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Full-Contact Magic

You do not want to get punched by Subaru

The practitioner of Full Contact Magic can literally attack you from across the room; he punches the air, and then you get punched. Each spell cast is punctuated not by a subtle gesture, but by a grand motion. He's a wizard that casts spells by fighting. Dodging opposing attacks or setting up on-the-spot shields is also important. If the wizard can fly, it's a whole new ball game.

When they exist alongside more traditional wizards, a character of this type can usually perform their spells faster, with fewer requirements, and/or with greater power, but is poor at complex effects and long magical rituals. Depending on the work, this could make them Weak, but Skilled, Unskilled, but Strong, or both at once.

Contrast with Magic Knight, where a wizard is not squishy, but simply is a trained warrior in addition to casting spells. Contrast with Supernatural Martial Arts, where the martial arts training is what creates the magical effect, rather than the magical spells themselves requiring broad motions. When a character can use both Magic and martial arts separately, it's Kung-Fu Wizard.

A Sub-Trope of Magical Gesture. Contrast with the much less physical Pstandard Psychic Pstance. Also contrast Powers Do the Fighting.

Can often result in an Elemental Punch or Sword Beam. Ranged magic produced in this way is almost always a Projectile Spell. Also see Air Jousting (which flying users of this trope often indulge in), Hand Blast and Simplified Spellcasting.

This trope is the middle tier of The Law of Power Proportionate to Effort.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Mahou Sensei Negima!
    • Negi has a fighting style called "mahou-ken" (magic fist) that involves releasing delayed spells with kung fu attacks. Several other characters qualify too.
    • Takamichi. Most of the others hit you from a distance or flat-out punch you while Takamichi uses the pressure from his fists and kanka blasts to make fist beams.
  • Subaru (pictured) and Vivio in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha uses their ranged attacks this way.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: A strong alchemist needs a strong body.
    • Alex Louis Armstrong. He doesn't punch you, per se... but he does punch rocks, transmuting them into cannon shells, in your direction. That's not to say he won't try and punch your skull in if you're dumb enough to let him get close enough.
    • Mustang is the exception. He snaps his fingers to create bombs.
  • Natsu from Fairy Tail uses his magic for this almost 100% of the time. Early on, a few villains can't believe he's a mage, due to his strength. This is somewhat odd since most important mages introduced later seem to be like this.
    • Gildarts Clive is a literal form of this. His Magic means that any time his body touches something, he destroys it (unless he tries really hard not to). Though, he can also destroy stuff using his Magic from a distance.
  • Full Metal Panic!: Not really magical, but in Helmajistan Gauron shows us what a telekinetic mecha can do, summoning a ball of energy then doing a slashing motion, ripping a Red Shirt to shreds with a big flash. Why is that unusual? Because another time, he simply pointed his finger at an opponent like a gun, imitated the recoil ("Let me show you. See? BANG.") and the opponent promptly exploded. In The Second Raid finale, Sousuke does this against Gates who is using Clouseau as a human shield: he does a punching motion but stops before hitting Clouseau... Needless to say, it turned out to be his Crowning Moment of Awesome and his team's Mass "Oh, Crap!".
  • Kurohime generally fights with her magic gun and shoots dragon bullets (literally bullets that turn into dragons) but occasionally turns the gun on herself and shoots herself with strength bullets or armor bullets and gets right into the fight.
  • Some ninjutsu in Naruto seem to require a physical action besides hand seals for use even if it's not used in the attack itself. The most noticeable example is Deva Path Pain, who can use a Shinra Tensei, which repels objects away from him, in all directions without any movement, but needs to use his hand(s) to focus it in one direction or one object or select an object to use Bansho Tenin, which pulls objects toward him, on (presumably he would attract all objects in the area to him otherwise).
  • Maken-ki!: While most of the cast uses weapon type Maken, Azuki, Minori, and Yan-Min all specialize in direct combat. So their Maken accommodates their proficiency in hand-to-hand. Azuki's Maken ('Hawk') channels wind, Minori's "Dragon Ace" allows her to control thermal energy, and Yan-Min's "Reilii" ability allows her to literally move and strike like lightning.

    Comic Books 
  • It's not technically "magic" so much as "superpowers", but many comic book characters will use gestures to accompany their powers even when it shouldn't really be necessary. Those with some sort of telekinesis, or something similar (such as Magneto), have powers that should be activated by thought alone, but will often use physical movements as well, especially when they get stressed. Presumably it's for the same reasons as the motions that accompany Jedi force powers (see below).

