Supernatural Martial Arts
One can achieve amazing things by properly training the body.
Many works give the mystic training of the East far more powerful effects. In the real world, if you want to blow up a city or fly, you're out of luck without a bomb or an airplane, but in these worlds, train hard enough
and it will come. Often overlaps with Martial Arts and Crafts
and frequently includes the Dangerous Forbidden Technique
Distinct from Kung-Fu Wizard
, which is when someone has martial arts and
magic, but they're separate abilities.
are a subtrope of this. Dragons Up the Yin Yang
are a common visual motif. Not to be confused with Full-Contact Magic
, which is magic first, fighting second.
Compare Charles Atlas Superpower
, where training, usually in the Far East
, can make you better than any human in real life at plausibly mundane feats, and Ki Attacks
for less mundane ones. See also Fantastic Fighting Style
way to counteract Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards
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Anime and Manga
- Dragon Ball: One of the best demonstrations of how it works was when Gohan was blackmailed by Videl to teach her how to fly. Trying to break it down for her, he found that she was able to learn to harness her own ki relatively quickly because of her own martial arts training.
- Ranma ½: Hard training will not only let you do Ki Attacks, but give you Super Strength, at the very least specific forms of Super Speed, make you Super Tough if not outright Nigh Invulnerable, massively amplify your recovery abilities and let you use even the most ridiculous things as lethal implements of destruction.
- One of the many ways chakra can be used in Naruto is to increase character's already considerable physical abilities like the chakra gates or the Akimichi clan's body expansion techniques.
- Saint Seiya. Train hard, and you too can reverse a waterfall by kicking it.
- Ku Fei of Mahou Sensei Negima! is capable of killing demons barehanded.
- Not to mention Negi himself, who boosts his Kung Fu powers with magic.
- Fist of the North Star rivals Dragon Ball Z for being so brazen about cranking this up.
- G Gundam's elite martial artists Domon Kasshu and Master Asia can catch bullets and destroy Gundam size robots! And their own Gundams are able to receive certain powerups based entirely on the strength of their awesomeness.
- Not just them, nearly everyone else in the series does.
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid introduced the "Strike Arts", a magic-augmented close-combat martial arts form. Later, a character appears with knowledge of the "Kaiser Arts", basically a stronger form from the Ancient Belkan era.
- Belkan magic in general is essentially weapon-using magical martial arts that started by augmenting the user's strength, speed and defense, later moving on to elemental energy. The focus on physical enhancement distinguishes Belkan magic from the Mid-Childan style of Full-Contact Magic.
- YuYu Hakusho explained that normal humans could never hope to match up with the tougher demons unless they learn to channel their spirit energy. Physical strength has its limitations, but spirit energy has none. That said, the strongest humans are leagues below the strongest demons in power.
- In Jojos Bizarre Adventure, the Ripple is an ancient form of martial arts that allows a human with the right potential to generate energy similar to sunlight using precise breath control. The Ripple is especially powerful against beings that cannot withstand sunlight like vampires and the Pillarmen.
- In Dragons Rioting, Koei Sougetsu a martial art style taught to the main character by his father that leaves the rest of the cast whose abilities are normally physical in nature in awe... despite he primarily uses it to run away from attractive girls.
- Marvel Comics invokes this with many characters such as Shang-Chi, the Master of Kung-Fu, and every single one of the many scions of the Immortal Weapons.. They all have various chi-based abilities.
- Oriental Heroes, late of Jademan Comics.
- Weapons Of The Gods, likewise. There's a ton of Hong Kong comics revolving around supernatural martial arts, most of which have never made it to the US.
- In American Born Chinese, The Monkey King acquires numerous abilities through the mastery of various kung fu disciplines.
- G.I. Joe: When Larry Hama is writing, ninja characters are nearly invincible. Storm Shadow can disappear from locked rooms with no windows.
- The first example was in issue 10, with Snake-Eyes slowing down his heart beat to fake death in order to fool Dr. Venom.
