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Gun Kata

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A typical sparring session of Taek Gun Do.
"Each fluid position representing a maximum kill zone, inflicting maximum damage on the maximum number of opponents while keeping the defender clear of the statistically traditional trajectories of return fire. By the rote mastery of this art, your firing efficiency will rise by no less than 120%. The difference of a 63% increase to lethal proficiency makes the master of the gun katas an adversary not to be taken lightly."

Gun Kata is a firearm-based martial art invented by Kurt Wimmer and Jim Vickers in their 2002 film Equilibrium. The extremely stylized, Rule of Cool depiction of gun-to-gun combat resulted in many other works copying the fighting style. Due to Equilibrium becoming a Cult Classic in Japan, gun kata is especially common in anime and other Japanese media.

In Equilibrium, gun kata (or what is assumed to be gun kata) appeared under two distinctive combat styles; both were reproduced by later media works.

  • Long Range: The proper form of Gun Kata involves a combatant firing guns at extreme close range, outside of cover, while executing intentionally choreographed poses (typically highly dynamic and exaggerated ones) during combat, much like how a real world martial artist executes their practised kata techniques. These gun kata patterns usually involve dual pistols being fired at enemies without aiming or even looking at them, often alongside copious amounts of Gangsta Style and gratuitous whole-body spins, with the shots always hitting regardless. Properly executed, the choreographed motions of gun kata give the combat style a dance-like quality.

  • Short Range: The second form of (possibly) Gun Kata depicted in Equilibrium involves two armed combatants fighting each other at a very close range, with both constantly trying to aim and fire their guns at their foe, while also trying to knock off the foe's aim. It is essentially the Wing Chun "Sticky Hands" technique, but with guns. This combat style technically doesn't involve kata-styled trained choreographynote , and functions more similarily to fencing with guns.

Both of these combat styles run on extreme amounts of Rule of Cool. Equilibrium claims that Gun Kata (the first, proper, long range form of it) allows combatants to shoot where the foe ought to be when they're aiming at you, and to not be where the foe ought to shoot; this completely ignores the possibility of a target firing from cover, which is the fact of most gunfights in real life. The second form of "gun kata", while logically more plausible, disobeys several gun safety rules, and a much safer approach for both parties at that range would be to physically attack the opponent's person, instead of trying to knock away their gun.

It needs to be emphasized that the practical definition of Gun Kata is the act of striking dynamic motions when firing guns, not the in-universe bullet dodging justifications of Gun Kata from Equilibrium. A gun-based CQC scene consisting of literal bullet dodging, like the one seen in Resident Evil: Vendetta, would better be described as some sort of "bullet-dodge-fu".

