Elder: My, my, it's like they're filming a movie!
Sakaki: I agree, these kids have too many excessive movements!Think Flynning, but with martial arts instead of swords. This page is dedicated to all of the 'amended' martial arts that populate Martial Arts Movies, manga and anime, especially high-flying spinning kicks and other telegraphed moves. Lots of times, this comes from the directors following the Rule of Cool, but many other times, they just didn't bother with the research. If there is a Hand Wave coming up, appeals to Screw the Rules, I Have Supernatural Powers! may be thrown in - after all, a "highly telegraphed" multi-spin roundhouse is a lot less easy to counter when your foot meets your opponent's face in the time it takes for him to blink, and if you can shrug off a ton of hits and kill the one guy with one then whiff punishing is not as critical. Much of this comes from the basic issue that martial arts (which are specifically designed to eliminate an opponent as quickly and efficiently as possible,) simply don't look quite as visually interesting as the more elaborate moves seen on film, not to mention actors (usually) don't want to actually hurt their costars. Hence the reason stage combat is treated as a very different animal than actual fighting styles. Even in the more realistic video games, you will find at least one attack at this absurd level among the movelist of Shotoclones. Usually it will be the Hurricane Kick Sub-Trope, alongside its buddies the Kamehame Hadoken and Shoryuken. They look great and all in video games, but would be needlessly showy in real life. This trope can apply to as minor a grievance as an inefficient move or as major a martial insult as 80s ninja films. Take a martial arts scene. Now, ask yourself; "Would this move work in Mixed Martial Arts?" If the answer is no, it's likely under this trope. These days it seems to be less prevalent, particularly with the rise in popularity of fighting systems such as Mixed Martial Arts or Krav Maga. This Trope is usually included with Supernatural Martial Arts. Compare Martial Arts and Crafts, Chop Sockey. Contrast What the Fu Are You Doing?, where the lack of knowledge is on the part of the character instead of the writers. Note that this is for works that are presenting a move or martial art as serious or an Acceptable Break from Reality. If it's intentionally being Played for Laughs, it would be I Know Kung-Faux.
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- Flip, flip, flip, flip. Everywhere you look in fiction you see martial arts depicted as being at least 1/3 acrobatics. In real life moves like flips and handsprings are excessively dangerous unnecessary show-off moves to use in a martial arts match, and the few martial arts moves which do include such spectacular gymnastic feats tend to be very high risk maneuvers. Flying kicks, broadly, fall in the same category. One issue is that once you leave the ground, you have no control over your path, which will be towards the opponent. Martial artists (as an over-generalization) train these moves because they are a good way of working on balance, control, and fitness, which will then translate to simpler moves, but it's incredibly rare to see anyone sparring with a flying side kick. Even the most acrobatic martial art in popular culture, Capoeira, teaches specifically to relegate fancy flips to friendly rodas and keep at least one hand or foot firmly planted on the ground during convoluted moves.
- You can sum up about 90% of this trope in anime and movies with a single point: an efficient strike is not telegraphed. Each time you see someone preparing his punch by putting his arm far BEHIND him to get more momentum, it's just for show. Used a lot because it makes the strikes more impressive and make them feel stronger, but it's just bad in a fight, where a smart opponent will simply crush your face with a less impressive, but much faster and more efficient, direct strike.
- Cross Counter: Depending on the martial art, in a real fight you always keep your guard up when you punch (with your free hand) or kick (with both hands). This is done, precisely, to avoid your opponent's counter strikes. This is less typical amongst grapplers.
- Any time a martial artist fights off two, three or more people at once, this trope is being invoked. It's hard, but possible to fight multiple opponents if a fighter maintains techniques to control the fight and keep it close to one-on-one. In fiction however, the lone fighter will typically be able to KO or incapacitate the people attacking him with a single blow each as they rush at him one at a time, whereas people are generally tougher in real life, and more willing to avert Mook Chivalry.
- Martial artist characters tend to face unarmed opponents, or opponents who use weapons in absurdly ineffective ways. Marching toward the fighter with knife or club held rigidly overhead, holding the blade extended instead of cutting on the retraction, making huge swooping swings that your grandmother could dodge, and the classic "walk up to kissing distance with a gun instead of shooting him from across the room."
- An instance typically seen in martial arts flicks involves the character, whenever pitted against an opponent armed with a gun or knife, disarming him with a lightning kick to the hand holding the weapon. This is not only very improbable to pull, but also downright counterproductive: even if one is fast enough to strike it before the opponent reacts, kicking a gun could get it to fire by accident, not to mention if the guy is wielding a bladed weapon, as hitting your foot against it could result in a sound ouch. In real life, disarming is a close-quarter grappling process which requires expertise and speed, and obviously, it is never without risks.
