->''"You can tell a {{sho|nenDemographic}}unen series by the amount of times that someone says 'I'm training to become stronger.'"''
-->-- ''[[http://podcast.animenano.com Anime Nano Podcast]]''

In [[FightingSeries shows where mano-a-mano combat is a main plot element]], characters spend much of their lives training and [[SuperWeight improving their strength]] so they can one-up each other at a critical point in a fight. This invariably develops into an arms race that can, and has, taken out entire planets and solar systems. If two nations do this, it's a LensmanArmsRace. When the situation is about equipment and weapons rather than physical prowess, see BiggerStick.

This has a [[TruthInTelevision grain of truth]] in it, as between two equally ''skilled'' fighters, the deciding factor will often be one's strength. Compare WeakButSkilled, and contrast UnskilledButStrong.
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!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* ''Anime/DragonBallZ''. In fact, this is the point of all 3 Dragonball shows (though less so in the beginning of ''Franchise/DragonBall'' and ''Anime/DragonBallGT'').
* ''Manga/SaintSeiya'', ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'', ''Manga/YuYuHakusho'' and every other shonen series.
** It can be seen to a considerably lesser degree in other anime where martial arts are a central element, such as: ''Manga/RanmaOneHalf'', ''Manga/FlameOfRecca'' and ''Manga/SumomoMoMomoMo''.
* Almost completely averted by ''Manga/JojosBizarreAdventure'', insofar as the focus is more on teamwork, [[IndyPloy clever tactics]], exploiting your environment, [[FlawExploitation exploiting enemy weaknesses]] and using [[HeartIsAnAwesomePower weak or peculiar powers to devastating effect]] than pure fighting power. Hell, a lot of the abilities shown by the characters are so [[CrazyAwesome unorthodox]] that putting them on a power level scale is rather hard.
** Even lampshaded in a flashback where Dio, when asked what he thinks is the weakest ability he's seen, states that in the world of Stands there are no objectively strong or weak ones.
** For example, one of the most epic battles in the series is a rock-paper-scissors match between two people whose Stands don't lend themselves to fighting, the two of whom can't read each others' moves, and our hero, [[AuthorAvatar Rohan]] only wins because he [[spoiler: cheats]].
* Also seen to a lesser extent in sports anime such as ''Manga/ThePrinceOfTennis'' and ''Anime/{{Eyeshield 21}}'' (with training the sport instead of fight training).
* ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'', between arcs, in the middle of arcs, [[TalkingIsAFreeAction even in the middle of ]] ''[[TalkingIsAFreeAction battles]]''.
* This isn't just a factor in martial-arts series. It can show up in {{Mon}}s series like ''Franchise/YuGiOh'', ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}'', ''Anime/{{Beyblade}}'', and ''Bistro Chef'' (better known as ''Fighting Foodons'' in the States), and CookingDuel series like ''Manga/YakitateJapan''. Essentially, anything that has individual competition, typically in a TournamentArc, will tend to end up with this kind of arms race.
* Displaying formidable multitasking skills, the eponymous ''MagicalGirlLyricalNanoha'' is revealed in the series' ancillary manga to be able to train in the magical equivalent of VR constantly while leading her normal civilian life, apparently to explain her jump from neophyte magical girl to hardened battlemage in the short interval between the show's first two seasons. After the second season, she trains so hard she becomes known as "[[TheAce Ace of Aces]]" and is promoted to Combat Drill Instructor [[ImprobableAge in her early teens.]] In the third season, another character trains herself nearly to the point of exhaustion in an effort to prove herself ([[HardWorkHardlyWorks but doesn't quite succeed]]).
** It didn't work because the show decided to point out that mindlessly trying to improve yourself with brute force tactics doesn't work, it just breaks you down. Nanoha had a HeroicRROD in during the second TimeSkip, specifically because of all the training she did.
** And when Teana actually started listening in class, she got a lot better herself.
** The [[AllThereInTheManual StrikerS manga]] devotes two chapters to explicitly deconstruct this trope: the younger cast try to figure out the "strongest fighter" in their organization, but eventually learn AnAesop that no matter how strong your opponent is, he always has a weak spot which you can exploit to defeat him. The winner is thus determined not by a single variable but by a combination of quick thinking, experience, magical power, and sheer luck.
* In a decidedly more [[HermeticMagic magical]] example, ''[[Manga/MahouSenseiNegima Mahou Sensei Negima's]]'' Negi trains constantly for fear of harm coming to his students. He's particularly fond of using [[OurVampiresAreDifferent Evangeline]]'s [[YearInsideHourOutside time-warping villa]] to add extra hours (or rather ''days'') to his day to train more.
* Although the battles are of actual skills (usually) in ''Manga/{{MAR}}'', the good guys are often sent to train themselves in this manner for the next set of battles whenever the story allows, often using a time-warp ARM in the process.
* In ''Manga/LoveHina'', Motoko is stunned when Seta defeats her in martial arts, and becomes fixated on challenging him.
