"A fist... is the first and most powerful weapon that men can have in their entire lives. It is a man's soul in material form, the ultimate melee weapon!"The Bare Fisted Monk excels in melee attacks without wielding weapons. Due to the discipline this entails, this is pretty much exclusively the province of Warrior Monks, sometimes, even those from Western religions. (Ironically, the monks that popular culture usually equates with bare-fisted fighting—those of the Shaolin Temple—also learn to master multiple weapons for holistic development.) Rather than finding flashy new equipment or learning new spells, a Bare Fisted Monk draws on their own strength. Their main advantage is that they can passively keep improving their skills without shelling out cash. Their main disadvantage is that they can't rapidly leapfrog ahead in power by shelling out cash. Bare Fisted Monks are often subject to an unique case of Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards, as they have significant inherent ability but being unable to actually use any weapon based upgrades gives them unfortunate tendency to fall behind in the endgame. Armor restrictions are also typical. As a result, when everyone else is wielding mighty artifacts of yore, they're still throwing punches. Of course, this is just as frequently averted, especially when Competitive Balance is a concern, typically by giving them access to specialized weapons only they may use, such as a Power Fist, which is a piece of equipment that augments unarmed attacks, letting weapons act as pure Stat Sticks, or granting the monk Next Tier Power Ups such as Ki Attacks or Magical Martial Arts. In either case, the monk is still extremely likely to display no visible weapons. Subtrope of An Adventurer Is You and Weapon of Choice. Supertrope to Boxing Battler. Much like you can't have a Badass Normal in a world without actual super powers, this trope is not applicable in settings where everyone fights unarmed, of course—there's nothing surprising about Rocky fighting with bare fists, since..well..that's the point. Also not to be confused with Good Old Fisticuffs, which is when the lack of a fighting style and weapons defeats people who have both.
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Anime & Manga
- Berserk: Bakiraka Warrior Prince Silat's bodyguards, the Tapasa, are four grotesquely muscled martial artists that use only their bare fists and feet as weapons. Every one is a Lightning Bruiser who can catch flying blades between their palms, as well as punch a man to death through full plate armor.
- Almost every "member" of what Dragon Ball Z termed "the Z-Fighters" and almost all of the villains, making the exceptions more noticeable. Yamucha used to use swords, guns and explosives but these proved to be ineffective against Goku, especially in the anime, and his wolf wind attack, while still being The Worf Barrage, proved more reliable. Goku himself used the nianbo/"power pole" when facing armed and or flying enemies until he learned its true purpose was to connect Karin Tower to God/Kami's lookout. Future Trunks has a swords, which tend to eventually break. Dabra had a hyper space arsenal of swords and spears. Pretty much every other fighter of note just hit things, unless you watched the non serial movie
- Krillin is the only one who fits the "monk" part of the trope, as he shaves his head regularly (to the point Goku thought he was just bald) at least up until the Buu Saga, post marriage and has Moxibustion points on his forehead. Everyone else are just extreme martial art enthusiasts.
- Almost all the cast from Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, with the only exceptions of Kousaka Shigure, those who don't fight at all and the Yami armed division.
- Kenshiro of Fist of the North Star can fight well with nunchucks if he has to, but prefers his bare hands. The better to pop heads with!.
- And pretty everyone else in the series fights bare handed, except for Mamiya who fights with a crossbow and Jagi who likes using a shotgun and gasoline.
- Princess Amelia from the series Slayers is the only major protagonist who does not use a bladed weapon of any kind in battle, preferring to use physical attacks. She even invented her own Astral magic attack to fit into her fighting style. Her history reveals why she refuses to wield a weapon: witnessing her mother's assassination traumatized her to the point that wielding a weapon, as shown in the final episode of Slayers TRY, makes her uneasy.
- Virtually all ninja from the series Naruto are trained in unarmed combat, but there are characters that are specialists.
- Might Guy and his pupil Rock Lee utilize a style that emphasizes incredible speed and power and neither character uses other techniques (Rock Lee being literally unable to), and they don't often use weapons, either. That said, when Guy does bust out his nunchaku, you know shit's getting real.
- Another set of characters that specialize in unarmed combat are the Hyuuga Clan. They use jyuken, or 'Gentle Fist', which uses energy-based strikes to disable the ninja techniques of the opposition.
- The Raikage is an atypical example, preferring techniques that enhance his already insane speed and strength while utilizing a professional wrestling-esque martial arts style.
- Doppo Orochi, as the Combat Pragmatist he is, still gives us this wonderful speech on the aesthetics that a karateka should keep on:
Actually, we already carry various weapons on us at all times. That’s why there’s no point in carrying other ones. A student who gets in a fight on his way to school can use his backpack… you can use a fan you just happen to have in your pocket… in a pinch, maybe a belt too… your shoes are also ok…at the most, is acceptable to use a knife in your attacker hands. Those are all the thing you might end up using. But nothing else is allowed! Even a pencil… or a fistful of sand… as soon as you arm yourself in preparation for a fight, you’re tipping the scales! And tossing away your pride in the process!
- Half a minute after that, he cuts a 4-micres wire with the side of his hand to save two of his students from being sliced with it. Just to make his opinion stand.