- Breaking is a complicated subject. Not all martial arts styles include it at all, and those which do can do things that would certainly surprise most people. On the other hand, generally breaking is performed on materials which are fairly weak under tension (brick, concrete, wood broken with the grain note ), and also supported only at the ends. It also requires careful training of the impact area (especially knuckles), which can leave it looking fairly ugly. If someone is breaking most of these rules (kicking a hole in a chain-link fence with a move they saw an older student doing once), this trope is probably being invoked.
- When a martial artist appears in fiction using a weapon that is called a sai, it's almost always something that would more properly be called a dagger or a stiletto. A real sai is a blunt weapon that is used defensively (historically they were used by police for crowd control, much like the jutte, which is similar) and attacks are mostly swinging strikes (like a truncheon) rather than stabs (which are possible, but rare).
- Flynning is this trope with swords, and all forms of swordsmanship are martial arts. Additionally, pretty much every weapon that this trope can be applied to will have this trope applied.
- Size and strength differentials in hand-to-hand combat are greatly undervalued when Underdogs Never Lose, Muscles Are Meaningless and Gender Is No Object. Whether the hero is Weak but Skilled, a Cute Bruiser, a Little Miss Badass who is skilled at Waif-Fu, or a downright Pintsized Powerhouse, he or she will rarely have the difficulty you would expect in taking down opponents who are far larger and stronger. In real life, however, weight classes exist for a reason. And in real life, the techniques that smaller fighters can learn to enhance their fighting prowess? The big guys can learn them too.
- If you ever see a depiction of a martial artist trying to kick someone despite having a perfectly good sword (or other reasonably lengthy weapon) at hand, it's almost always because of this trope. Swords have all the advantages of a kick (better power and range than a hand technique) and none of the weaknesses (generally slower than a hand strike and requires the attacker to balance on one foot). And if the opponent also has a sword, this trope is definitely in effect - the only reason a competent martial artist would ever eschew the use of their weapon in favour of a kick against an armed opponent is if they didn't really like that particular limb and wanted to see how good their dojo's disability benefits were.
Anime & Manga
- Suzaku Kururugi of Code Geass is infamous for these, hence the Fan Nickname, "Spinzaku". His trademark gravity-defying attack allows him to run up walls, destroy machine gun turrets (while dodging their fire), disarm pistol-wielding opponents from across the room, fall great distances, shatter steel weapons, and send guards flying. Naturally, his personal mecha can do this, too, with the added benefit of his opponents exploding.
- Any other martial artist would do a lot less than 720 degrees before his leg connects. For Suzaku it's more like 1080 degrees.
- Wonder where those song lines came from? Take a look at this. In the actual episode, Suzaku merely spin-kicks three times in midair... before even reaching his target. Then he punches Lelouch instead of kicking.
- They were supposed to explain how he got his Charles Atlas Superpower but they end up suffering Executive Meddling in season 2.
- Although martial arts are mostly portrayed accurately, History's Strongest Disciple Kenichi has some instances:
- One character starts spinning in place a few times before planting an outside crescent on Kenichi, while he gawks in disbelief. Try that in the UFC.
- And then there's Attention Whore Rachel "Castor" Stanley of YOMI. She specializes in Luchadore wrestling moves, and considers keeping the audience's attention more important than actually winning the fight (though she has yet to lose a fight in the series). She and her YAMI master "Laughing Fist" Diego believe that using Awesome, but Impractical moves to win fights is the way to go.
- Chapter 134 has an aversion and Lampshade Hanging (starting here), where Hermit is fighting Berserker, who doesn't actually knows martial arts. Berserker winds his fist way back to launch a finishing blow, creating a massive opening that Hermit takes advantage of to turn the fight around.
- One of Kenichi's Masters, Shio Sakaki, is referred to as having a 100th dan rank in karate. This is impossible: dan ranks only go up to 10. It is suggested, however, that Sakaki just likes boasting and is exaggerating his rank, and besides which, nobody is really willing to challenge him on that claim.
- As the series goes on, the martial arts get less and less realistic, and this trope is played straight. Most obvious with the Elder, who can throw tanks around with ease, and is called the "Invincible Superman".
- Dragon Ball in general is full of this, but there are two particular points that deserve mention:
- Whenever the characters do any form of side kick, they throw their hands above their heads or out to the sides. This is a bad idea in real life, as it leaves the vital areas wide open.
- There was a scene in the original Dragon Ball series where Yamcha remarked that Goku had no openings, while Goku was standing face-on to his opponent, with his hands held downward at his sides. His head, torso, and groin were all wide open to attack.
- As Bruce Lee Clones, Rock Lee and Might Guy from Naruto also use a lot of flying kicks (KONOHA DAI SENPUU!). Hand-waved in-universe because most of these folks are augmenting their martial arts abilities with chakra, making those impossible moves possible and/or allowing them to hit far harder than should be possible.
- The Crane stance is done as well with complete seriousness in Fist of the Blue Sky by Zhāng Tài-Yán (except with his hands together), as well as Falco early in the second half of the Fist of the North Star manga; just to make it more mind-boggling, the leg he was standing on was his prosthetic leg.