Compare and contrast to Gun Fu. Not related at all to the series Uta∽Kata. May serve as a pseudo-scientific justification for the existence of graduates of the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dylan and TJ in Appare-Ranman! engage in the close-quarters version of the trope during the fight at the pre-race dinner, each batting the other's pistols out of firing position as they try to shoot each other.
  • Briareos does this all the time in Appleseed Ex Machina — a vast improvement in coolness since the first movie. And for bonus points it was produced by none other than John Woo, making this his first use of Gun Kata.
  • Revy and Mr. Chang's gunplay style in Black Lagoon is very similar to the Gun Kata, although they apparently do aim their guns. At least one episode in 2nd Barrage has Revy doing a perfect imitation of a Grammaton Cleric while standing in the open surrounded by mooks with guns, down to body, arm and hand movements. Severe Badassery ensued.
  • Bungo Stray Dogs: Sakunosuke Oda and André Gide's climatic duel is very much a Gun Kata fight with both combining their precognitive powers with gun fighting.
  • Spike from Cowboy Bebop uses Gun Kata when fighting his nemesis Vicious, most evident in the finale when he parries Vicious's sword with his gun.
  • Rushuna Tendou in Grenadier (2004) uses the close-combat form of Gun Kata during the confrontation with her Evil Twin Setsuna Oomido. The distance variant was used throughout the series to allow her to reload and shoot while spinning in place, as she had a very interesting style of reloading weapons amid combat.
  • In episode 8 of Heaven's Lost Property, Sugata and Mikako have a gun kata fight with cork guns. They run out of ammo and switch to hand-to-hand combat.
  • Machiko Noma from High School Fleet pulls this off with a pair of water pistols of all things.
  • In Madlax, the titular Action Girl uses Gun Kata-like technique in the final episode during the Church Shootout. Although she not so much dodges bullets, as is unaffected by them... In most of her fights, it's not so much a kata as it is a dance - with the dance steps somehow taking her where the bullets aren't. She does this with her eyes closed.
  • In the Mazinkaiser SKL OAV series, the eponymous Super Robot uses this technique. (Along with a healthy dose of Gun Fu) It even acknowledges it by striking a pose directly from Equilibrium before absolutely slaughtering Kiba's men. Check it out yourself.
  • In the second season of Mobile Suit Gundam 00, Lockon uses a technique very similar to Gun Kata for his Guns Akimbo-slinging Humongous Mecha. In A Wakening Of The Trailblazer, he does this in conjunction with dozens of Attack Drones for all-out Beam Spamming mayhem. Justified in that the Humongous Mecha is not only likely to possess the auto-targeting systems to allow for this, including targeting sensors mounted on the guns themselves, but is also co-piloted by a state-of-the-art A.I. which has been explicitly shown to take partial or total control of the Gundam's systems while the pilot concentrates on one task.
  • The Extendeds (Stellar, Sting, and Auel) gun down dozens of Coordinators guarding the Armory One in the first episode of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny (2005), while assuming one Ass Kicking Pose after another.
  • Zombina from Monster Musume is a student who couldn't care less about the "avoid getting shot" part, for fairly obvious reasons.
  • Mana Tatsumiya of Negima! Magister Negi Magi has been seen using Gun Kata from time to time.
  • Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, episode 6 features a brief scene wherein Panty gets into a Guns Akimbo gun kata duel with Scanty, her evil counterpart.
  • Mami Tomoe, from Puella Magi Madoka Magica, fights using magically-generated matchlock muskets, using a combat style reminiscent of Gun Kata. Her duel with Homura in Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie: Rebellion invokes this trope heavily, as Homura manages to fight on even footing with her using a pistol.
  • Harima (Guns Akimbo, no less) and Hanai engage in a Gun Kata battle in the second season of School Rumble (2006), with each of their pistols firing on full automatic. This is probably due to special effects added in later by Akira, since they were supposed to be armed only with BB guns.
  • Death the Kid from Soul Eater uses a fictional form of gun kata called the Stance of Sin. Kid carries his pistols with a Reverse Grip (using his pinkies to pull the triggers) and uses the pistols like tonfas to club and shoot simultaneously.
