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Bare-Fisted Monk

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Don't let the polka-dots fool you. He's more than capable of beating you from here to Tibet and back.

"A fist… is the first and most powerful weapon that men can have in their entire lives. It is a man's soul in material form, the ultimate melee weapon!"
Douren, Sengoku Youko Chapter 68

The Bare-Fisted Monk excels in melee attacks without wielding weapons. Due to the discipline required, this is pretty much exclusively the province of Warrior Monks, sometimes, even those from Western religions. (Ironically, the monks that popular culture usually equates with bare-fisted fighting—those of the Shaolin Temple—also learn to master multiple weapons for holistic development.)

Rather than finding flashy new equipment or learning new spells, a Bare Fisted Monk draws on their own strength. Their main advantage is that they can passively keep improving their skills without shelling out cash. Their main disadvantage is that they can't rapidly leapfrog ahead in power by shelling out cash.

Bare Fisted Monks are often subject to a unique case of Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards, as they have significant inherent ability but being unable to actually use any weapon-based upgrades gives them unfortunate tendency to fall behind in the endgame. Armor restrictions are also typical. As a result, when everyone else is wielding mighty artifacts of yore, they're still throwing punches.

Of course, this is just as frequently averted, especially when Competitive Balance is a concern, typically by giving them access to specialized weapons only they may use, such as a Power Fist, which is a piece of equipment that augments unarmed attacks, letting weapons act as pure Stat Sticks, or granting the monk Next Tier Power Ups such as Ki Manipulation or Magical Martial Arts.

In either case, the monk is still extremely likely to display no visible weapons.

Sub-Trope of An Adventurer Is You. Super-Trope to Boxing Battler. Contrast with the Heavy Equipment Class, who are defined by the heavier weaponry they use.

