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Cloth Fu

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"First, distract target..."
An occurrence where a character uses a piece of stray cloth as a weapon. The cloth used can vary from blankets to bags with towels getting special mention, as they're a convenient illustration of Can't Bathe Without a Weapon. The cloth can be used in a number of ways. In the most benign uses, the cloth can be used to capture or blind an enemy. More agile characters may even use the cloth to capture a weapon and disarm their opponent. More sinister characters can use the cloth as a makeshift garrote or even a hangman's noose. More straightforwardly, sufficiently strong cloth could be used as a whip. A type of fighting style that is not seen often, but does show up in some movies or TV shows.

Overlaps with either Improvised Weapon or Improbable Weapon User.

A Sister Trope to Clothing Combat. The Master of Threads, who manipulates cloth or fabric as a superpower, is a few steps up from this.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Bleach, during his fight with Coyote Stark, Kyoraku throws his captain's coat over his head. This isn't just to blind him. His powers allow him to weaponize various children's games, including increasing his attack power depening on the color he is wearing, both dealing and taking more damage the more he is wearing of the specific color he calls out. Without his captain's haori, he is dressed all in black, allowing him to deal massive damage to Starrk, leading to the latter's death.
  • Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan: Zakuro Mitsukai uses a wet towel, named Eckelsax.
  • In A Certain Magical Index, during his Traintop Battle with Freyja, Touma takes off his jacket and lets the train's speed blow it straight into Freyja's face, blinding her.
  • Taken to extremes by Master Asia of G Gundam fame. Not only does he have a Gundam with a giant cloth (and a Midseason Upgrade that uses one made out of magnetically contained plasma!) he also uses his sash belt to fight Humongous Mecha with on foot!
  • In Fist of the North Star Raoh defeats Rei's ultimate technique by throwing a cape over him, confusing him and leaving him open for a lethal strike.
  • In Hell Girl, Kikuri can extend impossibly long ribbons from within her clothing to grab things with. She even uses one extended from one of her sleeves to swing across a suspension bridge at one point. The similarity to a spider dangling by its webbing may or may not be coincidental.
  • In Hunter Hunter, a Mafia hitman with the codename of "Owl" wields the Fun Fun Cloth, a large cloak that can shrink anything and anyone it covers to a size small enough to be held in one's hand. Later on, Chrollo steals the Fun Fun Cloth and uses it against Silva and Zeno Zoldyck, albeit unsuccessfully.
  • In Jojos Bizarre Adventure, Lisa Lisa has a scarf made from the silk of a particular type of scarab, which can conduct her Hamon energy; this later served as the inspiration for Street Fighter Alpha's Rose. In one battle, Joseph unravels his own scarf (made from the same silk) and lays it on the ground in order to form a "web" which he uses against one of the Pillar Men.
  • In Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, Shigure uses her hair ribbon to defend herself when she is attacked in a hot spring bath.
  • One character in The Law of Ueki has the power to turn towels into metal (and back again) and uses them in combat.
  • My Hero Academia: Class 1-A's homeroom teacher Shota Aizawa uses a long scarf as his weapon of choice to make up for having a quirk that while quite useful (disabling the quirks of those he stares at), doesn't make him stronger than the average human. Later on, he teaches Hitoshi Shinso of Class 1-C how to fight using an identical scarf in this manner.
  • Ranma : Ranma once used a tablecloth to block Shampoo's sight of her and escape; Pantyhose Taro used his own cloak to hide his kicks and punches until Ranma tore it away. In a more direct form of the trope, one of the deadliest attacks of the Umisenken form of the Saotome School of Anything Goes Martial arts uses a bath towel to completely cover the head and neck of the opponent, then simultaneously asphyxiate and strangle them with their own weight. That same school's final attack involves stuffing a gigantic bath towel with debris from the battlefield and burying the opponent with it.
  • In Sekirei, the Clothed Sekirei's fighting style is this.

