Main Artistic License Martial Arts Discussion

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05:06:31 PM Aug 30th 2013
What about the stuff like Avatar or Street Fighter? Obviously not meant as real depictions, but still martial arts that are totaly unrealistic...
09:15:55 PM Aug 30th 2013
They'd be Supernatural Martial Arts, which is something else entirely.
05:10:21 PM May 23rd 2011
I've removed the Real Life section, because this trope is specifically about fictional martial arts. A real life section for this trope would be along the lines of "this one martial arts technique looks fake to me," which is Troper Tales territory.

    Real Life 
  • Western MMA got started when the Gracie clan of Brazilain Jiu-Jitsu practitioners helped create the Ultimate Fighting Championship to pull this on the martial arts world. Jim Brown famously summed up the first event with the line, "Fighting is not what we thought it was." Over the years, the style of MMA was refined down to a core set of simple and effective moves. However, all MMA fighters know a variety of flashier and more esoteric moves, sometimes called "low percentage moves," which don't often work, but can have a big effect when they do. Fighters such as Kazushi Sakuraba and Genki Sudo have developed reputations for their willingness to try these moves in competition.
  • While impractical in real fights (where missing and falling down would get you badly kicked) flying kicks are sometimes attempted in sport fight such as K1. They often miss and end with the attacker on the ground. If the do connect however, they can go all the way to the Crowning Moment of Awesome - there is simply no getting up on your own if you catch a flying knee on the chin.
    • There's a BIG difference between a flying kick and a flying knee. If you land a flying kick wrong, chances are you'll wind up on your ass. Land a flying knee wrong, you're still close enough to clinch.
    • One particular K1 fighter Kaoklai 'The Matrix' Kaennorsing made his name by averting this trope, scoring fight ending flying kicks in real fights against a number of world class opponents far taller and heavier than his 5'11/170lbs. Needless to say he became a national hero in his native Thailand as a result. As this clip shows, it probably helps to be so fast that many of your kicks have to be replayed in slow-mo just to see what happened. (1:10-1:30 in particular) But as the same clip shows, his flying kicks also tend to get caught a lot, leaving him vulnerably standing on one leg.
      • Not to mention, there's no disadvantage to falling down after a flying kick in K1, unless you do it an obscene amount of times or your opponent is a jerk. In MMA, it's a different story since you can be hit legally while on the ground.
  • This seems to be the de facto move of the real-life sport of Tae Kwon Do.
    • But I'll be damned if that doesn't make it fun.
    • This is actually only really used in one school of Taekwon Do, the appropriately initialed World Taekwon-Do Federation, which is the most famous since that's what's used in the Olympics. Other schools are much more conservative and practical.
    • That flying kick was developed for use in actual combat, although not a constant thing. Rather, it was specifically meant for unhorsing cavalry. You were not expected to use it on someone already on the ground, not if you wanted to avoid getting filleted.
      • Ah, Taekwon Do. As an Olympic commentator elegantly put it: 'For those of you just joining us, this is not the world bouncing championships'.
        • Olympic taekwondo is more a sport than a practical martial art, akin to demonstration kung fu. It is set up with specific rules to encourage fancy kicks, which, over time, have evolved sparring styles into something that does not resemble real combat. As mentioned, many traditional techniques are more practical.
          • As one instructor put it in an introduction to sparring, "Sparring is NOT real fighting, it is full-contact tag with your feet. If you try to defend against a real attack like this, you will get hurt. Badly."
        • Taekwon Do isn't just kicks, the name of the martial art means "Art (or way) of Hand and Foot", there's a good few punches in there too
        • It should be worth noting that Olympic level Tae-Kwon-Do gets very far from the actual self-defense side of the martial art. A common (but illegal) practice is to do a spinning jump kick to your opponent and then hug the opponent without your arms so they cannot retaliate. In Olympic sparring it is both illegal to push or grab your opponent, and points scored with kicks is less valuable than points scored with punches. This leads to Tae-Kwon-Do sparring to look quite ridiculous on television.
  • Then, there is the African-Brazilian martial art of Capoeira with its flying kicks, spinning kicks, and flying spinning kicks, many of which require leaving oneself extremely open for counter-attacks or even getting knocked over by the other person stepping into you. Averted somewhat by the facts that a) the roda (sparring circle) is as much about performing and showing off as it is about actual fighting, b) historically, in actual fights, more direct and less flashy moves tend to be used by Capoeiristras, and c) since the style is focused on use of spins and acrobatic maneuvers, experienced practitioners leave few openings and strike with bone-crushing forces from angles you don't expect. The style originally disguised martial arts (prohibited to slaves) as a form of dance, so the not-entirely-efficient moves make some sense in that respect.
    • D) This styles was meant to be used by handcuffed slaves, so the scarcity of direct punches and the abundance of elbow strikes, headbutts, hand slaps and fancy legwork.
      • E) If you do leave yourself open, chances are the other guy will sweep you or knock you over.
        • F) Capoeiristas are used to dealing with sweeps and trips. Its styles are focused largely on evading or rolling over such things. Angola style practitioners in particular are used to maintaining a very low center of balance, making it exceptionally difficult to destabilise them.
          • G) Capoeira was originally used with razors tied to your feet. The dancing and tumbling worked as a feint for a lethal kick. Also, capoeira was a last resort for slaves. Yes, the flying kicks left them wide open, but they didn't care because A) their opponent would be dead if they hit and/or B) they were slaves, live sucked anyway, they were gonna take another beating and be thrown back in the senzala because they were still too valuable to kill on a whim.
  • Although rarely used in competition or real-world fighting, many grappling systems have "flying" submissions. For example, the flying armbar, the flying triangle, or even the flying omoplata.
  • The Real Life Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists decided that their special martial arts and exercise regimen made them Immune to Bullets and thus took a lot of risks when fighting the foreign soldiers stationed in China. They were pretty much all dead by the time someone realized that life wasn't an action movie, although as action movies did not yet exist in the late 1800s/early 1900s their lack of Genre Savvy is forgivable.
  • Subverted with Muay Boran, the ancestor of Muay Thai. Some of their practitioners may do a fancy-looking spin-fists-in-circle-around-each-other thingamajig while preparing to strike. If you let that trick you into thinking that he's bark but no bite, your ass is going down hard and fast.
    • Or at least, that was the case 300 years ago when Muay Boran was a living, breathing martial art, practiced with genuine contact and resistance. Or if you're an extra in a Tony Jaa movie. Nowadays, it has evolved almost entirely into Muay Thai, which is eminently practical and gracefully brutal as such.
    • Muay Thai is not at all flashy, and is indeed practical and brutal. For example, slamming their knee knee into their opponent's liver. Its not pretty, and isn't flashy enough to pass in most media, but there's no denying that it works.
      • I dunno, there's some real beauty to be found in the liver shot...
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