Much like you can't have a Badass Normal in a world without actual superpowers, this trope is not applicable in settings where everyone fights unarmed, of course — there's nothing surprising about Rocky fighting with bare fists, since... well... that's the point. Also not to be confused with Good Old Fisticuffs, which is when someone with a complete lack of both a polished fighting technique and a weapon on hand defeats people who have one or both.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Baki the Grappler: Doppo Orochi, as the Combat Pragmatist he is, still gives us this wonderful speech on the aesthetics that a karateka should keep on:
    Actually, we already carry various weapons on us at all times. That's why there's no point in carrying other ones. A student who gets in a fight on his way to school can use his backpack... you can use a fan you just happen to have in your pocket... in a pinch, maybe a belt, too... your shoes are also okay... at the most, is acceptable to use a knife in your attacker's hands. Those are all the thing you might end up using. But nothing else is allowed! Even a pencil... or a fistful of sand... as soon as you arm yourself in preparation for a fight, you're tipping the scales! And tossing away your pride in the process!
    • Half a minute after that, he cuts a 4-micres wire with the side of his hand to save two of his students from being sliced with it. Just to make his opinion stand.
  • Berserk: Bakiraka Warrior Prince Silat's bodyguards, the Tapasa, are four grotesquely muscled martial artists that use only their bare fists and feet as weapons. Everyone is a Lightning Bruiser who can catch flying blades between their palms, as well as punch a man to death through full plate armor.
  • Bleach: Yoruichi's zanpakuto is only shown in a flashback. She always fights without weapons and only ever uses armour once, when protecting her arms and legs to fight a supernaturally empowered Aizen. Although Soi Fon has basically the same fighting style as Yoruichi, she relies more on her zanpakuto than Yoruichi does. Yoruichi can empower her unarmed combat style with a unique Ki Manipulation called Shunkou to strengthen her physical attacks beyond the physical limit, a technique that Soi Fon can also use.
  • Minai from Corpse Princess fights Shikabane using hand-to-hand combat and spiked gauntlets, unlike her fellow Shikabane Hime who all use guns, swords or other weapons.
  • Buso Renkin: As his buso renkin has no true offensive capacity, Captain Bravo has to rely on his mastery of unarmed combat to fight equally against the Magitek weapons wielded other characters.
  • Almost every "member" of what Dragon Ball Z termed "the Z-Fighters" and almost all of the villains, making the exceptions more noticeable. Yamcha used to use swords, guns, and explosives but these proved to be ineffective against Goku, especially in the anime, and his Wolf Fang Fist attack, while still being The Worf Barrage, proved more reliable. Goku himself often used the Power Pole when facing armed and or flying enemies until he lost it after having to use it to connect Korin Tower to Kami's Lookout. Future Trunks has initially fought with a sword until it was broken in the initial battle with Androids 17 and 18, and afterwards he switched to fighting with his bare hands like everyone else. Dabura had a hyper space arsenal of swords and spears. Pretty much every other fighter of note just punches things, unless you watched the Non-Serial Movie.
    • Krillin is the only one who fits the "monk" part of the trope, as he shaves his head regularly (to the point Goku thought he was just bald) at least up until the Buu Saga, post marriage and has Moxibustion points on his forehead. Everyone else is just an extreme martial art enthusiast.
  • Fairy Tail: The Drunken Master Bacchus specializes in this kind of combat, which Elfman is able to exploit in their battle by using its Logical Weakness: cover himself in incredibly tough and spiky scales such that Bacchus hurts himself in attacking him.
  • Fire Force:
    • Shinra is an Extremity Extremist who exclusively fights with his legs. Given that his pyrokinetic ability revolves around ejecting flames from his feet, this is more a matter of pragmatism and necessity than choice, but in return he possesses great mobility both on solid ground and in the air.
    • Maki of Company 8 may be a Second Generation pyrokinetic, but because she's a former soldier with military training, she's perfectly capable of folding mooks with her bare hands. Captain Obi and Lieutenant Hinawa, who served with her in the military, can do the same, though Hinawa relies more on his pyrokinetic ability. Obi, being a muggle, relies more on standard issue firefighting gear.
    • Captain Burns of Company 1 fights exclusively with his fists. His particular brand of pyrokinesis enhances his martial prowess by increasing the heat inside his own body, lending devastating power to his punches.
    • Rekka, one of the Lieutenants of Company 1, specializes in fighting people with his fists, with his pyrokinesis increasing the strength of his punches by allowing him to propel them forward or punching fireballs at his target. However as Shinra finds out during their fight, Rekka has a glaring weakness in that he needs to maintain a stable foothold in order to maximize the strength of his punches. Once Shinra kicks him into the air, where he is far more mobile than Rekka, the fight doesn't last much longer.
    • Captain Shinmon Benimaru of Company 7 is already a gifted pyrokinetic, possessing both Second and Third Generation abilities, but he can still take on an entire army of elite assassins with his bare hands. His Lieutenant, Konro, was no slouch in his prime, either.
    • Charon of the White Clad possesses a strong body that allows him to tank most attacks and deal powerful blows and counters.
    • Ogun Montgomery of Company 4 can use his pyrokinesis to perform a technique similar to Captain Burns and tattoo flames across his body to enhance his physical attributes, which complements his martial prowess in combat.
  • Kenshiro of Fist of the North Star can fight well with nunchucks if he has to, but prefers his bare hands. The better to pop heads with!
    • And pretty everyone else in the series fights barehanded, except for Mamiya who fights with a crossbow and Jagi who likes using a shotgun and gasoline.
  • Scar from Fullmetal Alchemist was a monk before he became a counter-genocider. He still fights with his bare hands after forsaking God in favour of revenge, but adds in destructive alchemy to the mix.
  • In Gamaran there are two school of martial arts focused on unarmed fighting: the first is the Kyosen School of the Daimaru clan, which is focused on attacks aimed at severely damaging inner organs with only one blow. However, as the sword-wielding protagonist points out, if their attacks don't connect, they're done for. Much later we see the much more formidable Kiyomori Yamanoue of the Genkon School, nicknamed "Lord of the Doom Fist" and capable of paralyzing peoples with his fingers by hitting the nerves and even rip the heart out of his opponents barehanded. The sequel has two downplayed examples in Kamada (a warrior who fights with unarmed combat but wears metal protections on his arms and legs to enhace his attacks) and Ise Ramon, who actually looks like the typical bonze and is a beast in unarmed Chinese martial arts.
  • In High School D×D, Sairaorg Bael is essentially the demon version of Muggle Born of Mages. His solution is to train his body and martial arts to the point where his punches can all but cause Ludicrous Gibs on mooks with each strike, and can even contest Issei's Balance Breaker.
  • Jewelpet Kira☆Deco!: most members of the Kira Deco 5 fight physically (which is odd for Jewelpet since it is a magical fantasy show) — Retsu with his fists, Blue Knight with his legs, Midori does kung fu, Kiichi does sumo. Meanwhile, Pink can't do anything until she receives the ability to cast magic… in the second-to-last episode.
  • At least half of the main characters in Jujutsu Kaisen have a degree of expertise when it comes to unarmed combat. Some rely on it exclusively while others supplement it with their various cursed techniques.
  • Almost all the cast from Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, with the only exceptions of Kousaka Shigure, those who don't fight at all and the Yami armed division.
  • There are several unarmed melee users in Lyrical Nanoha, but the best example here is probably Lieze Lotte, Chrono's close combat teacher. As shown during her stint as one of the masked men in A's, she fights using unarmed combat exclusively, never using offensive spells even once.
  • Maken-ki!: Gouken Yamato and Tesshin Kushiya are the only two to rely solely on their martial prowess and Element manipulation. Both are so proficient in unarmed combat, that each is capable of defeating multiple A and S-rank Maken users at once.
  • Gendo from Maryuu Senki is a literal example.
  • Zenkichi Hitoyoshi of Medaka Box primarily relies on his Savate fighting style to handle foes dues to his aversion to weapons. This doesn't preclude making the opponent's weapon backfire on them however.
  • Ochaco "Uravity" Uraraka from My Hero Academia used her internship to become one. She chose to intern under Gunhead to learn how to fight, and, as shown by her Final Exam, she took a lot from his Martial Arts tutelage.
  • Virtually all ninja from the series Naruto are trained in unarmed combat, but there are characters that are specialists.
    • Might Guy and his pupil Rock Lee utilize a style that emphasizes incredible speed and power and neither character uses other techniques (Rock Lee being literally unable to), and they don't often use weapons, either. That said, when Guy does bust out his nunchaku, you know shit's getting real.
    • Another set of characters that specialize in unarmed combat are the Hyuuga Clan. They use jyuken, or 'Gentle Fist', which uses energy-based strikes to disable the ninja techniques of the opposition.
    • The Raikage is an atypical example, preferring techniques that enhance his already insane speed and strength while utilizing a professional wrestling-esque martial arts style.
    • Tsunade of the Legendary Sannin utilizes her massive Super-Strength to pummel enemies. Her punches are enough to kill anything that isn't an Edo Tensei immortal zombie, but even Madara was worried about being hit by her.
  • Kuu Fei in Negima! Magister Negi Magi; she wipes the floor with weapon-users routinely.
  • One Piece:
    • Sanji is the only member of the Straw Hat Pirates who doesn't use any weapons or Devil Fruit powers. Hell, he doesn't even use his hands, he only uses his legs and feet so when he's fighting he doesn't risk injuring his hands, a chef needs his hands to cook after all. He is perfectly capable of using knives to great effect, but refuses to do so because they are for cooking, not combat. He makes one exception when fighting an opponent who uses weaponized noodles (seriously!) in combat. It's revealed later Sanji was actually trained in swordplay by his father, but he still refuses to use one in combat. Given Sanji can break steel swords with his feet, he probably doesn’t need weapons.
    • And then, there's Luffy, who is a unique example. As a Rubber Man thanks to eating the Gum Gum Fruit, he incorporates this ability into his bare-handed fighting style. This in turn allows him to create very unorthodox, yet effective attacks against his opponents. Of course, he does perform punches and kicks, but his ability to stretch gives him far more range in physical combat than many other characters throughout this article.
    • Luffy’s grandpa Garp "the Fist" is also one of the few characters who doesn’t use any weapons at all, just his legendary fists and incredible strength honed through decades of training as a Marine. However unlike his grandson Garp has no Devil Fruit power, which makes him taking on the likes of Shiki (whose a Gravity Master) and countless other superpowered Pirates all the more impressively badass. Then we learn he's a master of Armament Haki, a technique which can be used to negate Devil Fruits. Thus why even Luffy can feel his gramps's punches.
    • Garp’s student Coby fights unarmed and is strong enough to fight Luffy and redirect torpedoes while underwater. All thanks to Garp’s Training from Hell which unlocks his own Haki.
    • Invoked with Fishmen Karate e.g Kuroobi (despite being skilled with swords) used no weapons in the Arlong Park arc had his martial arts empowered while under water though he still lost to the aforementioned Sanji. Jinbei who later joins the crew proves to be a Master of Fish-Man Karate and strong enough to knock back Big Mom herself, he also has plenty of range attacks which is rare for this article.
      • It’s also revealed Humans can learn Fish-Man Karate as shown with Koala from the Revolutionaries.
    • Vergo is one of the few non-Devil Fruit user villains in the New World that fights entirely with his strength (which is immense) and when he coats his entire body in Haki his foes are in for a world of pain. Vergo only brings out his bamboo stick when shit gets serious, earning him the name Demon bamboo.
    • Excluding his leopard form's claws and teeth, Rob Lucci relies purely on unarmed combat.
  • Ryohei Sasagawa from Reborn! (2004) is this. Y'know, unless you count hand bandage wrap things as weapons.
    • Averted when his TYL self gets Kangaryu to make him some super healing boxing gloves for the occasion of fighting against a giant storm snake.
  • Rebuild World: By controlling Akira's augmented suit, Alpha can give him hand-to-hand combat lessons simulating what it's like to fight a real opponent. Even with the augmented suit's abilities, Akira handily gets his butt kicked and would have gotten his head smashed like a watermelon from an axe kick of hers had she been real. She can also use his suit to force him to perform complex Combat Parkour and martial arts at the expense of severe strain on his body.
  • Princess Amelia from the series Slayers is the only major protagonist who does not use a bladed weapon of any kind in battle, preferring to use physical attacks. She even invented her own Astral magic attack to fit into her fighting style. Her history reveals why she refuses to wield a weapon: witnessing her mother's assassination traumatized her to the point that wielding a weapon, as shown in the final episode of Slayers TRY, makes her uneasy.
  • Snow White with the Red Hair: Obi surprises Zen and Shirayuki when he slips away from them at a festival and enters a fighting competition under a name which he created in the past specifically for earning winnings from martial arts events. He wins, and has thus far proven unmatched in unarmed combat, but unlike many others on this page isn't crazy enough to go up against armed opponents without weapons of his own if he can avoid it and is always covered in hidden throwing knives with at least two daggers hanging at his belt. He has however shown that he can very quickly disarm a single opponent with a sword without any weapons of his own, and that was accidentally in a fight he was trying to lose.
  • The various characters of Superwomen in Love! all have some special weapon or ability, such as Honey Trap, Kyouka, Cool Down, and Orb Owl, but the one biggest exception is Rapid Rabbit, whose only weapons in her fight against the Kaijin hordes are her armored fists and feet.
  • Shachi from Tokyo Ghoul is a ghoul that has spent his life studying the martial arts, mastering as many schools as possible. His natural abilities as a ghoul have been honed to perfection through these teachings, making him one of the most powerful characters in the series. He rarely uses his kagune in battle, instead devastating his opponents with precise strikes with hands and feet. While greatly feared for his strength, he is also noted for being a moderate that avoids needless violence or killing.
  • Thors from Vinland Saga is trained in using weapons, but in his main fight scene in Thorfinn's flashbacks he uses only his bare fists because it keeps him from killing people. Even with this handicap, and being fifteen years out of practice, he still manages to beat up a dozen armed men purely barehanded. Similarly, Thorfinn eventually adapts his knife-based fighting style to barehanded fighting, again because it allows him to keep to a vow of not killing.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman and his protégés Robin, Nightwing, Batgirl etc are famous for taking on the often superpowered Rogues Gallery of Gotham with pure Charles Atlas Super Power. Though the Bat-Family are borderline case since despite their melee prowess they frequently use gadgets, batarangs, and even Escrima sticks. Catwoman also counts being equal to Batman himself in terms of fighting skills. Averted completely with Red Hood whose unabashed Gun Nut.
  • Black Panther has some enhanced physiology thanks to the Heart-Shaped Herb, but apart from that and some Vibranium claws he fights completely unarmed and is often up against vastly more powerful opponents but prevails regardless. Averted with later comics as T’Challa is willingly to use gadgets and Powered Armor similar to Iron Man.
  • Tibetan Chinese Wong, descendant of a long line of holy servants to the Sorcerer Supreme, can kick righteous ass when called for. He also serves as a sparring partner and instructor for his master, Doctor Strange.
    Strange: Yes, in some respects, [Wong] is my servant... but in others, Wong is my master.
  • Thunderlord from Global Guardians is what you get when mixing Buddhism, martial arts and mutant powers of the Super-Scream variety.
  • Lady Shiva and Richard Dragon are the best martial artists in the The DCU. No Badass Normal can take either of them in a straight fight, and Shiva can even give superpowered characters a hard time. Batman and co are forced to use pragmatism to defeat her rather than fruitlessly trying out-kung fu her. It should be noted that Dragon is one of the people who trained Batman to be as good as he is.
    • Shiva’s daughter Cassandra Cain is just as ridiculously skilled as her mother and unlike other members of the Bat-Family she doesn’t need gadgets to take foes down as her own abilities lean towards superhuman. Averted with more recent comics as Cassandra is not above Dual Wielding swords as an assassin.
  • More traditionally at Marvel, there's Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu, and Iron Fist. In fact, there was once a Moon Knight special where he teamed up with Shang-Chi. When preparing to go into battle, Moon Knight had his typical gadgets but Shang was notably empty handed. Moon Knight asked if he had any weapons and the martial artist replied that, while he had mastered various weapons in the past, he simply did not need them.
  • Spider-Man: Spider-Man is also this after losing his Spider-Sense and studying martial arts under Shang-Chi. He even developed his own style of Kung Fu called "The Way of the Spider". After regaining his powers it works well with his Combat Parkour.
  • Bronze Tiger is another legendary bare fisted monk whose martial skill is confirmed to be superior to Batman who is Master of All.
  • Wildcat from The DCU uses no weapons and was a Badass Normal until a Retcon slowed his aging. He's just a champion boxer who fights crime in a cat mask.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Etta Candy is just a baseline normal human but fights aliens, heavily armed super spies and physical gods armed with only her fists and on the very rare occasion a borrowed lasso or handgun. She's proficient with both the aforementioned weapons, but does not carry them nor rely on them.

