No matter how fascinating Discovery Channel shows can be, it is seldom that you come across a series that explores something that is so potentially deadly. Not only does “Forged in Fire” follow the creation of blades of all shapes, sizes and origins, but the judges of the show have histories that are just as complex and intimidating; this is especially true of judge Doug Marcaida. Doug has experience in several martial art forms, weapon design and has spent time serving in the military. All of this makes him the perfect candidate for his post as a judge, a fact that his prowess on the show has emphasized time and time again.
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Early Life and Family
Doug Marcaida has succeeded where many other celebrities have failed: keeping their early lives private. While his exact birthday is unknown, we do know that he was born and raised in the Philippines. Without naming any members of his family, Doug explained that he would regularly get into fights with other boys in school, and his father thought that enrolling him in martial arts would help channel his energy. This decision turned out not only to be key in teaching the young Doug dedication and commitment, it was also seminal in setting out his path for the future.
Marcaida enrolled in Kali, a Filipino martial art that focuses on defense as opposed to attack.
The martial art also does not follow the regular structure based on belts, but rather focuses solely on the proficiency of its members. Doug took to the sport immediately, and dedicated much of his time to becoming an expert in the form, and related weaponry.
Doug initially attended Colegio San Agustin in the Philippines in a place called Makati. He then moved to The Bronx, New York City where he matriculated from Aquinas High School. He then joined the US Air Force, training whichmarked a new stage of his life. Although he had trained in the Kali Martial art form, he had a mortal fear of knives. However, training in the military gave him the opportunity to work with a variety of weapons, and his fear developed into a passion. He became fascinated by the history and diversity of knives, and developed into somewhat of an expert by the time he left the service.
Military Origins and Connections
Marcaida served in the US Air Force for eight years. Although he eventually moved on, this was not the end of his connection with the armed forces. Having developed expertise in the art and use of knives, he has become a consultant and contractor for the forces, and has traveled all over the world to teach his derivative of martial arts, Marcaida Kali, on military bases. He has also taught the form in special police units based in Italy, Australia and Germany to name a few, and the US Force Recon Marines, Spetsnaz Unit Alpha, and the Belgian Special Police.
Doug has created his own form of the martial art that has set him on the road to being who he is today. He is a firm believer that it is important to preserve and protect.
He told the Manila Times that “Kali can save your life. Simple as that.” Saving lives remains his goal especially in Rochester, New York State where he spent time as a nurse at Rochester general hospital, working as a respiratory therapist for 20 years, and later taught Marcaida Kali at local training centers.
His aptitude and depth of knowledge of both martial arts and weaponry soon saw Doug Marcaida facing entirely new frontiers. Hollywood came knocking, seeing his expertise in a multitude of films, and Doug served as a consultant for “Blade” (1988, 2002, 2004), “300” (2006), and all iterations of the “Bourne” franchise.
Not content to master other people’s creations, Doug Marcaida has had a hand in designing some of the deadliest knives in the world today. He has his own line of blades, but has also designed for the likes of FOX Knives, based in Italy, and Lad Mandiola.
“Forged in Fire”
When the History channel finally managed to come up with their unique spin on the conventional cooking show, it was in the form of a weapon competition. “Forged in Fire” pits four weapon experts against each other in each episode. Each metalworkers must produce a weapon that meets that week’s specifications, and the weapons are then put to the test on dummies, and judged on factors such as the ease of use, ability to cut, and durability.
Of the five judges who have appeared on the show – J. Nielson, David Baker, Doug Marcaida, Jason Knight (2016 – 2017), and Ben Abbott (since 2017) – Doug is a favorite. His constant smile and affable nature put the contestants at ease, however, when the time comes to try out the weapons, the audience is reminded just how fatally proficient he is. While Doug had no prior experience in the forge when he came to the show, he has since had a masterclass from his fellow judge, J. Neilson, during the third season of the show.
Doug became known for his catchphrase in the show “It will keal” that he would pronounce when testing out the blades.
While this initially simply seemed a mispronunciation of the word ‘kill’, Marcaida claims that this is deliberate and stands for “Keep Everyone Alive”. While for some this seems like a stretch, Doug is well known for promoting awareness that weapons should defend, not kill. Doug also suffered an injury during the run of the show while testing a knife and had to undergo surgery, but claims that it was a minor incident.
Doug Marcaida chooses to keep his relationship with the media strictly professional. He shares very little with the public, and guards his personal information closely. He is married to Joelle with whom he has three children – Alex, Jaden Christopher, and Douglas James.
Doug’s Filipino heritage is a dominant factor in his appearance, giving him his black hair and dark skin. He has brown eyes and friendly features, but which become fierce when the situation demands it. He is 5ft 8ins (1.73m) tall, and weighs 132lbs (60kg). He is strong and fit and has not allowed his martial arts skills to atrophy.
Net Worth and Salary
Doug has many sources of income aside from “Forged in Fire”. He owns his own clothing and knife line, and offers classes in Marcaida Kali worldwide. He has achieved a notable net worth of an estimated $3 million as of mid-2020, and with Kali proving to be a lucrative venture, this stands to increase over time.