- Kuu Fei in Mahou Sensei Negima!; she wipes the floor with weapon-users routinely.
- Ryohei Sasagawa from Katekyō Hitman Reborn! is this. Y'know, unless you count hand bandage wrap things as weapons.
- Sagara Sanosuke and Anji Yukyuzan from Rurouni Kenshin.
- There are several unarmed melee users in Lyrical Nanoha, but the best example here is probably Lieze Lotte, Chrono's close combat teacher. As shown during her stint as one of the masked men in A's, she fights using unarmed combat exclusively, never using offensive spells even once.
- Also, all of the fighting until now in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid has been carried out in melee (at most, with magic-augmented melee attacks).
- The main contributors to the Bare-Fisted Monk department in StrikerS are the Nakajima sisters, Subaru and Ginga, who turn out to be Type Zero Combat Cyborgs.
- Scar from Fullmetal Alchemist was a monk before he became a counter-genocider. He still fights with his bare hands after forsaking God in favour of revenge, but adds in destructive alchemy to the mix.
- Minai from Corpse Princess fights Shikabane using hand-to-hand combat and spiked gauntlets, unlike her fellow Shikabane Hime who all use guns, swords or other weapons.
- Zenkichi Hitoyoshi of Medaka Box primarily relies on his Savate fighting style to handle foes dues to his aversion to weapons. This doesn't preclude making the opponent's weapon backfire on them however.
- Sanji from One Piece is the only member of the Straw Hat Pirates who doesn't use any weapons or Devil Fruit powers. Hell, he doesn't even use his hands, he only uses his legs and feet so when he's fighting he doesn't risk injuring his hands, a chef needs his hands to cook after all. He is perfectly capable of using knives to great effect, but refuses to do so because they are for cooking, not combat. He makes one exception when fighting an opponent who uses weaponized noodles (seriously!) in combat.
- In Gamaran there are two school of martial arts focused on unarmed fighting: the first is the Kyosen School of the Daimaru clan, which is focused on attacks aimed at severely damaging inner organs with only one blow. However, as the sword-wielding protagonist points out, if their attacks don't connect, they're done for. Much later we see the much more formidable Kiyomori Yamanoue of the Genkon School, nicknamed "Lord of the Doom Fist" and capable of paralyzing peoples with his fingers by hitting the nerves and even rip the heart out of his opponents barehanded.
- In High School D×D, Sairaorg Bael is essentially the demon version of Muggle Born of Mages. His solution is to train his body and martial arts to the point where his punches can all but cause Ludicrous Gibs on mooks with each strike.
- Bleach: Yoruichi's zanpakuto is only shown in a flashback. She always fights without weapons and only ever uses armour once, when protecting her arms and legs to fight a supernaturally empowered Aizen. Although Soi Fon has basically the same fighting style as Yoruichi, she relies more on her zanpakuto than Yoruichi does. Yoruichi can empower her unarmed combat style with a unique Ki Attack called Shunkou to strengthen her physical attacks beyond the physical limit, a technique that Soi Fon can also use.
- Jewelpet Kira Deco: most members of the Kira Deco 5 fight physically (which is odd for Jewelpet since it is a magical fantasy show) - Retsu with his fists, Blue Knight with his legs, Midori does kung fu, Kiichi does sumo. Meanwhile, Pink can't do anything until she receives the ability to cast magic... in the second-to-last episode.
- Shachi from Tokyo Ghoul is a ghoul that has spent his life studying the martial arts, mastering as many schools as possible. His natural abilities as a ghoul have been honed to perfection through these teachings, making him one of the most powerful characters in the series. He rarely uses his kagune in battle, instead devastating his opponents with precise strikes with hands and feet. While greatly feared for his strength, he is also noted for being a moderate that avoids needless violence or killing.
- Akagami no Shirayukihime: Obi surprises Zen and Shirayuki when he slips away from them at a festival and enters a fighting competition under a name which he created in the past specifically for earning winnings from martial arts events. He wins, and has thus far proven unmatched in unarmed combat, but unlike many others on this page isn't crazy enough to go up against armed opponents without weapons of his own if he can avoid it and is always covered in hidden throwing knives with at least two daggers hanging at his belt. He has however shown that he can very quickly disarm a single opponent with a sword without any weapons of his own, and that was accidentally in a fight he was trying to loose.
- Thunderlord from Global Guardians is what you get when mixing Buddhism, martial arts and mutant powers of the Make Me Wanna Shout variety.
- More traditionally at Marvel, there's Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu, and Iron Fist. In fact, there was once a Moon Knight special where he teamed up with Shang-Chi. When preparing to go into battle, Moon Knight had his typical gadgets but Shang was notably empty handed. Moon Knight asked if he had any weapons and the martial artist replied that, while he had mastered various weapons in the past, he simply did not need them.
- Wildcat from The DCU uses no weapons and was a Badass Normal until a Retcon slowed his aging. He's just a champion boxer who fights crime in a cat mask.
- Tibetan Chinese Wong, descendant of a long line of holy servants to the Sorcerer Supreme, can kick righteous ass when called for. He also serves as a sparring partner and instructor for his master, Doctor Strange.