- Karate Kid from the Legion of Super-Heroes. Despite much delusional fanboyism claiming it's all Charles Atlas Superpower, you can't say that someone who's genetically a baseline unmutated human who can regularly have training spars with Daxamites or smash glaciers and meteors with his bare hands doesn't have anything up his sleeve.
- In Planetary, Anna Hark recounts how one of her ancestors practiced supernatural martial arts, including such feats as using flame from a candle to create a wall of fire, walking on water, kicking droplets of water so fast that they strike like knives and the "Night's Stars Attack", which causes the target to be consumed by a dragon form made of sparkling stars. It is implied, but never shown, that Anna and her father knew these techniques.
- Richard Dragon, Lady Shiva and their teacher The O-Sensei all have martial arts skills that extend to healing abilities and slowed aging, Dragon's has "evolved" into functional telekinesis.
Live Action TV
- Exalted. There is literally a Supernatural Martial Art for everything. Bondage Fighting? Laughing Wounds. Turning yourself into a living golem with extendable magic claws? Prismatic Arrangement of Creation. Whether it's drowning someone in their own blood, ripping someone's soul out of their body, or simply hitting someone hard enough to knock them out, there's a martial arts style dedicated to the concept. This includes hitting someone so hard they contract a supernatural disease... And so does everyone else in a 15 mile radius. And Charcoal March of Spiders: when you absolutely, positively have to punch out everyone on the continent twice in the same instant (or turn them into a duck, or erase them from Creation, or...), accept no substitutes. Or for the more restrained, hitting a man so hard his girlfriend dumps him. Probably the Trope Namer, as the name is used in the game itself.
- Celestial Monkey Style could also qualify, although only if the target happens to be particularly brave. Explanation
- Exalted actually has a special metaphor for this: the Perfect Lotus. The soil it grows in is mundane martial arts like kung-fu and karate; they're a decent enough means of combat for mortals. The roots are the Terrestrial styles like Five Dragons, Seafaring Hero, Orgiastic Fugitive, Live Wire, or Golden Exhalation. The stem is Celestial styles like Righteous Devil, Celestial Monkey, Laughing Wounds, Thousand-Wounds Gear, and the various Celestial Exalts' personal Hero Styles. The actual flower — described as completely separate from the soil from which the Lotus grows — is the Sidereal styles, such as Kaleidoscopic Border of Logic, Charcoal March of Spiders, Obsidian Shards of Infinity, Citrine Poxes of Contagion, and Prismatic Arrangement of Creation (most of which do something horrible to Exalted's already-wounded game balance — Obsidian Shards has moves that let you guarantee the future, while Kaleidoscopic Border has a move that gives you a mind-control stare).
- Comparatively; mortal - non-magical - martial artists can break a brick and jump over a hedge. A Terrestrial martial artist can break a boulder and jump over a building. A Celestial martial artist can break a city wall and jump across a mountain. A Sidereal martial artist can punch someone into a duck note and jump to Heaven.
- There's a whole Splat of these guys in the Old World of Darkness game Mage: The Ascension, the Akashic Brotherhood. They are (mostly) Asiatic monks with a specialty in Mind magic who weave their spells through various meditation techniques and practice a specific type of kung-fu magic called Do ("The Way"), which they claim is the martial art upon which all others are based.
- Werewolf: The Apocalypse includes the Stargazers who, in addition to being one of the more mystical werewolf tribes, invented a martial art, Kailindo, which incorporates a werewolf's shapeshifting abilities and bits of wind-magic.
- Old World of Darkness vampires could learn Kibatsumejutsu, "the art of fighting with claw and fang". It was mentioned in the Combat sourcebook, and quickly forgotten, it seems.
- The spiritual successor to the Akashic Brotherhood in the New World of Darkness is the legacy of mages called the "Perfected Adepts". They harness spiritual energy in order to enhance their bodily performance. One of the Sourcebooks also has details of a magical fighting style known as "The Adamant Hand".
