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Full-Contact Magic

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You do not want to get punched by Subaru.

The practitioner of Full-Contact Magic can literally attack you from across the room; he punches the air, and then you get punched. Each spell cast is punctuated not by a subtle gesture, but by a grand motion. He's a wizard that casts spells by fighting. Dodging opposing attacks or setting up on-the-spot shields is also important. If the wizard can fly, it's a whole new ball game.

When they exist alongside more traditional wizards, a character of this type can usually perform their spells faster, with fewer requirements, and/or with greater power, but is poor at complex effects and long magical rituals. Depending on the work, this could make them Weak, but Skilled, Unskilled, but Strong, or both at once.

Contrast with Magic Knight, where a wizard is not squishy, but simply is a trained warrior in addition to casting spells, and Supernatural Martial Arts, where the martial arts training is what creates the magical effect, rather than the magical spells themselves requiring broad motions. (Some Magic Knights can use this fighting style, however.) When a character can use both Magic and martial arts separately, it's Kung-Fu Wizard.

A Sub-Trope of Magical Gesture. Compare with Magic Dance (which adds choreography to the full-contact-ness), and Your Mime Makes It Real (which takes the motions to their Logical Extreme). Contrast with the much less physical Pstandard Psychic Pstance. Also contrast Powers Do the Fighting.

Can often result in an Elemental Punch or Sword Beam. Ranged magic produced in this way is almost always a Projectile Spell. Also see Air Jousting (which flying users of this trope often indulge in), Hand Blast and Simplified Spellcasting.

This trope is the middle tier of The Law of Power Proportionate to Effort.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Unlike the majority of mages in Black Clover, who simply cast spells from their grimoires, Mereoleona Vermillion uses her spells by enveloping her fists in fire or punching out destructive bursts of flames.
  • Various characters in Fire Force combine their pyrokinesis with hand-to-hand combat to deadly effect, such as Shinra, Ogun, Rekka and Captain Burns. Captain Benimaru of Company 7 is widely regarded as "Akasusa's King of Destruction", and his Lieutenant, Konro, wasn't far behind in his prime, both firefighters being strong enough to level several city blocks with their bare hands.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: A strong alchemist needs a strong body.
    • Alex Louis Armstrong. He doesn't punch you, per se... but he does punch rocks, transmuting them into cannon shells, in your direction. That's not to say he won't try and punch your skull in if you're dumb enough to let him get that close.
    • Mustang is the exception. He snaps his fingers to create fire. Unless it's raining.
  • Full Metal Panic!: Not really magical, but in Helmajistan Gauron shows us what a telekinetic mecha can do, summoning a ball of energy then doing a slashing motion, ripping a Red Shirt to shreds with a big flash. Why is that unusual? Because another time, he simply pointed his finger at an opponent like a gun, imitated the recoil ("Let me show you. See? BANG.") and the opponent promptly exploded. In The Second Raid finale, Sousuke does this against Gates who is using Clouseau as a human shield: he does a punching motion but stops before hitting Clouseau... Needless to say, it turned out to be his Moment of Awesome and his team's Mass "Oh, Crap!".
  • Subaru (pictured) and Vivio in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha uses their ranged attacks this way.
  • Maken-ki!: While most of the cast uses weapon type Maken, Azuki, Minori, and Yan-Min all specialize in direct combat. So their Maken accommodates their proficiency in hand-to-hand. Azuki's Maken ('Hawk') channels wind, Minori's "Dragon Ace" allows her to control thermal energy, and Yan-Min's "Reilii" ability allows her to literally move and strike like lightning.
  • Some ninjutsu in Naruto seem to require a physical action besides hand seals for use even if it's not used in the attack itself. The most noticeable example is Deva Path Pain, who can use a Shinra Tensei, which repels objects away from him, in all directions without any movement, but needs to use his hand(s) to focus it in one direction or one object or select an object to use Bansho Tenin, which pulls objects toward him, on (presumably he would attract all objects in the area to him otherwise).
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi:
    • Negi has a fighting style called "mahou-ken" (magic fist) that involves releasing delayed spells with kung fu attacks. Several other characters qualify too.
    • Takamichi. Most of the others hit you from a distance or flat-out punch you while Takamichi uses the pressure from his fists and kanka blasts to make fist beams.
  • In Shamanic Princess, one of the main character's go-to combat moves is summoning an amorphous, roughly sword-shaped black mass of magic and engaging enemies directly.

