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Heir to the Dojo

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A convenient excuse for the Ordinary High-School Student to have high-powered martial arts skills is for the student to have been training since a very young age, and to be the heir to some obscure martial arts school. The current master may be a parent, or just a close friend who has taken the student in as a disciple. Unlike school clubs, martial arts training takes place outside of school, so the heir is unlikely to be a club member.

The dojo itself is generally part of a Big Fancy House compound that features shishi-odoshi. Challengers frequently arrive to test the skills of the dojo's style... and the heir is generally put forward as the school's champion. A user of The Greatest Style is likely to want to pass this on, unless he considered it too dangerous and instead runs a Pacifist Dojo.

A weaker form occasionally crops up in more Western works: an unlikely character ends up wiping out someone or two, and explains that their * insert relative here* is a sensei/boxing trainer/wrestling coach/gunslinger, and they grew up learning karate/boxing/wrestling/marksmanship.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Kenshiro of Fist of the North Star is probably one of the oldest examples. He is the legitimate heir of Hokuto Shinken, the most powerful martial art seen in the series, and regularly challenges the successors of other martial arts styles (mainly heirs to the different branches of Nanto Seiken, the 'rival' school of Hokuto Shinken). However, among the four Hokuto Shinken brothers, the second son Toki was supposed to be the original heir, but due to radiation poisoning, this became impossible. Ryuken had to decide between the first son Raoh and the fourth son Kenshiro and he ultimately chose Kenshiro as the most suitable heir.
  • Ranma ˝ provides several examples. Not only are Ranma and Akane the heirs to their families' particular branches of Musabetsu kakuto (Anything-Goes Martial Arts), they frequently encounter the heirs of other, often bizarre or outrageous, styles. It's only natural, however, that practitioners and aficionados of bizarre martial arts would seek each other out.
  • Koushi and Momoko are both heirs to their respective dojos in Sumomo Mo Momo Mo, though Momoko's entire motivation revolves around not feeling (and not being considered by her father) to be worthy of the dojo.
  • Initial D, but instead of martial arts, racing street-legal cars on mountain roads is the art involved.
  • Lyrical Nanoha:
    • Being the most badass Magical Girl who ever lived and coming from a family of swordsmen, you'd expect this to apply to Nanoha, right? Wrong. Nanoha sucked at sports as a child, has never been shown to use a sword, and is weak at close range (relatively speaking). She does play it straight in Nanoha INNOCENT, but that's an alternate reality spin-off.
    • Her older brother and sister on the other hand play this completely straight in both the main continuity and the original Triangle Heart 3: Sweet Songs Forever game/anime.
  • Motoko Aoyama in Love Hina, after her sister Tsuruko decides to get married instead of inheriting the family dojo.
  • Ninja-girl Kaede Nagase in Negima! Magister Negi Magi. According to her character design notes, it was originally suggested that the rest of her family gave up on the art long ago, but in the manga, she refers to herself as having the rank of Chunin.
  • Honey from Ouran High School Host Club is heir to a large martial arts family in whose specialty he is extremely proficient.
  • Naruto:
    • Subverted in that a large part of Neji Hyuga's Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy persona stems from the fact that he is not the real heir but a curse-marked member of a branch line, and that the actual heir to the dojo, his cousin Hinata, is considered frail and relatively weak, at least in the beginning.
    • Played straight with Sasuke early on; half the crowd at the Chuunin Exam seemed to be there to see "the Uchiha" show his moves. Then again, pretty much his whole clan was wiped away. At least until his brother and some other Uchiha members show up, but they're another bag of cats all together.
    • Most forget that, coming from Konoha's most noble and elite clans, the Akimichi and the Aburame, Choji, and Shino fall under this umbrella as well. Choji's father's main concern with Choji is that his nature is too gentle to be an efficient leader, and as for Shino...everyone forgets about Shino...
  • Chiko of The Daughter of Twenty Faces is heir to a "dojo" of sorts, if you can call an international thieving ring a dojo.
  • Subverted in The Prince of Tennis: Rikkai sub-captain and star tennis player Sanada Genichirou is actually the heir of a famous kendo dojo, but tennis is his main activity. Same goes for martial artist Wakashi Hiyoshi from the Hyoutei team.
  • Subverted in Nanaka 6/17, where Jinpachi Arashiyama is the actual heir to the dojo as the oldest child, he doesn't know the first thing about kendo. Meanwhile, his sister Satsuki has many of the characteristics commonly associated with this trope, including being a super-intense Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy dedicated to becoming the best. She still encourages her brother, a tough-as-nails delinquent, to be as manly as possible to keep the family's reputation strong.
  • Tenchi Muyo!: Masaki Tenchi]seems to have this as a reason for his skills with a sword, although his teacher hangs out at a shrine instead of a dojo. This doesn't explain other issues, just the thing with the sword. Makes more or less sense, since his teacher and grandfather used to be a mighty swordsman before he came to Earth and became the owner and priest of the shrine.