* The titular character in ''[[Manga/KenichiTheMightiestDisciple History's Strongest Disciple Kenichi]]'' already goes through a daily regimen of TrainingFromHell to build up his stamina and improve his skills, but the few times he actually ''loses'' to an opponent, such as [[spoiler: Odin and Tirawat Koukin]], he forces himself to train even harder for the inevitable rematch.
* Multiple Dei in ''Anime/KidouTenshiAngelicLayer'' spend all their free time training for the titular game -- even Misaki, the lead character that [[TheMessiah converts and attracts]] her opponents by teaching them that it's just a game rather than SeriousBusiness.
* The very reason Kyo of ''Manga/FruitsBasket'' goes into the mountains to train for six months is to one day beat his cousin Yuki in a fight (the manga reveals [[spoiler:this is a lie covering up an unrelated HeroicBSOD, though]]). Every time Yuki wipes the floor with him, he only vows to become stronger... over... and over... again.
* The 5 protagonist of ''Anime/MobileFighterGGundam'' spend a good period of the middle of the series training in the Guyana Highlands in order to overcome individual [[MyGreatestFailure failures]] ([[spoiler:For Domon, it's his unfocused rage actually helping the Devil Gundam; for the other four, it's DG Cell possession making them question their own motives]]).
* Mugen from ''Anime/SamuraiChamploo'' always trains to the point of absurdity when there is an opponent stronger or more skilled than he is.
* ''Manga/{{Swan}}'' is a shoujo version of this trope, but with ballet as the plot point.
* ''Manga/GrapplerBaki''. The greatest styles are "Total fighting" (Baki) and "Every martial art you damn please" (Yujiro).
* {{Parodied|Trope}} in ''Manga/RanmaOneHalf'', when [[TheRival Ryoga]] learns a technique to channel his {{Wangst}} into a mini AngstNuke. Ranma uses AwesomeByAnalysis ([[AttractiveBentGender and]] [[IHaveBoobsYouMustObey deception]]) to rip off the same attack. [[HilarityEnsues Cue contest to have a worse life and channel more]] {{Wangst}}. Ultimately [[spoiler: Ranma TakesAThirdOption and learns a counter-technique based on confidence. Unfortunately he severely underestimated the power of the [[UpToEleven upgraded version]] of Ryoga's technique, which became a true AngstNuke. Cue CurbStompBattle until Ranma's AwesomenessByAnalysis kicks in and points out a weak point in Ryoga's AngstNuke.]]
* Deconstructed in ''Manga/MutekiKanbanMusume'', a DeconstructiveParody of the FightingSeries: HardWorkHardlyWorks, so the only one who trains to be stronger than Miki the protagonist is Kankuro, the UnknownRival who doesnít have a chance to beat her. Toshiyuki (the WorthyOpponent) and Megumi (TheRival) know that they canít beat Mike with brute force, so they [[WeakButSkilled use their intelligence]]. And not even [[VillainTeamUp all of them together can beat Mikiís mother]].
* Benny of ''Manga/BlackLagoon'' quotes this almost ad verbatim during the Greenback Jane arc.
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[[folder:Comics]]
* This phrase is actually said in the Marvel comic ''ComicBook/ImmortalIronFist''. The protagonist would necessarily have to have the strongest kung-fu if he could kill a dragon barehanded, so it wasn't empty boasting. Eventually he does get his ass handed to him by a guy who's even better.
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[[folder:Film]]
* Unsurprisingly, since it is a kung fu movie and owes a certain amount to anime tropes, ''WesternAnimation/KungFuPanda'' has this as the basic set-up for the fight with the BigBad: that in order to defeat Tai Lung, the [[DesignatedHero Dragon Warrior]] must attain the [[MacGuffin Dragon Scroll]], for only with its cosmic powers can he hope to be strong enough to prevail. To hammer this point home (as if it needed it), after learning that his former student has paralyzed the Furious Five, Shifu declares that "Tai Lung has gotten stronger." Cue the delivery of the scroll to the understandably freaked Po.
* Parodied in ''Film/AmericanPie'' during an overblown speech by Kevin.
* ''Franchise/StarWars''
** From ''Film/AttackOfTheClones'':
--> '''[[BadassGrandpa Yoda]]''': Powerful you have become, Dooku. TheDarkSide I sense in you.
--> '''[[MasterSwordsman Dooku]]''': I have become more powerful than any Jedi. [[BlatantLies Even you]].
** ''Film/RevengeOfTheSith'': Obi-Wan says he is unwilling to kill Anakin, but Yoda sends him to fight him anyway, because "strong enough to face this Lord Sidious, you are not." [[spoiler:Yoda finds he isn't strong enough either.]]
* The basic premise of the Stephen Chow flick ''Flm/KungFuHustle'' where everyone's kung fu is stronger than someone else.