- Air Master: Gymkata in Anime form!
- In one of the title sequences of the anime Death Note, L performs some rather implausible spinning kicks which, depending on your point of view, either look downright amazing or downright hilarious. It's supposed to be Capoeira.
- Even Gundam has them! At least the martial art/super robotesque stepchild, G Gundam. How'd you call their fighting techniques otherwise?
- Hajime no Ippo:
- Sendo's Smash punch is based on Canadian boxer Razor Ruddock's signature punch. Not nearly as impossible as it looks, but Sendo's version leaves him far more open to getting tagged with a counter.
- The Dempsey Roll. Now this is a perfectly normal (if risky) technique for fighters of small build, and is named after its most famous practitioner. The artistic license comes from the fact that Ippo maintains it on his opponent for a good 8 seconds straight. If that was done in real life, there would be 2 outcomes: either the opponent would counter it somewhere in that time frame (since the Roll puts out so much offense that it leaves next to no defense), or they were knocked flat on the ground from its beatdown long before 8 seconds had passed.
- Riki-Oh: The whole thing really.
- Rurouni Kenshin:
- In real life, sheathing your sword in the middle of a fight is a bad idea; for Kenshin, it's required for his finishing move.
- Saito's gatotsu doesn't have the advantages a left-handed thrust has in real life, surprise and an accompanying extended reach.
- Enishi, the series' final Big Bad, utilizes a sword whose design is based on the tachi, a weapon whose blade was traditionally anywhere between 70 and 80 centimeters long. Enishi is shown to be quite capable of wielding his sword in one hand, even twirling it around between his fingers at one point to demonstrate his skill; in real life, the tachi was used primarily by cavalrymen, and while it could be used for ground combat it was more awkward to wield than if the swordsman was still on his horse. (It may be somewhat justified in Enishi's case, however, as his sword's particular design consists of a traditional Chinese sword handle and a Japanese blade, and Chinese-made swords are designed to be significantly lighter and more flexible.)
- Science Ninja Team Gatchaman occasionally averts this trope (such a straight elbow to the guts of someone trying to be sneaky) but more usually plays it very straight. Bad enough with the rank-and-file (who tend to be slow and dumb as bricks), but when the SNT and the Elite Mooks go up against each other, both sides are very guilty of this trope. Partially justified in that both sides have help.
- One episode of La Seine no Hoshi had an interesting mix of this and Shown Their Work: a one-shot character featured in it had some rather improbable techniques, but not only the martial art chosen for him, Savate, was appropriate to the place, era and social status (the series being set in Paris right before the French Revolution, when Savate already existed but was only used by soldiers, sailors and street brawlers), the character was noted as extremely skilled, doing things that shouldn't have been possible, and the one time he fought a skilled foe (another Savate practitioner) he fought in a very sensible manner, aside for the flying kick that won him the bout (with the foe actually being caught by surprise by the attack and unable to dodge in time).
- Katanagatari: Averted, one of the CentralThemes of the anime is that many a Martial Arts Movie tends to show Martial Arts just as a way to obtain different superpowers. Nanami reminds us that true Martial arts seek two Simple, yet Awesome things: To teach a technique that improves the students self-worth by patience and practice, and to give the students at the school a sense of community and pertinence. Those were the very things his Blessed with Suck incredible power denied her. That is what makes her duel a true tearjerker:
Seventh head of Kyotouryuu, Shichika YasuriWithout Style nor School, Nanami Yasuri.
- In Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, it's revealed that Syaoran fights mainly with kicks due to having a poor vision on one of his eyes, which he resolves by measuring out the distance to his opponent with his legs. In realistic fighting, this would be almost the opposite case - a fighter would risk his balance and defense if he threw commited, long-range attacks without a good accuracy, so the most adequate style for a person with poor vision would be actually a short-ranged, preferably grappling-based one. In other words, this is the reason why in real life judo is a popular sport for blind athletes and taekwondo isn't.
- Lampshaded, in all places, in the first ever Groo the Wanderer. A soldier comments on Groo carrying his swords on his back, only to have Groo pull out a sword and put it up to his nose before he even finishes his sentence.
- When Frank Miller draws martial artists in Sin City, he loves having them perform some weird split kicks that look like they would be awkward in Real Life.
- John Byrne once said, since he did not know Kung-fu, he would draw Iron Fist pulling off fighting moves that simply looked cool and didn't care about how real it looked. Since Iron Fist learned how to fight in another dimension, it does make some amount of sense.
- Not only do comic-universe martial arts work absurdly well, they're incredibly quick to learn. Batman trained a ten-year-old kid in a matter of weeks to clear out roomfuls of armed mooks. Captain America (who himself had limited time to learn) trained Bucky to do the same on a modern battlefield, without benefit of shield or super-serum. You have to wonder why more criminals don't train to the same level, if it's that easy to become a one-man wrecking crew.
Films — Animated
- During the "I'll Make a Man Out of You" sequence they do deeds worthy of Bruce Lee.
