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.
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