    Fan Works 
  • In Fallout: Equestria, the Zebra fighter and companion Xenith is a master of "Fallen Caesar Style". Combined with her skill in stealth and ability to use Zebra alchemical brews in unexpected ways in combat (such as running along ceilings); she can engage armed and armored foes with no more than her hooves. She does, however, don a clawed helmet when it's argued her skills won't be as effective against magically shielded foes.
  • In Incarnation of Legends, the Legiones does not carry weapons, implying that he takes on monsters and adventurers like with nothing but his fists. Given his Nine Lives Roma Style skill, Romulus might not need anything else.
  • The Naked Jedi: Meelan Lah's Steel Hand Adept specialization gives her unarmed combat options in addition to her lightsaber, though her lightsaber is her first resort.
  • Vow of Nudity: Haara normally wields a spear, but it usually gets broken or lost, forcing her to rely on her fists for the rest of the current story.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings: Xu Shang-Chi is a master martial artist who was trained by his immortal warrior king father so that even the world's most dangerous people couldn't kill him. Even as a child, he could defeat multiple trained Ten Rings members by himself. According to Word of God, his fighting style includes several Kung Fu styles (Tai chi, Wing Chun, and Wushu) along with Taekwondo, Muay Thai, Silat, Krav Maga, Jujutsu and boxing. He later learns Ta Lo's ancient martial arts style after coming to his mother's village.

  • The Bloodguard from the The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant series disdain the use of weapons, believing that they will eventually betray their wielder. When a group of badass hunters display their ability to use garrotes to ensnare and kill their quarry, a Bloodguard examines one of their cords and dismissively snaps it.
  • The History Monks of Discworld, at least the ones not outfitted by Qu.
    "Are you any good with weapons?" asked Susan.
    - "No," said Lobsang, proudly.
    - "Then try to stay out of the way."
    - "I mean I've been trained to fight without..."
  • In the Modesty Blaise novel The Night of Morningstar, there is a pair of Professional Killers who use no weapons, having honed their bodies and their martial arts skills to the point where their bodies are weapons. It means that they need to get close to their targets, but they can kill in moments at a moment's notice, whenever the opportunity arises, and it's very hard to prove they're up to something because they're never carrying any suspicious equipment.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Most of the Showa era Kamen Riders in the Kamen Rider franchise use this combat style, with the most famous example being the original Kamen Rider 1 and Kamen Rider 2. After the series was rebooted in the Heisei era, most Kamen Riders started to rely more on weapons, rather than their unarmed skill, resulting in this trope becoming the exception rather than the norm. However, when a Rider has the ability to take on multiple forms, there is a high chance that one of them is this trope. Examples are Kuuga's Growing and Mighty forms, Agito's Ground form and everything involving the Joker Gaia memory in Kamen Rider Double
  • Eliot Spencer from Leverage prefers hand-to-hand combat, despite proficiency with other weapons.
  • Some warriors and mecha in Super Sentai (and its adaptation Power Rangers) are this.
    • The Kakure Daishogun, being the second Combining Mecha in Ninja Sentai Kakuranger, is this. Appeared in Power Rangers as the Ninja Megazord.
    • Dekabreak, the official Sixth Ranger of Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger is a user of this style in a police themed series, where almost every other character uses a gun. While this may seem highly impractical, Dekabreak does posses a bracelet that augments his fist with various offensive effects, including the ability to catch bullets out of the air, allowing him to fight on an even level, if not, completely surpass most of the gun wielding enemies. In Power Rangers S.P.D. this character is adapted into the Omega Ranger.
    • Juken Sentai Gekiranger, adapted in the US as Power Rangers Jungle Fury, being based on the Wuxia genre, has so many examples of this type of fighter, that it is almost easier to list the exceptions. Strangely enough, in a series where Bare Fisted Monks are the norm, Fourth Ranger Gou/RJ is the only ranger to use this style, with the rest having possession of at least one weapon. Other notable users of this style are Rio/Jarrod and Master Sha Fu/Master Mao. Gekifire, the mecha the rangers can use in their Super Mode, is also this trope.
    • Two of the extra rangers in Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger use no weapons at all in their fighting style. Most notable is Tessai, also known as Kyoryu Grey, who actually is the spirit of an ancient Chinese monk.
    • During the All-Red Ranger Team up in Power Rangers Wild Force, Jason and Tommy are the only Red Rangers seen fighting unarmed in Ranger form. In fact, they have an easier time defeating the villains than the other Red Rangers.
    • During Season 2 of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, the team relied on their weapons less and less. By the time they acquired their Ninja powers in Season 3, they stopped using their weapons entirely.
  • Chōjinki Metalder, unusually for a Metal Hero, had no external weaponry. He relied on charged-up physical attacks (punches, kicks, etc.) as well as his "Laser Arm" (contrary to the name — and Metal Heroes tradition — it wasn't a Laser Blade; it was simply his arm vibrating at an ultra-high frequency). He didn't have any reservations about using weapons belonging to his opponents, though, or to any nearby objects.
    • This carried over into season 1 of VR Troopers with Ryan Steele; this was subverted in season 2, when the show ran out of Metalder footage and had to switch to footage taken from Space Sheriff Shaider, which gave Ryan a VR Laser Blade and a laser pistol.
  • Ultraman Leo is noted amongst the various heroes of the Ultra Series for his preference for melee combat and martial arts as opposed to flashy beam attacks. This is best demonstrated by his iconic Leo Kick, a Diving Kick rather than the usual Kame Hame Hadoken used as a Finishing Move by most Ultras.