- Take a look at when Mulan kicks Shang. She pivots on her toe- in martial arts, you typically pivot on the ball of your foot.
Films — Live-Action
- Steven Seagal's earlier films such as Out For Justice and Under Siege have some pretty realistic techniques. On the other hand, the most recent ones, where he can't even run, reflect this trope perfectly.
- In spite of his reputation as the world's greatest martial artist, Bruce Lee's movies feature a lot of this. He admitted that jumping high kicks were only good for movies, and he would never use them in a real fight.
- Jackie Chan films. Chan was schooled in Peking Opera from childhood to perform stage fighting and acrobatics. He and his fellow opera school graduates such as Sammo Hung excel at creating fighting scenes that indulge fully in the Rule of Cool and/or Rule of Funny. He has admitted that his skills don't amount to much in a real fight (he claims to have only ever been in one, in which he did not come out unscathed).
- Jet Li protagonists indulge in being badass and fending off one Multi-Mook Melee after another, but since he is a trained martial artist, his fight choreography has Shown Their Work and tend to be grounded in more realistic martial arts moves than your average wuxia movie, and when it's fantastical, the setting is as well.
- The wuxia genre of films, such as Hero and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon are based on mythic stories of supernatural swordsmen. As such, their reputation of combat features a great deal of magic.
- Equilibrium is based around a fictional martial art in which practitioners use probability to predict the locations of bullet fire and move to avoid them. While memorizing such probability would give you a slight advantage, it not only relies on nobody ever deviating from the statistical norms, but also on your attackers being accurate enough that their shots don't stray too far from those lines of fire.
- The first Best of the Best film features a group of martial arts experts sent to Korea to compete in a World Karate competition. And certainly, the martial arts on display resemble karate, with an even mix of punches and kicks and even some judo throws for good measure. All in all, a mild example since the 80s were chock-full of karate films, if not for the fact that Korea has no karate tradition and, in fact, is the birthplace of the Taekwondo martial art. And the film makes it so blindingly obvious that the plot is meant to fixate on Taekwondo that it goes beyond Limited Reference Pools into willfull disregard.
- The "Crane Kick" from The Karate Kid. It doesn't come from any actual martial arts tradition. The filmmakers invented it simply to look impressive. There's even some debate as to whether it would cause Daniel to be disqualified from the tournament.
- The rebooted The Karate Kid (2010), apparently needing to upstage the original, climaxes with a magical reverse flip kick that wouldn't be out-of-place in a Wuxia film.
- Bud Spencer's trademark move, called the "pigeon." It's a fist bash to the top of the head, the hardest spot on the human body.
- In The Princess Bride, Inigo Montoya not only blocks an attacker's blade behind him but stabs him to death back there as well, without looking. He's just that good.
- In David Mamet's Redbelt, one character applies a standing rear naked choke, then the other one runs up a wall and does a backflip over him to escape. Mixed Martial Arts competition does sometimes feature a "wall walk" to get out of submissions, but they're always used while grappling on the ground. Fighters who apply a rear naked choke will wrap their legs around their opponent's thighs, "getting the hooks in," to prevent their opponent from using their lower body to escape. Here's what's likely to happen in real life, from a similar situation◊.
- Christian Slater in Uwe Boll's 2005 Alone in the Dark movie manages to initiate a somersault kick while lying on his back, violating several different laws of physics in the process.
- Kill Bill
- The Bride is buried in a wooden coffin and uses a one inch punch to break it. The one inch punch gets all its power from the stance and hip movement and is thus impossible to do when lying an the back. Since the Bride had to do it over and over again, it's possible that the only help she got from her training was toughened knuckles.
- All of the wuxia-inspired choreography is based on this trope, such as Pai Mei jumping onto a sword blade and standing on it, apparently weightless.
- Jean-Claude Van Damme's "spinning splits jumpkick," displayed most prominently in Bloodsport, is telegraphed years in advance, and it's only the use of slow-motion and very low camera angles that make it look like a head-height attack instead of the chest-height hop it actually is.
- In a weird variant of the trope, Tom Yum Goong has Tony Jaa take a full-speed/full-power meia lua de compasso from significantly heavier-looking Lateef Crowder squarely on the jaw. Suffice it to say, if you actually do that in real life you won't be waking up for a good while - and once you do, you'd probably wish you hadn't.
- An early scene in You Don't Mess with the Zohan had Adam Sandler's character dealing with a ignorantly racist businessman in New York City. The two are standing about a foot apart the entire time. Through the use of camera shots and props, Zohan starts kicking the guy in the face, alternating between both feet, before grabbing his nose with both feet and starts twisting it. Standing perfectly eye-level with the guy the whole time. This is all for the Rule of Funny.
- Subverted in an early scene in Ninja Cheerleaders. Some unfortunate orange-belt (a low rank in Karate) utterly fails to impress April with his backflips...and gets his arse handed to him.
