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Martial Arts and Crafts

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"We would parade across the rooftops in the still of night, making naught but a whisper. By the time they realized there was a parade it was already over..."
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In shows which feature martial arts heavily, there are a lot of different styles found in The 'Verse. This is Truth in Television as there have been many martial arts developed throughout history often based on local needs. For example Okinawan weapons were developed from household and farm implements.

Sometimes everything is made into a martial art. Need medical attention? We have Ninja Medics! The King's scribe? He probably knows Martial Arts Calligraphy. Need trees chopped? Black Belt Lumberjacks. Expect these characters to have an Astonishingly Appropriate Appearance related to their fighting style.

This trope covers instances where a martial art is developed from humble beginnings. This trope is sometimes invoked by games that seek to be balanced for PVP or competitive dueling.

Compare Mundane Made Awesome, Improbable Sports Skills and Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting. It's often a case of I Know Kung-Faux.

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Contrast What the Fu Are You Doing?.

I Know Madden Kombat is a subtrope of this trope, dealing with sports as martial arts. Dance Battler is related. Inverse of Martial Arts for Mundane Purposes, where conventional martial arts skills are used for mundane purposes.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ranma ½ is likely the Trope Maker, certainly the Trope Codifier, and the list of just how many different styles that the anime alone named is high. Most, but not all, are based specifically on one of the many strange competitions they have. In general, you have "serious" ones (that is, ones where the contestants aim to hurt each other), and "contest" ones (martial arts that tend to be goofy even by this series' standards).
    • On the serious side, we have these gems...
      • Martial Arts Cookery: though never explicitly named, there are implied to be quite a few of these in the world of Ranma ½. Ukyô Kuonji, one of the main characters, practices a variant revolving around okonomiyaki (a kind of savory pancake), and in the late manga we are introduced to a childhood rival who practices a variant involving takoyaki (small dumplings with octopus filling). An anime episode has Ukyô fight a practioner of Martial Arts Crepe Cookery, and the episode ends with the implication of Martial Arts Sushi/Sashimi Cookery.
      • Good Old Days Martial Arts: an anime-only martial art that involves using old-time toys (trading cards, tops, marbles, hackey-sacks, thread, etc.) as deadly weapons.
      • Martial Arts Calligraphy: while the combatants do aim simply to be the first one to draw a certain kanji/hiragana symbol, they are also allowed to beat the snot out of each other with letter openers, paper weights, ink, paper and calligraphy brushes the size of quarterstaves. An apparently lost variant allows the practitioner to draw special designs on a person's body that can manipulate their internal ki — the only example we're shown, the Mark of the Gods, is a goofy smiley face on the belly that amplifies the subject's strength and speed something like tenfold.
      • Martial Arts Figure Skating: teams of two in extravagant costumes zipping around on an ice-skating rink and beating the living tar out of each other. This one is actually very dangerous, and the story arc involving it features arguably the most violent fights of the series. After all, you are fighting with the equivalent of daggers strapped to their feet, and over a hard, rough, icy surface.
      • Martial Arts Tea Ceremony: uses items from tea ceremony, including stirring sticks, spoons and tea whisks as weapons. Combatants must fight from the formal kneeling position — the trained practitioner can zip around in this pose as though they were standing, thanks to their strengthened toes, and even climb, hang upside down from the ceiling, and jump.
      • Martial Arts Rhythmic Gymnastics: implicitly a girls-only style (explicitly stated to be so in an anime filler episode involving an attempt to create a men's version), combatants use gymnastic props to beat on each other, but are not allowed to directly touch the other combatant. Oddly enough, Ryôga knows this art well enough to teach it to Akane.
      • Martial Arts Cheerleading: another "girls only" style, Martial Arts Cheerleaders attempt to bolster their team through a mixture of cheering on their own teammates and beating up the opposing team, usually with very flashy moves.
      • Martial Arts Takeout Delivery: combatants race to be the first to deliver their takeout to the delivery place, beating up anyone who tries to oppose them. The only rule is that their own delivery item survive unscathed. (Anime-only; the manga version of the storyline features Shampoo in the role of Kaori and makes no reference to a Martial Arts School centering around the delivery.)
      • Bathhouse Fu: an anime style (though hinted at by Happôsai in an early story common to both canons), this fighting style is amphibious in base (combatants attack both from under water and on the surface) and uses items from around the bathhouse, like towels and pails, as weapons.
      • Martial Arts Shogi: combatants dress up in shogi piece costumes and adhere strictly to the rules of the shogi piece they are ranked. What keeps this from being a hokey style is the fact that they do legitimately try to pulverize the other team.
    • There are more serious Martial Arts and Crafts in Ranma ½ than there are joke ones... which is kind of worrying.
      • Martial Arts Dining: this style gives a whole new meaning to "food fight". The objective is to be the first one to clear all of the many plates of food you're given — and, for an extra twist, you must be incredibly neat about it. As in, you can't be seen to actually eat the food — if you're spotted, you get an extra plate as a penalty. As a result of centuries of adherence to these rules, practitioners have faces that they can warp and stretch like silly putty, as well as super-speed hand-strikes. Swallowing watermelons whole, picking a sweet from the top of one's own head with one's tongue and then swallowing it, all of these are possible. Ranma, unable to actually develop sufficient speed to compete, instead attempts to master an ancient and dangerous strategy known as the "Parlay du Fois Gras", where one's food is stuffed into the opponent's mouth (much like geese are force-fed to make fois gras) in an attempt to cause a jam and thus, a forfeit. The "dangerous" part comes from the fact that devoted users tend to starve to death.
      • Martial Arts Watermelon/Carry The Snowman Race: two different versions of a contest, one for beaches, one for mountains, and both essentially based on the Smashing Watermelons game. With a watermelon/miniature snowman in one hand and a bokken in the other, race for the finish line while smashing the items carried by the other racers and avoid getting your own smashed.
      • Martial Arts Pingpong/Badminton: just like the ordinary game... only the balls that the fighters bat back and forth can contain all sorts of booby traps, like exploding in a shower of glue.
      • There was also a Martial Arts Marriage Contest in the second movie.
    • It also seems that every mundane task in The 'Verse gets not only a martial art, but specific fighting moves in Anything Goes. Crouch of the Wild Tiger is used to beg forgiveness.
  • Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo: The main character uses "Fist of the Nose Hair", which is basically Exactly What It Says on the Tin. That is only the beginning of the martial arts madness. There's a full list here.