- Shadowrun's Adepts can exemplify this as well; they can have any of a number of innate magical powers, many of which are linked to their combat skills.
- Western example, sort of: Dungeons & Dragons.
- The Tome of Battle. Some Diamond Mind maneuvers allows you to slow time down by being really focused and good at hitting people with swords. The Desert Wind maneuver group, which creates fire (usually). The Shadow Hand maneuver group, which allows you to turn invisible, teleport, walk through walls, and create illusions by being really focused.
- The monk from 3.5e has a rather eclectic collection of abilities stemming from what amounts to training hard and channeling ki. Said abilities include moving fast, surviving crazy falls, dodging fireballs, immunity to diseases and poisons, resistance to magic, teleportation, turning into a ghost, speaking with any creature with a language, killing people with a touch and ceasing to age. Train hard kids, and all this will be yours!
- Death Fist from GURPS: Martial Arts combines martial arts and chi powers then backs up all of that with magic that allows you to alter yourself and opponent. There's also Dragon-Man Kung Fu where you learn to breathe fire.
- GURPS Lensman. The Adepts of North Polar Jupiter are said to use the martial art "Thuleschlag", which at higher levels allows the user to become invisible and blind or kill an opponent by touching them.
- Feng Shui's various fu powers allow a martial artist to do a variety of effects, like setting someone ablaze with your fists, creating a blade out of pure darkness, stopping bullets, and making spectacular flying leaps.
- Weapons Of The Gods is all about this trope. Martial arts techniques at the low end let you do things like run up walls, freeze people with a punch, or turn nigh-invisible. At the high end, they let you fly for miles, wipe out a horde of Mooks with one attack, or kill someone nine times over.
- Anima: Beyond Fantasy has a whole system for building from scratch any kind of Supernatural Martial Arts technique. The official techniques are a varied bunch; among the weirdest we find a Rose-themed style of fencing and a Kill Sat invoking martial art.
- Mysticism in RuneQuest is all about supernatural martial arts, usually gained by giving in to temptation while trying to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence. (Frankly, a lot of monastic disciples are really there just to advance to the point where the temptations offered are really good.) Some non-mystic religions offer similar powers; notably, in Mongoose Publishing's Second Age books there's a brawler who can literally hit you so hard your parents die.
- The Mortal Kombat series of video games. Characters can hurl fireballs and even shoot lasers from Ki attacks. In Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, characters can still fight on despite having what looks like a giant World War 1 trench sword sticking out of them from an "impaling" move.
- Jade Empire, in addition to more conventional martial arts, has Ki-powered styles that involve throwing fire from your hands, bringing down storms of hail, and causing localized earth tremors, among other things. Even one of the "conventional" Martial Styles lets you grow Wolverine-like claws out of your knuckles.
- And don't forget the martial arts that turn you into various monsters.
- Street Fighter games let you throw fireballs, or even make your body a fireball.
- Starting with the Final Fantasy VI, the Final Fantasy franchise makes its Bare Fisted Monks as supernatural as its magic users, often granting them Super Strength, Super Speed, and improbable agility.
- Sabin Rene Figaro and Duncan Harcourt can punch hundreds of times per second, smash foes with beams of Battle Aura, release fiery clones of themselves, shed their Life Force to heal others, fling Razor Wind with their hands, and split themselves into many copies to pummel an enemy from all directions. Oh, and suplex runaway trains.
- Tifa Lockhart (and probably her master Zangan) can lift and toss Humongous Mecha, and unleash gigantic explosions of Battle Aura with a single punch. And summon dolphins!
- Zell Dincht can crack open yawning chasms with a punch, turn himself into an energy missile that can go through enemies, somersault-kick enemies high up into the stratosphere, and run around the world in less than five seconds as wind-up for an explosive punch. He can also do the now-famous "lift and toss mountain-sized enemies."
- Monks in Ivalice can resuscitate fallen comrades with a shout, punch people without coming into physical contact, rend the earth, heal injuries or status effects with their Battle Aura, or kill with a touch.