- Parodied all over the place in Kung Phooey! One particular scene has the hero blocking a series of punches with his legs in an anatomically impossible fashion. Then the camera pans back and it turns out he was using his arms, but had shoes over his hands for some reason.
- The Crane Kick from The Karate Kid shows up in Ashens And The Quest For The Game Child, and its impracticality is lampshaded: the villain brags about how powerful the move is, and Ashens takes a few steps back, bringing him out of the kick's range, and the villain cannot get closer because he is standing on one leg, which is getting tired. The villain asks Ashens to not hit him while he is changing the leg he is standing on, and Ashens hits him anyways.
- As seen in the page image, Kung Pow! Enter the Fist isn't exactly a movie that cares about being realistic at all.
- In Romeo Must Die, Anthony Anderson's character does the Crane Kick stance while facing Jet Li's character. Jet Li kicks him square in the crotch.
- Kung Fu Hustle has this in spades. Between the Lion's Roar and Toad style actually making you look like a toad, it gets pretty crazy. Oh, and the landlady runs like the Roadrunner.
- Cleopatra Jones: Master Bong Soo Han, a 9th Dan Blackbelt in Hap Ki Do, was the Martial Arts advisor for this film. It only shows in one or two scenes near the climax (the classic wristlock-spin-opponent flips 270 degrees onto his back); the rest is "judo chops" and curved-legged kicks so bad that even the editing can't make it look believable.
- Writers of Chinese Kung fu epics have been doing this for decades if not longer. It's also translated into the television series based on the book. One of the most popular examples being the epic "Condor Heroes."
- In The Destroyer, Sinanju gives you superhuman strength and speed, and it might make you the hero of prophecy and the Avatar of Shiva, the Destroyer. It also lets you fall from airplanes without injury, detect snipers with the hairs on your upper arms, perform chiropracy on dinosaurs and redirect electronic signals to hack door locks.
- In Time Scout, Author Appeal distorts the depiction of martial arts.
- Played with in Nick Harkaway's The Gone-Away World when discussing the so-called martial arts secrets that obviously must exist, since every single Chop Sockey film has made use of them. The master of the main character says that there are no such things as the Inner Teachings or any such nonsense. Then he makes one up on the spot as a joke just so that the students can say they have some to other martial artists. Later the protagonist realizes that the teacher's secret teaching was legit, and proceeds to use the Ghost Palm of the Voiceless Dragon. The zig-zag moment comes when the narrative completely justifies the use of the secret: the protagonist spends some time getting his older opponent's heart rate up by forcing him to expend a lot of effort in using a hard style martial arts. Then when the opponent's heart is racing along at 190 bpm, the protagonist lays a nice solid palm strike to his sternum, causing cardiac arrest.
- The Avenger's sidekick Nellie Grey knows jujutsu, which allows her to throw men three times her weight around like tenpins if they so much as extend an arm in her general direction.
- The Kingkiller Chronicle introduces the Adem, a culture of warrior-philosophers who practice a martial art that is so powerful that 10-year-old girls can defeat grown men. The discipline is based on an understanding of morality in addition to athletics, and because women are morally superior to men (!), women are better fighters than men. When the protagonist protests that men are typically stronger and have a longer reach, he's told that these factors don't mean much. All of this is, of course, pure fiction.
- Subverted in the first Artemis Fowl book. Artemis asks Butler to create a distraction. Butler insults a bunch of drunken longshoremen and defeats them using flashy kicks and punches. The subversion comes in because he's purposely using such moves to make the fight last longer and to stand out more, giving Artemis his distraction. In his inner monologue, Butler cringes at some of the moves he performs, because they're so inefficient. He defeats multiple opponents mostly because they were all drunk and enraged. Lampshaded by Artemis immediately after: "Your sensei must be rolling in his grave. A spinning kick? How could you?"
- In Goldfinger, Karate is described to be "a branch of Judo" with Chinese origins, and how there are "only three practitioners with Black Belt" in the world.
- In Shadowboy, Travis admits to using overly showy moves when he has an audience, despite the act coming back to bite him frequently.
Live Action TV
- Star Trek features a few moves of dubious authenticity.
- The chopping blows to the base of the neck or elsewhere, sometimes remembered as "Judo chops," though Judo is a grappling art that does not allow strikes, much less strikes to the neck. The principle behind "chopping" strikes is that the "blade" of the hand has a smaller surface area, and has been recommended in a few real-world fighting systems.
- The famous Vulcan nerve pinch, in which the base of the neck is pressed with the fingers and induces instantaneous unconciousness. Leonard Nimoy invented the move on the spot when he decided that simply clubbing an opponent with a phaser didn't seem very Spock-like. The original concept was that Spock produced a bio-electric/psychic shock through his fingertips, turning his hand into a taser. When Spock uses it in the Original Series, he simply touches the necks of his opponents. However, the move was misinterpreted as a nerve pinch, and remained this way through future incarnations of the series.