Strange: Yes, in some respects, [Wong] is my servant... but in others, Wong is my master.
- In Fallout: Equestria, the Zebra fighter and companion Xenith is a master of "Fallen Caesar Style". Combined with her skill in stealth and ability to use Zebra alchemical brews in unexpected ways in combat (such as running along ceilings); she can engage armed and armored foes with no more than her hooves. She does, however, don a clawed helmet when it's argued her skills won't be as effective against magically shielded foes.
- The History Monks of Discworld, at least the ones not outfitted by Qu.
"Are you any good with weapons?" asked Susan.
- "No," said Lobsang, proudly.
- "Then try to stay out of the way."
- "I mean I've been trained to fight without..."
- The Bloodguard from the The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant series disdain the use of weapons, believing that they will eventually betray their wielder. When a group of badass hunters display their ability to use garrotes to ensnare and kill their quarry, a Bloodguard examines one of their cords and dismissively snaps it.
- Parker is perfectly willing to use guns, knives, clubs and booby trapped amusement parks as weapons, but he prefers to work with his hands.
Stegman: I don't see no gun on you. I don't see no weapon!Parker: (cracks knuckles) You see two of them. They're all I need.
Live Action TV
- Game of Thrones: Played with with Gregor in his undead form. He does carry a sword but he doesn't really need it to kill a man, and so far he seems to prefer using his bare hands.
- Most of the Showa era Kamen Riders in the Kamen Rider franchise use this combat style, with the most famous example being the original Kamen Rider 1 and Kamen Rider 2. After the series was rebooted in the Heisei era, most Kamen Riders started to rely more on weapons, rather than their unarmed skill, resulting in this trope becoming the exception rather than the norm. However, when a Rider has the ability to take on multiple forms, there is a high chance that one of them is this trope. Examples are Kuuga's Growing and Mighty forms, Agito's Ground form and everything involving the Joker Gaia memory in Kamen Rider Double
- Some warriors and mecha in Super Sentai (and its adaptation Power Rangers) are this.
- The Kakure Daishogun, being the second Combining Mecha in Ninja Sentai Kakuranger, is this. Appeared in Power Rangers as the Ninja Megazord.
- Dekabreak, the official Sixth Ranger of Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger is a user of this style in a police themed series, where almost every other character uses a gun. While this may seem highly impractical, Dekabreak does posses a bracelet that augments his fist with various offensive effects, including the ability to catch bullets out of the air, allowing him to fight on an even level, if not, completely surpass most of the gun wielding enemies. In Power Rangers S.P.D. this character is adapted into the Omega Ranger.
- Juken Sentai Gekiranger, adapted in the US as Power Rangers Jungle Fury, being based on the Wuxia genre, has so many examples of this type of fighter, that it is almost easier to list the exceptions. Strangely enough, in a series where Bare Fisted Monks are the norm, Fourth Ranger Gou/RJ is the only ranger to use this style, with the rest having possession of at least one weapon. Other notable users of this style are Rio/Jarrod and Master Sha Fu/Master Mao. Gekifire, the mecha the rangers can use in their Super Mode, is also this trope.
- Two of the extra rangers in Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger use no weapons at all in their fighting style. Most notable is Tessai, also known as Kyoryu Grey, who actually is the spirit of an ancient Chinese monk.
- Eliot Spencer from Leverage prefers hand-to-hand combat, despite proficiency with other weapons.
- The Monk class in Dungeons & Dragons is obviously styled on this.
- In editions 3.0 and 3.5, monks are generally expected to fight with no weapons or armor, but receive a great many bonuses and abilities to make them competitive. Their unarmed attacks increase in damage and they gain a number of magical abilities, such as teleporting short distances, healing themselves and gaining immunity to various effects. They can use various Eastern weapons while maintaining certain bonuses.
- The 4e monk is a bit odd in by and large treating any weapons he is proficient with as implements. Thus, when using any of his special monk attack powers, the attack roll, base damage, and other effects are set by the discipline used regardless of whether it's executed barehanded or with, say, a dagger or spear. A magical weapon still grants its specifically magical bonuses when used this way—but since monks also get access to ki focus implements, which for game purposes leave the hands free and provide the same enhancement bonuses and their own special effects, such a weapon is never strictly needed just to remain competitive.
- The 5e monk takes the middle ground between 3.0 and 4e. While they can still use weapons as their main martial arts implements, the Order of the Open Hand tradition supplements their fighting style with unarmed techniques.
- In d20 Modern, there is an advanced class called Martial Artist. It is the most effective class for kicking ass unarmed, though it's also good for spamming grenades.
- Every player character from Hong Kong Action Theatre.
- The entire point of the Exalted shard Burn Legend. Guns Are Useless. Weapons are betrayals of a warrior's spirit. You fight bare-handed or not at all.
- In BattleTech, the Charger battlemech becomes a potent punching mech courtesy of it being a scout mech with the mass of an assault mech. It only carries the firepower of a mech a quarter of its weight, but it can throw around its weight and use its torpedo-shaped fist to pummel adversaries to death. Much maligned in-universe due to its schizophrenic design, it nevertheless received numerous upgrades because of how cheap and how many of them there are. A particularly fun upgrade gives it Triple Strength Myomer muscles, allowing it to rip mechs limb from limb once it reaches the heat redline.
