weapon to be given the edge and score fewer kills than the opposing weapon.
  • According to the given statistics, the Gladiator had a size advantage of 1 inch and 45 lbs, with heavier gear of up to 28 lbs difference. The Gladiator is the heaviest warrior featured in Season 1.
  • The Gladiator is the first warrior to have more weapons than his opponent (Gladiator 5, Apache 4).

Re-enactment 1

The Apache is seen walking in a grassy field. A Gladiator appears over a hill, the warriors spot one another. The Gladiator makes a battle cry, raises his trident and walks towards the Apache. The Apache pulls out his bow and fires an arrow at the Gladiator, the arrow hits his shield. The Gladiator takes out a sling and hurls a stone at the Apache, who easily dodges it. The Apache fires another arrow at the closing Gladiator and hits him in the side of his stomach. The Gladiator pulls the arrow out and yells in anger, surprising the Apache. The Apache retreats as the Gladiator slings another stone at him. The stone misses, and the Apache fires another arrow before further retreating into the trees. The Gladiator catches up, and takes out his trident and net. The Apache tries to block with his shield, but it is thrown aside by the trident. The Apache pulls out his tomahawk and swings at the Gladiator. The two fight hand to hand, but the Gladiator kicks the Apache to the ground. The Gladiator advances with his trident while the Apache tries to avoid the weapon. The trident gets stuck in a tree branch, but the Gladiator quickly frees it and continues to attack the Apache. With few options left, the Apache tries a run. The Gladiator, however quickly throws his net, tripping and ensnaring the Apache. The Gladiator throws the trident at the Apache, but the Apache barely rolls out of the way in time. He then frees himself from the net and throws a tomahawk, which sails past the Gladiator’s helmet. The Gladiator pulls out his sica, and the Apache pulls out his war club. The Gladiator tries to cut the Apache with the sica, but the Apache knocks it out of his hand with the war club. He then swings it again and knocks off the Gladiator’s helmet. The Gladiator pulls out his shield and breaks the arrow from earlier off. The Apache then charges at the Gladiator and tries to jump and strike his head with his club. However, the Gladiator hits him with his shield, sending him to the ground. The Gladiator now kneels down and punches him repeatedly in the face with the cestus. He backs up, thinking the Apache is dead, but the Apache draws his knife and scrambles to his feet. The Gladiator tries to punch him with, but misses. In a last desperation, the Gladiator swings his shield at the Apache, but the Apache ducks and slices the Gladiator’s hamstrings. He slices across the Gladiator’s chest, then gets up stabs him in the back. The Gladiator falls before the Apache slits his throat. The dead Gladiator falls to the ground, but the Apache still stabs him several times to make sure he is dead. The Apache gets up, licks the blood off his knife, lets out a battle cry, and runs away.

Winner: Apache.

Deadliest Warrior Series

You can find a full index and overview of Deadliest Warrior here.

Production & Filming Details

  • Release Date: 07 April 2009.
  • Rating: Unknown.
  • Running Time: 42 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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