- Kirk used a horizontal jump kick so often that when William Shatner nearly got into a Real Life fight, he realized that he was instinctively planning on using it. After a moment of consideration, he realized that flopping onto the floor at the beginning of a real fight would go very badly for him, so he walked away.
- Hand-to-hand fight scenes in every series almost invariably feature a two-fisted hammer punch that's been dubbed the "Kirk special."
- Klingons on the newer spin-offs tend to just hack with bat'leth swords and head-butt each other, despite Worf's claim that the elaborate tai-chi-looking moves he practices are "Klingon martial arts". This was addressed in some Extended Universe material in a way that can be summed up as, "Martial arts are for artists, this how you fight a REAL battle." Not to mention that bat'leths are highly impractical weapons, when compared to a typical sword, eliminating one of the greatest advantages of a sword - range. Trying to use a bat'leth like a normal sword would also result in the other sharp end pointing straight at your gut (not a good idea).
- The long-running Pili series from Taiwan features Kung Fu puppets with wire-fu, precision-guided swords and CG special effects. It's basically Chinese puppet theater.
- Charmed: Phoebe had been practising martial arts for years and combined it with her levitation ability to pull off movie-style martial arts moves. Prue also learned how to combine martial arts and her telekinesis ability to perform the same moves as Phoebe. Lampshaded once by Piper complaining that those two have become super-witches and she can't do what they're capable of doing.
- When the Canadian science fiction channel Space still used the "Space Bar" intros to its regular "Movies From Space" segments, one character demonstrates a traditional martial arts kata of his people; it looks utterly ludicrous. The bartender asks if it actually works. The alien says it works very well; their opponents laugh long enough for them to run away. The character's people are extremely good at Obfuscating Stupidity, to the point where they're not entirely sure if their stupidity is in fact obfuscating...
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In early seasons, Buffy's stunt double actually knew martial arts, leading to fairly realistic combat with a few exaggerations easily explained by her super strength. Later, the actress lost so much weight that only gymnasts could fill in for her without the switch being obvious, leading to a lot more wire-fu and gymkata.
- Zig Zagged in Chuck. One confrontation with villain of the week starts with him showing off in a series of backflips and high-acrobatic martial arts. It's justified, as his backstory includes competitive gymnastics but no actual combat, which means he's the kind of person who could do backflips and wouldn't realize it's a bad idea. So a martial arts fight is set up, but then Sarah just shoots him in the knee.
- In Doctor Who the Third Doctor's Venusian Aikido pretty much counts as this; it seems to have mostly been designed to make Jon Pertwee look good in a cloak. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
- In the Spanish adventure series Águila Roja, Gonzalo, the main character dresses and moves like a ninja, but his fighting style is somewhat indetermined, and doesn't resemble Ninjutsu at all.
- In Babylon 5, it's revealed that Lennier is proficient in some branch of martial arts. Not much is revealed about it, except that it seems to involve a lot of spinning around. Probably because the way it makes his robes whirl looks pretty sweet.
- The sketch-comedy Almost Live! did a long-running series of bits titled "Mind Your Manners With Billy Quan", where the eponymous guy would regularly do impossible martial arts moves, in particular his double-footed jump-kick, which could home in on its target, travel for blocks, go around corners, etc.
- Played entirely for laughs in the "Unagi" (Japanese for eel) episodes of Kaamelott, where the two resident dumbasses Karadoc and Perceval are forever attempting to come up with a martial art (seeing as they're no good in a fight involving swords and armor). Highlights include Karadoc attempting to break several slabs of rock barehanded (that is, he never actually gets around to it) or their contribution to the art of Improvised Weaponry such as flutes (playing a shrill sound to force the enemy to cover their ears), sausages (used as nunchucks), fennel (the trick is apparently to grab it by the round part and stab with the stem, not grab the stem and hit with the round part)... In the latter, Arthur plays along with their style for a few seconds before clocking them both out with a punch.
- The medium, or at least the actual matches. Even the simplest of punches is painfully slow, clear to the opponent weeks in advance and aimed at low-damaging areas, frequently the opponent's massive pecs. And that's not even considering the more ludicrous maneuvers detailed below.note
- The Ring of Honor pro wrestling promotion had one of its early pro wrestling matches use this trope: Amazing Red brought the flips, Low Ki brought the high-impact kicks. However, ROH also occasionally subverts the trope; both Kevin Steen and Samoa Joe have countered acrobatic attacks by simply walking away rather than standing and waiting for the move to complete.
- The Irish Whip is extremely common. It involves swinging someone around by the arm to send them sprinting across the ring, bounce off something springy, and sprint back towards you to receive a follow-up attack. While certain joint locks and such can give you control over an opponent's movement, The Irish Whip takes it to absurd levels.
- The move is supposed to need some cooperation by the opponent, who presumably is trying to use the momentum of the move against the opponent, but then it rises the question of why would a little wrestler want to try to revert-tackle a superheavyweight Wrestling Monster, which is the most common occasion.