- Along with the traditional Earthling martial arts like Kung Fu, Judo and Boxing, Rocket Age also features others like Celestial Fist and Maduri Wrestling from such worlds as Mars, Metis and Jupiter, allowing heroes to either be weapon or unarmed experts.
- The Jeskai Way in Magic: The Gathering's plane of Tarkir combine this with Kung-Fu Wizard, although some of them use weapons as well.
- In Mordheim, a Warhammer Gaiden Game, Skaven Heroes are able to learn the Art of Silent Death special skill, turning them into a master of unarmed combat. Heroes with this skill are able to fight unarmed with no penalty, always count as being armed with two close combat weapons and are more likely to cause a Critical Hit against their opponent in hand-to-hand combat.
- City of Heroes
- The Martial Arts powerset exemplifies the superhero version of this trope, and is a favourite for Natural origin characters. Super Strength is similar, except it has a ranged attack where you rip up a chunk of the ground and throw it.
- More recently added was "Street Fighting", which contains quite a few more circular motions than more realistic fighting styles, but has a very Mixed Martial Arts look and can be brutal when taking out groups of weaker foes.
- The Monk Class in Dungeon Fighter Online sheds his weapon in the battlefield (by implanting it into the ground for myriad bonuses), then goes on to use those fistcuffs. Doing so gives the Monk unparalleled speed and juggling capability, and makes the class quite popular. However, one can still break their equipped weapon after shedding it like any other class.
- Also the more traditional Fighter class and its different classes minus the "Brawler" class tree.
- One optional skill in Kingdom of Loathing is Kung Fu Hustler. With it, when you fight without a weapon or offhand item, you periodically gain intrinsic buffs. First you get bonus damage equal to three times your level, then 50% additional combat initiatve, spooky damage equal to three times your level, and bonus item drops. If you adventure with a weapon, you lose them all instantly. You also get new barehanded hit and miss messages. There's also an optional challenge path called Way of the Surprising Fist, which restricts the use of weapons or off-hand items and severely reduces meat drops, but allows the player to learn path-specific skills, including the final one that gives passive boosts to damage and damage resistance while unarmed.
- The Monk class of Ragnarok Online are Catholic Shaolin Monks. The Taekwon class fight with just their feet.
- World of Warcraft's fourth expansion Mists of Pandaria introduces the monk as the game's 11th (and 10th base) class. Although monks equip weapons, it's only for the status they give, since most of their attacks rely on unarmed maneuvers. There are two exceptions: Jab, where the use of the weapon is purely cosmetic, and even then, there is a glyph that makes jab to be always unarmed; and Fist Weapons, which the Monk does wield and use for all of their attacks.
- The Monk class of Dungeons & Dragons Online follows a version of the D&D pen-and-paper game rules. Depending on the build, it averts the Can't Catch Up trope with self-healing, Elemental Powers and Ki Attacks and evasive gymnastics to avoid damage that leave other melee classes sometimes lacking, right up to endgame and beyond.
- Monks (and their EvilCounterparts Bruisers) in EverQuest II are very effective without weapons, though they can still wield basic weapons such as brass knuckles and kendo sticks.
- In Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal, the penultimate boss is Balthazar, a Bhaalspawn monk and one of only three enemies in the game to be immune to Time Stop.
- Interestingly, said immunity is implemented differently for Balthazar than for the other two, in a way that actually allows bypassing it in the right circumstances and implies it might have something to do with his monk abilities and not just him being a Bhaalspawn. It is an automatic counter-move done in response to Time Stop being cast. As such, if Balthazar is kept from acting, he will not be immune.
- Monks in NetHack take massive accuracy penalties if they wear body armor, and can only advance in a handful of weapon skills. They even take an alignment hit for eating non-vegetarian food, though it's a slap on the wrist past the first minute of the game, given that you can get gobs of alignment just by all the kills you'll need to be doing anyway. However, they learn a wide variety of intrinsics (special abilities), can learn magic to a surprising degree, and, of course, can build their martial arts abilities to the highest level. Of course, they do have a rather substantial speed bump in their quest nemesis, Master Kaen....
- The Monk job in Final Fantasy V. Monks can't wield any weapons, but have the Brawl ability, which allows you to do as much damage as an armed fighter with your bare hands (without this ability, the damage you inflict is usually a single digit).
- The Black Belt/Master of the original Final Fantasy (known as Monk/Super Monk in the original Japanese version). His first playthrough, he killed Kraken in the second encounter in one attack.
- A maximum level (50, in this case) Master in Final Fantasy I will, in one attack, do enough damage to kill Chaos, the final boss, twice over. Cast Fast on him, and he'll double that.
- Most of the Final Fantasy games have Monk-type characters (Sabin from Final Fantasy VI, Yang from Final Fantasy IV (pictured above), Tifa from Final Fantasy VII, and Prishe from Final Fantasy XI, for example). Of course, most of these don't go without weapons, per se: they are typically given claws or gloves to help them keep up with more traditionally-armed allies, though in some cases said claws or gloves offer no or very little attack power increase, instead giving other bonuses like elemental properties or a chance of inflicting status effects.