    It must be noted that, although the Finishing Attacks of each school do indeed fit the theme indicated by the name, most of the actual fighting in the series, no matter the formal school used, boils down to confusing the enemy to the point where they can't defend themselves against that finishing attack. Bo-bobo at one point laments that, aside from a basic hand chop and the "confuse them" strategy, he really only has a single special attack.
  • In Cromartie High School, Masked Takenouchi masters the art of pillow-jutsu, in which he softens a pillow by beating it with a stick according to the desires of the pillow user. He takes out a whole bike gang with this type of combat.
  • Every school club in Futaba-kun Change! seems to have a martial art based upon whatever the club's focus is. Including martial arts calligraphy.
  • The chainsaw-fu that protagonist Fumio in Saitama Chainsaw Shoujo uses on her classmates was originally meant to aid her when she inherited her grandfather's lumber company.
  • The Naruto filler brings us Ninja Chefs and Ninja Postmen. Self-explanatory, really. In canon, they have Ninja Medics (though for the most part these are simply combat medics in a ninja organization, they also have ninja-based healing techniques and some also have ways to use their medical techniques to fight), Ninja Puppeteers (who use chakra strings to manipulate a variety of booby-trapped puppets to fight for them), and at least one Ninja Painter.
  • As a variation, in Lone Wolf and Cub, one story deals with a samurai postman messenger.
  • Gunnm gives us hypersonic knitting. Yeah.
  • Hikkatsu is centered around the main character trying to turn Percussive Maintenance into a martial art.
  • One Piece:
    • It features plenty weird martial arts, some of them derived from mundane activities.
    • Sanji has to fight a "noodle martial artist", who uses noodles as weapons — including firing noodle darts through his nose or creating giant noodle tentacles. Sanji uses his own Chef of Iron training to beat him.
  • Kill la Kill: If it can be a school club then expect super-powered martial arts. Tennis, band, gardening, sewing... someone has found a way to kick your ass with it.
  • Sakigake!! Otokojuku In it's massive roster of often goofy martial arts styles throughout the franchise it features there are plenty of ones that are similar to mundane tasks and even claim to be the originators of them. Some of these styles involve things like blowing bubbles made of sulfuric acid however many more boast to be the origin of certain sports such as soccer, golf, ping pong, ice skating, air hockey, and even synchronized swimming.

