Characters in fighting, sports, and other My Kung-Fu Is Stronger Than Yours
series have a tendency to go to extremes when doing their training. Whether it's a regimen concocted by a harsh (or just sadistic
) mentor, or self-inflicted, expect to see our heroes go through training that would incapacitate or even kill an ordinary human. When played straight it's always worth it.
The consequence is usually Charles Atlas Superpower
Hey, no pain, no gain. Ergo, according to this trope, a lot of pain, a lot of gain.
Frequently occurs in a Deadly Training Area
sometimes combined with a Batman Cold Open
(or Danger Room Cold Open
in the case of groups). For Training From Hell for a whole army, see The Spartan Way
. For the parental or parental figure version see Tough Love
. May result in Sacrificed Basic Skill for Awesome Training
if done from childhood. See also Improvised Training
, when they have no equipment or money with which to train. See Look What I Can Do Now
for the aftermath.
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- Used in a series of commercials for an auto parts store in the US. Ads so far have included employees changing a battery in a car while in freefall; and running through the savannah carrying a muffler, with raw meat tied to them and lions chasing them.
- Martial arts training in comics, particularly from Lady Shiva, often seems to consist of brutally attacking someone with negligible experience until this somehow causes them to develop proper form and build. In reality of course, being beaten up by an immensely more skilled opponent is not a very good way to learn to fight.
- Justified when she trained Batman in Knightsend, but only because he was an already experienced fighter trying to recover his abilities after months out of commission. Robin, when he trained briefly under Shiva, didn't get as much out of it.
- Batgirl III (Cassandra Cain) was brought up under Training From Hell so over-the-top it entered the realm of self-parody at times. Her workout program was said to have killed or driven insane all others who tried it. Of course since it included never learning to read or speak and only having contact with one person, social maladjustment at the very least would be expected.
- When Cass trained Stephanie Brown in turn, the training mostly consisted of her being knocked down with one punch, over and over again, although this may be because at the time Cass was more interested in moping than sparring.
- Similar to Cassandra Cain, X-23 was brought up under Training From Hell for the purpose of becoming an assassin for hire. Unlike Cassandra she was given an extensive education, although only because her handlers wanted her to be able to blend in with "normal" people to carry out missions. Of course it still causes her problems after escaping when she's actually trying to be normal, anyway.
- The training itself gets played with a bit in the events detailed in Innocence Lost and the follow-up miniseries, Target: X. Laura's sensei certainly wasn't easy on her, but was nonetheless fair and treated her with a great deal of affection. What Rice and Kimura did to her, on the other hand...
- Deconstructed in Wanted. The main character's initial training consists of being tied to a chair and having a guy twice his size pummel him for a few hours every day. It turns out the point was not to make him able to fight but willing to kill someone.
- This has some basis in Real Life military training programs; primarily it builds up a person's ability to handle pain and exhaustion, but it also builds up a lot of repressed anger.
- The Danger Room from the various incarnations of X-Men.
- Empowered goes through a workout session at the hands of her friend Ninjette that involves tree-hopping, swimming across a shark-infested bay, and shooting toys out of the air.
- Fairly subverted in The Middleman when Wendy begins her training with Sensei Ping. After a long sequence with Ida and The Middleman telling her how strict and ruthless a teacher Sensei Ping is and how unlikely she is to survive the first day, she bounces out of the training room, out of breath but mostly unhurt, yelling, "That was AWESOME!"
- In Bowling King, this sort of training is somehow necessary to be a successful bowler; Details aren't exactly forthcoming as to, like, why (other than bowling being seriously Serious Business), but on his first day of training Shautieh is forced to run for over three hours straight as a warmup. Later, he's made to mime sitting down while playing mahjong with ugly women, with the stipulation that if he loses or falls down they get to kiss him.
- Very controversial example in the current Dark Horse Conan the Barbarian comic series, which introduced a female warrior called Janissa whose "training" by her female Evil Mentor involved being repeatedly thrown into a pit full of demons and gang-raped by them until she learned to fight back.