  • Symphogear
    • While Chris Yukine mostly specializes in dakka and missiles, we get to see her doing some guns akimbo Gun Kata action in the second season, G.
    • Hilariously lampshaded in the OVA omake that takes place between S1 and G, where Genjuro lends her a DVD of Equilibrium, and she immediately gets hyped to learn how use guns in CQC like in the movie.
  • In the final episode of Trigun, Vash and the Big Bad added an interesting element in their Revolver Kata. At several points they would attempt to stop the other from firing, by holding the revolver cylinder so it could not spin. Similarly they both forced the other's gun to snap open, causing the bullets to fall out of the chambers. This was only after the Wave-Motion Gun segment of the fight. The fight consists of gun kata stylizing. Pulling a trigger on a gun across the room using a string, throwing several rounds at your opponent and then shooting them to make them explode, and after they emptied each other's chambers of all but one quickly-reloaded bullet, the most HARDCORE game of Russian Roulette ever.
  • Father Tres Iquis' infamous scene in episode 2 ("Witch Hunt") of Trinity Blood (2005) almost exactly emulates the opening shoot-out in Equilibrium. This comes complete with gun flare lighting and Bloodstained Glass Windows, although it may be justified in that Father Tres is an android.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Angels and Demons, of all films, actually had a short, fairly realistic version. About 3/4ths of the way through the film, the assassin ambushes the inspector at close range. The assassin shoves a gun at the inspector's face, and he slaps it away just as it fires. The inspector then tries to shoot the assassin in the face, and the assassin slaps his gun away just as it fires. Then the assassin pulls a knife and kills the inspector.
  • The Art of War had a similar style fight in an empty hallway. A certain amount of respect and honor was loaded into the scene, as when they ran out of bullets, they went back to back and talked while casually reloading. Shaw and Bly spend most of the fight throwing snapshots... panic firing. It's more like Gun Fu since they still use acrobatic dodging.
  • Cloud Atlas: Hae-Joo Chang is pretty well trained in this, judging how easily he defeats multiple Mooks.
  • El Mariachi in Desperado seems to demonstrate a sort of primitive form of Gun Kata during the fight scene in the bar. Flamenco dancing with pistols included.
  • The Trope Namer is the style of gunplay used by the Grammaton Clerics in the movie Equilibrium (2002). The style was choreographed by a Karate expert, and you can see the Clerics often adopt very Karate-like stances while practicing or fighting.
  • Some characters in G.I. Joe: Retaliation, including Road Block and Snake Eyes.
  • Director and former stuntman (and former Keanu Reeves stunt double) Chad Stahelski said that they developed a new fighting style that mixed grappling arts with guns for John Wick.
  • The Matrix shows this in the Government Lobby shootout in which Neo and Trinity are able to flip between pillars and run along walls to avoid being shot, all while easily dispatching the goons. At least it took place in a simulated reality where the laws of physics didn't have to apply; few other movies using this trope can claim that.
    • The fight between Neo and Smith in the subway station was more like the second form of Gun Kata of Equilibrium mentioned above, where both combatants attempted to shoot each other in close quarter combat while simultaneously knocking their opponent's shots awry.
  • A less flashy version in the sequel to Taken, where after a Mexican Standoff, The Hero and The Dragon end up intertwining their arms and emptying their guns. They then have an epic hand to hand duel to the death.
  • In the 2017 Korean film Steel Rain the short range version happens in the hospital scene, as two intelligence agents try to shoot each other while fighting hand-to-hand.
  • Violet Song jat Shariff in Ultraviolet (2006) (2006) uses a similar style, though it is never given a name. The movements in this film are more fluid and dance-like than those used in Equilibrium, which is how Wimmer would have originally preferred.
  • Wanted has the hero running through a crowd of mooks, emptying guns into them, throwing away the empties and picking up new ones from the mooks he's shot, all without breaking stride.
  • Agent Zero in X-Men Origins: Wolverine does this a bit, aided by his mutant Improbable Aiming Skills.

