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Cloth Fu
An occurrence where a character uses a piece of stray cloth as a weapon. The cloth used can vary from blankets to bags with towels getting special mention, as they're a convenient illustration of Can't Bathe Without a Weapon. The cloth can be used in a number of ways. In the most benign uses, the cloth can be used to capture or blind an enemy. More agile characters may even use the cloth to capture a weapon and disarm their opponent. More sinister characters can use the cloth as a makeshift garrote or even a hangman's noose. A type of fighting style that is not seen often, but does show up in some movies or TV shows.

A Sub-Trope of Improvised Weapon.

A Sister Trope to Clothing Combat

Examples

Anime and Manga
  • One character in The Law of Ueki fights with towels. Justified, as he has the power to turn towels into metal (and back again).
  • Taken to extremes by Master Asia of G Gundam fame. Not only does he have a Gundam with a giant cloth (and a Midseason Upgrade that uses one made out of magnetically contained plasma!) he also uses one to fight Humongous Mecha with on foot!
  • Ranma : Ryoga and his bandanas, Kodachi and her ribbon.
  • In Bleach, during his fight with Coyote Stark, Kyoraku throws his captain's coat over his head. This isn't just to blind him. His powers allow him to weaponize various children's games, including increasing his attack power if his enemy is wearing a certain color. His white coat helps him score a critical hit, leading to Stark's death.
  • Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan: Zakuro Mitsukai uses a wet towel, named Eckelsax.
  • In Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, Shigure uses her hair ribbon to defend herself when she is attacked in a hot spring bath.
  • In Sekirei, the Clothed Sekirei's fighting style is this.

Comic Books
  • In the Sonic 3D Blast adaptation of Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic pulls on Robotnik's cape after knocking him to the ground. Robotnik tells him that he made his cape out of a special material which wraps itself around Sonic. Sonic manages to break out of it by vibrating really fast.

Film
  • Jason Bourne grabs a nearby hand towel in The Bourne Identity when an assassin throws him into a bathroom, and proceeds to put him in a choke hold with it.
  • In the Richie Rich film, Prof. Keenbean does this to Ferguson, using a towel with one side of it coated with his super sticky adhesive, in an attempt to save Richie and the others.
  • Oliver & Company: Georgette drops a blanket on top of Roscoe and Desoto, subduing them for a few seconds and allowing Dodger and the gang to infiltrate Sykes' hideout.
  • In Zombieland, Columbus uses a shower curtain to keep a zombie from biting him.
  • This has happened in nearly every Jackie Chan movie.
  • In Goldeneye, James Bond beats a Mook by tying his arm with a towel and throwing him down the stairs. He then casually towels himself off.
  • Happens to Panchito Pistoles at the end of the title song of The Three Caballeros as a result of both Donald Duck and Jose Carioca becoming annoyed of his singing.
  • This is how Kristy joins the Best fight scene of all time in Undefeatable.
  • At the climax of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Frollo throws his cape over Quasimodo, and uses it to try to throw him off the cathedral.
  • In Elektra, Elektra fights Kirigi in a room full of flying white sheets. The villain seems to be manipulating them somehow to distract Elektra and/or hide his movements. Though as described by Roger Ebert, "we're expecting maybe an elegant Zhang Yimou sequence, and it's more like they're fighting with the laundry."
  • In Sherlock Holmes, Holmes, during a pit-fighting match, grabs a handkerchief off the wall of the pit and flings it into his opponent's face as part of a planned attack sequence after his opponent spat at the back of his head.
  • In I Love You Beth Cooper, Rich fends off three musclebound Jerk Jocks with a wet towel. The jocks grab wet towels of their own and counterattack, but Rich ultimately forces them to retreat.
  • In Serenity, Mal throws a curtain over The Operative's head and starts punching him while he is blinded, though The Operative quickly gets the upper hand.
  • In one of the Once Upon A Time In China movies, the lead character has to fight a Badass Grandma. She's wearing a dress with sort of petticoats, and she uses this as an advantage via kicking him and using said petticoats so he wouldn't be able to see where the kicks come from.

Literature
  • Happens a few times in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy with towels. The notable example that springs to mind is when Ford is in freefall and manages to land on a giant talking bird. The bird is inclined to drop him, but Ford wraps his multipurpose towel around its head. The bird is now sightless, but Ford points out that he can still slowly fly down to the ground.
  • In The Devil in Iron, Conan manages to stop his iron-bodied opponent by throwing a curtain on him. As noted, even if he's ludicrously strong he's still entangled by the whole damn cloth.

Live-Action TV
  • A season four episode of Burn Notice showed Michael Weston using a towel in a fight against a prisoner. He used it to quickly wrap his opponent's hands together before proceeding to kick his ass.
  • Bibleman: Biblegirl, in her first appearance, and not in uniform, used a piece of yellow cloth (which glowed) to fight Luxor Spawndroth, the villain of this particular episode.
  • An episode of the Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation had Venus fight off a horde of dragons using a cape and a playground.

Newspaper Comics
  • Peanuts: Linus occasionally uses his security blanket like a whip.
  • Garfield Garfield did this once, during an arc where he was pretending to be a sumo wrestler.

Tabletop RPG
  • Amber Diceless Role-Playing. Throwing a cloak or rug over someone's head is a specific form of attack listed under Weapons in the Other Factors in Combat section.

Videogames
  • Fa Zheng of Dynasty Warriors uses a piece of cloth as his weapon.
  • Koshosho of Samurai Warriors uses a single long scarf as her weapon, which she can either use as a whip or even swing around on.
  • Sanzang of Warriors Orochi slaps her enemies with oversized sleeves.
  • Kyogoku Maria can attack and trap enemies with incredibly long lengths of fabric in Sengoku Basara.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics, had certain female classes fight with Cloths, still wrapped around the rods. Very potent, as they're among the few weapons that reach two squares.

Webcomics
  • Forgath of Goblins makes a habit of storing his mace in a cloth bag, even in dungeons. When an enemy attacked while Forgath was still trying to get the mace free, he first deflected the blow with the bag then wrapped the cloth around the weapon so he could control the blade.

Real Life
  • Rolled up (damp) towels.
    • Rolled up, nothing! Wet towels, period, can sting!
      • When asked on Hollywood Squares what the most common injury was among amateur baseball players,
    Gilbert Gottfried: Getting whacked in the ass with a wet towel
    audience laughter, beat
    Whoopi Goldberg: Annnd they're off!
  • There are also records of a 16th / 17th century fighting style, normally used with a cape, where the fighter used a rapier in his primary hand and some form of durable cloth in his off hand. Though the cape was considered the primary version, there is evidence of everything up to and including large floppy hats being used as such. As would be obvious, the fighter would use this 'soft parry' item to entangle his opponant's weapon as a defense. Depending on the type of cloth, you could even do a Bare-Handed Blade Block relatively safely.
  • Real Life Martial Arts have some examples:
    • Hapkido includes, among its traditional weapons, belts.
    • Chinese Wu Shu styles often included the use of "weighted sleeves", overlong sleeves with weights in them that could be used as flails. According to legend, during the Boxer Rebellion, one set of nuns was spared because they raised their arms to pray and the attackers mistook the prayerbooks in their sleeves for this weapon.

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