  • The Sistine Chapel's ceiling frescoes show God flying around with His robes billowing, stretching His hands in all different directions, and expressing physical exertion on His face as He brings the world as we know it into existence. Although the Book of Genesis describes God using speech to create the universe, this physicality give a visual sense for the thought and effort God put into His creation of light, the Sun, the Moon, the water, the land, and man.

    Comic Books 
  • Aura Mages in Gold Digger tend to make a lot of motions, especially with their hands, when casting spells.
  • It's not technically "magic" so much as "superpowers", but many comic book characters will use gestures to accompany their powers even when it shouldn't really be necessary. Those with some sort of telekinesis, or something similar (such as Magneto), have powers that should be activated by thought alone, but will often use physical movements as well, especially when they get stressed. Presumably it's for the same reasons as the motions that accompany Jedi force powers (see below).

    Fan Works 
  • Ritsuka in Fate/Starry Night takes out a Dragon Tooth Warrior with a Gandr-charged fist in an emulation of a Shoryuken. He also uses Instant Enhancement in short bursts to give himself enough strength to pulverize bone and suplex a giant skeletal crocodile.

  • Star Wars: While it is possible to use the Force without moving, such as when a user is tied up, most Jedi, Sith, and assorted Force users use hand motions to focus their powers. (And for dramatic effect, of course.) There also used to be a canonical technique named Force kick.
  • In the film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf and Saruman's staff-fight in Saruman's chambers involves them striking the air with their staves and generating telekinetic waves against the opponent.
  • The battle between Bavmorda and Fin Raziel in Willow is like the distaff counterpart of the Gandalf/Saruman fight cited above, possibly inspired such as it came out first. (The movie version of the fight, not the book.)
  • The Harry Potter films, particularly the big wizard-fight in Order of the Phoenix, tend to have this—moreso than the novels due to most offensive spells gaining knockback effects for the sake of Rule of Perception.
    • It also happened in the original novel of Order of the Phoenix, when Dumbledore dueled Voldemort.
    • It also says in the original novel that when the Death Eaters and Aurors/good guys fought their wands "flashed like swords."
  • At the end of The Raven (1963), two magicians engage in an all out battle of magic.
  • In Big Hero 6, Yokai, in contrast to Hiro's demonstration, tends to use hand gestures and similar physical movements to control the microbots.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Doctor Strange and the other sorcerers have to use motions to control their magic. Scarlet Witch also uses her hands to move things telepathically.
    • The Infinity Gauntlet requires hand motions in order to use the Infinity Stones. The gauntlet's full power can only be unleashed specifically with a Badass Fingersnap. This is a change from the comics, where it simply made its user The Omnipotent. This helps preserve dramatic tension, since it gives the heroes a realistic way to stop Thanos from instantly defeating them - interrupting his hand.
  • The basic concept from Avatar: The Last Airbender was used in the Live-Action Adaptation The Last Airbender: less talented benders need more motion to build up energy while skilled benders like Aang or Zuko require less movement for the same results. Katara grows more skilled and confident in waterbending over the course of the movie, barely able to levitate a ball of water to summoning small waterfalls with similar amounts of effort. Unfortunately, a number of factors meant the concept mostly did not translate well. Without the the carefully designed and choreographed martial art styling, most of the bending moves just come across as Flynning, which is made worse by the generally bad fight choreography with characters just standing around waiting their turn to act. The effort required for bending also went up massively, while the results were considerably less impressive. Things that would be generally unremarkable in the animated show for average benders instead take considerable amounts of time to build up, which both looks silly and slows down fight scenes a great deal.

