Created By: Alfa290April 26, 2014 Last Edited By: Alfa290April 27, 2014

Learning From The Enemy

A character forgoes traditional training to learn from the enemy.

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Trope
"There is no teacher but the enemy... I am your enemy from now on. From now on I am your teacher."
-Mazer Rackham, "Enders Game"

Most heroes will seek out an Old Master or find a mentor figure on their side of Good vs Evil.

That is not this character. They will go out of their way to find and combat their foes. They will spend hours every day trying to understand how the enemy thinks and operates. In short they have forgone traditional training to learn from the enemy.

This can mean that they watch hours of combat footage or learn in actual combat. Sometimes story mechanics can aid in learning. Also, this is about characters whose primary method of training is now the enemy.

Sub-Trope to Awesome By Analysis and Sink Or Swim Mentor. Compare and Contrast to Evil Mentor and Trickster Mentor.

Note that this Truth In Television to a point as everyone from sports teams to business and militaries analyze opposition tactics to gain the edge.


Examples

Anime and Manga
  • The backstory of Threader of Nanatsu No Taizai has him observe in secret the barbarians who captured him when he was a child. He learns enough for them to develop in one day a Killing Intent strong enough to defend himself from their abuse.
  • In Jormungand, Valmet decided to learn close quarters tactics after she left the Finnish Army in order to beat Chen at his own game by learning to use his tactics against him, which she didn't realize until Valmet confronted him again in North Africa.

Comic Books

Literature
  • Ender from Enders Game devotes hundreds of hours to studying Bugger tactics and strategies after he all but masters Battle School course material.
  • Keiji "Killer Cage" Kiriya from All You Need Is Kill combines this with Training From Hell and Groundhog Day Loop to master the art of war and defeat the Mimics. It is implied Rita did this to an extent as well when she was first caught in the loop.

Real Life
  • This is a major component of modern warfare with large groups of intelligence personnel constantly analyzing data on the enemy.
  • Sports teams will often review footage of an upcoming opponent's last few games to find counters for their plays.
  • In the runup to Wrestlemania XXIV, where The Big Show was going to take on boxer Floyd Mayweather, they showed vignettes of Show's training including him watching & analyzing Mayweather's matches.

Video Games

Web Comic
  • In Hero Oh Hero, Burk claims that his only experience in fighting comes from wrestling with his brother and "defeating things". He's explicitly said to be more powerful than a trained soldier.

Community Feedback Replies: 17
  • April 26, 2014
    Alfa290
    Fixed formatting errors. Will do rolling updates for examples.
  • April 26, 2014
    StrixObscuro
    Comics
  • April 26, 2014
    Paradisesnake
    Changed Truth in Television to Real Life.
  • April 26, 2014
    Elfkaiser
    Anime and Manga

    • The backstory of Threader of Nanatsu No Taizai has him observe in secret the barbarians who captured when he was still a child. He learns enough from them to develop one day a Killing Intent strong enough to defend himself from their abuse.
  • April 26, 2014
    DAN004
    Compare Power Copying.
  • April 26, 2014
    Bisected8
    • In the Blitzball minigame in Final Fantasy X, new techniques are learned by having team-members mark opposing players. If a marked opponent uses a special move and the player presses the action button in response to a prompt the team member (or one, randomly chosen, member) has a chance of learning the move.
    • In Hero Oh Hero, Burk claims that his only experience in fighting comes from wrestling with his brother and "defeating things". He's explicitly said to be more powerful than a trained soldier.

    Compare Taught By Television.
  • April 26, 2014
    randomsurfer
    In the runup to Wrestlemania XXIV, where The Big Show was going to take on boxer Floyd Mayweather, they showed vignettes of Show's training including him watching & analyzing Mayweather's matches.
  • April 26, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    Anime & Manga

    Yo, DAN 004, fill me in here. :P
  • April 26, 2014
    Arivne
    • De-Red Linked Learn From The Enemy, a Circular Link to the trope's name.
    • Formatted the Examples section.
      • Added a line separating the Description and Examples sections.
      • Blue Linked Example section media titles(s).
    • Added blank line(s) for readability.
    • Italicized work name(s).
    • Corrected spelling (develope).
  • April 27, 2014
    DAN004
    ^^ ?
  • April 27, 2014
    aurora369
    The Blue Mage class in Final Fantasy is a specialist on monsters. In various games Blue Mages use different methods of studying monsters: observing them, examining parts that fell of them, letting them attack the mage or even eating them; in return the Blue Mages gain the ability to cast spells otherwise only available to monsters.
  • April 27, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    ^^ correct my example. I'm sure i got a detail or two wrong there. you're the One Piece connoisseur here.
  • April 27, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ dunno, Mihawk training Zoro is more of a legitimate training with your enemy. The description leans more towards "someone who learns from his enemy without his enemy personally, or knowingly, training him".

    Therefore a name change is in order.
  • April 27, 2014
    Ominae
    Anime

    • In Jormungand, Valmet decided to learn close quarters tactics after she left the Finnish Army in order to beat Chen at his own game by learning to use his tactics against him, which she didn't realize until Valmet confronted him again in North Africa.
  • April 27, 2014
    Alfa290
    ^^ Agreed as far as the description goes. What would the name be changed to though?
  • April 27, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ Run Aways example shouldn't count either.

    What about Studying The Opposition? At least there's less implications of actual mentoring.
  • April 27, 2014
    jatay3
    In Vorkosigan Saga, Aral once said that the new Barrayaran civilization was in many ways, "Cetaganda's gift". That is by learning to fight the Cetagandans they learned to deal with life in a technological universe, and created a beginning of social mobility with the needs to promote non-vor who have demonstrated skill-at-arms.

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