- During Dark Reign Norman Osborn ordered Ares, Greek god of war, to train a special squad of soldiers. The speech Ares gave potential members of his team had him mentioning the possibility they can end as "bags of broken bones and blood" and that he will choose those who are worthy...or those he just wants to see in pain. Later he proved he wasn't kidding — his first lesson was "I will be shooting at you from a BFG, try to survive."
- Justified in the French comic series Requiem Vampire Knight. The training to become a Vampire Knight is hellish, and conveniently located in Hell. Of course, you will be fighting hellcreatures in Hell so...
- G.I. Joe, of course. This applies both to the Joes and Cobra. Most of this is merely hinted at in the character profiles, but one issue of the Marvel comic focused entirely on the training of new Joes. In addition to some grueling-but-expected training, it included having to watch a horribly boring training video about traffic safety for several hours without falling asleep.
- The Cobra file cards especially go into the horrible stuff you have to do to become an Eel or one of the the various types of Viper. In most elite Viper programs, surviving training is how you graduate. One might think that Larry Hama was exorcising some demons from his own time in the military...
- The Valiant one-shot Ultimate Warrior's Workout featured the titular wrestler revealing how he maintains maximum Destrucity. His regimen consists of lifting a giant statue, flinging cinderblocks in a stadium with enough force to wreck the place, dodging logs rolling down a steep hill, withstanding the waves of a stormy sea, and finally lifting a table covered in junk which he adds something to every time so it's heaver with every lift.
- Some of Warrior's "workouts" (the lifting the statue and table) can be seen as Fridge Brilliance since working out while off balance forces more muscles to engage, especially the core, and a stronger core helps to prevent lower back injuries.
- Judge Dredd: Judges undergo a fifteen year training programme at the Academy of Law. Minor infractions (such as crying) can result in expulsion. Regular sessions in a Deadly Training Area occur where cadets are trained in live fire conditions. After ten years, cadets undergo a "Hotdog Run"; a training mission in the Cursed Earth, a lawless wasteland that is the result of nuclear war. At the end of their training, they must undergo an on street assessment with a senior judge, which involves going on patrol and passing sentences on crimes. Minor mistakes can result in automatic failure. Even a near perfect patrol doesn't guarantee a rookie their full eagle, especially if a rookie is assigned to Dredd.
- In Kick-Ass, one of Hit-Girl’s lessons consists of her father shooting her just so that she knows what it feels like, when she’s only ten years old.
- Dungeon Keeper Ami features this as a major facet of the Duel Arc. Ami has been forced into what amounts to a thinly-veiled public execution for angering one of the dark Gods. Her opponent, a Hornered Reaper, was one she'd managed to drive off once, and even beat, but all through means that would be stripped away for the duel. As a result, Cathy, commander of Ami's personal troops, trains her in melee fighting. At one point said training included sparring against one of her employees... a young dragon.
- In the Harry Potter AU The Darkness Series Harry gets dueling lessons from Voldemort at the end of which he frequently has to work on reattaching limbs.
- Many Naruto fanfics do this for ANBU selection. Ideas have included having two weeks to climb a mountain with no gear or chakra (knives are placed at the top at the one week mark and each member can only take their own knife), enduring interrogations that range from eight-sixteen hours a day for two weeks to thirty-one hours twenty-seven minutes (which is merely the minimum to pass) of continuous interrogation, and having to evade current ANBU while stealing notes (also guarded by current ANBU) and getting beaten and branded every time you're caught.
- Danzo's Team has this for all of Team 7's training. Naruto's in particular stands out as he learned how to fight with a tanto by having his teacher try to kill him with one. He was also taught how to train his sensor abilities by drinking a poison that eliminates all normal senses then being locked in a cave system and having to use chakra emitting devices to find his way out.