- Yang's Daughter Ursula in the After Years is a monk (though her class is listed as Princess during her debut chapter), but she has different commands from her father aside from the standard "Fight" and "Item", and the traditional Monk move "Kick".
- Final Fantasy Tactics A2 has the upgrade of the White Monk (which use knuckles and gloves): the Master Monk, which is stronger unarmed than with all except one weapon, but can equip poles to learn some really strong attacks. They can however, wield shields with a special ability, making them insanely hard to hit.
- At one of the major points of Final Fantasy VIII most of the party is in a high-tech prison with no weapons, they all give up hope until Zell realizes he's the group's martial artist and doesn't need any weapons. He then proceeds to beat the crap out of a couple of guards and get their weapons back.
- Interestingly, Vayne of Final Fantasy XII reveals himself as one, using several of the class's techniques in the first of his final boss forms.
- If you learn the "brawler" license ability, the game will calculate damage in line with how Final Fantasy V did it. However, it's not the best approach to combat, since you can't equip a shield, bare-fisted fighting means no fancy weapon buffs/elements, and you have to sacrifice your accessory slot to keep up with everyone else.
- Monks in Final Fantasy XI ditch the weak endgame trend of barefist fighters; they start off with naturally high vitality and hp, getting to the point where they have several hundred more hitpoints than "tank" jobs of their level, and with multiple passive traits and abilities are among the best damage dealing and pvp jobs in the game.
- In Final Fantasy XIV monks return as one of the three melee DPS jobs as an evolution of the pugilist class. Their immediate damage output isn't quite as high as their rivals, but they get a stackable bonus which means the longer they fight, the faster and harder they hit, meaning that if they're played well they become a dancing tornado of destruction, and are perfectly suited for burning down bosses. This is counterbalanced by their lack of utility skills, to the point where despite having the highest damage output for any single class, because it doesn't buff the party's overall damage enough compared to one of its rivals, its considered suboptimal for high-level content.
- Final Fantasy Tactics goes here as well. As with the Final Fantasy V Monks, the Monks in Tactics fight barehanded but can do just as much, if not more, damage as the armed characters. They also have the "Brawler" support ability which allows non-Monk characters to also fight barehanded and deal comparable damage. And this is a particularly good idea too, as barehanded attacks are potentially some of the most powerful attacks you can put out, with only some of the rare weapons being able to out-pace the damage done by a properly equipped (with mere store-bought items) Monk.
- Final Fantasy II is a strange case. All characters can learn to tear enemies apart with their bare hands by attacking without weapons often enough and fists are one of the faster 'weapons' to Cap if the player focuses on them
- The Black Belt/Master of the original Final Fantasy (known as Monk/Super Monk in the original Japanese version). His first playthrough, he killed Kraken in the second encounter in one attack.
- This also pops up in Chrono Trigger; the party gets tossed into a prison without weapons or armour, or even a way to swap party members, and until you find where the jailers have hidden your equipment, any enemies the party encounters will automatically defeat them and throw them back in jail. Unless you have the bare-handed fighter Ayla in the party, in which case she can start tearing through bad guys as soon as you get out of your cell.
- Ayla is notable also because she is an exception to the "weakens by endgame" tendency. At higher levels she can still do more damage with her bare fists than Crono with his Infinity +1 Sword. And at level 96+ note , critical hits with her fists do a guaranteed 9999 damage.
- Among the Loads and Loads of Characters in Chrono Cross, a few are 'unarmed' in the traditional sense. However, not many of them are actually martial artists. The unarmed (and, in two cases, nonhumanoid) fighters still use 'glove's though.
- In all SaGa games, all characters have the ability to Punch (or Kick). In SaGa Frontier, using nothing but punch techniques leads to one of the most game breaking skills in the series.
- Eternal Sonata has Falsetto, who, despite using no weapons, is still capable of dealing massive damage.
- While a bow is her main weapon, Viola simply punches the crap out of monsters in her standard combos and some specials.
- Dragon Quest:
- The Fighter class in Dragon Quest III is basically this. Naturally, such characters use claws to keep up —- something hinted at by a character revered for taking down a bear in hand-to-hand combat.
- Dragon Quest VI has a Martial Artist class (a retranslation of the Fighter class), though in this game weapon and armor selections are not based on class so unarmed combat is not a strict requirement.
- There's also one in Dragon Quest VII, though it only has a partial effect on what the user can/cannot equip. (Mainly it's used to teach special moves.)
- All the playable characters in Dragon Quest VIII get an Unarmed skill set, though weapons are generally more useful in most cases.
- Dragon Quest IX has a Martial Artist class, which has access to the Fisticuffs skill set, which if maxed out increases the amount of damage done while bare-handed.
- One common way to avoid doing massive damage to your own party when one or more of your characters are confused is to deliberately leave fisticuffs undeveloped and then simply unequip the weapons as necessary.
- Captain Falcon and Ganondorf in Super Smash Bros. share a moveset that only utilizes physical attacks. The main difference between them is that Ganondorf is slower and much more powerful while Falcon is the second fastest character in the game. Sonic also takes this approach in Brawl, except weaker and much much faster.  also fits into this trope, as his moveset are all physical attacks, bar his Final Smash in Brawl onwards. Unlike the aforementioned three, he both moves fast and hits hard, making him a Lightning Bruiser.