  • While Azumi Kiribayashi from Real Bout High School is the heir to her family's dojo, it's pretty far from her motivation as a fighter, in a bit of a subversion.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX has an interesting take on this; Ryo Marufuji, outside of being the best duelist out of Duel Academia, is also the heir to the "Cyber Legacy", essentially the Tyke-Bomb of the "Cyber-Style" of dueling that incorporates his legendary Cyber Dragon cards (and even has its own dojo in the mountains for teaching duelists how to use the style). This becomes a plot point in two ways: first, when he went back to the dojo and faced off with his former teacher (Duel Academia's principal) for the dark half of the Legacy (the Cyberdark monsters he uses as Hell Kaiser), and in Season 4, when the heir to a rival "Psycho-Style" dueling school challenges him to determine which dueling style will remain in practice.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V has Gongenzaka, who is both the heir to his father's dojo and to the "Steadfast Dueling" style.
  • Takao and his older brother Hitoshi from Bakuten Shoot Beyblade are the heirs of their grandfather's kendo dojo. Bakuten Shoot Beyblade 2002 - Gekisen! Team Battle!! also has Haruka, who is the heir to her grandfather's dojo.
  • Tamaki Kawazoe of Bamboo Blade is the heir to her father's kendo dojo.
  • Ken Wakashimazu from Captain Tsubasa is heir to a karate dojo, and a good part of his early Character Development has him trying to not be heir anymore. He loves karate, yes, but loves soccer even more, and his dad gives him a year of probation to prove this to him.
  • Gangryong from Veritas is heir to the Enlightenment Of Thunder and Lightning (EOTL) school of Korean martial arts. This is subverted a bit in that Gangryong didn't know he was the heir to this until he was told that his master was killed.
    • A large portion of the student body is this, being the children of dojos that follow the rule of "only one successor" and all that.
  • When Fumio's grandfather in Saitama Chainsaw Shoujo handed down his Chainsaw Martial Art to his granddaughter, it was presumably to make things easier when she took over the family lumber business rather than for slicing up her classmates.
  • In Gintama, while subverted, Shinpachi and Otae inherited their dojo after their father's death however they are very poor. And nobody really studies there, either. Kyuubei and Kondo, on the other hand, play this trope far straighter.
  • In Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple:
    • A Fanon theory states Kenichi one day might become an heir to Hayato Furinji as the head of the Ryozanpaku dojo. This trope is, however, played (almost) straight in the case of the Evil Mentor organization Yami: some disciples of Yami masters are candidates to become the heir to the Big Bad, the problem is that the masters cannot agree which one is the best candidate.
    • Freya is the inheritor of a particularly obscure school of staff-fighting.
  • HeartCatch Pretty Cure!: Myoudouin Itsuki was made into this since her sick older brother Satsuki isn't expected to make it. She certainly has the skills, but in order to become as respected as he was, she must hide her femininity and love of cute things beneath a masculine exterior...and it's clearly wearing on her. Thankfully, though, Satsuki does make it and the first thing Itsuki does is become a Third Ranger... er, Cure.
  • Miko Mido in La Blue Girl. The kunoichi of the Mido clan not only learn ninjutsu but sexual spells. Miko is the heir to the Mido clan and has been training. (Even though, especially in the anime/OVA adaptation, she'd rather just be a normal teenage girl leading a normal life.)
  • Subverted in Soul Eater, where there is the Highly-Visible Ninja Black Star, last heir of the Boshi Clan, which was destroyed when he was a newborn, so he didn't learn anything from it but is anyway very powerful.
    • And played straight by Black Star's weapon, Tsubaki, who is direct descendant of the first Demon Weapon.
  • Makoto from W Juliet has a problem that's similar to the one faced by the aforementioned Ken Wakashimazu: he does not want to be this despite his great skills, and his father is putting pressure on him. Makoto also gets a chance to get out of the tradition, but in his case, his dad tells him that since looks very girlish and he wants to be an actor, he shall prove himself as skilled enough to spend his high school years dressed as a girl without having his identity revealed to the public. If his true gender is leaked out, he'll come back home and retake his place without complaints.
  • Onidere: Yuna's main motivation to become stronger is to be able to inherit her family's dojo so her effeminate brother won't do it. However, while she can't stand the idea of some effeminate person taking over the dojo, she's even more dismayed by the fact he's actually stronger than her.
  • In Girls und Panzer, the main character Miho is a scion of the Nishizumi School of Sensha-Do. However, her older sister Maho is their mother's official heir, and she openly chastises her sister for not following the family tradition and teachings. This is in fact all a ruse. Maho took the mantle of the Nishizumi School (which raises Combat Pragmatist values and Second Place Is for Losers ideals into an art form) so her sister could follow her own, much gentler path. Maho is deeply proud of her little sis, but family and school honor demand that she scorns her sister in public.
    • On a lighter note, Hana is the heir to her family tradition and was trained from an early age in the art of... ikebana (traditional Japanese flower arranging). Her mother was distraught that her daughter took up Sensha-Do instead of joining the family business, but gets better when she sees her daughter weave concepts learned from Sensha-do into her flower arrangements.
  • In The Hating Girl, Asumi's father was the head of an archery dojo and trained her and her brother, but Asumi abandoned archery after she got the arrow through her head. Once she's able to reconcile herself to the past, she gets back into it.
  • It doesn't come up in the anime, but in K side novels, Domyoji is mentioned to be a dojo heir.
  • Tomo-chan Is a Girl!: Aizawa Tomo is often called the heir of the school by her rather hard-core Karate instructor father Goro. Goro is also grooming their longtime neighbor Junichiro to take over. He is fully aware of the paradox and how it is properly resolved.
  • Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out!: Haruko and Shirou Sakurai, Shinichi's parents, own a judo dojo. It actually belongs to Haruko's side of the family, but Shirou is expected to inherit it via marriage even though his wife is a much better fighter than him. Shinichi for his part is not interested in taking it up.