- Pokémon: The Great Adventure has Ash's surrogate father and mentor send him to train with the Elites in preparation for the Indigo Conference, one Elite per week. Ash goes through some very hard stuff, including being used as a giant Onix bait and ending up with a giant Steelix attacking him, forced to read books after books about Pokémon and assimilating them in a week, having to climb the food chain of a haunted powerplant ruled by a giant Haunter and having to fight all four Elites and his mentor in basically one-sided fights. However, the reward was totally worth it.
- In Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race, Proto Man puts the Robot Masters through this in episode 9. It pays off, and they defeat Mega Man in a fight.
- In the Star Wars: The Old Republic fic Remi The Grey, Lord Scourge puts Jedi Knight Remi Syeriy through this while teaching her to use the Dark Side. Examples include refusing to let her treat injuries, encouraging another Sith to sexually harass her, and forcing her to watch a whole shipment of slaves (including very young children) get sold off to the scum of the galaxy while tied up and completely unable to do anything to stop it.
- In Emergence, to prepare to retrieve Yang in Syria, Joe takes Sam and Ruby to a military obstacle course and firing range. While Ruby clears the course with ease, Sam has a really tough time, especially since the course gets peppered with non-lethal but painful rounds to simulate an actual battle. He does a bit better on the firing range.
- Attempted in Teal'c's Wish by SGC to make Xander stay back from the front lines and "be coddled" and get Faith to quit. Instead both blow right through the training, Faith because she's a Slayer and Xander because of his various magical mishaps/possessions.
- In To Prey Upon the Dead, Ichigo is Covered In Scars and only one isn't from training. His spars with "Mother Masa" sometimes end with him impaled.
- Anko does this to her team in A Teachers Glory, but intersperses it with breaks to train their minds and behaviors, such as taking Sakura on shopping sprees every ten days where they get all dolled up and practice infiltration skills by imitating useless noblewomen.
- In Witch Hunter, Ryuhwan takes Tasha under his wing to help him complete the training he should have received from their master before she died. He promises Tasha that he will make Tasha as strong as him in one month. How does he do this? By transporting them and their partners into a sentient pocket dimension which can memorize the physical state of objects and reset them to the state they were when they entered it. Ryuhwan demonstrates this by shooting Tasha in the gut three times. When Tasha is immediately healed, Ryuhwan explains that he is going to fight Tasha to the death over and over again until Tasha's combat skills reach his level.
- Back stage footage of Gackt and his band preparing for concert is nothing but this. Gackt and his back up dancers "training" includes lifting each other as weights and taking turns punching and kicking each other in the stomach over extended periods of time.
- Classical musicians sometimes go through this, especially at the famous schools like Juilliard. Overuse injuries are very common, and nervous breakdowns aren't exactly unheard of.
- This is an unusual example, in that most people going through the training wouldn't complain at all. They're all passionately in love with music, which is why they're studying music instead of something that pays better.
- In Cthulhu Tech this is how Tagers are prepared to bind with their symbiont. First, they're practically tortured and emotionally manipulated by their instructors for at least six months, in order to learn how to maintain complete control over their bodies and minds. Then, they undergo the Rite of the Sacred Union, a three-day ritual in which they can't eat, drink, or sleep, having to remain focused the entire time. If everything goes correctly, they permanently fuse with a monster from beyond space and time. If something goes wrong, well...
- The Space Marines from Warhammer 40,000 are the masters of military Training From Hell. A typical recruit is a teenager when he endures his first trial. These trials are various but always potentially lethal: on a Feral World, the recruit could need to hunt and slay the fiercest predator on the planet, or survive in the outlands for an extended period; he could find himself in a duel with a real battle brother (a hulking monstrosity, eight feet and 800 lbs of carbon hardened bones and pure muscle mass); or the psykers of the Chapter could simply decide to Mind Rape him and see if he survives. If the young boy passes the trial, for years he will be gruelingly trained, cut open and stuffed with additional organs (some Chapters shun painkillers and assistance; if he dies from the wounds, he's not a good Neophyte), pumped full of drugs and conditioned by the Chapter Librarian. If he survives past his 18th birthday, he will become a full fledged Space Marine... Scout, and from there spend decades fighting until he is deemed worthy of being a Space Marine. Most of the recruits die; the unlucky ones are crippled for life, their mind is shattered and their planet will look at them as the living epitome of failure (some chapters use them as servants and support crew, which they're quite good at: no one wants to be the guy who let down the Chapter twice). The real unlucky ones are stripped of their free will and become Servitors to the Chapter officers: Fate Worse Than Death, indeed...