    Card Games 
  • Yomi, a card game, is based around a Olympic-style martial arts tournament. While some of the characters the players can use make sense to be in a martial arts tournament, four other characters make less sense — Jefferson DeGrey, Ghostly Diplomat; Max Geiger, Precise Watchmaker (actually something of a Time Master); Valerie Rose, Manic Painter; and Lum Bam-Foo, Gambling Panda. For some precision, DeGrey seems to be spicing up his martial arts with some debating, Geiger with time control, Valerie Rose has the most common Martial Arts Painting, and Lum Bam Foo spices things up with Martial Arts GAMBLING. (Complete with coin throwing.)
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    Comic Books 
  • MAD had a reportage from the noble martial art of "House-Fu", where you use household items in combat. And the combat is assumed to take place in the kitchen.
  • In one issue of The Muppet Show Comic Book, the special guest is the master of stealth tapdancing, Ninja Rogers.
  • A long-running cartoon in British newsmagazine Private Eye was The Cloggies, an Oop North morris-dancing team who elevated traditional northern English clog-dance to the status of a lethal martial art, frequently winning dances by three groinings and a right uppercut. Eventually collected in comic-book form detailing the lives and times of northern folk. Homaged by Terry Pratchett as the Lancre morrismen (see below).

    Fan Works 

    Films 
  • Gymkata features the deadly combination of ninjitsu and... gymnastics. It also completely fails at both. To be fair, pommel-horse fu is scary... if you're within two and a half feet of a pommel horse.
  • Kung Fu Hustle, made by the same team as Shaolin Soccer, has this in droves; because the theme of the movie is ordinary-looking people turning out to be kung-fu masters, we typically see the "mundane" use before their true abilities are revealed to the viewer. The strong, silent Coolie who carries heavy loads for people uses his super-strong legs for kicking. The doughnut-maker who uses long poles to knead the dough is a master with spears and bow-staffs. The tailor uses heavy rings to both hang up his wares and wears them on his arms in combat. The Landlord who's constantly being beaten up by his wife can secretly deflect and withstand heavy blows. The Landlady who's always yelling and roaring at everyone has an outright sonic scream.

    Literature 
  • Discworld
    • In Thief of Time, Lu-Tze dismissively describes tung-pi as "bad-tempered flower arranging".
    • Making Money has a brief demonstration of sloshi, Martial Arts Clowning, in which ballistic pie throwing, "battle-planking" and lethal balloon animals all feature.
    • A throwaway one-liner in some supplementary material indicates that in the Discworld's equivalent of Wales, "choral singing has been elevated to the level of a martial art".
    • Lords and Ladies has a group of Morris Dancers who manage to fight off attacking Elves with their dance routine. Wintersmith reveals that this is in fact what Morris dancing (and its secret midwinter Shadow Archetype, the Dark Morris) was originally designed for.
  • Age of Discovery trilogy by Michael Stackpole: A true Martial Artist may achieve true magic and potential immortality by completely mastering his style. Then again, so can a basket-weaver once he completely masters basket-weaving.
  • Circle of Magic: Ambient magic is when people have magic that reacts to certain activities — such as gardening, metalworking, dancing, making clothes, you name it. Anything to do with that activity, that ambient mage draws power from it. Most of the time, ambient mages just work away at their own crafts, but when you get in a fight...just watch out!
  • In Catching Fire, book two of The Hunger Games, Katniss theorizes that the reason why District 12 tributes do so poorly in the Hunger Games is that the people living there don't learn their district's trade of mining until they become an adult and are finally safe from being picked as tributes. Meanwhile, children from other districts learn their districts' trades while as children, and are able to apply what they learn to combat settings (a prominent example being Finnick Odair, from the district that specializes in fishing, making him deadly when wielding a trident). This applies to Katniss herself, as her archery skills work equally well for both killing animals for food and killing human opponents.
  • Journey to Chaos: In legal trouble, Eric visists his guild's in-house advocate, Reywal. The adovcate's assistant soon makes a fool of himself and Reywal assures Eric that he is skilled in Advocate Martial Arts. Then he says, "kidding! But seriously..."