- It gets even weirder when it's not too uncommon to see an Irish Whip victim grip the ropes before they can be sprung back at their opponent, faking them out and likely causing a whiffed attack. Sure that makes sense... but then what about all those other times you didn't and ate a clothesline to the face?
- "British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith was charged with assault in 1993 following a bar fight, the complainant claiming that the wrestler had attacked him and powerbombed him. Part of Smith's defense was demonstrating that the powerbomb was impossible to do without the 'victim's' cooperation. The court found for the defendant, as a police officer witnessing the fight testified the man simply tripped and fell on the back his head. Oddly enough, exceptionally strong wrestlers can pull a deadlift powerbomb with much trouble (Big Van Vader being a popular example), and Mixed Martial Arts matches have occasionally seen powerbombs when one fighter is attempting a triangle choke with his legs wrapped around his opponent's head, leaving him vulnerable to slams. Rampage Jackson famously knocked out Ricardo Arona this way.
- The Canadian Destroyer (a flip piledriver), which is actually physically impossible (the 'victim' does all the work). This was highlighted when Kota Ibushi received a series of Canadian Destroyers from YOSHIHIKO, a blow-up doll. Even though the "victim" does do all the work in this example, there's always that one-in-a-million chance...
- The RKO, which, despite inheriting the People's Elbow's Most Electrifying Move title, is a move where the victim does about half the work and then pretends to be out of it. Even if it was real, it'd be the kind of move that only stuns for a few seconds. Also, Piledrivers are mostly fake, as, if done the way they seem to be done, they'd be mostly lethal (As these two found out), or at least crippling (an unprotected piledriver broke Stone Cold's neck).
- Performing a stunner on a hard floor might just break your opponent's neck or back. You'll probably also break your tailbone.
- Sin Cara (the original one played by Místico) had a particularly silly finishing move that basically involved doing a moonsault from the top turnbuckle and somehow dragging the opponent (in superplex position) with him. Even with fully trained, co-operative opponents there were very few wrestlers who would receive this move because of the high agility required on the part of the "victim". In real life you would most like end up falling on your head with the opponent on top of you.
- Rey Mysterio's 619 requires the opponent to be draped over the middle rope with his head and arms outside the ring. The presumption is they're too weak to avoid the move, but just strong enough to not slide onto the mat from their own body weight. There's also the fact that they pretty much have to get themselves into that position.
- Any flip move like the 450 Splash. Since the point is to land on the opponent with your full body weight, the flip part adds nothing to it and actually wastes time.
- Street Fighter (even discounting the Ki Attacks) throws everything about martial arts out of the window with such impossible moves as the Hurricane Kick. Oddly enough, some of the attacks do bow to reality - if a Dragon Punch misses, you can smack the user out of the air with anything. Guile's upside-down kick gets bonus points; it breaks the laws of physics and it's not even a special move. It's like they ran out of space for the sprites, and decided to just flip an existing one vertically.
- Virtually any Kunio-kun game. Especially River City Ransom, its "sequel", and remake. Mainly because it's both awesome and funny at the same time. Running in mid-air indefinitely is only one of the examples.
- Double Dragon
- The second game was one of the earliest games with a Cyclone Kick, and it was way more effective than it realistically should have been (maybe enemies are just too impressed with your ability to briefly deny the laws of physics).
- The 2-Player mode in Double Dragon III (in both, arcade and NES version) allows both players use a Double Cyclone Kick, the strongest attack in the game. Luckily no one ever shot you down when you tried it. The arcade version allowed any pair of characters to do it, but in the NES version only Billy and Jimmy could perform the Double Cyclone Kick together.
- Righteous Fists, the basic attack of Unarmed Martial Arts in Champions Online, apparently consists of teleporting between several poses, striking them in mid-air. With a high enough frame rate, one can see they DON'T teleport, just change direction and momentum faster than would be humanly possible. As this is a superhero MMO, this is understandable.
- The Martial Arts power set from City of Heroes is way too flashy to be genuinely useful, one of your most used moves is a flying spinning kick that a real fighter would see coming a mile away. Though it's probably justified-
mostall heroes can take bullets without flinching, so they probably don't care about leaving an opening if they can get a stronger attack from it.
- Bujingai takes this trope Up to Eleven, using Wuxia as a motif. Apparently in the demon-infested future of Japan, martial arts will let you run up and leap off of walls, do a spinning backflip kick while Dual Wielding swords, and fly!
- Largely averted in both Bushido Blade games where characters couldn't jump more than a foot or two vertically, sword strikes can kill you in one hit, and the few scenarios involving more than one mook opponent seriously challenge the characters.
- Toribash has a lot of realism, but players can also remove body parts with kicks and throws, or even literally tear you to pieces, then top it off by finish the match in a flashy pose.
- To this day, Mestre Marcelo Caveirinha, who was the mo-cap model for Eddy Gordo, gets crap from other capoeiristas over Eddy (and later Cristie) not doing the ginga right. It's not his fault, though; ginga—capoeira's distinctive guard, consisting of "swinging" back and forth from the opponent, with one arm up to guard your face—is counterintuitive for many non-capoeiristas, especially if they've also done an Asian martial art. Making a proper ginga a base for a good fighting-game move-set is even more challenging.
