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I Know Kung-Faux

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"I must warn you that I am an expert in Cockadoodle-Fu."

The Big Bad has arrived. The Cavalry is nowhere to be seen. The Redshirt Army just got trampled on. No need to fear, because the hero is a master of an ancient martial art.

Only the martial art is something ridiculous, that nobody in his right mind would ever invent. Hilarity Ensues, and either the Big Bad finds out the hard way that the art really is real, or the hero gets smacked right back to earth.

I Know Kung-Faux is the trope for silly fictional martial arts of all types. While Kung Faux techniques are often played for comedy, they can also have more serious uses. Fictional martial arts styles intended to be taken seriously are a Fantastic Fighting Style.

Inventing a Kung-Faux fictional fighting technique is simplicity itself: Just pick a name ending in "-fu" or "-ito" (or name it after an exotic animal), shroud it in near-legendary mysticism, and then have your actors flail at each other in haphazard fashion.

May also occur when a panicked or tongue-tied character misspeaks while tried to bluff someone by claiming that they know (for example) "Judaism and Egg Foo".

Related to Foo Fu, What the Fu Are You Doing? and Martial Arts and Crafts. Likely to include Subverted or actual Fake Special Attacks. Distinct from Black Belt in Origami, where the characters don't even attempt actual fighting.

Can be a Secret Art if very few people know it.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Almost every significant character in Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo.
  • Shinogi Kanno of Baki the Grappler practices a "cord-cutting" style of karate which allows him to sever his opponent's nerves and tendons, crippling or even blinding them with a single blow.
  • This is Ranma ½'s bread and butter. The number of martial arts styles that aren't a ridiculously weaponized version of something completely unthreatening (dinner parties, for example) could be counted on one hand.
    • Subverted early with Kodachi and her Martial Arts Rhythmic Gymnastics: gymnasts have an exceptional body conditioning, and while her favored ribbon is not a legitimate weapon her other tools can be, and she has once used that ribbon to mask a stick. She's also prone to use the ribbon to procure more legitimate improvised weapons to throw at her opponents, such as a martial arts bell, chairs, and her own brother (he's a Kendo champion).
    • The Saotome School of the Musabetsu Kakutō Ryū (alternately translated as "Indiscriminate Grappling" or "Anything Goes") is at once serious AND silly, comprising such styles as the surprisingly lethal and destructive Yamasenken and Umisenken, proficiency with a wide variety of deadly weapons, and a stated specialization in midair superiority, as well as "stellar" moves like "bowing and scraping for forgiveness" or "turn tail and run in panic while you come up with a plan" (this one gets called out-and then actually works) or "whack an enemy in the back after shouting 'Look Behind You'" or "shuffle out of range and bark insults like a dog at a superior enemy you clearly can't beat."
  • Nyaruko: Crawling with Love! has Space CQC, which is practiced by all the main alien characters; it has a textbook, but the first words in it are "Space CQC is whatever you say it is, even if others disagree with you." Thus, Nyarko's Blasphemous Hand Grenade is a valid technique despite Mahiro pointing out that using a grenade isn't exactly close-quarters combat. Cuuko's use of Attack Drones is also valid, despite Nyarko's protests.
  • General Adon of Berserk will remind his opponents at every opportunity that he is a master of a set of techniques with ever-more-convoluted titles, passed down through the Corbowitz family for an ever-more-exaggerated length of time.