    Live-Action TV 
  • A variation appears in an episode of Sliders on a world where they have "seers" for every imaginable field — medical work, law enforcement, even politics. (But presumably not gambling.)
  • The Goodies episode "Kung Fu Kapers" featured the Lancashire martial art of Ecky-Thump, which consisted of hitting people with black puddings.
  • The hired goons of the various gangs in Kaiketsu Zubat always specialized in a particular skill which they also used as a fighting style. They always considered themselves the best, but Ken Hayakawa would prove that they were only #2 in Japan.

    Tabletop Games 
  • A major feature of Risus. Players are encouraged to invent ways to use inappropriate skills in combat (but only if it's funny). Using an inappropriate skill successfully deals three times as much damage as normal. The text example is a ninja evening the odds against a hungry monster by presenting it with a poisonous souffle.
  • Exalted:
    • Among the many martial arts presented by this Tabletop RPG, there's "Dreaming Pearl Courtesan Style" for fighting while being refined and social, "Citrine Poxes of Contagion Style" for fighting with medicine and poisons, and "Prismatic Arrangement of Creation Style" for combining sorcery and martial arts. "Laughing Wounds Style" includes fetish gear as a form armour, and uses whips and chains as a form weapon. Popular among lesbian stripper ninjas, as is Pearl Courtesan. Let's not even mention some of the fanmade Martial Arts.
    • Second Edition canonised Martial Arts Sailors (Seafaring Hero Style), Martial Arts Orgies (Orgiastic Fugitive Style) and even Martial Arts Psychiatrists (Border of Kaleidoscopic Logic Style, one of the most powerful in the game).
    • The Quicksilver Hand of Dreams Style, which involves the manipulation of dreams and imagination and the imposition of same upon concrete reality, and the Obsidian Shards of Infinity Style, which can best be summed up as Martial Arts Parallel Universes.
  • The Diana Warrior Princess Tabletop RPG includes the ancient numerology-based martial art known as The Way of the Exploding Grid, or Su Doku.
  • Parodied in Ninja Burger, where characters use their ninja skills for fast food delivery, losing honor if they're seen or late. Their slogan? "Guaranteed delivery in 30 minutes or less, or we commit seppuku!"

    Video Games 
  • The plots of Type Moon's Melty Blood Fighting Games are driven by the reality-warping Night of Wallachia. Among other crazy things, this phenomenon transforms Kohaku and Hisui from simple maids into Martial Arts and Crafts masters capable of fighting half-demons and ancient vampires by using dustpans and potted plants. Basically, a justification for Competitive Balance.
  • In Dwarf Fortress:
    • Civilian miners can be drafted into the military in an emergency, and are actually quite useful. The game uses their (quickly trained) mining skill instead of a weapon skill, their attributes are often much higher than your slower-working carpenters and masons, and pickaxes are fearsome organ-lacerating weapons.
    • Civilian woodcutters use battle axes to chop down trees. Tree trunks, legs... not a huge difference, right?
  • In No More Heroes, the story revolves around climbing the ranks to become the Number 1 Assassin. The problem is there are many characters, and none of them are an Assassin in any sense of the word. They clash giant, loud lightsabers, pilot giant robots, launch very illegal fireworks, and act like loud lunatics with random weapons.
  • The original GBA version of Rhythm Heaven had a calligrapher who did his strokes with the power of a martial artist, complete with kiai calls on the power strokes you were supposed to press A on.
  • Justified in Masquerada: Songs and Shadows: The best way to harness the Elemental Powers the Masquerenes give is to find some skill you're good at and incorporate the powers into that.

    Web Comics 
  • Invoked and then subverted in Lookism, the Jae Won High School is a creative school where students can focus on what they like within 7 departments, with (simplified) subjects like Fashion, Confectionery, Beauty, music and dance, just music, building, and sports. Despite this does all the departments have martial artists, who do real martial arts rather than ones based on their department.
  • Parodied also in Web Comic Sam & Fuzzy, which has the Ninja Mafia (black suits, ties, ninja masks), who were exactly what they sound like: organized crime, complete with protection rackets, run by ninjas (sort of). The Ninja Mafia broke up into a variety of mercenary and other groups when their emperor and ruling council were slain, including one bunch who formed their own Ninja Burger franchise, though that was more like a ninja-themed McDonald's. NMS, by the way, has ninja bookkeepers. Not just bookkeepers who are ninja, but people trained in the art of ninja bookkeeping. Both bookkeeping with ninja skills, and keeping ninja books. *stage whisper*: They really only call it that to make the extremely elderly bookkeepers feel better about not reliably being Badass Great-Great-Grandparents.*/stage whisper*
  • Freefall:
    • The French ninjas of "Le Restaurant des Ninjas" run their restaurant without being seen. Everything from directing patrons to their tables, to delivering menus, food (including desserts, drinks (including refills), and the bill, all while being completely stealthy. Well, almost completely. They're so effective at hiding, they hide their restaurant.
    • Ninja accountants appear on-screen in Goats.
    • Oddly, this plays into a real life example, with Ninja New York, an actual ninja-themed restaurant in which your servers will appear from nowhere, and you might just get assassinated.

