Out of of all of the first Eight incarnations, of the ‘Classic series’ Doctor; none were more dashing, action-orientated than Jon Pertwee.
After the more ‘cerebal’ portayals of the First and Second Doctor; Jon Pertwee brought a new edge and direction to the role – in 1970; with his action-packed opener in Spearhead From Space.
Pertwee adapted the role, almost – from the off. Instead of the Doctor being a background player or subtle manipulator of proceedings. Pertwee brought the Doctor centre-stage to the show’s events, invoking a sense of the swash-buckling matinee idol; Errol Flynn.
The Third Doctor regularly physically fought with foes, showing off his ‘Venusian’ or ‘Martian’ Karate (or Akido) martial-art disciplines. Using these to incapacitate his foes, with pressure-point grabs, chops, kicks and throws.
Pertwee wasted no time, in establishing his martial-artist credentials; by showcasing his skills in his first two seasons of Who.
Whether incapacitating alternate-reality facist UNIT soldiers (or deranged prisoners) in Inferno or the Mind Of Evil. The Doctor also took on and beat-up ‘The Master’ (Roger Delgado) and the Uxarieus’ Aliens – with his martial arts – in Colony In Space.
Indeed, the Third Doctor used his martial-arts to disable Professor Stahlman in Inferno; claiming also, if the Karate move had been held for longer, it would have resulted in permanent paralysis of the unfortunate professor.
The Doctor also got to show-off his martial-arts in an entertainingly evenly-matched ‘fight-to-the-death’; with the King’s Champion ‘Grun’ – in Curse Of Peladon.
The Doctor used his martial-artist skills effectively, in The Sea Devils, The Mutants and The Green Death.
The Doctor also impressively took down Exxilon warriors in Death To The Daleks, impressively dispatching one – with an over-arm throw and Karate-chop.
As good as the Doctor’s Karate was, it was sometimes ineffective against certain non-human duplicates (The Claws of Axos) or against the alien Ogrons or Sontarans (of Frontier In Space, Day of the Daleks & The Time Warrior respectively). Presumably, (but never confirmed) due to a lack of nerve or pain-receptors in the alien bodies.
Also, the Doctor tried to use Venusian Karate against the ‘Primords’ – in Inferno. When this didn’t work he moved on to the alternate discipline of ‘Martian karate’ but the former had no effect either, against the unfortunate ‘time-regressed’ primeval human.
Future Doctor’s dabbled with some Venusia Karate, including Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor and Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor. But none embodied the full action-orientated beginnings of John Pertwee’s Third Doctor.
Pertwee can be credited as placing the Doctor character centre-stage and making him an action star. Ten years before this trope became a common-place asset of 1980’s cinema.