Created By: KJMackley on June 17, 2012 Last Edited By: KJMackley on November 6, 2015

Fighting Style of Choice

The way they fight makes them distinct

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Trope
There are hundreds of different fighting styles around the world, and the method in which each practitioner uses that style can vary. In fact a good deal of any sort of competition on a professional level is identifying what particular style your opponent is using and doing your best to exploit the weaknesses inherent in any given style.

While the average audience member is unlikely to see a difference between closely related fighting styles, giving every character a very distinctive style adds to experience and enjoyment of an action scene.

Used in most Tournament Arcs to help distinguish the characters.

Compare Weapon of Choice, Good Old Fisticuffs.

Examples:
  • Bruce Lee was a major promoter of Kung Fu in all it's different forms but he is also considered the spiritual ancestor of Mixed Martial Arts, using grappling moves from wrestling as well as integrating boxing stances into his own style.
  • Michael Westen of Burn Notice consistently uses karate with grappling moves associated with ju jitsu, and one episode specifies that he is also familiar with Russian Sambo (as he said, you can't claim to be Russian and fight like an American).
  • Batman: The Animated Series had an episode where Bruce Wayne was targeted by a ninja rival Kyodai Ken in "Night of the Ninja" where he had to overcome his inferiority complex. In the follow up episode "Day of the Samurai" Bruce revealed that fighting styles are like fingerprints and since Ken fought both Bruce and Batman he could tell they were the same individual.
  • Jean-Claude Van Damme movie Bloodsport featured a little bit of this, especially in the use of one individual using Monkey Kung Fu.
    • Another JCVD fighting tournament film The Quest featured actual martial artists showcasing their particular fighting style. Thus you got a Monkey King Fu practitioner going up against a Sumo wrestler. Or a straight boxer against a karate expert.
  • The Expendables integrates the actual training and experience each actor has. Ying Yang fights using Wushu, Gunnar Jensen uses Karate (and even teases Yang by calling him "happy feet"), Lee Christmas is a kickboxer, Barney Ross uses wrestling moves (likely because his big fight was against "Stone Cold" Steve Austin), and Toll Road is pretty clearly an MMA fighter.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra integrates actual martial arts into the particular fighting styles of the Supernatural Martial Arts. Airbending is Ba Gua (while the staff work Aang does often uses Tai Qwan Do, such as the spinning at the center of the staff), Firebending is Northern Shaolin, Earthbending is Hung Gar and Waterbending is Tai Chi. One noticeable detail is that Toph, being an atypical earthbender, uses Southern Praying Mantis rather than the norm. As she teaches Aang earthbending, he also ends up using that style.
Community Feedback Replies: 17
  • June 17, 2012
    Koveras
    Kinda like Signature Move but taken Up To Eleven.
  • June 17, 2012
    Bisected8
    • In Soul Eater this is actually exploited to show a change in mood, even though no one really uses a real world fighting style; Dr. Stein can fight hand to hand (the ability to use a Ki Attack without a demon weapon to channel them through is quite unusual) and the first time he's shown fighting with Spirit, he uses him in one hand to block and strikes his opponent with his empty hand. Later, when he's deliberately let himself get a bit more unhinged he starts attacking with Spirit's blade and fighting noticeably less defensively.
  • June 17, 2012
    jatay3
  • June 17, 2012
    TheHandle
    Well, it would be a shame to waste the example descriptions here, they're pretty badass. Make one a subtrope of the other?
  • June 17, 2012
    KJMackley
    This trope is meant to be fairly broad, both Opposing Combat Philosophies (two individuals have an "equal but opposite" method) and Tell Me How You Fight (Personality Powers applied to fighting) would be subtropes of this.

    For instance Avatar The Last Airbender emphasizes the stylistic opposites between Airbending and Earthbending (being mobile vs. standing your ground), as well as Firebending and Waterbending (forceful vs. defensive), which is made very explicit in the show. You can also tell subtle details about characters personality by how they fight, such as Zuko's blind anger and Azula's calm focus. This trope is just the fact that all four styles have a distinctive flavor.
  • March 29, 2013
    KJMackley
    bump
  • March 30, 2013
    DRCEQ
    • Kenichi The Mightiest Disciple often introduces new characters specifically to introduce a new fighting style. Kenichi's masters specialize in Muai Thai, Chinese Kenpo, Jujitsu, Karate, and weapons mastery. Other characters over the course of the series are introduced and establish their unique styles in Capoera, Judo, different stylings of Kung Fu, Kalarippayattu, Pancat Silat, Lucha Libre wrestling, Bojutsu, Boxing, Sumo wrestling, and numerous other unique styles of martial arts and self defense that have been developed throughout human history.
  • March 30, 2013
    Larkmarn
    I don't know how to work this in, but I'd like to point out that Jet Li knows 3/4 of the elemental styles in Avatar The Last Airbender. Ironically, he just needs Hung Ga (ironic because his starmaking role was Wong Fei Hung who is very strongly associated with the style).
  • November 5, 2015
    Noah1
  • November 5, 2015
    acrobox
    closely related to Fighting Finger Print
  • November 5, 2015
    DAN004
    Expect to see this a lot in Fighting Games.
  • November 5, 2015
    Koveras
    • In One Piece, Roronoa Zoro is the only person in the whole world who fights with three swords at once (holding the third one in his teeth), making his style instantly recognizable by anyone.
  • November 5, 2015
    DAN004
    Maybe you can make it clearer about how this is distinct from Tell Me How You Fight.
  • November 6, 2015
    Chabal2
    This is part of how every army in Warhammer 40 K distinguishes itself: the Tau fight at very long range, the Orks and Tyranids charge in because there's always plenty more of them, and there's even more variety in Imperial forces: the Kriegers reenact the worst of World War One's trench warfare, the Valhallans send their infantry to clear minefields for tanks by walking over them, the Black Templars charge the enemy with swords if one of their own goes down...
  • November 6, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ That's not about martial arts. But that example is worth a different trope. I wonder what that would be?
  • November 6, 2015
    acrobox
    limiting it to martial arts seems unnecessarily narrow
  • November 6, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ I dunno, if it's about how you do battles in general, that seems to be covered by Tell Me How You Fight.

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