    Web Original 
  • In The Weather Channel Goes the Way of MTV from Hitherby Dragons, there are weather ninjas that dress up in costumes with the weather forecast on them. Accordingly, we have martial arts like the invincible TORNADO WARNING fist and the FLOOD ALERT style.
  • Chaka, at Super Hero School Whateley Academy in the Whateley Universe, has the superpower of Ki control, and has invented new Martial Arts and Crafts at the drop of a shuriken. When given detention, she invented (on the fly) martial arts mopping (instant cleaning by attuning her Ki with the mop), martial arts linen folding, martial arts grime scrubbing... She has used her martial arts skills for healing problems beyond medicine, like Doctor Heavy's inability to turn off his local 8-G gravity field (she turned it into a local 0-G field by accident). And she has developed all kinds of martial arts weapons for herself, including sewing needles, forks, playing cards...
  • Fighters High sports this as an essential part of the eponymous school's culture. Within the first 10 minutes of the first episode, we've seen the school's cook face off against a student, blasting him into a wall using a fireball generated via spatula.
  • Atop the Fourth Wall features a ninja-style dancer.
  • The Codeless Code is about programming monks.

    Western Animation 
  • Kim Possible has the standard Mountain Temple Ninjas, Monkey Ninjas, and Aristocratic Englishman Monkey Ninja. It also has Embarrassment Ninjas. Dr. Drakken speculates that in that field it pays to specialize. There's also Sumo Ninja.
  • In one episode of Wakfu, kung-fu baking becomes pretty Serious Business.
  • Littlest Pet Shop (2012): "Lotsa Luck" reveals that there is an extreme sport called kung fu quilting, and Mrs. Twombly was the inventor and grand master of the sport!

    Real Life 
  • Capoeira is a martial art meant to look like a dance. In practice, it's extremely unpredictable, painful, and in some cases, rather impractical. (To be fair, the simplest and most practical techniques are the first to be taught, and the most impractical techniques do not even have to be learned).
  • Traditional samurai martial arts included not only a variety of fighting styles, but every necessary skill for a soldier, split up into different techniques or jutsu. This meant a well-trained warrior knew, besides the better-known jujutsu (unarmed technique) and kenjutsu (sword technique), things like suijutsu ("swimming in armour technique") and kajutsu ("burning down peasant huts technique"). All of these are still taught by a few hardcore traditionalist schools, although one wonders how they practice arson at the dojo.
    • Probably with Rebuilding Jutsu so they can perform arson again and again for practice.
  • Most of the "Animal Style" Kung Fu traditions have a legend about their founder watching some animal in its natural habitat doing what comes naturally. These masters are then struck with inspiration and found a new tradition of martial arts based on the natural flow found in the animal's movements.
  • A lot of weapons started out as agricultural and gardening tools including scythes, flails, and even kunai! In fact, the French Revolution was mostly fought with farming equipment.
    • In fact, save for obvious exceptions such as swords and certain types of firearms (e.g. machine guns and artillery), most weapons have legitimate civilian uses. The spear and bow were originally hunting tools, for example, and axes and hammers were and still are construction tools. Even those types of weapon mentioned do have legitimate uses, for example, using cannons as avalanche control devices. It's just that those uses are much harder to find.
      • A sword is just a knife long enough to be impractical for daily use as a tool. Gunpowder was the result of Taoist alchemists looking for an elixir of immortality, and most small arms have legitimate civilian uses including hunting (muskets, rifles, shotguns) and defending oneself against illegitimate civilian uses (e.g. shotguns, handguns). Also, gunpowder and dynamite (and plastified explosives in modern times) were extensively used for mining and industrial demolition. A great many battles have also been fought with hunting guns—the sharpshooter units of many European armies are called "hunters" (chasseurs in French, Jägers in German, snipers in Englishnote ) because that was what they did for a living in peacetime.

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