    Comic Books 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Wimp Lo from Kung Pow! Enter the Fist was deliberately trained wrong as a joke.
    "My-Face-to-Your-Foot style, how'd ya like it?!"
    • The entire movie is this in spades. Early in the movie, a baby does a Blade Run and pees in the Big Bad's face. A scene or two later, the protagonist punches through a man's chest and sends a cylinder of homogenous faux-flesh flying out the back, leaving a perfectly round window in a man's chest (which even the Narrator questions). It just gets sillier from there.
  • Orgazmo: Choda Boy and his Hamster style kung fu. They made it up, aside from the more hamstery aspects, by combining aspects of Monkey and Crane styles of kung fu.
  • Featured in Kung Fu Hustle, with techniques like the Buddhist Palm style, the Frog style, and the Musical Assassins.
  • Ella Enchanted:
    • First as a bluff:
      Ella: Look, I think it's only fair to warn you that I'm practiced in the ancient art... of origami.
      Thug: Paper folding?
      Ella: I was hoping you wouldn't know what that was.
    • Luckily, Slanen knows kung-fu even though he's too weak to use it himself... which he uses when he accidentally geass-orders Ella to kick ass in the most efficient way possible.
      Slanen Don't let 'em scare you, sweetheart! [Ella has a non-emotional look on her face] Now punch! Combo! Back-flank! Double-jump-dragon-punch-roundhousekick! [and does all that]
      Thug: THIS CHICK IS NUTS!!!
  • Rush Hour 2: In order to intimidate Hu-Li, Carter tries to convince her that walking like an Egyptian is a martial art.
  • The Jackie Chan movie Snake in the Eagle's Shadow has him as a bullied janitor who gets taught Snake Fist by an old master. When the old man is menaced by a master of the rival school Eagle Claw, Jackie steps in but gets his butt kicked. He ends up inventing his own martial art by mimicking a cat fighting a snake, complete with meowing and washing his face. At the end of the film the old master asks what he plans on calling his style and he responds with a Title Drop.
  • In Shrooms, Troy claims know martial arts and to be studying something called 'The Way of Tiger'. Any time he attempts to demonstrate it, he just embarrasses himself (such as attempting to parry fruit thrown at him while blindfolded), and the one time he attempts to use it in a fight, Bluto just punches him in the face and breaks his nose.

  • Played with in Thief of Time, where Lobsang asks Lu-Tze about his renowned mastery of several martial arts, including Okidoki, Upsi-Dasi, and Deja-Fu. Lu-Tze mocks them all and says that "none of the monks here know Deja-Fu". As it turns out, that's because he never taught them, and he himself isn't a monk. From the name and the fact the monks can manipulate time, it seems likely that Deja-Fu involves making people feel the sensation of being punched just before you actually hit them while they're reeling from the blow you're about to deliver. The book does mention that the literal translation of "Deja-Fu" is "the sensation of having been kicked in the head like this before".
    • Plus time slicing and (if humans are capable of it, and not just yeti) Save Scumming. Evidently they are, since it gets used as a Chekhov's Gun by Lu-Tze.
      • According to Lu-Tze, the yeti are the only species which has gone extinct three times. Lobsang immediately comments "Most species only go extinct once."
    • Making Money refers to sloshi, the art of Martial Arts Clowning.
  • The non-Discworld book Johnny and the Bomb strongly implies that involuntary time-traveller Johnny Maxwell has the secret of slicing time, and can manifest this in need. He certainly manages a life-saving run in an otherwise impossibly short time.
  • One of the Monty Python spin-off books promised to introduce readers to the deadly secrets of Llap-Goch, the ancient Welsh system of self-defence. Some kind soul has reproduced the material here.
  • Robert Rankin gives us Dimac "The world's Deadliest Martial Art", Basically, what would happen if those mail order "Become a Kung Fu Master books advertised in comics really did [1]. You get to do moves that require Olympic class gymnastics and wires. The particular form practised by Hugo Rune consists of moves all alliteratively named after the male organs of fearsome animals, The Lunge of the Leopard's Lingam, The Twist of the Tiger's Todger, The Donk of the Dark Dragon's Dongler etc.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Dollhouse, Topher warns an intruder that he has uploaded himself with many deadly martial arts skills. The intruder then punches him in the face and knocks him out cold.
    Topher: I have imprinted myself with MANY USEFUL SKILLS - *gets knocked out*
  • The Goodies had Ecky-Thump, the ancient Lancastrian art of self-defence, which involves just hitting someone over the head with a black pudding.
  • Joe Garelli from NewsRadio is an expert in "Joe-jitsu".
  • Doctor Who. The Third Doctor is an expert in Venusian Aikido, which seems to involve him shouting "Hai-Chavich!" and jabbing a Pressure Point near their collarbone.
  • In the original The Jim Henson Hour version of Dog City, Ace is trained in the ancient art of Wy-Iy-Otta, and has earned a pink bow.