  • Though Janus from the Cool Kids Table game Small Magic can fight with a polearm, he prefers using his fists.

    Professional Wrestling 

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech: The Charger battlemech becomes a potent punching mech courtesy of it being a scout mech with the mass of an assault mech. It only carries the firepower of a mech a quarter of its weight, but it can throw around its weight and use its torpedo-shaped fist to pummel adversaries to death. Much maligned in-universe due to its schizophrenic design, it nevertheless received numerous upgrades because of how cheap and how many of them there are. A particularly fun upgrade gives it Triple Strength Myomer muscles, allowing it to rip mechs limb from limb once it reaches the heat redline.
  • d20 Modern: There is an advanced class called Martial Artist. It is the most effective class for kicking ass unarmed, though it's also good for spamming grenades.
  • Dungeons & Dragons :
    • The Monk class is based on barehanded fighting.
      • In editions 3.0 and 3.5, monks are generally expected to fight with no weapons or armor, but receive a great many bonuses and abilities to make them competitive. Their unarmed attacks increase in damage and they gain a number of magical abilities, such as teleporting short distances, healing themselves and gaining immunity to various effects. They can use various Eastern weapons while maintaining certain bonuses.
      • The 4e monk is a bit odd in by and large treating any weapons he is proficient with as implements. Thus, when using any of his special monk attack powers, the attack roll, base damage, and other effects are set by the discipline used regardless of whether it's executed barehanded or with, say, a dagger or spear. A magical weapon still grants its specifically magical bonuses when used this way—but since monks also get access to ki focus implements, which for game purposes leave the hands free and provide the same enhancement bonuses and their own special effects, such a weapon is never strictly needed just to remain competitive.
      • The 5e monk takes the middle ground between 3.0 and 4e. While they can still use weapons as their main martial arts implements (though once they reach a high enough level, whether they use weapons or not is more a matter of personal taste), some of the traditions like Way of the Open Hand and Drunken Master supplement their fighting style with unarmed techniques.
    • The swordsage class can trade away its ability to use light armor in exchange for the monk class's increased unarmed damage, turning them into an example.
    • The primeval prestige class tends to emphasize unarmed combat and discourage reliance on manufactured tools. Primevals do not gain proficiency with any weapon, armor or shield, but while in primeval form they have proficiency with their natural weapons. In addition, at tenth level, their natural attacks act as magic weapons, an ability that explicitly does not extend to weapon attacks.
  • Exalted: In the Burn Legend Shard, Guns Are Useless. Weapons are betrayals of a warrior's spirit. You fight bare-handed or not at all.
  • Legend of the Five Rings: Monks that aren't fully devoted pacifists are frequently this, particularly the few sects of warrior-monks in the Brotherhood of Shinsei. They can often supplement their martial arts prowess with kiho, which are a combination of Supernatural Martial Arts, Elemental Powers and Enlightenment Superpowers.
  • Magic: The Gathering: The Jeskai Way of Tarkir combine this with Kung-Fu Wizard, although some of them use weapons as well.
  • Mordheim, a Warhammer Gaiden Game, has Skaven heroes be able to learn the Art of Silent Death special skill, turning them into a master of unarmed combat. Heroes with this skill are able to fight unarmed with no penalty, always count as being armed with two close combat weapons and are more likely to cause a Critical Hit against their opponent in hand-to-hand combat.
  • Pathfinder:
    • The Pathfinder monk is similar to the 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons monks in most ways, with some slightly different class mechanics.
    • The Brawler is a Monk with all the monasticism stripped away. Essentially a combination of Monks and Fighters, the Brawler sacrifices the Monk's supernatural physical and mental abilities for a greater range of combat abilities and flexibility.
  • Rocket Age: Along with the traditional Earthling martial arts like kung fu, judo and boxing, the game also features others like Celestial Fist and Maduri Wrestling from such worlds as Mars, Metis and Jupiter, allowing heroes to either be weapon or unarmed experts.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! has two monsters that fit this trope — Monk Fighter and Master Monk. Both are (inexplicably) Rock-Types, both are seen smashing rocks with their hands (Fighter) and feet (Master), and both come with useful effects — when your Fighter battles, your life points don't feel it, and Master Monk can attack twice. They also get two support cards — Lone Wolf, and Kaminote Blow. Kaminote Blow, in particular, makes it so that, during the turn it's played, any monster attacked by your Monk Fighter or Master Monk will invariably DIE at the end of the battle. This is made sufficiently noteworthy due to the fact that its card picture shows Master Monk shattering the (3000-Defense-to-his-1900-Attack) Millenium Shield with his BARE FIST. Thus securing the Monks a spot on this page.