- In Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS/Wii U, one of the three classes of customizable Mii Fighter, the Brawler, fits this mold. They fight almost entirely with their hands and feet, and although they have one projectile option, said projectile is slow and short-ranged, so it's very situational. Statistically, they are the strongest and fastest of the three Mii Fighter classes, but have low range, always forcing them to get in close with the opponent and fight.
- The Fallout series: J.E. Sawyer of the canceled Van Buren project said that he intended unarmed fighters to be 'like mobile grenades'. And that's a good description for them in Fallout 2 and 3. In both of those, barehanded attacks have a quicker attack rate and markedly higher crit rate. In both of them, a single strike to the head has a good potential for instant kills, even against tougher opponents. In both, the unarmed fighter was somewhat left behind at the finale, against Frank Horrigan in Fallout 2 and during Liberty Prime's march in Fallout 3, but the form is still a viable game-finisher.
- Bare fists took a nerf in favor of 'unarmed weapons' in Fallout: New Vegas, and the critical rate is no longer significant. Hence, the most tightly optimized barehanded fighter will not reach the fighting potential of a fist-weapon wielder.
- Fei, Citan, and Rico from Xenogears all fight barehanded. They're all powerful fighters, too. Subverted in Citan's case when he eventually gets a slight upgrade as part of the plot. He'd been holding it in reserve, apparently.
- All the barehanded fighters seriously lose out in attack strength towards the end of the game, even to Elly who is a mage. Fei more than makes up for it with his ridiculously powerful techniques that makes him the most powerful in non-mecha fights.
- Avernum 3 has this accidentally. Nobody thought to apply the damage cap to punches.
- The Monk class in Diablo III is this, unless you have his using a bo staff or brass knuckles. Any other weapon you put on him, while you will get all the stats from it, will remain at his hip while he punches fools to death.
- In MadWorld, the Black Baron reveals himself to be one in the very last boss fight. Weapons seem kind of redundant when you're jacked enough to perform non-comical Megaton Punches and create localized tornadoes.
- Martial arts are the most frequently appearing melee skill throughout the Persona series (along with one and two-handed swords), with boxing and kung fu popping up as the most common martial arts of choice. The original Persona has Reiji Kido (boxing), Persona 2: Innocent Sin has Lisa Silverman (kung fu), Persona 2: Eternal Punishment has Ulala Serizawa (boxing again), Persona 3 has Akihiko Sanada (boxing again), Persona 4 has Chie Satonaka (often called kung fu, but her fighting style carries a lot of traits of Jeet Kune Do), and Persona 5 has Makoto Niijima (aikido, according to the artbook). Among them, interestingly, Akihiko and Makoto are the only ones who received official training for their martial arts, as the former is the captain of his school's boxing team and the latter has self-defense training; the rest either do it informally (you can see Ulala make a cameo boxing at the GOLD Gym in Innocent Sin), or even master it by merely imitating it (an art book mentions that Lisa's talent is imitating Kung Fu).
- In Shin Megami Tensei II, Zayin fights primarily with brute force and no weapons, only using punches and kicks in his boss fight. Well, as a human. Once he becomes Satan, he uses primarily magic in his boss fight and a mix of magic and physical moves as an ally on the Law route.
- By cross-training your dwarves in Dwarf Fortress with various tasks like mining, crafting professions and bookkeeping (yes) they can become legendarily strong, agile and tough. Then train them as wrestlers and they will literally scatter limbs and body parts of their enemies across the landscape with their bare hands. Or even better, go on Adventure mode, level up Striker as far as it goes, and see yourself killing bandits by way of punches to the face. Few things are more satisfying than seeing the description of your character punching someone so hard they drive bits of skull through their brains.
- In Rune Factory 3, the main character can Brawl when he learns to transform into a Golden Woolly. He cannot wield weapons when Brawling, but with practice can deal a huge amount of damage.
- Rena Lanford from Star Ocean: The Second Story is a rare example of this on account of usually being the party's white mage. While she isn't as strong as the dedicated fighters, her melee attacks are significantly faster than Claude's or Ashton's standard attacks, and a skilled player can use her in concert with a computer-controlled melee fighter to attack boss characters from two sides and bounce them back and forth with standard attacks.
- Hideyoshi in Sengoku Basara 2. Tokugawa Ieyasu in the third game.
- Heihachi was announced as the PS2-exclusive character in SoulCalibur II, fighting bare-handed in a weapons-based game.
- This is becoming a common element of the Tales of... series, starting with Tales of Destiny. It is not uncommon to see this archetype combined with elements of other classes, for example Yuri Lowell.
- Bruiser Khang from Tales of Destiny
- Farah Oersted from Tales of Eternia
- Regal Bryant from Tales of Symphonia. Since he only uses his legs to fight, he also doubles as an Extremity Extremist.
- Tytree Crowe from Tales of Rebirth, who also doubles as an archer
- Senel Coolidge, the main protagonist from Tales of Legendia
- Anise Tatlin from Tales of the Abyss, though her giant doll Tokunaga does the swinging while she does the casting.