- In line with Street Fighter and other 2D fighting games, Fatal Fury and The King of Fighters use this trope a lot. Mai Shiranui offers a notable example in having a move that, were it to be performed in real life, would probably hurt her much more than her opponent: her musasabi no mai, which has her dive headfirst towards her opponent; she doesn't even use her head to hit, but her face. The first version of this move (back in Fatal Fury 2) was different but not much better; its sprites strongly implied that she was attacking with her ample bust (Electronic Gaming Monthly even dubbed the attack "Mai's swan dive").
- As with above, Ermac in Mortal Kombat X should be lucky they got mental manipulation. For the first strike - a headbutt to the face with enough force to break the unlucky sap's skull - would had also broke Ermac's skull as well.
- Tekken 7's new combo mechanic, "Tailspin", throws the enemy backwards onto their head when they're hit with a move that will twist them through the air (this animation has existed in previous Tekken games for other reasons as well). Thing is, if someone were able to impart enough force to twist a human body in mid-flight purely by impact, it'd probably snap their neck with horrific whiplash.
- Subverted and Lampshaded in S.S.D.D. Subverted in that, when Action Girl Tessa tries to use a Bruce Lee-style jumping kick in a CQC sparring-match, she gets a pair of cracked ribs for her trouble. Lampshaded in that her opponent immediately realizes that she threw the match by giving him a huge opening. Although that strip also provides an example. Taking the full force of that in a direct block would break your arms, and knock you flat on your ass.
- In Sluggy Freelance Oasis is fond of doing unnecessary gymnastic showmanship moves while fighting people, though admittedly she saves the big poses until after she strikes a critical blow. She's also clearly superhuman, so perhaps it would really work for someone like that.
- In El Goonish Shive, many of the moves in "Anime-Style Martial Arts" would be very hard or impossible to pull off effectively without the help of magic. When first introduced Justin describes it as:
... difficult, overly complex, and fairly ridiculous activities that shouldn't yield such fantastic results and yet somehow do.
- In Dumbing of Age, the 5'3" Amber, routinely beats up full grown college football players in her Amazi-Girl persona, despite having no (known) fighting training (beyond Track and Field of all things).
- In God Of High School, every named fighting style is this! For example, the protagonist, Jin Mo-Ri, apparently uses a form of Tae Kwan Do in which one becomes capable of generating tornadoes with a single kick to knock opponents skyward before riding said tornado to kick them back to the ground, which leaves the victim spinning on the ground unconscious but alive. Yeah... and that's without magic.
- A short film by the ZeroGravity stunt team, "US vs HK," manages to parody it both ways by playing the same fight scene as both Hollywood and Hong Kong martial artists would do it. The US version is a Fight Scene Failure played for laughs. The HK version is Crazy Awesome, played for laughs and jaw-dropping.
- Jeff the Killer has a fight in which two teens (about 13 or so) engage in a Hollywood-style fight scene, including throwing each other around like ragdolls, pretty much no-selling multiple kicks to the face, and Jeff even killing a guy by stopping his heart with a punch to the chest.
- Some of the earlier fights in Teen Titans had poor choreography on Robin's part. Several times he backflips away from the enemy to kick them. Fortunately he cleaned up his act in later seasons. This might be deliberate given that every time he fought Slade (who didn't bother with flips or gymnastics at all), Slade kicked his ass.
- In real judo, a "throw" is any maneuver that knocks an opponent off his feet. In an episode of The Flintstones, however, Wilma used judo to throw an intruder all the way into the next room and out the door.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
- The show couldn't have the turtles use their weapons to shed blood, so they go all out on the martial arts instead.
- Speaking of the Turtles, Master Splinter's portion of the title sequence sees him demolishing a wooden tower by breaking individual boards with a sequence of moves while falling through it.
- In the Double Dragon animated series, Jimmy Lee has what Billy called "deadly Shadow Moves", which one of the kids learned when he watched Jimmy practice.
- One episode of W.I.T.C.H. has Will go into a Crane Kick pose, but not use the attack, when she and the girls race back to where they were hiding Yan Lin. Equally frustrating was the fact that, as they were running, at least one of them climbs over and jumps off a big rock, which would just use up strength needed to fight if something bad WAS happening.
- One episode of Dexter's Laboratory had the characters learn a "free Judo lesson" that involved shrieking "AAAAAH, SHITAKE!!!" while flying through the air at the opponent.
- Jackie Chan Adventures unashamedly did plenty of this in emulating the action of Jackie Chan's better-known movies (meaning that the action is about 20% theatrical martial arts and 80% Jackie running away from danger and hastily improvising defenses). The villainous henchman Hak Foo even takes the time to call attack names for everything from basic punches to excessive gymnastic combination attacks.