    Video Games 
  • Robbins from The Alliance Alive. He is completely incapable of wielding any weapon, but he has a completely unique set of powerful unarmed attacks.
  • Avernum 3 has this accidentally. Nobody thought to apply the damage cap to punches.
  • Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal:
    • The penultimate boss is Balthazar, a Bhaalspawn monk and one of only three enemies in the game to be immune to Time Stop. Interestingly, said immunity is implemented differently for Balthazar than for the other two, in a way that actually allows bypassing it in the right circumstances and implies it might have something to do with his monk abilities and not just him being a Bhaalspawn. It is an automatic counter-move done in response to Time Stop being cast. As such, if Balthazar is kept from acting, he will not be immune.
    • The Updated Re-release adds the recruitable character Rasaad, a monk from the Sun Soul order who augments his fists and feet with a fiery Kamehame Hadouken and other fire-based abilities.
  • Battle Realms has a monk unit which can be trained in the keep.
  • Rodin, resident Scary Black Man from Bayonetta, uses only his bare fists to beat demons into magical weapons and brutalize angels.
  • BioForge: Despite the availability of firearms, it is very much possible to play through the game fighting only with your hands and feet. It helps that you're a Cyborg and thus presumably have augmented strength.
  • Yagi from Born of Bread is a skilled warrior in kung fu and meditation, and intends to prove it.
  • In Bravely Default, characters with the Knuckle Lore passive skill, which Monks get automatically, get a bonus to attack power equal to twice their level when fighting bare handed in addition to having max proficiency with Knuckle class weapons. At high enough levels this bonus can surpass the strongest weapons in the game, but it comes at the cost of not getting any elemental effects or non-attack stat increases that some weapons have. The final skill unlocked for the Monk, Natural Talent, gives you yet another damage boost if you wear no equipment at all.
  • Chrono Trigger:
    • The party gets tossed into a prison without weapons or armour, or even a way to swap party members, and until you find where the jailers have hidden your equipment, any enemies the party encounters will automatically defeat them and throw them back in jail. Unless you have the bare-handed fighter Ayla in the party, in which case she can start tearing through bad guys as soon as you get out of your cell.
    • Ayla is notable also because she is an exception to the "weakens by endgame" tendency. At higher levels she can still do more damage with her bare fists than Crono with his Infinity +1 Sword. At level 96+,note  critical hits with her fists do a guaranteed 9999 damage.
    • Among the cast in Chrono Cross, a few are 'unarmed' in the traditional sense. However, not many of them are actually martial artists. The unarmed (and, in two cases, nonhumanoid) fighters still use 'glove's though.
  • City of Heroes:
    • The Martial Arts powerset exemplifies the superhero version of this trope, and is a favourite for Natural origin characters. Super-Strength is similar, except it has a ranged attack where you rip up a chunk of the ground and throw it.
    • More recently added was "Street Fighting", which contains quite a few more circular motions than more realistic fighting styles, but has a very Mixed Martial Arts look and can be brutal when taking out groups of weaker foes.
  • In Dark Souls II, the reward for maxing out the Company of Champions' covenant rank is the Vanquisher's Seal, a ring that hugely increases the base damage of your bare fists and gives them pretty great Strength and Dexterity scaling on top of that. It also allows you to use power stance when you have no weapon in either hand. For characters without this ring, there are two Fist weapons to use that both have very poor base damage but even better scaling. Using bare fists with the ring is still stronger, though.
  • The Monk class of Desktop Dungeons takes a 50% physical damage penalty due to the HAND-TO-HAND attribute.
  • Devil May Cry:
    • Ifrit, Beowulf, and Gilgamesh Devil Arms give Dante (and Vergil in Devil May Cry 4) a sizeable movelist and variety of combos making for Difficult, but Awesome gameplay.
    • The Royalguard style involves blocking, parrying and countering enemies’s blows that while difficult to master is incredibly satisfying when pulled off correctly.
    • Downplayed but Nero’s combat style in 4 and 5 is much more focused on punching, grabbing and slamming than it is on just swordplay. Nero is more of a brawler compared to Dante and Vergil.
  • The Monk class in Diablo III is this, unless you have his using a bo staff or brass knuckles. Any other weapon you put on him, while you will get all the stats from it, will remain at his hip while he punches fools to death. For added points, he learns a technique that has him channeling Kenshiro, of all people. The Monk also appears in Heroes of the Storm as an aggressive melee healer named Kharazim.
  • Dice and the Tower of the Reanimator: Glorious Princess: Despite his name, Bambooblade starts with no weapon, leaving him with one one dice for strength checks. His barehanded attacks are also incapable of killing any enemies. Reaching the Final Boss while only using fists to finish off enemies will result in the good ending.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • The Fighter class in Dragon Quest III is basically this. Naturally, such characters use claws to keep up — something hinted at by a character revered for taking down a bear in hand-to-hand combat.
    • Dragon Quest IV: Alena's one of the game's physically oriented fighters, along with Ragnar. She doesn't wield weapons, other than claws, but she hits real hard.
    • Dragon Quest VI has a Martial Artist class (a retranslation of the Fighter class), though in this game weapon and armor selections are not based on class so unarmed combat is not a strict requirement.
    • There's also one in Dragon Quest VII, though it only has a partial effect on what the user can/cannot equip. (Mainly it's used to teach special moves.)
    • All the playable characters in Dragon Quest VIII get an Unarmed skill set, though weapons are generally more useful in most cases.
    • Dragon Quest IX has a Martial Artist class, which has access to the Fisticuffs skill set, which if maxed out increases the amount of damage done while bare-handed. One common way to avoid doing massive damage to your own party when one or more of your characters are confused is to deliberately leave fisticuffs undeveloped and then simply unequip the weapons as necessary.
  • Dungeon Fighter Online:
    • The Monk Class sheds his weapon in the battlefield (by implanting it into the ground for myriad bonuses), then goes on to use those fisticuffs. Doing so gives the Monk unparalleled speed and juggling capability, and makes the class quite popular. However, one can still break their equipped weapon after shedding it like any other class.
    • Also the more traditional Fighter class and its different classes minus the "Brawler" class tree.
  • The Monk class of Dungeons & Dragons Online follows a version of the D&D pen-and-paper game rules. Depending on the build, it averts the Can't Catch Up trope with self-healing, Elemental Powers and Ki Manipulation and evasive gymnastics to avoid damage that leave other melee classes sometimes lacking, right up to endgame and beyond.
  • Dungeonmans: One of the character classes / skill trees: Psychomanser. Acrobatic jumps, kicks, and barefisted punching are the rule of the day. Their fists get massive damage boosts such that they can One-Hit Kill mooks on demand, and with their acrobatic moves, telekinesis and Hymns of the Old Country can utterly savage everything before them, though they don't have much in the way of protection.
  • By cross-training your dwarves in Dwarf Fortress with various tasks like mining, crafting professions and bookkeeping (yes) they can become legendarily strong, agile and tough. Then train them as wrestlers and they will literally scatter limbs and body parts of their enemies across the landscape with their bare hands. Or even better, go on Adventure mode, level up Striker as far as it goes, and see yourself killing bandits by way of punches to the face. Few things are more satisfying than seeing the description of your character punching someone so hard they drive bits of skull through their brains... or, with force transfer mechanics in place, more frequently folding their spines at the neck with a well-timed right hook.
  • EarthBound (1994) has Poo, the crown prince of Dalaam. He's said to have undergone special martial training, and unlike the other characters in the playable party, equipping him with most weapons actually lowers his physical attacking power. The only exception to this rule is equipping him with the special Sword of Kings.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • Throughout the series (until Skyrim did away with both classes and the Hand-to-Hand skill), the Monk class is a premade class. Hand-to-Hand is it's primary combat skill, with Blunt Weapon often a secondary skill. By selecting the class, or otherwise developing your Hand-to-Hand skill, you can play as this trope, crossing over with Heroes Fight Barehanded.
    • Throughout the series, Khajiit characters get a natural boost to their Hand-to-Hand skill and/or damage, thanks to their claws. Khajiit, as a race, are known for the Fantastic Fighting Styles they employ in their martial arts. As a result, they make the best candidates for Monk-type builds.
    • Morrowind:
      • A character build in line with the trope can be quite effective. Unencumbered for maximum maneuverability, with high speed no fatigue cost strikes, a monk build could render any opponent useless from fatigue loss in the first second, then take them down at leisure. Their weakness was finishing an opponent due to inability to deal health damage unless the opponent was unconscious, so at times it was a tedious exercise keeping an entire room knocked down while slowly chipping away at their life. Even the Big Bad can be defeated this way. He really is a Physical God with Complete Immortality, so his constantly regenerating health in the final fight makes him impossible to kill. However, you can damage his fatigue with hand-to-hand strikes, rendering him less of a threat while you perform the actions necessary to remove his immortality.
      • Blades Spymaster and initial main quest Quest Giver Caius Cosades fights unarmed and unarmored, and can train you to do so as well. In fact, he is one of the highest level trainers of the Hand to Hand skill in the game.
    • Oblivion makes this character build even more viable, as unarmed attacks now damage both health and fatigue. At skill level 50, Hand-to-Hand attacks can even hurt creatures normally unaffected by standard weapons, such as ghosts. At the master level, Hand-to-Hand blocks can outright disarm opponents. Unfortunately, the damage output of unarmed attacks, even by a maxed-out Hand-to-Hand master, fall far below the damage output of high-end weaponry.
    • Skyrim:
