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Force and Finesse

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Noel: Well, all force and no style, just like usual, huh?
Sophia: You seemed to be handling the unnecessary acrobatics quite well on your own.

This particular trope emphasizes the Red Oni, Blue Oni relationship by having a fighting style or weapon that reflects the user's personality. This often results in having a blunt force powerhouse and a precision striker.

  • The Force fighter is blunt, straightforward, and relies on sheer power to get through their battles. More often than not, they'll either use their bare fists or a really big sword to get the job done. They're probably on the slow side, but that doesn't make them any less dangerous. Expect them to be Unskilled, but Strong, at least relative to everyone else.
  • The Finesse fighter is much more cool-headed and strategic in combat. They'll often use a katana or an equally elegant weapon to slice through their opponents with deadly precision; if unarmed, they'll likely employ the use of karate chops, kicks, and/or precision strikes. They're much faster than their hotheaded partner and likely weaker in terms of power, which emphasizes their Weak, but Skilled status.

These fighters are either rivals or allies, but often go head to head with each other. And while they're not exactly the same, the contrast between brute force and precision is always apparent whenever they show up. Elves vs. Dwarves gives at least one interpretation of this showdown. This trope could also extend to gender roles, with the male fighter typically using force and the female fighter using finesse.

Subtrope of Opposing Combat Philosophies, and supertrope to Male Might, Female Finesse. The Red Oni in a Red Oni, Blue Oni pairing is likely to use force, while the Blue Oni typically relies on finesse.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • This is a rather important key trait to all fighters in Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple.There are two types of fighters, "Sei" fighters who rely on wit, clear minds, and talent to fight. And "Dou" fighters who use aggressive emotions to fuel their attacks. Some fighters however can be both types.
  • Berserk:
    • Guts and Griffith. Guts is the BFS-wielding powerhouse of the two, while Griffith relies more on strategy and lethal precision, and wields a sabre. Guts also shares this dynamic with Casca before the Eclipse, and with Serpico following the post-Eclipse Conviction Arc.
    • The Lost Children arc has a boss fight against two bug-men of this type: the ginormous rhinoceros beetle guy just charges at Guts, while the praying mantis-man moves and attacks nearly too fast to see.
  • Natsu and Gray from Fairy Tail: Natsu is the hot-blooded smasher who use his fire dragon magic and fists to tear enemies apart with raw power. Gray, on the other hand, has many moves that rely on making weapons out of ice, including axes, swords, blades, spears and scythes.
  • Fist of the North Star:
    • Kenshiro's Hokuto fists, which destroy an enemy from within, and Rei's Nanto slicing techniques, which tear apart an enemy from the outside in.
    • Among the Hokuto brothers, Raoh is by far the most power-focused, while Toki is all about finesse and precision with his techniques.
  • Vita and Signum, the two offensive fighters of the Wolkenritter team in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's. Vita wields a hammer and is prone to going berserk, while Signum wields a sword with cold Germanic Efficiency. Accordingly, The Battle of Aces video game gives Vita a bonus to raw damage, while Signum profits from easier and longer combos.
  • One Piece:
    • Luffy and Zoro. Luffy pummels through everything via fists while Zoro uses katanas.
    • Mihawk displays finesse (coupled with force) to Zoro as a way to demonstrate that the very best of swordsmen are capable of both. Zoro up until that point had been nothing but raw force and eventually learns to balance the sides.
    • Nami fights directly with the Clima-Tact while Robin fights indirectly by sprouting arms from anyone's backs.
  • s-CRY-ed has Kazuma and Ryuhou. Kazuma's Alter gives him a big metal fist while Ryuhou has a stand with precision blades.
  • Rurouni Kenshin exhibits this with Kenshin's precision reverse-blade and Sanosuke's BFS. Sanosuke later ditches his sword and relies on his fists, further enhancing this trope.
  • The first opponents in Samurai Deeper Kyo are a giant with a hammer and a midget so fast as to be nicknamed "the wind". Kyo finishes off saying "You're slow".
  • High School Dx D has Issei and Kiba. Issei fights with the Dragon Arm, while Kiba fights with swords.
    • On the girls' side, Rias fights with destructive energy manipulation while Akeno fights with lightning manipulation.
  • Claymore has "Muscular Sophia" and "Stormwind Noel", the No. 4 and 5 of Teresa and Priscilla's generation. As their title implies, Sophia relies on her brute strength to fight, while Noel relies on acrobatics. The two are apparently rivals, and would frequently mock each other's fighting style.

    Comic Books 
  • The classic Marvel team of Power Man and Iron Fist. Power Man — or Luke Cage, as he now prefers — is a superhumanly strong brawler with unbreakable skin; his crimefighting partner Iron Fist is one of the most skilled martial artists on the planet.