- And don't think they take just any 10-year-old. No, they take only the strongest, most savage kids ten years of survival on the planet has to offer, and often make them fight each other. The Black Templars comic has a recruiting battle-brother declare that four such recruits, on one planet, is exceptional good luck (though in this case they were all young men).
- Chaos Space Marines, what with being devoted to various horrifying gods, are even worse. Let's hear it from Fabius Bile, Mad Scientist extraordinaire:
Each of the Legions has now nominated aspirants seeking to throw themselves upon our mercy in the vain hope that we may deem them worthy to join our ranks. Those loyal to the shrunken corpse on Terra still cling to their own processes by which perhaps one in a hundred neophytes may survive to become a battle brother. The methods I have developed over the last millennia are more stringent, for we must be pure in our hatred and hard of heart, body and soul. Fewer than one in every thousand survive, and I strive each day to lengthen these odds still further.
- Exalted: Since the basic idea of Exalted is that you can be awesome if you put an effort into it, Training from Hell is everywhere for both mortals and Exalts alike. Lore and War charms exist primarily so you can give a Training from Hell For The Peaceful Villager.
- In the case of Abyssals or Infernals, it's Training in Hell or Training by Hell. These are not for the faint of the heart. A certain Infernal-only Martial Arts can be taught faster through nightmares.
- Since charms learned by an Infernal are also learned by her Yozi master, this can potentially results in a Training for Hell. Insert Soviet reversal here.
- Although it is technically training from heaven, the training of a newly exalted Sidereal by the elders of the Five Score Fellowship is as harsh and demanding as the previous examples. Sidereal are the keepers of fate, they are well aware that their work is crucial to the very existence of the world as they know it, and they don't take training new recruits lightly.
- Mage: The Ascension features the Golden Chalice, a sub-faction of the Euthanatos that is effectively a fate-bending special operations group. Their training is said to be 24 hours a day for two weeks straight, with only the bare essentials of magic to keep contenders from dying.
- Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine: the Prodigy gained three ranks in The Ace by spending a long time in remarkably horrible training. One quote involves surviving for long periods on nothing but ice chips. It's no wonder she believes Hope Is Scary.
- The Crusader in Thirteenth Age puts his paladin recruits through a gruelling experience more reminiscent of psychological torture or a lengthy tour of duty in Vietnam than the more traditional "squire" form of training. Washouts tend to be left with serious psychological scars.
- Subverted in Fate/stay night. Shirou goes through training every night in magic that nearly kills him and terrifies anyone who sees it. This is, in fact, because he is really bad at practicing. It does essentially nothing for him. Another subversion comes in his sparring with Saber, where she points out that there's no way he can really hope to learn anything in such a short time so she'll just teach him to sense killing intent and get used to battle so he reacts better.
- Played straight, though, with our favorite Badass Grandpa Zelretch. He's notorious for periodically showing up at the Clock Tower and choosing out a few trainees. On the one hand, training under one of the few living practitioners of true magic, the man who killed an Eldritch Abomination bare handed? Sounds great! On the other hand, well, pretty much everyone he's ever chosen is currently either dead or insane.
- In Yo-Jin-Bo, Tatsunami Ittosai eventually reveals that as a child he was put through Training from Hell by his father, who believed that A Real Man Is a Killer. Ittosai is the only one of the guys who is completely unfazed when Kasumimaru uses a ninja technique to blind him, commenting that his father used to blindfold him and attack him until he learned to defend himself without being able to see.