      • Skyrim does away with both classes (including Monk) and the Hand-to-Hand skill itself. While you can still attack with your fists while unarmed, there is no way to increase your effectiveness, nor are there any weapon perks to help. Instead, you need to build up your Heavy Armor skill until you unlock the "Fists of Steel" perk, which adds your gauntlets' armor rating to the base damage of your punches. If you find the Gloves of the Pugilist item, which has a unique "Fortify Unarmed" enchantment, you can apply it to your own equipment for even more damage. Once you have these boosts, you suddenly go from long, grueling fist fights, to merely counting the seconds before the brutal unarmed kill-animations occur.
      • Khajiit are an excellent candidate for this sort of build. Right at the start of the game, they can actually hit harder than two-handed swords, with 22 base damage. Add Fists of Steel and Fortify Unarmed, they can out-DPS Destruction mages and their proficiency with Sneak can let them close distance and get the drop on enemies.
  • Eternal Sonata
    • Falsetto, despite using no weapons, is still capable of dealing massive damage.
    • While a bow is her main weapon, Viola simply punches the crap out of monsters in her standard combos and some specials.
  • Monks (and their EvilCounterparts Bruisers) in EverQuest II are very effective without weapons, though they can still wield basic weapons such as brass knuckles and kendo sticks.
  • Fallout: J.E. Sawyer of the canceled Van Buren project said that he intended unarmed fighters to be 'like mobile grenades', and that's a good description for them in Fallout 2 and Fallout 3. In both of those, barehanded attacks have a quicker attack rate and markedly higher crit rate. In both of them, a single strike to the head has a good potential for instant kills, even against tougher opponents. In both, the unarmed fighter was somewhat left behind at the finale, against Frank Horrigan in Fallout 2 and during Liberty Prime's march in Fallout 3, but the form is still a viable game-finisher.
  • Saint Martha in Fate/Grand Order is the latest in a long line of practitioners of a martial art made for fighting angels, begun by Jacob and passed down through the centuries to Martha, possibly from Jesus Christ Himself. Her Ruler form's fighting stance is even the classic "putting your dukes up" pose, and the piglets from the first summer event call her the "Goddess of the Iron Fist."
  • Most of the Final Fantasy games have Monk-type characters, such as Sabin from Final Fantasy VI, Yang from Final Fantasy IV, Tifa from Final Fantasy VII, and Prishe from Final Fantasy XI. Of course, most of these don't go without weapons, per se: they are typically given claws or gloves to help them keep up with more traditionally-armed allies, though in some cases said claws or gloves offer no or very little attack power increase, instead giving other bonuses like elemental properties or a chance of inflicting status effects.
    • The Black Belt/Master of the original Final Fantasy (known as Monk/Super Monk in the original Japanese version). At the maximum level (50, in this case), a Master will, in one attack, do enough damage to kill Chaos, the final boss, twice over. Cast Fast on him, and he'll double that.
    • Final Fantasy II is a strange case. All characters can learn to tear enemies apart with their bare hands by attacking without weapons often enough and fists are one of the faster 'weapons' to Cap if the player focuses on them.
    • Yang's daughter Ursula in Final Fantasy IV: The After Years is a monk (though her class is listed as Princess during her debut chapter), but she has different commands from her father aside from the standard "Fight" and "Item", and the traditional Monk move "Kick".
    • The Monk job in Final Fantasy V. Monks can't wield any weapons, but have the Brawl ability, which allows you to do as much damage as an armed fighter with your bare hands (without this ability, the damage you inflict is usually a single digit).
    • Final Fantasy Tactics goes here as well. As with the FFV Monks, the Monks in Tactics fight barehanded but can do just as much, if not more, damage as the armed characters. They also have the "Brawler" support ability which allows non-Monk characters to also fight barehanded and deal comparable damage. And this is a particularly good idea too, as barehanded attacks are potentially some of the most powerful attacks you can put out, with only some of the rare weapons being able to out-pace the damage done by a Monk that's properly equipped with mere store-bought items.
    • Final Fantasy Tactics A2 has the upgrade of the White Monk (which use knuckles and gloves): the Master Monk, which is stronger unarmed than with all except one weapon, but can equip poles to learn some really strong attacks. They can however, wield shields with a special ability, making them insanely hard to hit.
    • At one of the major points of Final Fantasy VIII most of the party is in a high-tech prison with no weapons, they all give up hope until Zell realizes he's the group's martial artist and doesn't need any weapons. He then proceeds to beat the crap out of a couple of guards and get their weapons back.
    • Monks in Final Fantasy XI ditch the weak endgame trend of barefist fighters; they start off with naturally high vitality and HP, getting to the point where they have several hundred more hitpoints than "tank" jobs of their level, and with multiple passive traits and abilities are among the best damage dealing and PvP jobs in the game.
    • Interestingly, Vayne of Final Fantasy XII reveals himself as one, using several of the class's techniques in the first of his final boss forms.
      • If you learn the "brawler" license ability, the game will calculate damage in line with how Final Fantasy V did it. However, it's not the best approach to combat, since you can't equip a shield, bare-fisted fighting means no fancy weapon buffs/elements, and you have to sacrifice your accessory slot to keep up with everyone else.
    • In Final Fantasy XIV monks return as one of the game's first two melee DPS jobs as an evolution of the pugilist class. Their immediate damage output isn't quite as high as their rivals, but they get a stackable bonus which means the longer they fight, the faster and harder they hit, meaning that if they're played well they become a dancing tornado of destruction, and are perfectly suited for burning down bosses. This is counterbalanced by their lack of utility skills, to the point where despite having the highest damage output for any single class, because it doesn't buff the party's overall damage enough compared to one of its rivals, it's considered suboptimal for high-level content. They also have no ranged attacks to speak of other than a fast-moving shoulder tackle that brings them in to melee distance, making it more difficult to contribute to a fight if the enemies are moving.
      • With the addition of the "Emperor's New Fists" glamour weapon Monks can now appear barefisted in battle.
  • Finding Light: Gi's class is listed as Monk and he can't equip weapons. Fortunately, his strength growth is higher to compensate.
  • Fire Emblem: Brawling is a relatively recent addition to the series, first appearing in Three Houses. All of its associated weapons have a built-in "Brave" effect, meaning that they will always strike twice, or four times, if the user is sufficiently faster than the enemy.
    • Fire Emblem: Three Houses: Most Brawling weapons in this game are actually Gauntlets, but there's an ability called "Unarmed Combat", found on Brawler, Grappler, and DLC War Monk/War Cleric classes, which allows characters to fight with their bare fists. The Unarmed "weapon" has zero Weight, making the brawler faster, and has infinite uses in a game with otherwise-Breakable Weapons. In exchange its attack power is based solely on character's Strength, making it far weaker than actual weapons. Raphael canonically follows this class line.
    • Fire Emblem Engage renames Brawling into Body Arts, and revamps all Brawling weapons into scrolls of martial skills. This time around scrolls only hang on user's wast, and all attacks are carried out barehanded. The game's Break system gives brawlers an advantage, because while Swords, Lances, and Axes can be Broken by each other according to the Weapons Triangle, and other weapon types can be Broken by Body Arts, brawlers themselves can't be Broken by normal means. You can't drop your fists, after all. Classes that can use Body Arts include Martial Monk, Martial Master, and High Priest, who all can also use Staves, and provide literal examples. Framme, Jean, and Pandreo all start in classes of this line.
  • Guilty Gear: While most of the cast use all kinds of strange weapons ranging from Cool Swords to giant anchors to weaponized bedframes to sentient blade hair to a coffin on a chain inhabited by an alien's ghost, Jam Kuradoberi is notable for being one of only two unarmed combatants (the other being a ludicrously powerful millennia-old vampire assassin in a suit who never fights seriously nor genuinely loses). Only in this batshit crazy series can an Iron Chef Kung Fu fighter be relatively normal by comparison.
  • Hidden Dragon: Legend is a game where everyone uses weapons of all kinds. But then there's the "Boxer"-class enemies, muscular mooks who uses kicks and punches as their main attacks, and can deal surprisingly quite some damage with fists alone.
  • One optional skill in Kingdom of Loathing is Kung Fu Hustler. With it, when you fight without a weapon or offhand item, you periodically gain intrinsic buffs. First you get bonus damage equal to three times your level, then 50% additional combat initiatve, spooky damage equal to three times your level, and bonus item drops. If you adventure with a weapon, you lose them all instantly. You also get new barehanded hit and miss messages. There's also an optional challenge path called Way of the Surprising Fist, which restricts the use of weapons or off-hand items and severely reduces meat drops, but allows the player to learn path-specific skills, including the final one that gives passive boosts to damage and damage resistance while unarmed.
  • League of Legends has Lee Sin, who is very much this, and Udyr, who's this plus animal spirits.
  • King Harkinian in The Legend of Zelda CD-i Remasters attacks with punches and kicks (which are functionally identical to Link and Zelda's swords).
  • Lie of Caelum: Kyou Tsubasa and Kenzo Vanguard are pugilists who practice different martial arts styles, though Kyou more closely matches the Warrior Monk ascetic due to the religious beliefs of the Kanotians.
  • Like a Dragon: Sotaro Komaki looks the part, and is a fearsome unarmed fighter. However, he is quite open about his disdain for unarmed combat, calling it both inefficient and uncivilized, and will happily use any and every weapon he can get his hands on.
  • Aima of Lufia: The Legend Returns serves as the party's punching expert. She backs up her strength and speed with powerful ki-based and martial-arts IP attacks.
  • Madagascar: The penguins attack with karate chops. Bare-Flippered Monk, perhaps.
  • In MadWorld, the Black Baron reveals himself to be one in the very last boss fight. Weapons seem kind of redundant when you're jacked enough to perform non-comical Megaton Punches and create localized tornadoes.
  • Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance: Senator Armstrong is the only fighter in the game who doesn't need any weapons, relying instead on his nanomachine-enhanced strength. This is more than enough for him to kick serious ass.
  • Monks in Might and Magic VII can be this (they're the only ones that can become Grandmaster in Unarmed and Dodge), or they can use staves. Though by the end-game it is fairly likely you'll have switched to staves even if you started out focusing on unarmed combat — the Grandmaster bonus for the Staff skill (which Monks are the only ones who can get) is that using a staff counts as being unarmed for the purposes of the Unarmed skill.
  • In Mini Fighter, Kang shown in the image above is a Taekwondo fighter and Cro is a Chinese Martial Artist who can punch and kick, too.
  • Monks in NetHack take massive accuracy penalties if they wear body armor, and can only advance in a handful of weapon skills. They even take an alignment hit for eating non-vegetarian food, though it's a slap on the wrist past the first minute of the game, given that you can get gobs of alignment just by all the kills you'll need to be doing anyway. However, they learn a wide variety of intrinsics (special abilities), can learn magic to a surprising degree, and, of course, can build their martial arts abilities to the highest level. Of course, they do have a rather substantial speed bump in their quest nemesis, Master Kaen...
  • Martial arts are the most frequently appearing melee skill throughout the Persona series (along with one and two-handed swords), with boxing and kung fu popping up as the most common martial arts of choice. The original Persona has Reiji Kido (boxing), Persona 2: Innocent Sin has Lisa Silverman (kung fu), Persona 2: Eternal Punishment has Ulala Serizawa (boxing again), Persona 3 has Akihiko Sanada (boxing again), Persona 4 has Chie Satonaka (often called kung fu, but her fighting style carries a lot of traits of Jeet Kune Do), and Persona 5 has Makoto Niijima (aikido, according to the artbook). Among them, interestingly, Akihiko and Makoto are the only ones who received official training for their martial arts, as the former is the captain of his school's boxing team and the latter has self-defense training; the rest either do it informally (you can see Ulala make a cameo boxing at the GOLD Gym in Innocent Sin), or even master it by merely imitating it (an art book mentions that Lisa's talent is imitating Kung Fu).
  • in Path of Exile, regular unarmed attacks deal pathetic damage, can't Critical Hit, and are unable to use most attack skills. Unarmed attacks can be made viable with the Facebreaker gloves, which adds a massive unarmed physical damage multiplier, and Doryani's Touch gloves, which grants a massive amount of bonus lightning damage and an electrifying Ground Punch attack. There's also the Hollow Palm Technique, which is even stricter and also forbids wearing gloves and off-hand items, but grants a gigantic bonus to attack speed and physical damage that scales with Dexterity.
  • Pillars of Eternity has Monks as a player class. While they can use weapons, they get an unarmed combat bonus. Since they seek enlightenment and strength through suffering, their moves are fueled by Wounds, which can only be gained by taking damage in combat. The sequel introduces subclasses who can gain wounds by dealing damage or doing drugs.
  • Princess Peach: Showtime!: As Kung Fu Peach, Peach is a highly skilled martial artist.
  • Raging Blades have Tina the monk-in-training, who's the only playable character that fights with her fists. In fact, the game labels her preferred weapons as "gloves"!
  • The Monk class of Ragnarok Online are Catholic Shaolin Monks. The Taekwon class fight with just their feet.
  • Resident Evil:
    • Albert Wesker is unique in being the only character who fights completely unarmed (apart his Samurai Edge which he barely uses) and can demolish the heroes with his martial skill alone, though given Wesker has superpowers he is probably very justified in his Guns Are Worthless approach.
    • Wesker’s son Jake Muller from Resident Evil 6 has an entire combat system focusing on melee combat over guns, and can perform entire combos on enemies.
    • RE5 and RE6 Mercenaries Modes fully allows you to invoke this trope as a play style with a large variety of melee attacks and takedowns for all the main characters.
  • In Rune Factory 3, the main character can Brawl when he learns to transform into a Golden Woolly. He cannot wield weapons when Brawling, but with practice can deal a huge amount of damage.
  • In all SaGa games, all characters have the ability to Punch (or Kick). In SaGa Frontier, using nothing but punch techniques leads to one of the most game breaking skills in the series.
  • Hideyoshi in Sengoku Basara 2. Tokugawa Ieyasu in the third game.
  • Monks and their Prestige Class, the Master Monk in the Shining Force games fight with fists and use healing magic. Gong in the first game suffers from Master of None and Can't Catch Up due to him not being able to equip weapons and his stats not scaling to the same extent as other unarmed characters like Zylo. Shining Force II fixes this issue by making the Master Monk an alternate Prestige Class class for Priests and giving them equippable gloves and knuckles to boost their damage.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei II, Zayin fights primarily with brute force and no weapons, only using punches and kicks in his boss fight. Well, as a human. Once he becomes Satan, he uses primarily magic in his boss fight and a mix of magic and physical moves as an ally on the Law route.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
  • Soul Series:
    • As the PS2-exclusive character in Soulcalibur II, Heihachi of Tekken fights bare-handed in a weapons-based game.
    • In Soulcalibur V, created characters can use a unique moveset based on Devil Jin, which foregoes weapons in favor of fighting bare-handed (in addition to Eye Beams and occasional wings).
  • Rena Lanford from Star Ocean: The Second Story is a rare example of this on account of usually being the party's white mage. While she isn't as strong as the dedicated fighters, her melee attacks are significantly faster than Claude's or Ashton's standard attacks, and a skilled player can use her in concert with a computer-controlled melee fighter to attack boss characters from two sides and bounce them back and forth with standard attacks.
  • Suiko Enbu (AKA Outlaws of the Lost Dynasty) is a weapons-based fighting game, though its final boss, Chao Gai, doesn't have any sort of weapons at his disposal. However, he also has prowess in Supernatural Martial Arts, including Ki Manipulation, to make up for his seeming disadvantage as players will find out to their misfortune. In addition, Guest Fighters Makoto Mizoguchi and Liu Yungmie also fight bare-handed.
  • Captain Falcon and Ganondorf in Super Smash Bros. share a moveset that only utilizes physical attacks. The main difference between them is that Ganondorf is slower and much more powerful while Falcon is the second fastest character in the game. Sonic also takes this approach in Brawl, except weaker and much much faster. Donkey Kong also fits into this trope, as his moveset is all physical attacks, bar his Final Smash in Brawl onwards. Unlike the aforementioned three, he both moves fast and hits hard, making him a Lightning Bruiser.
    • In Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, one of the three classes of customizable Mii Fighter, the Brawler, fits this mold. They fight almost entirely with their hands and feet, and although they have one projectile option, said projectile is slow and short-ranged, so it's very situational. Statistically, they are the strongest and fastest of the three Mii Fighter classes, but have low range, always forcing them to get in close with the opponent and fight.
  • This is becoming a common element of the Tales of... series, starting with Tales of Destiny. It is not uncommon to see this archetype combined with elements of other classes, for example Yuri Lowell.
  • Most physical Melee-type techniques in Temtem involve the use of martial arts.
  • In the Trails Series, all users of the Taito martial arts count as this, but Zin Vathek from the first arc is the most traditional example of this trope.
  • Pretty much sums up the fighting style of the Sparring Weapon line in Warframe; what sets this type of weapon apart from the Fist Weapon line is that the Fists are simply Power Fists and will turn your 'frame into a Boxing Battler. Sparring Weapons on the other hand are not just a pair of brass knuckles, they also add a set of steel toes to your Warframe's feet, which enables kicks.
    • When his Rage Breaking Point is broken, the Martial Pacifist 'frame Baruuk can use his ultimate ability Reactive Storm to summon his Exalted sparring weapon, the Desert Wind to punch and kick enemies into oblivion.
  • World of Warcraft's fourth expansion Mists of Pandaria introduces the monk as the game's 11th (and 10th base) class. Although monks equip weapons, it's only for the status they give, since most of their attacks rely on unarmed maneuvers. There are two exceptions: Jab, where the use of the weapon is purely cosmetic, and even then, there is a glyph that makes jab to be always unarmed; and Fist Weapons, which the Monk does wield and use for all of their attacks.
  • Fei, Citan, and Rico from Xenogears all fight barehanded. They're all powerful fighters, too. Subverted in Citan's case when he eventually gets a slight upgrade as part of the plot. He'd been holding it in reserve, apparently.
    • All the barehanded fighters seriously lose out in attack strength towards the end of the game, even to Elly who is a mage. Fei more than makes up for it with his ridiculously powerful techniques that makes him the most powerful in non-mecha fights.
  • Monks in ZAngband lose their special monk attacks when wielding weapons, and lose bonuses when wearing heavy armor. Their magic skills are fairly good, though.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Comics 
  • Black Belt from 8-Bit Theater is based on the character class from the original
  • In Corgi Quest, Shan shows how Monks can be very dangerous indeed in Dungeons & Dragons.
  • Garrett from Crystal Heroes functions as this. Not because he actually knows any martial arts, but because he's been in a few fistfights before and figures fighting monsters is the same.
  • Chen-Chen in Harkovast is a Kung-fu nun who can shatter her enemies skulls with her fists!
  • In Homestuck, players of the game SBURB can weaponize the aspect referred to in their titles (for example, the Breath players can use the wind as a weapon). As a result, all the Void players have "fistkind" as a strife specibus — they all have the ability to weaponize nothing.
  • Multiple examples can be found in Kill Six Billion Demons, although most of them use some sort of Supernatural Martial Arts:
  • The Dungeons & Dragons implementation of this trope is mocked in The Order of the Stick: On The Origin of PCs, when Belkar bullies a monk for having had to train ceaselessly his whole life and swear himself to chastity in order to be as effective barehanded as any random mook would be just by picking up a sword.