  • The Butei in Aria the Scarlet Ammo utilize Gun Kata as a martial art called "Arukata", in which they use the premise that both combatants are wearing bulletproof vests.
  • The Asterisk War: Saya Sasamiya combines gunplay with bits of Amagiri Shinmei Style martial arts, often using the gun as a defensive melee weapon while it charges up to fire.

    Live Action TV 
  • In The Mandalorian, the bounty hunter droid IG-11 uses a shooting style that is rigid, precise, rapid and deliberate, which can't be said of all droids in the Star Wars verse. Stylistically it looks very much like Gun Kata. Even more so than the human variant as IG-11 can rotate its eyes 360 degrees independent of its head, and likewise rotate its head independent of its torso, and its torso independent of its legs... which would be difficult for a human Gun Kata practitioner to pull off.
  • In Sanctuary Pilot Episode "Sanctuary for All", the villain from the past, John Druitt, demonstrates something similar to the second form of Gun Kata in his close-range gun face-off against Ashley, daughter of Helen Magus (and his own), making her miss all her shots by knocking her aim off with martial arts.
  • The Smallville episode "Siren" actually had a fight between Lex Luthor and Green Arrow that resembled Gun Kata with Lex using a gun, and Green Arrow using a crossbow.
  • Banban Akaza in Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger uses a fighting style called "Juu Kun Do", named after Jeet Kune Do with the Japanese word for "gun" added in. There's a reason why his name sounds like "bang bang". Jack Landors, Banban's American counterpart in Power Rangers S.P.D. uses a similar but unnamed fighting style.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Conspiracy X, there is a skill "Gun Fu" which lets the player effectively design his own Gun Kata.
  • Dungeons: The Dragoning has several Gun Kata styles, designed for different weapon types and situations. Clay Pigeon is for more showy tricks like Blasting It Out of Their Hands and knocking people down, Tin Star and Point Blank are more close range and physical, allowing the use of gunplay at close range or when heavily injured, Crisis Zone is the physical incarnation of More Dakka, Elemental Gearbolt uses Primitive Weapons in place of guns, but eventually has potential to One-Hit Kill enemies, and Silent Scope is for the Cold Sniper types, giving bonuses for taking your time with each shot.
  • White Wolf's Exalted ...
    • ... has a style of Supernatural Martial Arts called the "Righteous Devil Style" which has been described as applying Gun Kata to hand-held flamethrowers.
    • ... has another, lesser-known style called "Golden Exhalation Style" which supports both variations of Gun Kata: defenses against incoming fire, and close-quarters combat with firearms. To be a bit annoying, Righteous Devil Style is more of a western shoot-out and duel at high noon style, and while Golden Exhalation Style does facilitate defending with your gun, it also focuses a lot on long range fire and careful aiming. For real Gun Kata, check out the homebrewed Hellfire Ballet Style.
    • ... mostly relies on short-range flamethrower-type firearms and long-range energy weapons for personal ranged weapons; but for those that believe Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better, there's also an item called a "Prayer Piece," which is a lot closer to a Real Life revolver.
  • "Way of the Pistol" from GURPS: High Tech not only includes awesome handgun skills but also intimate knowledge of how pistols work, allowing tricks like taking apart the enemy's weapon in the middle of a fight.
  • Hero System adds Zen Riflery (aka "Gun Fu" or "Woojutsu") as a fictional martial art in, The Ultimate Martial Artist.
  • Ares Firefight in Shadowrun was developed specifically to mimic those types of movies. To quote the book: "In 2068, Ares Macrotechnology unveiled a completely new martial arts form based on the popular image of a gunfighter whirling through a melee with a pistol in each hand, shooting as much as punching and kicking. The product found its market in eager young gunslingers raised on a steady diet of trideo action flicks."
    • As of 5th Edition's Run & Gun, Gun Kata is a fighting style unto itself, which synergizes with the aforementioned Ares Firefight style.
  • Tenra Bansho ZERO has the Black Wing Gun Style, a gun combat style focused on going Guns Akimbo. It starts Boring, but Practical with adding 1 to damage and ends with players being able to parry ranged attacks with their own bullets.
  • In Warhammer 40,000, the background material for the Adepta Sororitas Seraphim indicates that they fight with the short ranged version of this trope. Fighting with their twinned pistols as easily as other warriors wield a blade, Seraphim use them to parry their opponents’ weapons before delivering a point-blank shot to a vital region.