- Hermana Larmo from Tales of Innocence
- Sophie from Tales of Graces
- Jude Mathis, one of the two main characters from Tales of Xillia.
- Velvet Crowe and Eizen from Tales of Berseria. Velvet's fighting style is dependent on her artes. Her hidden artes use wrist blades, but all her martial arts use her legs. Eizen is more exclusively bare-fisted, utilizing stomps, a few kicks, and mostly bashing things with his fists.
- Battle Realms has a monk unit which can be trained in the keep.
- The Monk class of Desktop Dungeons takes a 50% physical damage penalty due to the HAND-TO-HAND attribute.
- The Elder Scrolls
- Throughout the series (until Skyrim did away with both classes and the Hand-to-Hand skill), the Monk class is a premade class. Hand-to-Hand is it's primary combat skill, with Blunt Weapon often a secondary skill. By selecting the class, or otherwise developing your Hand-to-Hand skill, you can play as this trope, crossing over with Heroes Fight Barehanded.
- Throughout the series, Khajiit characters get a natural boost to their Hand-to-Hand skill and/or damage, thanks to their claws. Khajiit, as a race, are known for the Fantastic Fighting Styles they employ in their martial arts. As a result, they make the best candidates for Monk-type builds.
- In Morrowind, a character build in line with the trope can be quite effective. Unencumbered for maximum maneuverability, with high speed no fatigue cost strikes, a monk build could render any opponent useless from fatigue loss in the first second, then take them down at leisure. Their weakness was finishing an opponent due to inability to deal health damage unless the opponent was unconscious, so at times it was a tedious exercise keeping an entire room knocked down while slowly chipping away at their life. Even the Big Bad can be defeated this way. He really is a Physical God with Complete Immortality, so his constantly regenerating health in the final fight makes him impossible to kill. However, you can damage his fatigue with hand-to-hand strikes, rendering him less of a threat while you perform the actions necessary to remove his immortality.
- Oblivion makes this character build even more viable, as unarmed attacks now damage both health and fatigue. At skill level 50, Hand-to-Hand attacks can even hurt creatures normally unaffected by standard weapons, such as ghosts. At the master level, Hand-to-Hand blocks can outright disarm opponents. Unfortunately, the damage output of unarmed attacks, even by a maxed-out Hand-to-Hand master, fall far below the damage output of high-end weaponry.
- As mentioned above, Skyrim does away with both classes (including Monk) and the Hand-to-Hand skill itself. While you can still attack with your fists while unarmed, there is no way to increase your effectiveness, nor are there any weapon perks to help. Instead, you need to build up your Heavy Armor skill until you unlock the "Fists of Steel" perk, which adds your gauntlets' armor rating to the base damage of your punches. If you find the Gloves of the Pugilist item, which has a unique "Fortify Unarmed" enchantment, you can apply it to your own equipment for even more damage. Once you have these boosts, you suddenly go from long, grueling fist fights, to merely counting the seconds before the brutal unarmed kill-animations occur.
- Also in line with what is mentioned above, Khajiit are an excellent candidate for this sort of build. Right at the start of the game, they can actually hit harder than two-handed swords, with 22 base damage. Add Fists of Steel and Fortify Unarmed, they can out-DPS Destruction mages and their proficiency with Sneak can let them close distance and get the drop on enemies.
- Monks in Might and Magic VII can be this (they're the only ones that can become Grandmaster in Unarmed and Dodge), or they can use staves. Though by the end-game it is fairly likely you'll have switched to staves even if you started out focusing on unarmed combat — the Grandmaster bonus for the Staff skill (which Monks are the only ones who can get) is that using a staff counts as being unarmed for the purposes of the Unarmed skill.
- BioForge: Despite the availability of firearms, it is very much possible to play through the game fighting only with your hands and feet. It helps that you're a cyborg and thus presumably have augmented strength.
- In Kingdom of Loathing, you can choose to become one of these after beating all of the council's quests at least once and starting the game anew. "The Way of the Surprising Fist" only allows you to fight barehanded, and compensates by having additional skills of both great power and humour. Such as, but not limited to, hitting strikes in a drunken baby style.
- A limited-time item allowed Disco Bandits to learn the skill "Kung Fu Hustler", which grants them special abilities as long as they fight bare-handed. Needless to say, this is an excellent skill to have in Surprising Fist.
- It's one of many options for a Dwarf Fortress adventurer, and possibly one of the most efficient against human-sized creatures that need to breath, since a well trained wrestler can land a guaranteed kill in three moves (grab throat, strangle, attack head).
- League of Legends has Lee Sin, who is very much this, and Udyr, who's this plus animal spirits.
- In Bravely Default, characters with the Knuckle Lore passive skill, which Monks get automatically, get a bonus to attack power equal to twice their level when fighting bare handed in addition to having max proficiency with Knuckle class weapons. At high enough levels this bonus can surpass the strongest weapons in the game, but it comes at the cost of not getting any elemental effects or non-attack stat increases that some weapons have.
- The final skill unlocked for the Monk, Natural Talent, gives you yet another damage boost if you wear no equipment at all.