    Web Original 
  • In The Gamer's Alliance, the Shadowstrike operative Varjo and the sohei warrior monks of Yamato excel at unarmed melee combat.
  • Omega Zell from Noob started the series weaponless, making this his means of dealing damage at the time. Ash, being to go-to guy for Real Money Trade rather than actually playing the game, doesn't carry any weapons but knows how to fight with his bare hands if needed.
  • RWBY
    • Cinder Fall has displayed the ability to fight competently without weapons, such as when she infiltrated Vale's CCT and when she ambushed Amber. However, when she returns to Little Miss to collect the information she's requested, she's forced into a bar brawl. She abstains from using her Maiden powers in public and is thus limited to unarmed combat. The skill that had been previously hinted at is shown in full against her more specialised opponent and shows a full range of abilities that encompass punches, kicks, acrobatics and claw swipes from her Grimm arm.
    • While Ren does use guns for weapons, his first combat sequence has him killing a snake-like Grimm by breaking of it's fang and jamming it into it's eye.
    • Hazel doesn't rely on a weapon for battle, he fights with his fists and arms. Although when he carries Dust crystals that he can stab his arms with to power up, his style changes to lightning-powered bare-fisted blows.

    Western Animation 
  • Ty Lee from Avatar: The Last Airbender. She's extremely agile and can disable the magic-users of the setting with a few well-aimed pressure point jabs.
  • Like the Comics example above, Wildcat is the Justice League's primary brawler. Rick Flag is also notably unarmed during Task Force X's Lock-and-Load Montage.
    Deadshot: (to Flag) And you? Going in unarmed?
    Captain Boomerang: This one don't need no weapons.
  • The Equalists in sequel series The Legend of Korra have mooks fitting this trope, as they use almost the same fighting style as Ty Lee, though they also specialize with non-lethal weaponry.
  • In Thunder Cats 2011, Thunderian princes Lion-O and Tygra are both adept at this type of combat. Lion-O uses it to beat all but the leader of a gang of muggers in a street fight, but is himself bested by older brother Tygra after impulsively challenging him to a match of Thundera's Gladiator Games.
  • The Shaman from World of Winx is a tough fighter who also uses magical stones.
  • Mummies Alive!: Armon is the only one of the four titular Mummies who fights without a weapon. Back when he was alive, he was in charge of teaching Rapses how to fight empty-handed.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Bare Fisted Fighter


The Master's Disciples

The Master's Disciples are all Buddhist Monks that happen to know kung fu.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / BareFistedMonk

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