  • While it is possible to use the Force without moving, such as when a user is tied up, most Jedi, Sith, and assorted Force users use hand motions to focus their powers. (And for dramatic effect, of course.)
  • In the film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf and Saruman's staff-fight in Saruman's chambers was easier than taking ten minutes to explain why Gandalf was powerless to ignore an order from a now-obviously illegitimate authority.
  • The battle between Bavmorda and Fin Raziel in Willow is like the distaff counterpart of the Gandalf/Saruman fight cited above, possibly inspired such as it came out first. (The movie version of the fight, not the book.)
  • The Harry Potter films, particularly the big wizard-fight in Order of the Phoenix, tend to have this - moreso than the novels due to most offensive spells gaining knockback effects for the sake of Rule of Perception.
    • It also happened in the original novel of Order of the Phoenix, when Dumbledore dueled Voldemort.
    • It also says in the original novel that when the Death Eaters and Aurors/good guys fought their wands "flashed like swords."
  • At the end of The Raven (1963), two magicians engage in an all out battle of magic.

  • The Dresden Files is a world where wizards are the only ones of their peers not able to benchpress an NBA team and the only ones who can't outrun or outfly trains. Most combat wizards have to be this to survive.
    • Harry himself, over the course of the series, goes from being in the top forty of these to the top five, and it's foreshadowed that he'll eventually be number one.
    • Wardens, the wizard cops/soldiers, make a profession of this, with anti-magic swords to boot.
    • Red Court Vampire practitioners are especially noted for this, and when Harry ends up fighting one with no contact allowed, he realizes he has a distinct advantage.
    • Fae love this, thanks to their supernatural strength and speed. So long as their enemies don't have Cold Iron.
  • The world of Skulduggery Pleasant comes with two distinct flavours of magic - Adept and Elemental. The more combat-oriented characters (Elementals in particular) tend to fight with this sort of style and often incorporate martial arts of one flavour or another into their repertoire to boot.
  • Spoofed in the Discworld, where the incompetent wizzard Rincewind's fighting strategy involves pulling shapes - ie, making the exaggerated pose of magic-user-about-to-cast-spell with both hands raised and fingers pointing. And then, just before the other guy realises there isn't going to be any actual magic, following through with a mundane punch, kick or headbutt.