    Comic Books 
  • Batwoman sometimes uses her cape to snare enemies and toss them around.
  • Doctor Strange sometimes distracts/detains attackers with his cape. Of course he's a magician and the cape is also known as the Cloak of Levitation, but even when he's just using it as a piece of cloth he can be an effective fighter.
  • Marvel Comics character Gypsy Moth/Skein is telekinetic and prefers using her powers to manipulate cloth and other soft materials, preferring the way it feels over the sensation of manipulating harder materials like metal or stone.
  • Robin (Tim Drake) used his cape to entangle enemies, and eventually modified and weaponized it to take full advantage of the defensive opportunities it posed.
  • In a special issue of Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) adapting Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island, Sonic pulls on Robotnik's cape after knocking him to the ground. Robotnik tells him that he made his cape out of a special material which wraps itself around Sonic. Sonic manages to break out of it by vibrating really fast.

    Films — Animated 
  • At the climax of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Frollo throws his cape over Quasimodo, and uses it to try to throw him off the cathedral.
  • Oliver & Company: Georgette drops a blanket on top of Roscoe and Desoto, subduing them for a few seconds and allowing Dodger and the gang to infiltrate Sykes' hideout.
  • Happens to Panchito Pistoles at the end of the title song of The Three Caballeros as a result of both Donald Duck and Jose Carioca becoming annoyed of his singing.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Mu Wanqing from the kung-fu / Wuxia film The Battle Wizard uses a long, black sash as her preferred weapon, which she uses to slap around enemy mooks, including wrapping a few in their place while she takes them down. It helps thatby using her chi, she can make her sash impenetrable and capable of deflecting swords.
  • Before I Hang: When suffering from his murderous impulses, Dr. Garth uses cloth to strangle his victims. He uses a towel to strangle Dr. Howard, and a handkerchief to strangle Victor and George.
  • Black Widow (2021): During the fight between Natasha and Yelena in the Budapest safehouse, a curtain gets ripped down and used as weapon. It ends up wrapped around both their necks with them choking each other before they call a truce.
  • Jason Bourne grabs a nearby hand towel in The Bourne Identity when an assassin throws him into a bathroom, and proceeds to put him in a choke hold with it.
  • Diamonds Are Forever has the legendary scene where Bond strangles a female spy with her own bra? (To his excuse, they just offed the only real love of his life and he went berserk.)
  • Doctor Strange (2016) has a rather interesting example. The Cloak of Levitation is not just a cloak, but a fully sentient being capable of handling itself in a fight. It does this by wrapping itself around its enemy's head and slamming them into the ground.
  • In Elektra, Elektra fights Kirigi in a room full of flying white sheets. The villain seems to be manipulating them somehow to distract Elektra and/or hide his movements. Though as described by Roger Ebert, "we're expecting maybe an elegant Zhang Yimou sequence, and it's more like they're fighting with the laundry."
  • In Goldeneye, James Bond beats a Mook by tying his arm with a towel and throwing him down the stairs. He then casually towels himself off.
  • High Risk have the display room fight when Kit (played by Jet Li) fights The Dragon. Both men starts off unarmed, but Kit turns the situation around by whipping off his suit and using that as a weapon. He even uses his tie to bind his enemy's hand to the back!
  • The Hunt (2020): During their climatic battle, Crystal grabs a cloth from the back of the couch and uses it to block Athena's knife.
  • In I Love You, Beth Cooper, Rich fends off three musclebound Jerk Jocks with a wet towel. The jocks grab wet towels of their own and counterattack, but Rich ultimately forces them to retreat.
  • Parodied in The Naked Gun, when Drebin gets a towel thrown in his face during a fight in a bathroom and he struggles with it as if it has come to life and is actively trying to smother him.
  • In one of the Once Upon a Time in China movies, the lead character has to fight an awesome old lady. She's wearing a dress with sort of petticoats, and she uses this as an advantage via kicking him and using said petticoats so he wouldn't be able to see where the kicks come from.
  • The Hong Kong Martial arts flick, The Postman Fights Back have the character Fu Jun (played by a young Chow Yun-Fat) who uses his scarf as a weapon, notably using it to strangle an enemy thug. He ends up getting tied by his own scarf in the end though, allowing the Big Bad to stab him in the back.
  • The Prince of Thieves: During the fight in the castle, Robin disables a group of Sir Fitz-Alwin's soldiers by ripping down a heavy tapestry and tossing it on top of them.
  • In the Richie Rich film, Prof. Keenbean does this to Ferguson, using a towel with one side of it coated with his super sticky adhesive, in an attempt to save Richie and the others.
  • In Serenity, Mal throws a curtain over The Operative's head and starts punching him while he is blinded, though The Operative quickly gets the upper hand.
  • In Sherlock Holmes (2009), Holmes, during a pit-fighting match, throws a handkerchief in his opponent's face as a distraction before a planned attack sequence after the man spat at the back of his head.
  • In The Suicide Squad, Harley Quinn tears off part of her dress during her escape, then uses it to choke and joint lock the soldiers she's fighting until she can get her hands on some guns.
  • This is how Kristy joins the Best fight scene of all time in Undefeatable.
  • In Zombieland, Columbus uses a shower curtain to keep a zombie from biting him.
  • A subtle example in ''Out of Sight. During the final confrontation, one of Snoopy's men was trying to rape Ripley's assistant when Jack comes in. The two men have an armed stand off for a moment, until the woman tosses a bedsheet over the would-be rapist. This blinds him for a critical split-second, which is all it takes.