  • This is one of the themes of Sailor Moon fanfic Mars vs. Jupiter as Told by Mina, where Raye is finesse, due to her martial arts training. Lita is force, due to her raw strength, though she isn't terribly lacking in technique.
  • Subverted in the Dragon Age: Inquisition series Twice Upon An Age. In terms of fighting styles, Victoria is Force (she wields a two-handed sword) and Mahanon is Finesse (he favors dual wielding daggers). But their personalities are the exact opposite; it's mentioned several times that Victoria is the serious, well-read diplomat and Mahanon is the clever, snarky, somewhat blunt one.
  • Features in AAML: Diamond and Pearl Version; as Ash and Misty start dating and become tag-battle partners, Ash's Grotle and Misty's Vaporeon in particular develop this kind of dynamic, as their team-ups focus on Grotle taking hits and then striking back while Vaporeon uses more hit-and-move tactics to wear their foes down.

  • The Princess Bride has master fencer Inigo Montoya and wrestler Fezzik (played by Andre the Giant).
  • Thor and Loki in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Thor has his trusty hammer while Loki tends to have a variety of knives.
  • Push has Nick go up against the more experienced Mover Victor. In their first fight, a telekinetic gunfight, Victor easily gains the upper hand. The same thing almost happens again, until it turns into a force-assisted blow battle, where Nick's raw strength wins out.
  • Jurassic World features the climactic battle of Blue the Raptor and Rexie against the Indominus rex. Blue uses her speed to keep the I. rex distracted while Rexie matches her on brute strength.
  • In the Star Wars prequel trilogy, Bash Brothers Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi are "force" (no pun intended) and "finesse" respectively. Anakin tends to just clobber his opponents until they're defeated (see: him trouncing Count Dooku), while Obi-Wan's highly adept at blocking Beam Spam and uses a more gradualist approach.
  • In the dozens of action-comedies starring Bud Spencer and Terence Hill, the former is usually Force, using his brute strength to beat his opponents, whereas the latter is Finesse, being faster, more agile, and more willing to use an Improvised Weapon.
  • Kikuchiyo (force) and Kyuzo (finesse) are the logical extremes in Seven Samurai.

  • The Elves vs. Dwarves dynamic in Tolkien's novels is full of this. The straightforward dwarves tend to use axes and hammers while the more graceful elves opt for bows and daggers.
  • Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar in Neverwhere. Croup does most of the important hurting, such as assassination and Cold-Blooded Torture, because Vandemar's violence is so unwieldy that it's seldom useful except as a vague threat.
  • The Saxon Stories gives us Steapa Snotor (force) and Uhtred the Wicked (finesse). Steapa is a giant, the biggest man in the series (with the possible exception of one gigantic viking he beats in a fist fight), his sword is sized to match, and his fighting style is pure Mighty Glacier. Uhtred, while strong, is also an expert swordsman, deadly fast, and when he finds himself forced to fight Steapa to the death he reacts by stripping off his armour so as to gain the full benefit of his superior speed.

    Live Action TV 
  • Arrow: The Lance Sisters, Laurel and Sara, have this dynamic. Laurel's fighting style as Black Canary features a harder more brutal form of fighting, focused on slugs and smashmouth-style techniques, while Sara's fighting style is far more graceful and focused on precision and fluid strikes (Justified as Sara was trained by the League of Assassins while Laurel's combat instructor was a former boxer).
    • It's even evident in their weapons of choice and vigilante antics. Laurel uses two practical tonfas/batons, while Sara uses the more elegant bo staff along with a silk scarf to fall down from great heights like a Cirque du Soleil performer.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • This happens occasionally with tag teams, especially when there's a noticeable size difference between the teammates. The larger wrestler will typically use more of a grounded power-based style to serve as the Force side while the smaller wrestler will typically use more of a high-flying technical style to serve as the Finesse side. Unfortunately, as the smallest wrestler is usually chosen as the whipping boy in most matches thanks to his size making him easier to trash around spectacularly, this often ends up carrying the implication that Finesse is intrinsically weaker than Force and needs to be saved by its bigger partner.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons module T1 The Village of Hommlet. Two of the NPCs living in the Inn of the Welcome Wench are Kobort, a hulking fighter with superhuman strength who has a sword and an axe, and Turoko, a monk who uses daggers in combat.
    • On a grander scale, Elves vs. Dwarves yet again.
    • Fighter and Barbarian. One gets more skill points and extra Feats. The other gets Rage and more hit points.
  • The two warrior heroes included in the base Second Edition of Descent: Journeys in the Dark are Grisban, a brutal dwarven berserker with a giant axe, and Syndrael, a knightly elven Lady of War who fights with a sword and a shield.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Whenever the Imperium (Force) and the Eldar or Tau (Finesse) team up, this dynamic is the result. The Imperial Guard is all about using vast numbers of men and ordnance to blast the enemy to kingdom come, while the Eldar and Tau are both about using fewer, more elite units with precision firepower.
    • Team-ups between various Chaos Legions often end up with this: the Horus Heresy novel "Angel Exterminatus", for example, has an alliance between the elitist perfectionists of the Emperor's Children (Finesse), and the Iron Warriors (Forceful), default strategy "pound everything flat with artillery".