* In ''Film/ManOfSteel'', Zod boasts during his fight with Superman that he has trained his whole life to be the perfect warrior. What he says has a fair degree of logic, though. Would you expect a person with little to no combat experience to stand a chance against someone who was specially trained to be a warrior?
-->'''Zod:''' Where did ''you'' train? ON A ''[[FarmBoy FARM]]!?''
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[[folder:Literature]]
* In the ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}'' book ''The Ellimist Chronicles'', this sort of arms race between Ellimist and Crayak ends up [[spoiler: destroying a handful of galaxies and ripping a hole in spacetime that makes them omnipotent, universe-controlling gods.]]
* Averted up the wazoo in ''[[Literature/DreamPark The California Voodoo Game]]'', where hypercompetent Bishop's martial arts techniques vastly out-class the limited training of Alex Griffin, [[spoiler: yet Griffin still kicks Bishop's ass because he's [[RoaringRampageOfRevenge so pissed off]] that he doesn't care if his ribs or fingers get broken: he just keeps smashing his opponent into the walls, denying Bishop the elbow room required for his dojo-ballet moves]].
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[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Franchise/PowerRangers''. All of them.
** And their source material, the ''Franchise/SuperSentai'' series, in a lot of cases, but especially in ''Series/JukenSentaiGekiranger'', where the entire point of the series was two rival schools of fighting squaring off against each other.
* In the finale of ''Series/{{Dexter}}'' - season 3, there is a delicious example of this, in a scene with the season's "BigBad" and Dexter. Remember Doakes's comment about why would a nerd like Dexter need to learn advanced ju-jitsu? Well it's so that when[[spoiler: other killers tie up Dexter and are armed with a pretty menacing blade he can overpower them and snap their neck like a twig...with one good hand as he had to break his other one to get free from those pesky ropes that were holding him(Dex) down.]] Very strong kung fu indeed.
* ''Series/TheXFiles'': In "The Unusual Suspects" (origin story for TheLoneGunmen), Frohike is stumped by a mystery Byers and Modeski brought to him, and they end up on Langly's doorstep. Langly forces Frohike to quote this trope before allowing them in to use his equipment.
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[[folder:Tabletop RPG]]
* It's an actual ''character flaw'', explicitly ''called this'', in ''TabletopGame/{{Deadlands}}''. It's intended for [[SupernaturalMartialArts Enlightened]], but could thematically be used to create any character who takes great pride in their key fighting skill and is frequently fighting others to prove their superiority.
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[[folder:Video Games]]
* Most incarnations of the ''Franchise/StreetFighter'' series portray Ryu as a loner who does nothing but train in his spare time. He is motivated to do this because Akuma killed his master (who was also Akuma's brother). Akuma himself has sacrificed his whole life to the way of the Satsui no Hadou ("Murderous Intent"), striving forever to become a stronger fighter, but also looking for someone who can defeat and kill him. He once defeats Ryu and then spares his life because he knows Ryu has the potential to become the greatest warrior on Earth (and the potential to fall into Satsui no Hadou as well).
* Also a quote for ''VideoGame/DukeNukem''.
* The rift that developed between Aoi Matsubara and Sakashita-senpai in ''VisualNovel/ToHeart'' was the result of the latter's unacceptance of "Extreme Fighting" as a martial art.
** This rift disappeared when Aoi won the Extreme Fighting Championship in ''To Heart: Remember My Memories'' when Aoi defeated her senior Ayaka Kurusugawa who had defeated Sakashita earlier on in the tourney with ''one roundhouse kick to the head'', a la [[MemeticBadass Chuck Norris]].
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[[folder:Web Comics]]
* In ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'', Vaarsuvius says to Xykon, [[http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0653.html "My power... EXCEEDS yours!"]] [[NoHoldsBarredBeatdown Buuut that didn't help Vaarsuvius much.]] Actually, it makes it even worse. Had V just been out to end his reign of terror, he would have gone easy on her. In the case of a duel of strength, he had no reason to hold back.
* An ''OldMasterQ'' [[http://www.oldmasterq.com/comics/2054/ strip]] shows this between Chinese and Western fighting styles, ending in a stalemate.
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[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/RockosModernLife'': "We are the Samurai Warriors From Somewhere East of Pittsburg. Our kung fu... better than your kung fu!"
* ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' gets in on the fun in Magic Duel. Trixie returns with uber-powerful magic and [[CurbStompBattle smears Twilight all over the landscape]] with spells. A good portion of the episode consists of Twilight training with Zecora to become strong enough to fight back.
** [[spoiler:Though they play with the trope a bit. Twilight actually fails to become strong enough, and instead relies on trickery to win.]]
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[[folder:Real Life]]
* In Chinese slang, the phrase "Kung Fu" is akin to "Mojo." In any activity, rivals will compare their respective Kung Fu with each other. This is because 'kung fu' means 'human achievement', or, skill.
-->'''Jim:''' [[HongKongDub "Their Tiger Style kung fu is strong, but our Dragon Style kung fu will defeat it!"]]
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