  • The CBC radio sketch comedy group The Frantics made the famous "Tae Kwon Leep" routine. The fake martial art consists primarily of two things: Boot to the head, and getting the first shot.
  • In Kremmen of the Star Corp, our hero breaks down a door with a "triple-wristed, quarter-Nelson drop-kick!"

    Tabletop Games 
  • Parodied in the Munchkin card game supplement Munchkin Fu, with Drunken Monkey Kung Fu, Fee Fi Fo Fu, and Stomach Fu.
  • The official Champions martial arts supplement includes such esoteric "martial arts" as Professional Football, Toon Fu, Speedster Tricks, and Invulnerability. In the last "martial art", the fact that your body is rock hard and indestructible lets you use it as an even more effective weapon than normal.

  • Occurs often in the various Transformers series, most notably with Metallikato, Crystalocution, and Circuit-su.

    Video Games 
  • EarthBound (1994) has Cpt. Strong, who uses Super Ultra Mambo-Tango-Foxtrot Martial Arts.
  • The LEGO Universe fanon has Spatula-Fu, an ancient order of Jedi-like warriors who wield large pizza spatulas.
  • SPY Fox: See page quote. Sometimes it works.
  • Team Fortress 2 has "Jarate, the jar-based karate" (that is, throwing a jar of your urine at an opponent).
    • The advertisment for Jarate does make a point of mentioning that Jarate is neither affiliated with, nor a substitute, for actual Karate, though.
  • Shaq Fu. The title says it all. Does it make sense? Not really...
  • Super Daryl Deluxe - the titular Daryl learns martial arts from what is supposed to be a self-help book on social skills. His moves include summoning weapons from Hammerspace, spontaneous costume changes, surfing, summoning whack-a-moles, shooting rubber ducks from a bow, and other oddities. And almost of their names are social interaction puns.
  • Super Lucky's Tale: Master Mittens proclaims himself to be a master of Meow-Shu, and is certainly able to vanish in puffs of smoke while putting up a convincing act. The Mail Golem reveals that he learned his martial art from reading comic books, however, and he never actually fights Lucky directly, preferring to pose on top of cannons while sending in looks to fight.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of Babar, Arthur claimed to know "martial arts from the orient." He then tripped and fell over a chair.
  • Darkwing Duck also knew Quack Fu.
  • Kim Possible features Monkey Kung-Fu, as practised by the villain Monkey Fist and Kim's sidekick Ron Stoppable.
    • Though this is actually real, it still counts for the trope, mostly due to the 'mystical monkey power' aspect.
  • In Danger Mouse, Penfold is very keen on "Kung Moggy".
  • In Earthworm Jim the titular Earthworm knows the ancient art of Lip-gitzu and regularly uses it to dispatch minions.
  • The LEGO Ninjago toy line and animated show has characters mastering Spinjitzu, where characters spin and become tornadoes to fight enemies.
  • In The Simpsons: Bart signs up for karate class in one episode but later gets bored with it and skips class. When Homer and Marge ask what Bart has been learning, he makes up "The Touch of Death." Lisa believes him and is later harassed by bullies in school and she tells Bart to defend her with his "Karate." Resulting in Bart taking a beating from the bullies after they find out he's faking it.
  • Regular Show has "Death Kwon Do", which require you to wear a mullet and cut-off jeans.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM): Both halves of the episode "Fed Up With Antoine/Ghost Busted" involve Antoine attempting, with varying degrees of success, to learn "King Fu".
  • Pizza Steve from Uncle Grandpa claims to be an expert in Italian karate.