Throughout history, wars, duels and street brawls have been fought by all manner of people from all over the world. While the majority of the first world lives in relative peace today, one's enemies used to be very close at hand. As a result, it was necessary for all cultures to develop martial arts for use in wartime and self defense. Unfortunately, most of these are lost to time, being practiced by cultures that didn't write them down, didn't survive, kept them closely-guarded secrets or any combination of the above.
In popular cultural understanding, however, only East Asian martial arts exist and have ever existed. You had better not cross someone with training in these martial arts, because their oriental secrets will invariably destroy you. In media works that do
recognise non-East Asian martial arts, they are either depicted as inferior or East Asian martial arts are not touched upon at all. Expect the East Asian martial artists to be depicted as humble and centred, while the non-East Asian martial artists are depicted as arrogant or aggressive.
This ridiculous phenomenon can be chalked up to the assumption that an absence of evidence is evidence of absence. As early as the 19th century, historians were discovering European combat manuals detailing the fighting skills of medieval knights. Boxing, while martial, is often considered a sport rather than a complete martial art in its own right. The only truth to this trope is how well-preserved East Asian martial arts are by historical standards, although today there continues to be debate over the legitimacy of arts such as kenjutsu
Compare: Katanas Are Just Better
Contrast: Good Old Fisticuffs
[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
- Crossing over with Katanas Are Just Better, most works of this nature make the equally erroneous assumption that Japanese sword skills are superior to those in other regions. It would be simpler to list aversions.
- Averted in Knights, where the main character's martial art is based on an obscure German sword style dating to the 14th century. Even his allies consider it outdated.
- Averted in Sword of the Stranger, where the Russian "barbarian" working with the Chinese proves himself perhaps the most skillful fighter in the entire work.
- Played with in History's Strongest Disciple Kenichi: Kenichi is trained in a huge variety of East Asian martial arts, and, being the hero, wins most of his fights. However, he confronts artist who practice arts from all over the world (russian SAMBO, french Savate, Malaysian Penkak Silat, Indian Buramin, Mongolian "Sumo", Greek Pankration, Mexican Lucha Libre, etc. etc.) and they are all presented as very credible, threatening foes. He usually wins because of tenacity, a pure heart, and willpower, which in a shounen work is simply another way of saying Plot Armour.
- Most fighting games adhere to this concept, with the protagonist usually being Japanese and their counterpart being a foreigner. In most instances, the Asian character is presented as humble and usually the superior of the two in terms of ability and significance to the overall plot. The rival is typically portrayed as cocky or hot blooded and usually a step or two behind in actual talent; though close enough in skill to give the protagonist a run for their money.
- Noteable examples inlcude: Ryu and Ken from Street Fighter, Liu Kang and Johnny Cage, from Mortal Kombat, and Eiji and Kayin, from Battle Arena Toshinden.
- This concept is inverted by games such as Fatal Fury, which portrays Terry Bogard as being superior to his brother, Andy, and their friend, Joe Higashi, who's a Japanese kickboxer. And gets averted altogether by Art of Fighting, which portrays Ryo and Robert as equals in skill and plot significance. The third game in the series even shifts the focus onto to Robert, making him the main character.
- Ip Man 2, in which the titular character must use Chinese martial arts to defend their legitimacy against an English boxer. Arguably averted by the ending, where the Ip man says he was never out to prove the superiority of Chinese martial arts, but to prove they could withstand Western equivalents.
- The Last Samurai has Nathan's fencing being outclassed by the katana, but it shows that A) Nathan is a Combat Pragmatist who knows fencing as a secondary combat tactic after the bullets have been fired and B) rock will not beat laser in the long run. Nathan used his already existing skills to learn how to use a katana and grows to be a competent Samurai warrior, capable of fighting experienced warriors to a standstill and killing inexperienced warriors with ease.
- Reality itself is an aversion; East Asian martial arts, while often strong and well-developed, are not inherently superior to martial arts from other regions of the world.
- General public understanding of the martial arts lean this way, and most people probably jump to karate or kung fu as examples.
- For a long time, it was assumed that historical European fighting methods were slow, pondering and based on brute strength. A number of historical fighting manuals have been discovered that have broken that perception entirely within the small groups that study them. Although most examples are German, dealing with the longsword, examples have been found to be of Italian, English and French origin. Most deal with some form of sword combat, but many also include sections on unarmed fighting, daggers and polearms.