  • The world of Skulduggery Pleasant comes with two distinct flavors of magic: Adept and Elemental. The more combat-oriented characters (Elementals in particular) tend to fight with this sort of style and often incorporate martial arts of one flavor or another into their repertoire to boot.
  • Spoofed in the Discworld, where the incompetent wizard Rincewind's fighting strategy involves pulling shapes (i.e., making the exaggerated pose of magic-user-about-to-cast-spell with both hands raised and fingers pointing) and then, just before the other guy realizes there isn't going to be any actual magic, following through with a mundane punch, kick, or headbutt.
  • In A Certain Magical Index, the Amakusa Christians' origins as an Illegal Religion have led them to develop "invisible" spellcasting techniques, hiding their Spell Construction within precise applications of everyday actions and objects. As a result, many of them have learned to encode Magical Gestures into their fighting techniques as well. Combined with the strange mishmash of Christian and Shinto-Buddhist concepts that their spells are based on, this sums up to make them incredibly confusing to fight.
  • High School D×D: Kuroka, Koneko's older sister, uses Senjutsu (Sage) magic. While it allows her to use different abilities like poisons, gasses and illusions, when it comes to deal some damage she's willing to put her body into it. Koneko herself eventually embraces this trope as well once she accepts her Nekomata heritage, combining Kuroka's magic training with her original hand-to-hand combat skills.

  • In a Skrillex music video, a little girl attacks a pedophile who's been following her with a barrage of psychic blasts that she controls with various hand gestures, at one point launching him straight up into the air by stomping the ground. At the end of the video, after she's done beating the crap out of him, she positions her hands as though to wring a towel and violently twists, apparently killing him.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Akashic Brotherhood in Mage: The Ascension are supposed to use this, complete with a magical martial art called Do. Of course, given the nature of magick in the setting, one could argue that Do is just as much Supernatural Martial Arts as Full Contact Magick. (Being both simultaneously would actually make perfect sense in Mage.)
    • The spiritual successor, Mage: The Awakening, has the Adamantine Arrows, whose basic training involves becoming an accomplished soldier without using any magic. One of their legacies, the Perfect Adept, can teach the ability to punch at a distance.
      • To clarify, the Perfect Adept far punch ability duplicates a standard mid-level spell, without using awakened will. Since this rather dramatically alters the nature of the effect (you can do it in front of mundane bystanders, there's no potential to accidentally rip a hole in the universe or hit the wrong target) the ability is effectively its own, unique type of full-contact magic separate from the hermetic magic of the rest of the setting.
  • While Dungeons & Dragons usually follows the Squishy Wizard trope, certain spellcasting character builds can venture into this. For example, in D&D 3.5 edition you can combine touch-based spells with a Rogue's sneak attack damage bonus. You can even dual wield touch magic, possibly with a Wizard/Ranger build.
    • Bards usually have to integrate some kind of performance into their spellcasting, and can gain abilities which let them use their Perform skill instead of Concentration for maintaining control of spells. While the most iconic type of performance for this is Magic Music, dance and even "weapon drills" are also possible (the latter of which gains a bonus based on the bard's mundane fighting skills, and can be performed while unarmed).
    • 3.5 Edition's Duskblades are warriors trained in magic, and their signature ability is to deliver spells through melee attacks. The Magus class from Pathfinder behaves similarly, and also gains the ability to wield a weapon in one hand and a spell in the other.
    • The Illumnian race from Races of Destiny can use Strength or Dexterity to determine their number of spells per day and/or ability to penetrate Spell Resistance, rather than Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma as normal. Exactly how this works isn't explained, but Full-Contact Magic is a common interpretation. This gets particularly interesting when combined with the "Muscle Wizard" theoretical build, wherein a Cancer Mage (who possesses immunity to the negative effects of disease) can gain arbitrarily high Strength by infecting himself with Festering Anger (a disease which causes the victim's muscles to grow until they explode).
    • Warlocks can use the Hideous Blow invocation to channel an Eldritch Blast through a melee attack (mostly Awesome, but Impractical because channeled attacks don't ignore armor), or Eldritch Glaive which allows them to grab their Eldritch Blast and make a string of melee attacks with it before it dissipates. Feats in Dragon Magazine enable other options, like Eldritch Claws (creates short-lived Wolverine Claws) and Grappling Blast (discharges a blast directly into a grabbed victim's body).
    • The Swordsage class from Tome of Battle has an infamous variant known as "Arcane Swordsage", which blurs the line between this trope and Supernatural Martial Arts. They use the same martial arts system as regular swordsages, except that instead of letting them chain together strikes, parries and movement techniques, they chain together wizard spells, bypassing most of the drawbacks of Vancian Magic altogether.
    • Then there's the 4th Edition Swordmage class from the Forgotten Realms setting, which has the health of a fighter and most of their melee ability coupled with the casting of a warlock (mostly single target effects, rather than a wizard's area nuking) to fulfill the requisite Magic Knight quotient.
    • 4e Monks have implement powers, meaning instead of punching someone in the face they're channeling psionic power to punch someone in the face. They also have some close burst powers (i.e. hitting everyone around you), although some melee guys have that too.
    • The Hexblades are specifically referred to as "melee warlocks", channeling attacks through a sword or dagger rather than launching from a wand. Re-introduced in 4e as an "essentials" class, they combine Squishy Wizard with Full-Contact Magic, and their battle strategy tends to be "Rush in, magic-stab the crap out of something, teleport out before it can hit you back".
    • 5e Monks can subclass as a "Way of the Four Elements" Monk, which uses their ki to replicate spellcasting abilities. Many of these abilities are, in practice, based on spells used by magic-casting classes (for example, Sweeping Cinder Strike is exactly the same in function as the spell Burning Hands), while others are original abilities that are described as combinations of magic and martial might, such as Fist of Unbroken Air, which uses compressed air to knock back a target like they were hit by a powerful punch.
  • In Shadowrun a Mage can use the standard ranged blastage spells (as well as spells for occult investigations or support roles or many other possibilities), but one particular Combat Mage variant relies on touch range spells used in combination with unarmed combat. Meaning that a Mage can literally destroy an armored vehicle or concrete barrier with a magically augmented punch. The best part is that there's a lot less "drain" for touch range, meaning that the Mage can more safely throw a repeated barrage of melee attacks than a more conventional manaball hurler.