- The RPG Fanatic: At the end of the Castlevania: Curse of Darkness review the Student Sword forces the Fanatic to fight zombies as part of his ongoing "hero training".
- Sharon Kulikov from Survival of the Fittest was apparently put through this — by her own father, no less. Ironically the training doesn't help much when she gets into a confrontation and takes an axe to the back of the head, though her training didn't really involve combat techniques. Barry Coleson High's baseball and football teams also apparently went through an extremely rigorous training regime — described as military-esque — that would've cost their coach his job if it weren't for the fact that they're very highly skilled teams because of said training. The baseball team's practices apparently involve three miles' worth of laps around the entire campus at the start, hundreds of the same drills over and over, physical workouts, and being forced to do eighty pushups every time the player makes a mistake.
- YouTube's Billy MC went through this when his very first LP was Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels. It took him a year in real time to beat it. However, he's since proven to be very good at easier — still fairly difficult — Mario games, like Super Mario Bros 3.
- He's also proven to be very good at games mostly considered Nintendo Hard since, having beaten The Karate Kid in only two Let's Play videos, Castlevania in four, and Ninja Gaiden in just five videos .
- Training for PPC agents is inconsistent at best, and can range from this (if you're lucky enough to get a thorough agent trainer) to being thrown into your first mission without any instruction whatsoever.
- In season 2 of Stupid Mario Brothers, Link trains the Mario Bros. to prepare for their fight against Nox Decious. It is however subverted when the training turns out to be a round of Super Smash Bros. which the Mario Bros. take seriously.
- Agents of the Organization from LIS_DEAD are put through extreme training pretty much from birth
- In Pyrrhic Joshua and his brothers were subjected to this by Sister Grace, with probably the least terrible thing mentioned done to them being waterboarding. It's implied that the reasons she did this was to prepare him for the supernatural aspects of the world that no one else knows about.
- We Are Our Avatars: Every Feccian Bladesman's training was this to some degree; for Zeke, it was this Up to Eleven. Justified, for if he was going to have any chance of going toe-to-toe with another Feccian Bladesman, he'd need all the advantages he could get.
- In the tgchan quest Chop's Dojo, Chop takes advantage of the neighboring magic school training healers. Given his dojo's typical training day involves running, hot coals, push-ups, running while carrying hot coals, and push-ups on the hot coals, the junior healers get plenty of training material.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Toph psychologically trains Aang to Earthbend by doing things such as verbally abusing him, stealing his nuts and staff (literally his staff and bag of nuts), and not helping him protect his friend. Her physical training involves such tasks as running an obstacle course while carrying a boulder on his back, jabbing his hands through solid stone, and sending a giant boulder crashing towards him while blindfolded. However, this is a much softer example than most others on the page: Toph may be harsh, but she didn't give any exercise she didn't think Aang could handle, and the training itself is more harsh as opposed to downright brutal (Plus, she only verbally abused him when he chickened out of one of the exercises, and even then she didn't do it for that long).
- In The Legend of Korra, Tarrlok and Noatak are subjected to horrifying bloodbending, now illegal, training by Yakone, their father and the first known bloodbender capable of bloodbending without the help of a full moon. This training includes bloodbending one another as children.
- The cartoon version of G.I. Joe isn't as intense. However, in the multi-part series where Sergeant Slaughter first appeared, the Joes almost suffered a big setback after letting themselves get overconfident, so Gen. Hawk asked Slaughter to take over their training routines personally. Long story short, it was a good idea.
- In a later series, Slaughter is put in charge of an elite force called the Renegades, who he trains even harder. (The Renegades are a group of mostly-reformed thugs who need serious discipline to work with the Joes.)
- Where On Earth Is Carmen Sandiego had an episode that showed what went on in a V.I.L.E training program, which includes rappelling up the side of a life-sized mockup of the Leaning Tower of Pisa (or perhaps the real deal — Carmen did like to steal oddball stuff like national monuments).