  • In a Skrillex music video, a little girl attacks a pedophile who's been following her with a barrage of psychic blasts that she controls with various hand gestures, at one point launching him straight up into the air by stomping the ground. At the end of the video, after she's done beating the crap out of him, she positions her hands as though to wring a towel and violently twists, apparently killing him.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Akashic Brotherhood in Mage: The Ascension are supposed to use this, complete with a magical martial art called Do. Of course, given the nature of magick in the setting, one could argue that Do is just as much Supernatural Martial Arts as Full Contact Magick. (Being both simultaneously would actually make perfect sense in Mage.)
    • The spiritual successor, Mage: The Awakening, has the Adamantine Arrows, whose basic training involves becoming an accomplished soldier without using any magic. One of their legacies, the Perfect Adept, can teach the ability to punch at a distance.
      • To clarify, the Perfect Adept far punch ability duplicates a standard mid-level spell, without using awakened will. Since this rather dramatically alters the nature of the effect (you can do it in front of mundane bystanders, there's no potential to accidentally rip a hole in the universe or hit the wrong target) the ability is effectively its own, unique type of full-contact magic separate from the hermetic magic of the rest of the setting.
  • While Dungeons & Dragons usually follows the Squishy Wizard trope, certain spellcasting character builds can venture into this. For example, in D&D 3.5 edition you can combine touch-based spells with a Rogue's sneak attack damage bonus. You can even dual wield touch magic, possibly with a Wizard/Ranger build.
    • 3.5 Edition's Duskblades are warriors trained in magic, and their signature ability is to cast spells as part of melee attacks. The Magus class from Pathfinder behaves similarly.
    • There exists a theoretical build known as Muscle Wizard, a Cancer Mage who has contracted infinite strength. His primary spell is 'Fist'. However, with an extra sourcebook, they can get a feat to replace their primary casting stat (usually, Intellect or Charisma for arcane casters) with Strength. So in addition to Fist, they would be able to cast an unlimited amount of any other spells in the book, most of them at immense power.
    • Then there's the 4th Edition Swordmage class from the Forgotten Realms setting, which has the health of a fighter and most of their melee ability coupled with the casting of a warlock (mostly single target effects, rather than a wizard's area nuking) to fulfill the requisite Magic Knight quotient.
    • 4e Monks have implement powers, meaning instead of punching someone in the face they're channeling psionic power to punch someone in the face. They also have some close burst powers (i.e. hitting everyone around you), although some melee guys have that too.
    • The Hexblades are specifically referred to as "melee warlocks", channeling attacks through a sword or dagger rather than launching from a wand. Re-introduced in 4e as an "essentials" class, they combine Squishy Wizard with Full-Contact Magic, and their battle strategy tends to be "Rush in, magic-stab the crap out of something, teleport out before it can hit you back".
      • Warlocks themselves do have an invocation that allows them to channel their Eldritch Blast attack through a melee blow. It's mostly Awesome, but Impractical because normal Eldritch Blasts ignore armor and channeled attacks don't.
  • Exalted has not just Combat Charms, but Enlightened Martial Arts styles. A lot of it is simple physical limits and mastering your chosen weapon... at least, until you hit the level of Sidereal Martial Arts, at which point you can hit someone so hard they get a disease/lose their memories/are plagued by nightmares for a week/turn into a woman.
  • Elven Battle-Mages in WarMachine specialize in this kind of magic, using special Magitek gauntlets that allow them fire concussive blasts or hit enemies with extreme force.
  • In Shadowrun a Mage can use the standard ranged blastage spells (as well as spells for occult investigations or support roles or many other possibilities), but one particular Combat Mage variant relies on touch range spells used in combination with unarmed combat. Meaning that a Mage can literally destroy an armored vehicle or concrete barrier with a magically augmented punch. The best part is that there's a lot less "drain" for touch range, meaning that the Mage can more safely throw a repeated barrage of melee attacks than a more conventional manaball hurler.

