Created By: Prime32November 13, 2011 Last Edited By: IchigoMontoyaAugust 23, 2012

Martial Genius Ditz

Genius at fighting, low to average intelligence in other areas

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Trope
(Not sure if this is worth a trope on its own, or if it should be folded in to another)

Most of the main cast is down. The Big Bad's powers are too strong and too confusing for anyone to defeat! All hope seems lost when the Idiot Hero arrives to challenge him. But wait! He just figured out a way to dodge an attack that was supposed to be undodgable, stunned him by reflecting his hypnotic gaze back at him with a shiny object, and bypassed his magical barrier by making his weapon wet! Wasn't this guy supposed to be an idiot? Even The Smart Guy isn't this good!

May be Book Dumb or employing Obfuscating Stupidity. It's possible that activities outside combat don't interest him, in which case he is a Blood Knight, or that he merely feels he must throw everything he has into fighting, in which case he is a Determinator. It's worth noting that despite having such a knack for combat, a character of this type will rarely fight with anything resembling a formal style, instead relying on instinct and improvisation.

Characters of this type are usually receptive to Training From Hell, and sometimes need a Combat Commentator to make it clear what they're doing. Common in Shonen series.

See also Idiot Hero, Awesomeness By Analysis and Lets Get Dangerous.


Examples

  • Goku of Dragonball Z and associated shows. He's a bit of a simpleton when he's not actively in battle mode but when fighting he's almost a different person.
  • Luffy from One Piece falls under this. Practically the only time he shows more intelligence than your average five-year-old is in battle. Not only does he constantly find new interesting and creative ways to use his Rubber Man powers (he starts out just stretching his arms really far to hit harder, but later he's using himself like a slingshot and making his blood pump faster to speed up his reactions), he's even shown a mind for strategy. For example, when fighting a mind-reader who keeps predicting his attacks, Luffy just starts punching randomly so his attacks reflect off the walls, since he himself has no knowledge of trajectory and thus no idea where his punches will go.
  • Naruto - outside of battle, his "intellect" ain't that impressive. In battle, he shows strategic skills that catch his enemies by completely by surprise.
  • Mega Man in Bob And George. Justified via Sure Why Not in that he's programmed with the primary objective of defeating the Robot Masters and the secondary one of being an idiot, so he's smart when fighting villains and the rest of the time he's a moron. The out-of-universe explanation, however, is that this way the author can play up the Robot Master's quirks.
  • Ichigo from Bleach. Started out as an Idiot Hero, but later uses Awesomeness By Analysis.
  • In Ranma One Half just about every martial artist is like this. In particular Ranma, Ryouga, Genma, and Mousse are incredible at developing new techniques and countertechniques on the fly, but are otherwise... eccentric.
  • In Tabletop RPGs, this is the usual result when an unintelligent character is played by a skilled or paranoid player.
  • In Forrest Gump, Gump is praised for his military skills in Boot Camp.
  • As is "Gomer Pyle" (after the Break The Fatty episode) of Full Metal Jacket.
  • Hayana in Twinkle Saber Nova.
Community Feedback Replies: 26
  • November 13, 2011
    TwoGunAngel
    Fighter of Eight Bit Theater is the example that most springs to mind when I think of this character type.
  • November 13, 2011
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    • Goku of Dragonball Z and associated shows. He's a bit of a simpleton when he's not actively in battle mode but when he goes into battle mode, he is almost a different person.
  • November 13, 2011
    TheWeirdo
    Ranma was basically raised by wolves. When fighting, though? A genius.
  • November 14, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    Just about every Idiot Hero who doesn't win his fights by accident falls under this.
  • November 14, 2011
    Koveras
  • November 14, 2011
    Bisected8
  • November 14, 2011
    dalek955
    ^ Actually, he's just called Minmax.
  • November 14, 2011
    Bisected8
    Oh yeah. I wonder where that suffix came from...
  • November 14, 2011
    CrypticMirror
    @The Weirdo It's not just Ranma, basically every martial artist in that series has this to one degree or another. Ranma, Ryouga, Genma, and Mousse are just the most extreme of examples.
  • November 14, 2011
    NetMonster
  • November 14, 2011
    Fanra
    Gump in Forrest Gump, and "Gomer Pyle" (after the Break The Fatty episode) of Full Metal Jacket are both praised for their military skills in Boot Camp.
  • November 14, 2011
    JonnyB
    Barry in the webcomic Atland started out as this, but he's gotten smarter as it went along.
  • November 15, 2011
    SalFishFin
    Luffy from One Piece falls under this. Practically the only time he shows more intelligence than your average five-year-old is in battle. Not only does he constantly find new interesting and creative ways to use his Rubber Man powers (he starts out just stretching his arms really far to hit harder, but later he's using himself like a slingshot and making his blood pump faster), he's even shown a mind for strategy. For example, when fighting a mind-reader who keeps predicting his attacks, Luffy just starts punching randomly so his attacks reflect off the walls, since he himself has no knowledge of trajectory and thus no idea where his punches will go,
  • November 15, 2011
    Mozgwsloiku
    Naruto - outside of battle, his "intelect" inspires groans from the reasers. In battle, he suddenly shows strategic skills that catch his enemies by completely by surprise.
  • November 15, 2011
    TonyG
    Po, the titular Kung Fu Panda.
  • November 15, 2011
    TheChainMan
    Mega Man in Bob And George. Justified via Sure Why Not in that his main objective is defeating the Robot Masters and his secondary one being an idiot, so he's smart when fighting villains and the rest of the time, he's a moron. The out-of-universe explanation, however, is that this way the author can play up the Robot Master's quirks.
  • November 15, 2011
    darkforce392
    There's Ichigo from Bleach. Started out as an idiot, but later uses Awesomeness By Analysis.

  • November 15, 2011
    Psychobabble6
    • The title character of Groo The Wanderer is one of the stupidest, if not the stupidest, character in his universe. But he is known for his ability to destroy an entire army single-handedly.
  • August 9, 2012
    jatay3
  • August 9, 2012
    Prime32
    This would be a subtrope of that, yeah.

    @NetMonster and Psychobabble6, this is about fighting smart, not just fighting well.
  • August 18, 2012
    MarqFJA
    Why isn't there a line saying "Sub Trope of Genius Ditz"? And could there be a Ditzy Martial Genius, like Ditzy Genius is to Genius Ditz?
  • August 18, 2012
    Shrikesnest
    How is this appreciably different from Crouching Moron Hidden Badass? I mean, at all. I'm a splitter by nature, but these seem like the exact same trope.
  • August 18, 2012
    jatay3
    Valentinian in Belisarius Series
  • August 20, 2012
    Prime32
    @Shrikesnest: Crouching Moron Hidden Badass is when a character displays unexpected Badassery in a fight. This trope is when a character displays unexpected intelligence in a fight.
  • August 20, 2012
    Shrikesnest
    Alright. Come up with a half-dozen examples of each that are mutually exclusive with the other, and you've got my hat.
  • August 23, 2012
    Jir
    Ku Fei From Negima, she is the chairman of the Chinese martial arts club but also Baka Ranger Yellow (One of the 5 stupidest girls in class 3-A)

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