  • Chronicles of Amber:
    • Near the end of Corwin's series of books Corwin is disorientated after traveling to the Courts of Chaos. One of the greatest knights of Chaos spots Corwin and challenges him to a formal duel. Corwin unceremoniously pulls his cape over the guy's head and stabs him while the guy is disentangling himself.
      Lord of Chaos: Oh, basely done! I expected better of thee!
      Corwin: This isn't the Olympic Games.
    • Near the end of the first book, Corwin formed a partnership with his brother Bleys with the intent of overthrowing another brother of theirs, Eric. During the attempt to seize the capital, Bleys is mentioned to have given a masterful display of swordsman against hundreds of foes, using every possible trick imaginable, including using his cloak to distract them, parry blows, and entangle foes.
  • In the Circle of Magic series, Sandry's magic works through fiber, thread, or fabric. Thus, her usual approach to hostiles or criminals is to bind them in their own clothes.
  • In The Devil in Iron, Conan manages to stop his iron-bodied opponent by throwing a curtain on him. As noted, even if he's ludicrously strong he's still entangled by the whole damn cloth.
  • Fengshen Yanyi: one of Nezha's many (but less used) weapons is the Heavenly-Muddling Damask, a long red sash that he used to defeat Ao Bing. When cast in the air, it casts flames at the intended victim. Lady Shiji also has two cloth-based treasures, the Eight Trigrams Precious Cloud Sash she uses to subdue Li Jing and the Eight Trigrams Dragon Beard Sash which she tries to use against Taiyi Zhenren, failing in the attempt.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Bibleman: Biblegirl, in her first appearance, and not in uniform, used a piece of yellow cloth (which glowed) to fight Luxor Spawndroth, the villain of this particular episode.
  • A season four episode of Burn Notice showed Michael Weston using a towel in a fight against a prisoner. He used it to quickly wrap his opponent's hands together before proceeding to kick his ass.
  • In one episode of Martial Law, Sammo uses a gang member's do-rag to handle him and his three buddies.
  • Midsomer Murders: The first Victim of the Week in "The Point of Balance" dies when their killer shoves a length of tulle in their mouth during a struggle: causing them to choke and triggering a fatal heart attack.
  • An episode of the Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation had Venus fight off a horde of dragons using a cape and a playground.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Garfield Garfield did this once, during an arc where he was pretending to be a sumo wrestler.
  • Peanuts: Linus occasionally uses his security blanket like a whip.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Once in GLOW, T&A (Tina Ferrari and Ashley Cartier) had a "Texas Bar Room Brawl" with Hollywood And Vine. At one point in the match, T&A had some kind of large cloth and they wrapped their opponents up in it, forcing them to Catfight each other to get out.