- Basch is shown as being capable of punching reality with his Limit Breaks. Makes one wonder how he managed to get captured so easily... Of course Vayne can do the same thing with a similar attack. Fran also has two Limit Breaks but hers cause explosions and a Razor Wind.
- Snow doesn't even know any martial arts, but he can beat gods to death by kicking and punching them. And this is before he gets his phlebotinum powers.
- Phantom Dust has the ki school as one of its five skill sets. In addition to basic punches and kicks strong enough to put holes in solid conrete walls, it allows the player to jump thirty feet in the air, dash at lightning speeds, fire ki blasts, enhance their strength and walking speed, brush aside speeding fireballs and laser blasts, regenerate health, and apparently punch the memories out of their target, making them forget their skills.
- Ganondorf in Super Smash Bros.
- Same goes for Captain Falcon, what with his flaming punches, kicks and bearhugs.
- And Lucario, with assorted Ki Attacks.
- In the online game, Urban Rivals, the Fang Pi Clang is made up of many different martial artists.
- Power Fist techniques in Disgaea allows for such various techniques as teleportation, the Megaton Punch, and, at maximum levels, punching a hole in the universe and making a black hole.
- In a story sense, something like this seems to apply to anyone who fights in this series. As a general rule, demons tend to be stronger than humans but there are some humans, like Almaz who can fight on par with demons.
- Taking the Unarmed skill tree in Dungeons of Dredmor rewards you with bonuses to Magic Power and Aethereal Damage once you reach the highest levels.
- Starting in Diablo 2, the Assassin is a member of clan that were originally sorcerers before they dedicated themselves to kill rogue sorcerers. As such they decided to forsake magic and instead focus on using technology and supernatural martial arts including the ability to attack enemies with their minds, meld with shadows to make themselves resistant to damage, kick fire at foes and run faster than the eye can see to kick someone. The Barbarian and Amazon may also count as some of their skills mix supernatural powers with combat expertise. The sequel Diablo 3, the Monk takes over here with the Demon Hunter following behind.
- El Goonish Shive: Anime-Style Martial Arts. Later revealed to be the characters unconsciously using their latent magic abilities to enhance their strength (and make themselves glow).
- Seeing how it's set in Exalted's Creation, Keychain of Creation naturally has this. There are plenty of more action-packed scenes over the course of the comic, but this filler strip probably sums it up best in only three panels.
- Chaka and Bladedancer both are all over this trope in the Whateley Universe. Chaka can see how ki moves, so she can pull a Taskmaster just by watching you use your ki for an attack. In one of the first Whateley stories, she learned a secret paralyzing nerve attack just by watching a mutant ninja attempt it on her.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra are something between this and Full-Contact Magic, as bending is basically regular, real-world martial arts moves used by people who can cause movement of a certain element to utilize the element more efficiently. All four bending styles are based off of real-world Chinese martial arts; Waterbending is Tai Chi, Airbending Ba Gua, Firebending Northern Shaolin Kung Fu, and Earthbending Hung Gar. Also as with real-world martial arts, they evolve and change over long periods of time, with new schools spinning off of the ancient traditions.
- Toph's Earthbending style is actually unique from the other Earthbenders, and is based on Southern Praying Mantis Kung Fu. Which, incidentally, was created by a blind woman.
- In another common feature with martial arts, many of the bending styles are inspired by natural phenomena and the movements of creatures. Waterbenders learned it from the tides, airbenders from flying bison, earthbenders from badgermoles, and firebenders from dragons.
- Kim Possible's Ron Stoppable and his Mystical Monkey Powers.
- The Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists (you might know them better as the guys behind the Boxer Rebellion) thought they had this going for them. The Boxers believed that through training, diet, prayer, and of course martial arts, they could accomplish amazing feats including flight and becoming impervious to knives, bullets, and cannon fire. They also famously claimed that millions of "spirit soldiers" would descend from the heavens to assist them in driving all foreign influence out of China. Needless to say, things didn't turn out like they hoped.