    Comic Books 
  • In the "Marvel Mangaverse" Alternate Universe - a series of comics with Marvel characters re-imagined manga-style - Peter Parker is secretly the last ninja of the Spider Clan.
  • Ichikun Ichinohei (a.k.a Itchy Koo) from Ninja High School.
  • In Usagi Yojimbo, Tomoe Ame was a prodigy at the sword as a child, but her father refused to let her inherit his dojo in favor of her brother, despite his inferior skill with the sword. Furthermore, Tomoe was eventually forbidden by her father to even spar with her brother to prevent embarrassing him. Fortunately, she was allowed to practice alone and fate eventually allowed her to become a samurai on her own terms.
  • Robin: The Rahul Lama is the master of an ancient dying Tibetan martial and healing arts discipline whose grandson and apprentice Shen Chi helps him train pupils in the art and who intends to take the school and create a commercial chain teaching only the martial component after his grandfather's death. Shen unfortunately sees the healing arts component as a relic to be abandoned.

  • A deconstruction: In the arthouse documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi, the titular Jiro's eldest son Yoshikazu is forced more or less by his father to become this, essentially being conscripted into learning how to be one of the world's greatest sushi chefs from a young age, even though he would have liked to have perhaps gone to college or maybe tried his hand at being a racing driver. In his youth, Yoshikazu could make sushi to compete with anyone in Japan—except for his father. Today, he's in charge of the restaurant much of the time and makes a large number of crucial restaurant decisions (particularly choosing the fish to purchase for the legendary sushi); people go to the restaurant on days that he's standing in for his dad and the quality is so good that patrons hardly notice. Yet he still states in the film that after his father passes, everyone will regard him as a mere shadow unless he makes his father's already-perfect sushi twice as good.