    Video Games 
  • Bayonetta mixes this with Bullet Time but even without it she's still dancing around attacks.
  • Noel Vermillion from BlazBlue uses a fighting style that is an homage to Equilibrium, which was stated during the BlazBlue x Guilty Gear panel at AX 2009. This is most obvious during her Astral Heat, which goes through the kata seen practiced in the movie, including the finishing pose holding the backs of the guns towards one another.
  • Coyote Starrk in the PS3 game Bleach Soul Resurreccion uses Gun Kata as his basic attack style.
  • In the Champions Online MMORPG, numerous Munitions: Pistols attack invoke this. In fact, Lead Tempest and Bullet Ballet's animations are almost taken straight from Equilibrium.
  • City of Heroes players were begging for this for years. Dual Pistols are in the game now, and many of the power's animations resemble Gun Kata. You can also switch between types of ammo strategically, depending on whether you'd rather slow, debuff or heap extra damage on your foes.
  • Lady and Dante in the cutscenes for Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening. Also, Dante's fighting style "Gunslinger" has several moves resembling Gun Kata. An early cutscene in Devil May Cry 4 also involves Dante and Nero putting Gun Kata maneuvers through their paces against each other.
  • DRL has a trait named Gun Kata. It lets you fire pistols for free after dodging and reloads them when you kill something. Combined with the traits needed to get it (Guns Akimbo and dodging capabilities), Doomguy can end up putting out some serious amounts of lead while dancing around fireballs. The spiritual successor Jupiter Hell also has this trait, however there's no reloading after kill component, and you'll automatically fire at 2 enemies while moving. Focus fire on single target with both pistol while moving is only possible at trait level 3.
  • In Gungrave, the main character Beyond The Grave uses the full range of gun-kata from Equilibrium (and some of Desperado thrown in for good measure). Grave will stand in one spot, spinning, jumping and ducking while firing two 15mm handguns. This is called the bullet dance (or Burst Mode), which allows Grave to fire 360 degrees. One odd fact is that the use of the recoil of the guns to spin him from side to side in mid-air. He also uses the weapons in his coffin, a large variety of machine guns, rocket launchers, missile launchers and cannon in a gun kata combination. Also, the pose made in Equilibrium where one gun is pointed up, the other down to form a cross, is one of the signature pose for the game. In the sequel, one of Grave's final Special Attacks/Demolition Shots is "Executioner's Blood", which is the standard burst but at least five times greater in power, complete with multiple view angles and a vanity pause. The game also borrows from guns in a coffin, as Grave is technically an undead hero. Unfortunately, the anime adaptation removed most of the gun kata, focusing more heavily on Brandon's The Godfather-esque pre-undead life.
  • Yahtzee Croshaw of Zero Punctuation fame created a 2D, top-down shooter/tower-defense game inspired by the idea of gun kata, called Hogpocalypse Sow as part of his self-imposed "12 games in 12 months" challenge. It involves a man with two differently coloured guns, who has to rapidly rotate his body in order to shoot advancing pigs, colour-coded to only be affected by one of the two specific guns.
  • Linkle in Hyrule Warriors Legends uses this with dual crossbows as her fighting style, with many stances being extremely reminiscent of the ones seen in Equilibrium.
  • Hall of Mirrors is an Equilibrium mod for Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne that introduces the movie's famous Gun Kata into the gameplay, replacing normal Berettas with "Grammaton Sidearms" complete with the impossibly cool muzzle flashes.
  • Reiji and Xiaomu, main characters of Namco × Capcom have a combo attack called "Juu no Kata" (which translates to "Gun Kata"). In their second appearance in Super Robot Wars OG Saga: Endless Frontier their finishing poses parody Equilibrium and Ultraviolet respectively.
  • In Phantasy Star Online 2, Twin Machineguns use a fighting style reminiscent of Gun Kata, combining it with Bullet Time-style maneuvers to allow players to dodge enemy attacks while staying on the offensive. The Photon Art "Elder Rebellion", in particular, looks like something lifted from Equilibrium.
  • The Imp in Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 can perform the Impkata, which has him firing while spinning in a circle.
  • Quake III: Arena had something akin to a Gun Kata when two players in close combat picked up the railgun. Both would zoom around each other, trying to avoid the other's shots and hit his rival. The railguns had a 5 second cooldown and a near instant kill upon hitting a target, so duels could very easily resemble this trope.
  • The Gunslinger class in Ragnarok Online has a rendition of Equilibrium's dark room scene as one of the skills for handguns. Among lots of other stuff with other kinds of weapons.
  • In Second Life, "Gun Kata" is explicitly possible with the Sin Wicked Cleric or Sinistar pistols, based on Equilibrium.
  • Shania's bodyguard Natan from Shadow Hearts: From The New World uses this, although game-wise he functions like a Mighty Glacier.
  • The Star Control series becomes this trope when playing with skilled opponents. The ships in these games can only point in one of 16 evenly-spaced cardinal directions. But if your opponent is sitting out of reach of all of your possible lines of fire, you can't hit him.
  • The Spin Attack Tequila Bomb from Stranglehold fits the definition to a T: it makes Tequila absolutely invulnerable for a short period of time, while he guns down every mook currently in the room with fluid, ballet-like movements. Bonus points for the game playing beautiful music when he does it. Double bonus points if you activate it with dual submachineguns.
  • This is essentially what the indie game Superhot revolves around. By standing still in the game, time also stops, allowing the player to judge the trajectory of incoming fire, position themselves accordingly, and fire back without getting shot.
  • Mesa is a Western cowgirl-themed Warframe whose most powerful ability is to draw a pair of pistols attached to her forearms and gun down any enemy within her line of sight (and a rather generous maximum range) while rapidly changing poses as she changes targets.
  • In the video game Watch Dogs: Legion, one of the random Traits for an Operative is explicitly called this. While every Operative can perform Takedowns on unware enemies, those with this Trait are able to do more elaborate and stylistic takedowns on enemies even when they are fully aware of and attacking the player Operative. The fact that it is guaranteed to show up with Operatives that have the Professional Hitman background further alludes to it being a Shout-Out to John Wick.
  • In Wild ARMs 5, before the second to final boss fight in the game Dean pulls off this while warming up with the final bad guy. The bad guy uses a "sword" but it still counts.

    Web Original 
  • Freddie Wong is a proud practitioner, as seen in the short Alarmageddon.
  • The DEATH BATTLE! episode "Dante vs. Bayonetta" has a short sequence of short range gun kata that doesn't really lead anywhere, as both combatants are too agile to take any bullets (despite Bayonetta having four guns), and they have to switch to their mystic powers and swords to really make a difference.

    Western Animation 
  • In Samurai Jack, X9's fighting style was Gun Kata. Didn't do him too much good against Jack, though.


A Perfectly Normal RE Gunfight

Chris and Glenn have a close range gun fight.

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