    Video Games 
  • Asura's Wrath uses this dynamic with Asura and Yasha. Asura uses his fists for everything while Yasha prefers to use Razor Wind.
  • Batman: Arkham City has Batman facing two brothers by the name of Sickle and Hammer. The names should tell you all you need to know about each brother's fighting style.
  • Devil May Cry:
    • Dante and Vergil. The hotheaded Dante uses a BFS and a pair of guns while the calculating Vergil uses a katana and summoned swords.
    • In Devil May Cry 4, meanwhile, Dante himself becomes the Finesse, while the Force role goes to series newcomer Nero. Nero has a much smaller set of weapons, and his skillset relies mainly on raw power. Dante, by contrast, has a large collection of weapons and styles that he can switch between on the fly.
  • Dark Souls gives us Ornstein and Smough, who are finesse and force respectively. Ornstein uses speed, Lightning, and a spear. Smough just uses a really, really big hammer.
    • Dark Souls 2 also gives us the Throne Defender and Throne Watcher, who fill force and finesse respectively.
      • The final boss of the first DLC for Dark Souls 3 has this in phase 2. Father Ariandel is big, strong, and slow; Sister Friede is normal-sized, less strong(though not to be taken lightly), and fast.
  • Guilty Gear contrasts Sol Badguy's BFS with Ky Kiske's more traditional longsword.
    • Ragna the Bloodedge and Jin Kisaragi share a similar contrast in BlazBlue: Ragna's got his BFS while Jin has his katana.
    • The third game, Blazblue Chrono Phantasma adds the more beatdown-oriented Yuuki Terumi and Hazama, who fights with a stylish chain/butterfly knives combo. An unusual example in that they're technically the same character.
  • In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Ike (force) and Marth (finesse) share this dynamic.
    • Ditto Marth and Lucina in the fourth game. They have the same moveset, but Lucina doesn't have Marth's "sweet spot" on the edge of the sword. Her strikes are weaker than Marth's sweetspotted hits, but stronger otherwise, meaning proper spacing is less important with her. Ike still shows as a force fighter, while Robin shows up as a new finesse fighter—his moves have limited uses in their "strong" form before he must rely on weaker versions of them for awhile.
  • The Wonderful 101 has an interesting variation of this trope. Wonder Red is still the straightforward force fighter with a giant fist, but this time Wonder Blue is more of a laid back trickster that uses a sword.
  • Melee styles of Resident Evil 5 protagonists reflect this. Musclebound Chris uses simple but powerful punches and kicks which throw people around (and dislodge giant boulders), while slender and comparatively small Sheva fights with a lot of leaps, sommersaults and roundhouse kicks.
  • Xenogears has Fei and Elly. Fei fights with his fists, while Elly fights with a rod.
  • Fu Xi and Nu Wa in Dynasty Warriors. Fu Xi carries a greatsword while Nu wa has a rapier and shield. Fu Xi is powerful, slow, and hits like several trucks tied together. He can wipe out entire teams of enemies with a single swing, but his windups are so long that they can be avoided or interrupted by faster officers and even faster enemy Mooks. Nu Wa's attacks are precise, quick stabs, individually weaker than Fu Xi but extremely good at dueling officers, who are often hit so quickly that they cannot counterattack or interrupt her, but leaves her open to being swarmed by multiple foes.
    • This dynamic applies as well in Hyrule Warriors with the two Ocarina of Time representatives: Darunia is big, strong and attacks with a fire-elemental hammer that hits like a truck. On the other hand, Ruto is more delicate and mobile and attacks by summoning water and trapping enemies in whirlpools. On the villainous side, we have Girahim, who uses a sword and throwing blades with precision and graceful moves, while in contrast, Zant attacks with very physical moves and, despite summoning magic, he uses it in a very brutal and mindless way; his style is often described as resembling a temper tantrum more than fighting.
    • Generally speaking, this system can be applied to nearly every character in all of the Warriors games; force types are the characters who hit the hardest and have the widest arcs of attack which allow them to be exceptional at crowd clearing but suffer in one-on-one officer fights due to lack of precision options, while the more nimble finesse types can dominate the duels with focused combos but have more difficulty controlling crowds thanks to attacks that strike in straight lines.
  • World of Tanks tends to give each nation a trait that makes them stand out among the other tanks in their respective tiers. This is probably best exemplified by the Soviet and German contrast—the former favoring massive damage-per-shot at the cost of accuracy, while the latter tends to employ precise but lower-caliber firepower. As a result, Soviet tanks tend to blast targets for a lot of health but are less consistent, while German tanks are able to focus down weak spots but take more shots (and thus more time) to destroy a target.
  • City of Heroes featured a pair of villain archetypes that exemplified this. The Brutes were focused on Force. They were tanks whose attack strength increased the longer they were in battle. The Finesse side of things was handled by the Stalker, whose description emphasized this difference. Stalkers were the assassins. They had extremely high attack power, but were also more fragile than Brutes, instead relying on the ability to hide from enemies and deflect their aggression.
  • Seen in the beginning of Dragon Age II with Hawke's younger twin siblings. Warrior Carver is Force, mage Bethany is Finesse. Both are extremely skilled, but only one survives.
  • Videogame/Overwatch gives the two builder characters Torbjorn and Symmetra this dynamic. Torbjorn builds hard armor and a rough, heavily armed turret while Symmetra constructs light shields and sleeker mini laser turrets. Symmetra finds Torbjorn's methods crude and outdated, while Torbjorn takes a jab at her cleanliness.
  • Street Fighter has Ibuki, who is the only character with ammo having a limited number of usable kunai.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: When Yang and Neo fight, Neo whimsically dances and somersaults all around Yang, whose hard, physical, fist-fighting style struggles to make contact with the tiny, athletic Neo. Even when Yang does appear to make contact, Neo somehow manages to flow with the blows, elegantly escaping injury by redirecting them using a lace parasol that turns Yang's own strength against her. Neo's silent, mocking smiles keep egging on Yang, who is short-tempered at the best of times, until Neo is able to curbstomp Yang into unconsciousness. Neo keeps a concealed blade sheathed in the stem and handle of the parasol, but she only pulls it out when she sees a chance to kill the comatose Yang.