    Video Games 
  • A good amount of Bayonetta's special attacks are like these, creating fists or legs (or guillotines, or dragons) of enchanted hair to smash, dismantle, and mangle her enemies.
  • The Kinetic Attack powerset in City of Heroes invokes this trope with its attack animations.
  • This is absolutely all over the place in Dissidia Final Fantasy; most characters with magic spell attacks have very exaggerated motions when casting them: Golbez waves his arms in striking motions, causing energy beams and other phenomena to blast the opponent; Kefka pitches fireballs like baseballs; Kuja does a backflip when casting Seraphic Star; the Onion Knight kicks a comet at the enemy; Gilgamesh casts a Razor Wind attack as through throwing a shuriken; Yuna swings her staff in broad arcs while summoning creatures that use attacks in a similar manner; and Vaan creates instantaneous stalagmites before him by stomping the ground, for some examples. The reason behind this is probably practical: the distinct motions involved in casting serve as a "tell" so that players can react appropriately to different attacks, not possible when identical wand-waves can make fire or ice or lightning magic, and their exaggerated qualities are very helpful in identifying what's going on from more of a distance (as Dissidia is emphatically not a standard two-people-on-a-flat-plane fighting game). ...And probably also because Square Enix just loves drama, flashiness, and razzle-dazzle.
  • In Dragon Age II, mages swing and twirl their spear-like staves to rain down magical death at a distance or to whack baddies who've invaded their personal space, complete with nifty elemental contrails.
  • Starkiller of The Force Unleashed fame sort of does a physical "push" with his hands when using force push, especially if he charges it first, and that's before he combines his saber moves with his force powers... Especially evident when he Force-punches a walker a dozen times in rapid succession.
  • Sora's Master Form seems to favor this in Kingdom Hearts II, mixing physical strikes with his spell attacks. The most direct examples are the forward charge he performs when using Fire and his circular dash around Thunder's area of effect. He'll also close in on his target and slash a few times before launching Blizzard.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Throughout the series, biotics use exaggerated actions and associated muscle memory to stimulate their abilities. In the second game, Jack is introduced using biotic-powered punches to clobber people up close and personal. Sadly, this was restricted to cut-scenes until...
    • In the third game, Adept and Vanguard Shepards also gain access to biotic melee attacks. Vanguard Shepard (and Vanguards and N7 Furies in Mass Effect 3's multiplayer mode) are particularly good examples, often deliberately biotic-charging into melee range and blasting enemies through the air with massive point-blank detonations before punching them to death.
  • Aoko Aozaki in Melty Blood fights in this style. Her Limit Break shoots a beam with her leg.
  • Pokémon:
    • Many close-ranged attacks are animated as being points of light gathering on the attacking limb which explode on contact, giving the impression of wizard-monsters beating the hell out of each other with contact spells, a kind of Hit Flash.
    • Vacuum Wave plays it straighter, where your Mon punches a fast-moving wave of air at the enemy.
    • In Pokémon X and Y, certain special category moves actually have the Pokémon performing the physical move animation rather than the special move animation. Among them are Grass Knot, Volt Switch, the aforementioned Vacuum Wave, and Hex as well!
  • Raffina of Puyo Puyo manages to attend a Wizarding School despite technically being a Muggle, aided by an enchanted pouch that turns her martial arts techniques into spells.
  • Spell Fist in Ragnarok Online requires you to cancel a spell and whack your opponent. Each physical hit done by the Sorcerer (3rd class Sage/Professor) has damage equivalent to the spell cast.
  • Sacred Earth - Promise: Visually, Perrine Aylin's chain attack consists of simple punches and kicks, but it still counts as magic damage and relies on her KNW stat. Her Limit Break, Divine Galestorm, is a palm strike that causes the enemy to be engulfed in a tornado.
  • This is how Mewtwo is portrayed as fighting in Super Smash Bros.. He uses grand gestures, poses and fighting moves to perform his various psychokinetic attacks to the point that the only actual physical moves he has are a handful of tail-whip attacks.
  • Touhou Project:
  • In Undertale, piss off Sans, by deciding to go on the Genocide route, and your soul will get smashed against the floor, walls, and ceiling with a mere wave of the hand. During the last attack he does it can actually damage you, though in an HP to 1 sort of way.
  • The attacks of the Blood Mages in Warcraft III. Is spinning around really necessary to throw a fist-sized ball of green flame? Though if we are at it, every magic user does this (even Archimonde who supposedly has near-godlike powers does smashing gestures with his hands to throw a human-sized ball of green flame).

