Created as a corollary Sub-Trope to Women Are Delicate.
In most forms of fiction, Men Are Strong, Women Are Pretty
, and this is so engendered into the human consciousness that altering those points too much can alienate your target audiences. An overly-aggressive female character can seem less relatable to a feminine audience, although it's hard to have a likable character in an action show that doesn't do any fighting at all. In a fantasy setting, you can hopscotch around this issue by assuming that Guys Smash, Girls Shoot
, but what do you do when martial arts or physical combat is the entire focus of the series?
You compromise with Dainty Combat
. In this trope, a character (usually small and/or female) uses a more graceful, beautiful and possibly gentle fighting style in order to combat her opponents. Attacks typically focus on kicks
, holds, flourishes, joint locks, swift tosses and open-hand strikes (such as palm strikes or slaps) rather than heavy blows, grappling and wrestling. Movement is usually constant, invoking acrobatics, gymnastics
, and possibly dance moves
to avoid taking a direct hit.
When Dainty Combat
includes weapons, it's usually some form of Gun Kata
, swordplay with flourish, or a whip
Not all characters that use Dainty Combat
are women and not all are small or frail, but they are by far the most common practitioners. It thus overlaps a lot with Waif-Fu
, although in this case, the woman need not be a "waif" (small or smaller than her opponents). Waif-Fu
is about the contrast between a small woman and her larger opposition; this trope is about the fighting style she uses to beat them.
This also typically overlaps with She-Fu
, although acrobatics are a small component and need not be required.
Sub Tropes and characters likely to use this include:
- Most women in the Soul Series of games use Dainty Combat to some degree or another. For example, Xianghua moves like a ballerina, Ivy twirls and snaps with her whip, and Sophitia/Cassandra do lots of twirls and attacks with their posterior. Raphael is a rare male example, and one could possibly say the same about Hwang and Yeong Seong (who technically began as Palette Swaps of Xianghua in Soul Calibur.
- Virtua Fighter: Sarah Bryant uses Flamingo style and mostly focuses on kick attacks (although she has at least one brute force throw), Aoi Umenokouji practices Aikido and uses throws and reversals, and Eileen uses the monkey style. Vanessa Lewis is actually notable in that her fighting style is brutally efficient and a complete aversion of this.
- Street Fighter: Chun-Li is the quintessential Kick Chick, C. Viper is acrobatic and swift, Rose attacks with magic and her long scarf, Ibuki is a swift and acrobatic ninja, and Elena is a Dance Battler. In general, most of the female characters are swifter (and withstand less damage) than men. A notable aversion is Makoto, who is a hard-hitting Tomboy and has more health than the rest of the female cast. Cammy (as well as her counterparts Juni and Juli) and Rainbow Mika zig-zag this trope; while they are swift and acrobatic with very feminine moves, they can also wrestle, suplex, and use brute force.
- King of Fighters subverts this with Hinako Shijo, a petite schoolgirl whose fighting style is sumo wrestling. King, Blue Mary and Leona avert it entirely, being bruisers for the most part. Most other girls, especially Athena and Mai, play this completely straight, though.
- BlazBlue is a mixed bag, on the one hand Makoto Nanaya's a straight up brawler, Lambda-11, Nu-12 and Mu-13 are...well heavily armed cyborgs and Taokaka mainly uses her claws. On the other hand, Tsubaki's borderline (she has a short blade, but also long flowing robes and a sort of angelic theme), Rachel's a Lady of War type (although she's technically fighting indirected as a way of holding back), Noel Vermillion's a gunslinger, Lichi fights at arms length with a staff and Platinum the Trinity's a parody of Magical Girls (and fights exactly the way you'd expect).
- Most women Mortal Kombat also play this straight, with the exceptions being Sonya and Sheeva for the most part.
- In Tekken, Lili is the most blatant example of this trope, with Anna Williams second. Other notables include Zafina, Asuka Kazama, Jun Kazama and Ling Xiaoyu. Nina Williams uses a similar style as her sister, but is far more efficient and brutal. Christie Montiero is a unique example as she was a originally a Palette Swap of her boyfriend, Eddy Gordo. Julia Chang and Michelle Chang are hard-hitting examples. A rare male examples includes Lee Chaolan.
- Female physical units in Fire Emblem are generally restricted classes more focused on multiple hits and dodging than classes with brute force and high defense scores. The series has, to date, only 4 female characters (Minerva, Echidna, Titania and Jill) with axes as their "primary" weapon, and Jill (the only one to wield them exclusively) only does so as a result of change in gameplay mechanics, (originally using spears). When a female DOES get into one of the front line physical classes, they often wind up with terribly mis-matched grwoth rates that still cling to the standard (Wendy and Meg are notorious for being in THE Mighty Glacier class with growths suited for a Fragile Speedster) Even Mia, who loathes Stay in the Kitchen, describes herself as "a dangerous myrmidon! A graceful whirlwind of singing steel!".
- In Street Fighter X Tekken, Lili is once again the most blatant example of this trope, and her quotes (both in battle and out) lampshade the hell out of it. The girls who qualify in both franchises individually still count here, and new character Poison (from the Final Fight franchise) is another blatant example, possessing acrobatic kick attacks, a Dominatrix motif combined with a Sexy Walk and and a dose of Whip It Good.
- In Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, the all-female Viera race often fight with rapiers. The Fencer class even has an attack called "Featherblow."