- Aima of Lufia: The Legend Returns serves as the party's punching expert. She backs up her strength and speed with powerful ki-based and martial-arts IP attacks.
- In Dark Souls II, the reward for maxing out the Company of Champions' covenant rank is the Vanquisher's Seal, a ring that hugely increases the base damage of your bare fists and gives them pretty great Strength and Dexterity scaling on top of that. It also allows you to use power stance when you have no weapon in either hand. For characters without this ring, there are two Fist weapons to use that both have very poor base damage but even better scaling. Using bare fists with the ring is still stronger, though.
- Sonic & Knuckles from Sonic the Hedgehog, particularly in spin off titles, Sonic Battle and Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood. They're the only characters who don't use weapons, gadgets, or any ability outside their physical ones. Sure, Sonic has Super Speed, but outside of that he fights either using himself as a projectile or using just his legs.
- Rodin, resident Scary Black Man from Bayonetta, uses only his bare fists to beat demons into magical weapons and brutalize angels.
- EarthBound has Poo, the crown prince of Dalaam. He's said to have undergone special martial training, and unlike the other characters in the playable party, equipping him with most weapons actually lowers his physical attacking power. The only exception to this rule is equipping him with the special Sword of Kings.
- In the Kiseki Series, all users of the Taito martial arts count as this, but Zin Vathek from the first arc is the most traditional example of this trope.
- Black Belt from 8-Bit Theater is based on the character class from the original Final Fantasy. Not only is he capable of highly effective hand to hand combat but either his training or his Munchausen-esq foolishness allows him to utterly defy the laws of physics.
- The Dungeons & Dragons implementation of this trope is mocked in The Order of the Stick: On The Origin of PCs, when Belkar bullies a monk for having had to train ceaselessly his whole life and swear himself to chastity in order to be as effective barehanded as any random mook would be just by picking up a sword.
- In Corgi Quest, Shan shows how Monks can be very dangerous indeed in Dungeons & Dragons.
- In Homestuck, players of the game SBURB can weaponize the aspect referred to in their titles (for example, the Breath players can use the wind as a weapon). As a result, all the Void players have "fistkind" as a strife specibus - they all have the ability to weaponize nothing.
- In The Gamer's Alliance, the Shadowstrike operative Varjo and the sohei warrior monks of Yamato excel at unarmed melee combat.
- Omega Zell from Noob started the series weaponless, making this his means of dealing damage at the time. Ash, being to go-to guy for Real Money Trade rather than actually playing the game, doesn't carry any weapons but knows how to fight with his bare hands if needed.
- Ty Lee from Avatar: The Last Airbender. She's extremely agile and can disable the magic-users of the setting with a few well-aimed pressure point jabs.
- The Equalists in sequel series The Legend of Korra have mooks fitting this trope, as they use almost the same fighting style as Ty Lee, though they also specialize with non-lethal weaponry.
- The Shaman from World of Winx is a tough fighter who also uses magical stones.
- In Thunder Cats 2011, Thunderian princes Lion-O and Tygra are both adept at this type of combat. Lion-O uses it to beat all but the leader of a gang of muggers in a street fight, but is himself bested by older brother Tygra after impulsively challenging him to a match of Thundera's Gladiator Games.
- Like the Comics example above, Wildcat is the League's primary brawler. Rick Flag is also notably unarmed during Task Force X's Lock and Load Montage.
Deadshot: (to Flag) And you? Going in unarmed?Captain Boomerang: This one don't need no weapons.
- Being the Trope Codifier, every Wu Xia title has plenty of these, sometimes mixed with Supernatural Martial Arts and Kung-Fu Wizard. Ki Attacks are things characters in this kind of stories eat for breakfast, and the best of them can annihilate hordes of mooks in a couple of moves.
- Masutatsu Oyama, the founder of the Kyokushinkai style of karate, has this reputation. He would hold public demonstrations where he would "fight" a bull with no weapons, though the bulls might have been restrained during the demonstration.
- Monks in Z Angband lose their special monk attacks when wielding weapons, and lose bonuses when wearing heavy armor. Their magic skills are fairly good, though.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! has two monsters that fit this trope — Monk Fighter and Master Monk. Both are (inexplicably) Rock-Types, both are seen smashing rocks with their hands (Fighter) and feet (Master), and both come with useful effects — when your Fighter battles, your life points don't feel it, and Master Monk can attack twice. They also get two support cards — Lone Wolf, and Kaminote Blow. Kaminote Blow in particular makes it so that, during the turn it's played, any monster attacked by your Monk Fighter or Master Monk will invariably DIE at the end of the battle. This is made sufficiently noteworthy due to the fact that its card picture shows Master Monk shattering the (3000-Defense-to-his-1900-Attack) Millenium Shield with his BARE FIST. Thus securing the Monks a spot on this page.
- Princess Suzushiro Shikikagura from Princess Waltz is this, made from equal parts Hotblooded and Determinator. Funnily enough, she becomes rather cocky whenever the fighting starts, which is a stark contrast to how she usually is outside of them.
- Chen-Chen in Harkovast is a Kung-fu nun who can shatter her enemies skulls with her fists!
- In general, anyone who masters a Martial Art is one in Real Life.