    Visual Novels 
  • Red spirits in Aselia the Eternal - The Spirit of Eternity Sword work like this whenever they're using effective melee abilities. Which basically means if you're using Himika because Orpha and Nanaru are pure casters. Orpha does gain magical melee abilities later, though.


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Gwen from Ben 10 mixes a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and magic mana-manipulation powers for dynamic and fluid fighting scenes.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender the Elemental Powers are all controlled by the physical action of the bender, and each element has a different martial art used to use the power more effectively (though it appears there can be variations as to which style is used). (This serves a practical purpose: it allows all the young characters to use martial arts via bending without having 14-year-olds beating the crap out of each other with their fists.) People occasionally use weapons in conjunction with the bending as well. Additionally, the more skilled a bender is, the more they can get out of an action, with the pinnacle of this being Bumi's ability to control boulders with his chin. In the artbook, the creators specifically mentioned they wanted to get away from the more traditional "wand magic." Just don't ever call bending "magic" around a bender...
    • The show also has Full Contact Anti-Magic. Chi-blockers can paralyze a person and temporarily shut down their bending by striking pressure points on their body.
  • In The Dragon Prince, spellcasting with Primal Magic is described as "supercharged melee" when used in combat. While some exceptions exist, many spells are almost indistinguishable for magically enhanced strikes.