  • Happens a few times in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy with towels. The notable example that springs to mind is when Ford is in freefall and manages to land on a giant talking bird. The bird is inclined to drop him, but Ford wraps his multipurpose towel around its head. The bird is now sightless, but Ford points out that he can still slowly fly down to the ground.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Amber Diceless Role-Playing. Throwing a cloak or rug over someone's head is a specific form of attack listed under Weapons in the Other Factors in Combat section.

    Video Games 
  • In Deltarune, Ralsei uses scarves as a weapon.
  • Auriel from Diablo III has in possession of the holy sash Al'maiesh, which she can use to either slap enemies around or restrain them. She didn't get to use it in that game, but in Heroes of the Storm she gets to use it a lot more.
  • Fa Zheng of Dynasty Warriors uses a piece of cloth as his weapon.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics, had certain female classes fight with Cloths, still wrapped around the rods. Very potent, as they're among the few weapons that reach two squares.
  • Yōkai Flying Darts (Ittanmomen) from Nioh are based on a yokai which is, essentially, a living roll of cloth. In game, they are scantly-clad, floating ghost women who can attack by whipping and restraining William with the cloth covering their bodies or even toss it as a twirling projectile to attack from afar.
  • The Legend of Tian-ding have the titular protagonist using his long, red sash for entangling enemies and throwing them around with expert ease. Said sash is crucial in the boss fight against Kaguya, a kunoichi, since Tian's sash can interrupt her non-stop Teleport Spam allowing her to take damage.
  • Koshosho of Samurai Warriors uses a single long scarf as her weapon, which she can either use as a whip or even swing around on.
  • Street Fighter: Introduced in the Alpha games, Rose the fortune teller fights with a unique style of imbuing her scarf with "Soul Power" to whip it around from a distance. She can also wrap it around her foes and channel her energy through it, almost like a magic taser.
  • Sanzang of Warriors Orochi slaps her enemies with oversized sleeves.

  • Forgath of Goblins makes a habit of storing his mace in a cloth bag, even in dungeons. When an enemy attacked while Forgath was still trying to get the mace free, he first deflected the blow with the bag then wrapped the cloth around the weapon so he could control the blade.
  • Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic: Glon's wife Gaggia is able to fend off a colony of giant ants with her cape.

    Western Animation 
  • Amphibia: In "Reunion", during their sword fight, Sasha throws her cape over Anne's head and knocks her down while she is blinded.
    • In "True Colors", the roles are reversed, and it's Anne who blinds Sasha with her own cape.
  • The Simpsons: In the Season 32 finale "The Last Barfighter", Moe manages to fight off nearly every other bartender in town using his bar rag, through both simple means such as using it as a towel whip, or more superhuman feats such as wrapping it around a utility pole and pulling it down.

    Real Life 
  • Towels can make a mean whip, especially if wet and/or rolled up. When asked on The Hollywood Squares what the most common injury was among amateur baseball players,
    Gilbert Gottfried: Getting whacked in the ass with a wet towel
    audience laughter, beat
    Whoopi Goldberg: Annnd they're off!
  • There are also records of a 16th / 17th century fighting style, normally used with a cape, where the fighter used a rapier in his primary hand and some form of durable cloth in his off hand. Though the cape was considered the primary version, there is evidence of everything up to and including large floppy hats being used as such. As would be obvious, the fighter would use this 'soft parry' item to entangle his opponent's weapon as a defense. Depending on the type of cloth, you could even do a Bare-Handed Blade Block relatively safely.
  • Similarly, in Victorian times, it was common for men to know at least a bit of self defence using two items that any gentleman would have with him at all times in public: A coat and a walking stick. A common move was to try and throw a coat over the opponent's head and either yank him to the ground or entangle him.
  • Real Life Martial Arts have some examples:
    • Hapkido includes, among its traditional weapons, belts.
    • Chinese Wu Shu styles often included the use of "weighted sleeves", overlong sleeves with weights in them that could be used as flails. According to legend, during the Boxer Rebellion, one set of nuns was spared because they raised their arms to pray and the attackers mistook the prayerbooks in their sleeves for this weapon.