    Web Comics 
  • Xykon from The Order of the Stick was a powerful sorcerer even before he became a lich, but was constantly looked down on by wizards, who deem their magic to be superior.note  Xykon himself is somewhat lazy and has a fairly short attention span, and so was dismissed as being unintelligent by the more studious wizards. However, the sheer overwhelming force of Xykon's magic ends up being more than a match for the wizard Dorukan, which he delights in reveling in as below:
    Xykon: Hey, you know what really gets under my skin? Proverbially, of course? A century of wizards looking down their damn noses at me. Energy Drain! I know people think I'm stupid. Because I'm not a wizard. Because I get bored easily. Because I have no interest in strategy or tactics or contingency planning. Energy Drain! But see, I've learned a lot over the years since I died. A lot more than I learned during my life. And now I see that planning doesn't matter. Strategy doesn't matter. Only two things matter: Force in as great a concentration as you can manage, and style. And in a pinch, style can slide. Energy Drain! In any battle, there's always a level of force against which no tactics can succeed. For example, all I need to do is keep smacking you with Energy Drains, and soon you won't be able to cast any of your fancy spells at all. Energy Drain! Because yes, I am a sorcerer - and this magic is in my bones, not cribbed off of "Magic for Dummies." And I can keep casting the same friggin' spell at you until you roll over and die. You can have your finely-crafted watch - give me the sledgehammer to the face any day. ENERGY DRAIN!
  • Manly Guys Doing Manly Things protagonist, Commander Badass, and his "brother" Ace pull this off, as seen here. Seeing as they're respectively designed to be a Rated M for Manly gritty action hero and a Tuxedo and Martini type, it just comes with the territory.

    Western Animation 
  • A non-fighting variant in Bojack Horseman has Princess Carolyn's Force and Diane's Finesse, with Princess Carolyn insisting on being front for everything, is very aggressive for a bureaucrat, loves winning and can't help but be a showoff while being the Man Behind the Man while Diane relies more on arguments, persuasion and non-confrontational methods to succeed and loves being in the spotlight despite her nervousness.
  • Samurai Jack has Jack and the Scotsman as Finesse and Force respectively. Jack is far from weak, but favors tactics that involve outspeeding, outmaneuvering, or outwitting his opponents. The Scotsman is even stronger than Jack, but favors rushing in with his BFS or his Machine Gun leg rather than using any fancy moves.
  • Amethyst and Pearl form this sort of dynamic in Steven Universe, with reckless whip-user Amethyst being the force, and the graceful spear-wielding Pearl being the finesse. The leader of the Crystal Gems, Garnet, displays a balance between the two in most of her fights. Further emphasized when you combine either Pearl or Amethyst with the relatively stable Garnet. Sugilite uses a flailing mace with reckless abandon while Sardonyx has a hammer that she strikes with utmost precision.