  • In the CHERUB Series "my mother/father was a karate instructor" is the excuse given as to why 11-year-old children would have excellent hand-to-hand fighting skills.
  • A common theme in Chinese Wuxia literature.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Played with in Power Rangers Ninja Storm. Cam, despite being the son of the sensei of the Wind Ninja Academy, was not given any ninja training due to a promise given to his late mother. However, he could still defend himself against the enemy Mooks, because "I grew up in a ninja school; do the math." Later on, the promise is worked around by training him as a samurai instead (even receiving the mother's blessing via Timey-Wimey Ball).
  • In Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger, we learn that Doggie Kruger was given the inheritance to the intergalactic dojo he trained at as a cadet over the dojo owner's own son, who was considered to be too out of control and prone to abusing whatever power he was given to be trusted with it. Not surprisingly, this proved to be a problem for Doggie, in a latter episode.
  • Played with in Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger where Sae/White was the heir to her father's dojo but was determined that she was going to become a martial artist on her own terms, so moved to Tokyo to train on her own.
  • In Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger, Souji is the heir to his family's Musouken ("Peerless Sword") swordfighting dojo, but his creation of a more feral variant dubbed Zangeki Musouken ("Slashing Peerless Sword"} initially offends his more traditionalist father. After Souji saves him from a Monster of the Week, his father changes his mind, saying that he's fine with Souji carrying on the family name with his own style.
  • Jack in Kickin' It is a textbook example of the Western variant mentioned above. His grandfather taught the former Chop Sockey movie actor that the strip-mall dojo he, Jack, now trains at was named for.

    Video Games 
  • Sort of occurs in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire. The protagonist's father is the leader of one of the gyms.
    • While this example carries over to the rest of the franchise even less - both May (from the anime) and Ruby (from the mangas) become coordinators - two filler episodes of the anime featured dojos based on this trope.
    • More traditionally, Janine is heir to the gym in Fuchsia City and takes over when her father Koga becomes a member of the Kanto/Johto Elite Four. The anime version of Flannery also recently inherited the Lavaridge Gym from her grandfather (in the game and manga, her grandfather was a member of Hoenn Elite Four, but may or may not have been the Lavaridge Gym Leader).
    • ANOTHER Pokemon example. The Opelucid gym in Pokémon Black and White splits this across two games, but the two leaders have the same team. In Black, you face Drayden the master; in White, the apprentice Iris is your opponent.
  • Ikaruga from SenranKagura is this by technicality since she is the princess of a clan of elite shinobi
  • Ryo Hazuki from Shenmue.
  • Street Fighter III: Makoto.
  • While it looks like your character (and Dawn Star) in Jade Empire are this, the truth is much, much worse...
  • Ryo Sakazaki of Art of Fighting fame seeks to inherit the title of "Master of Kyokugen" from his father, Takuma. In some continuities, he succeeds (such as when he is portrayed as a much older "Mr. Karate" in Buriki One) and in others, he prepares other disciples to do this (such as Marco in Garou: Mark of the Wolves.)
  • Anna Lemouri of Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis is heir to her family dojo. In her final character subquest, she is trying to decide whether to dedicate her life to alchemy or swordsmanship. In her ending, she integrates alchemy into her school of swordsmanship - which means that she uses explosives and poisons in addition to blades.
  • Souma of Ensemble Stars! is the heir to a very traditional historical kendo family, which sort of (but also not really, as many characters lampshade) explains why he constantly acts like he's a feudal-era samurai miraculously transported into the modern day.

    Visual Novels 
  • Sakura Oogami from Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, heiress of a famous Mixed Martial Arts dojo. And Monokuma forces her to be The Mole via threatening it.
  • Konomi's fandisc route in Princess Evangile reveals that she's actually the heiress to the Yanase Dojo currently run by her grandmother, which helps to explain why she's so skilled in naginata despite being younger than the rest of the main cast. What's more, said dojo is located in the same compound as the Big Fancy House that her parents and grandmother live in. By the ending, Masaya ends up becoming the heir to the dojo, courtesy of Konomi's grandmother and parents offering him to be their daughter's husband-to-be, with his already good naginata skills being honed by the former as part of it.

  • Mira in The God of High School is the heir to her family's failed dojo as a result of her father's untimely death and her uncle's lack of talent, and as a result became obsessed with trying to revive it and spread their martial art to fulfill his Dying Wish.

Alternative Title(s): Heiress To The Dojo