    Video Games 
  • This is how Mewtwo is portrayed as fighting in Super Smash Bros.. He uses grand gestures, poses and fighting moves to perform his various psychokinetic attacks to the point that the only actual physical moves he has are a handful of tail-whip attacks.
  • In the games proper, Gensokyo's magic duels consist of a lazily-drifting defender hurling out ten trillion bullets floating out at fifteen miles per hour while the attacker slowly but precisely and VERY CAREFULLY dodges their elaborate patterns until time runs out. Since out of context this looks really hilarious, in most fan works they're shown as full contact magic to capture their actual intensity.
    • Fighting Game Spinoffs Immaterial and Missing Power, Scarlet Weather Rhapsody, Hisoutensoku and Hopeless Masquerade upgrade the fights into outright magically-enhanced slugfests.
    • There are exceptions to "lazily-drifting," by the way. For instance, there's Marisa Kirisame's Last Word, "Blazing Star": She wraps herself with magic to become a Kamehame Hadoken-sized comet. She then proceeds to try to ram you at high speed.
  • A good amount of Bayonetta's special attacks are like these, creating fists or legs (or guillotines, or dragons) of enchanted hair to smash, dismantle, and mangle her enemies.
  • The attacks of the Blood Mages in Warcraft III. Is spinning around really necessary to throw a fist-sized ball of green flame? Though if we are at it, every magic user does this (even Archimonde who supposedly has near-godlike powers does smashing gestures with his hands to throw a human-sized ball of green flame).
  • This is absolutely all over the place in Dissidia: Final Fantasy; most characters with magic spell attacks have very exaggerated motions when casting them: Golbez waves his arms in striking motions, causing energy beams and other phenomena to blast the opponent, Kefka, pitches fireballs like baseballs, Kuja does a backflip when casting Seraphic Star, the Onion Knight kicks a comet at the enemy, Gilgamesh casts a Razor Wind attack as through throwing a shuriken, Yuna swings her staff in broad arcs while summoning creatures that use attacks in a similar manner, and Vaan creates instantaneous stalagmites before him by stomping the ground, for some examples. The reason behind this is probably practical: the distinct motions involved in casting serve as a "tell" so that players can react appropriately to different attacks, not possible when identical wand-waves can make fire or ice or lightning magic, and their exaggerated qualities are very helpful in identifying what's going on from more of a distance (as Dissidia is emphatically NOT a standard two-people-on-a-flat-plane fighting game). ...And probably also because Square Enix just loves drama, flashiness, and razzle-dazzle.
  • Many Pokémon close-ranged attacks are animated as being points of light gathering on the attacking limb which explode on contact, giving the impression of wizard-monsters beating the hell out of each other with contact spells, a kind of Hit Flash.
    • Vacuum wave plays it straighter, where your Mon punches a fast-moving wave of air at the enemy.
      • In Pokémon X and Y, certain special category moves actually have the Pokémon performing the physical move animation rather than the special move animation. Among them are Grass Knot, Volt Switch, the aforementioned Vacuum Wave, and Hex as well!
  • Spell Fist in Ragnarok Online requires you to cancel a spell and whack your opponent. Each physical hit done by the Sorcerer (3rd class Sage/Professor) has damage equivalent to the spell cast.
  • The Kinetic Attack powerset in City of Heroes invokes this trope with its attack animations.
  • Biotics in the Mass Effect series use exaggerated actions and associated muscle memory to stimulate their abilities. Jack uses punches to clobber giant robots that were specifically ordered to capture her alive when armed only with guns, and also didn't have any armour or shields. If she ever tries that against any other giant robots, she gets horribly slaughtered unless Shepard bails her out. Vanguard Shepard (and Vanguards and N7 Furies in Mass Effect 3's multiplayer mode) are an example of this, often deliberately biotic-charging into melee range and blasting enemies through the air with massive point-blank detonations before punching them to death.
  • Red spirits in Eien no Aselia work like this whenever they're using effective melee abilities. Which basically means if you're using Himika because Orpha and Nanaru are pure casters. Orpha does gain magical melee abilities later, though.
  • In Dragon Age II, mages swing and twirl their spear-like staves to rain down magical death at a distance or to whack baddies who've invaded their personal space, complete with nifty elemental contrails.
  • In Dungeon Fighter Online, the Mage class can specialize as a Battle Mage, allowing her to use weapons and attack enemies at close range as opposed to the long-range attacks she's usually known for.
  • Starkiller of The Force Unleashed fame sort of does a physical "push" with his hands when using force push, especially if he charges it first, and that's before he combines his saber moves with his force powers...
    • Especially evident when he Force-punches a walker a dozen times in rapid succession.
  • Sora's Master Form seems to favor this in Kingdom Hearts II, mixing physical strikes with his spell attacks. The most direct examples are the forward charge he performs when using Fire and his circular dash around Thunder's area of effect. He'll also close in on his target and slash a few times before launching Blizzard.
  • In Undertale, piss off Sans, by deciding to Kill 'em All, and your soul will get smashed against the floor, walls, and ceiling with a mere wave of the hand. During the last attack he does it can actually damage you, though in an HP to 1 sort of way.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Gwen from Ben 10 mixes a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and magic mana-manipulation powers for dynamic and fluid fighting scenes.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender the Elemental Powers are all controlled by the physical action of the bender, and each element has a different martial art used to use the power more effectively (though it appears there can be variations as to which style is used). (This serves a practical purpose: it allows all the young characters to use martial arts via bending without having 14-year-olds beating the crap out of each other with their fists.) People occasionally use weapons in conjunction with the bending as well. Additionally, the more skilled a bender is, the more they can get out of an action, with the pinnacle of this being Bumi's ability to control boulders with his chin. In the artbook, the creators specifically mentioned they wanted to get away from the more traditional "wand magic." Just don't ever call bending "magic" around a bender...
    • The same basic concept was used in the Live-Action Adaptation The Last Airbender. Less talented benders have to build up energy with a lot of excessive movement, while those who are more skilled like Aang for airbending and Zuko for firebending are capable of impressive feats with minimal movement. Katara grows more skilled and confident in waterbending over the course of the movie, barely able to levitate a ball of water to summoning small waterfalls. Unfortunately, while the idea has some precedent in the series it made a lot of the action scenes (especially with the less talented benders) slower and goofier looking. The loss of all the carefully designed and choreographed martial art stylings of Series bending into random flailing didn't help.
    • The show also has Full Contact Anti-Magic. Chi-blockers can paralyze a person and temporarily shut down their bending by striking pressure points on their body.