- In an episode of The Fairly Oddparents, Cosmo and Wanda retreat to Fairy World to renew their fairy licenses; Jorgen von Strangle sets up a hellish training regimen as part of the renewal process, which includes doing 10 million push-ups.
- Some parts of Mulan's training montage qualify as Training From Hell — particularly climbing the pole to retrieve the arrow, breaking flat stones with their heads, hopping across several poles planted above a river, and dodging dozens of Flaming Arrows.
- Turned on its head for Disney's Hercules where the training is more of an antagonizing experience for the trainer rather than the trainee. For instance;
Phil: (whilst standing next to a bullseye) Rule number 95 kid; concentrate!
(Hercules throws several knives which all very nearly impale Phil in the next shot)
Phil: Rule number 96; AIM!!
- In The Boondocks, Colonel Stinkmeaner goes through a literal version of this after Granddad accidentally kills him, and Stinkmeaner is taught kung fu by the Devil himself so he can return to Earth and have his revenge.
- Stinkmeaner apparently doesn't think it's so bad, as he claims he's having the time of his life. He also called the Devil a "B&%$h ass N&#%a!" to his face.
- Wolf Den base in Galaxy Rangers. A bunch of Artificial Humans designed as living weapons put through grueling training like fighting giant mecha while being shot at with live ammo, being drugged with experimental substances, and casually being used as guinea pigs by their creators. The other students were happy to "weed out the weak" from their numbers, and didn't particularly care about little things like "casualties." That's before the Jerkass Corrupt Bureaucrat dosed all but the youngest with Psycho Serum.
- Providence recruits go through 'Pain Week' during basic training — five days, one-hundred and twenty hours, of solid drills and exercises, with no breaks to eat or sleep. The trainer outright says that the goal of Pain Week is to force any recruit who couldn't handle fighting deadly monsters on a regular basis to quit early ... then walk down the long stairs from Providence's apparantly cliff-top base and somehow get across a freaking desert to the nearest city. That's right, even the washouts get a little extra hell.
- This becomes an unintended case in the episode "Failsafe" of Young Justice when Miss Martian was overwhelmed by Artemis's "death" and her telepathic powers overroded hers and the rest of the team's conscious knowledge that the scenerio was fake.
- The Ren & Stimpy Show:
Interviewer: "Which animation show was the most rewarding and why?"
Chris Reccardi: "I would have to say Ren and Stimpy. But rewarding like getting ten root canals, and then growing new super-teeth later."
- When Samurai Jack asked to be taught to "jump good", the tribe of ape-people he'd befriended tied rocks to all his limbs and a giant boulder to his back, then ran him around the forest performing chores and surmounting obstacles. When he started, he could barely move under the weight; when he finished his training, the stones' removal left him feeling so much lighter that he virtually floated away with the smallest of efforts.
- Dragons: Riders of Berk: Gobber claims that his father taught him to swim by threatening to kill him.
- Col. Hunter Gathers favors this method twice in The Venture Bros.. First, in a series of flashbacks, he is shown training future One-Man Army Brock Samson. He introduces himself with a steel baton to Brock's kneecap and later, after learning that Brock can't swim, forces him into a swimming pool with armed frogmen and a shark while Hunter tosses grenades into the pool. In another episode, when Hank Venture tries to join SPHINX (Sphinx!), he puts Hank through a series of difficult tests trying to ensure he fails. Hank, having endured far worse in his life as a boy adventurer and having learned directly from Brock Samson, passes every test, much to Hunter's surprise.
- The Cow and Chicken episode "Sergeant Weenie Arms" has the titular sergeant training Chicken, Flem and Earl to become manlier by making them do ludicrous acts such as shaving with smooth rocks and cutting down a tree with their faces. The next day, they wake up muscular and he congratulates them with dolls, saying that men shouldn't be afraid to play with dolls.