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Old Master

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"What I learned today is that really old wizards don't get that way by being easy to kill."
Black Mage, 8-Bit Theater

Don't let his age (or his size) fool you; this guy is a force to be reckoned with. Despite being at least sixty years old, he (or she) is a formidable fighter who can take on several younger opponents at a time, clean the floor with all of them, and barely get winded. They may rely on years of training and deceptive strength, or cunning, but they get the job done. Obfuscating Stupidity comes as naturally to this guy as breathing. He might also have been a Badass Bookworm on the way there. Any physical decline he's suffered from advanced age simply won't matter, because he learned long ago how to defeat enemies who are physically stronger and faster than him. Often the Old Master will be more dangerous in his twilight years than he was at his physical prime because of this.

Break out the ^ sign on your calculator when this trope is applied to seasoned adventurers of any type; anyone who's managed to survive to a ripe old age while performing inherently dangerous work is obviously really damned good at it.


The Old Master is often the sensei to one of the main characters (often the name they give him), training them so they can pass on the torch to the new generation (and maybe earn themselves a break). To do so, the character typically prefers the Wax On, Wax Off approach to education and the When You Snatch the Pebble approach to final exams. Crueler or Good Is Not Soft classes of Old Masters, on the other hand, function as the Drill Sergeant Nasty, and those who study under him had better be prepared for Training from Hell. In short, this character can be of any moral alignment or ethnicity whatsoever.

Heavily overlaps with Hermit Guru and Stronger with Age. See also Old Soldier and When Elders Attack. They are likely to be Weak, but Skilled but that is an age-less trope. Retired Gunfighter is the western, weaponized version of this. Contrast with Older Is Better. In martial arts movies, especially, the Old Master tends to be a Magical Asian. In the Caper Crew makeup, he is the Legendary Thief. Don't be surprised if he's The Patriarch in a Badass Family.


Oh, there is one lesson that always tends to escape him: if his charges get hit enough times with any given tactic, they’re going to return it in full force… innocently and instinctively, at the worst possible moment.


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  • In one Mattel commercial from the 90s, an atypical Old Master teaches his young student how to play Othello (as in, the game) with the tagline, "a minute to learn, a lifetime to master".

    Anime & Manga 
  • Baki the Grappler has several: Doppo Orochi, Gouki Shibukawa, Kaku Kaioh and Ryu Kaioh...and not one of them stands a chance against Yujiro.
  • Kaze Gorou from Bartender was the undisputed master of Tokyo's cocktail bars, and proves to not have lost anything, even with age and the after-effects of a severe stroke taking their toll. Ryu's sempai Kitagata has the skills, gives off the "seen-it-all" vibe and has the world-weary attitude and disrespect for the "young whippersnappers" of an Old Master, but is in his mid-thirties at the oldest.
  • Bleach: Yamamoto has been the captain-commander for a thousand years because no one in that time has been strong enough to challenge his position. He is enormously powerful. His Zanpakutou is the most powerful offensive sword in history but when it's taken away from him, all he does is show case his mastery in all the other Shinigami Arts as well, displaying insane punching speed and strength, extremely fast Flash Step movement, and Kidou battle spells so powerful that they're matched solely by the specialist Kidou Captain and Aizen. He founded the training academy and his best students were Captains Kyouraku and Ukitake, whom he regards as being like sons to him.
  • In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, there's a figure of legend who got this close to killing the originator of all demons, a demon slayer samurai who kept his humanity but had skills that practically made him inhumanly strong, almost divine in nature; it turns out he managed to live for 80 years and in his final moments still wanted to dispatch his older twin brother who became a demon, his brother notes than even as an 80 years old man his skills still seemed absurd, something that made a demon who kept his youth feel envious.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • The Muten Roshi (which means "Heavenly Martial Arts Elderly Master"), who is the founder of the Turtle Style School and the inventor of the Kamehameha. While he's long since been surpassed in sheer strength by his pupils, Dragon Ball Super proves that he is still an incredibly skilled fighter when he takes part in the Tournament of Power (featuring 80 of the best warriors from eight different universes), and takes down three fighters entirely on his own. Goku even marvels at how his teacher has only become stronger while the rest of the Dragon Team weren't looking. In the manga version, the Muten Roshi even holds his own against World's Strongest Man Jiren the Grey with his own incomplete form of Ultra Instinct, explicitly thanks to his century’s worth of martial arts experience.
    • His former friend turned rival, the Crane Hermit of the Crane Style School, is this as well, due to the fact both of them are over 300 years old.
  • Fairy Tail:
    • Makarov Dreyar. 88 years old (actually 96, thanks to spending seven years frozen in time), incredibly powerful, and master of several different types of magic, on top of being one of the ten Wizard Saints. That title is only granted to the most powerful wizards in the land, and it's implied a few times that Makarov is one of strongest of all of them.
    • Warrod Seeken. Over 105 years old and even stronger than Makarov, being one of the Four Gods of Ishgal (the strongest members of the Ten Wizard Saints and all of which are said to not even be fully human anymore) and one of Fairy Tails' original founders. He was also one of Zeref's students with Hades below.
    • And on that note, Precht "Hades" Gaebolg, another of Fairy Tail's original founders, the Second Guild Master, and current Master of the Dark Guild Grimoire Heart. Also over a hundred years old and strong enough to toss the aforementioned Makarov's Titan form around like a ragdoll, fight Team Natsu without much difficulty, and was the most powerful villain after Big Bad Zeref to appear in the series Pre-Timeskip and still a contender after it to the other ArcVillains.
  • Ryuken in Fist of the North Star, the previous Hokuto Shin-Ken master who trained Kenshiro and his adopted brothers. Also, Ryuken's old rival for the succession, Koryu, as well as the Hokuto Ryu-Ken master Jukei, both qualify.
  • Ginga Teikoku Kouboushi: Volume 1: Foundation: When adapting "The Psychohistorians", the mangaka remembered that Hari Seldon (who is dying of old age) is revealed to be skilled at Helicon Twisting in Forward the Foundation. They add in a scene where a thug tries to grab Seldon's collar but he flips the thug to the ground, stunning them.
  • Hunter × Hunter:
    • Netero, who was still one of the most powerful people on the planet despite being over 110 years old. Not a sensei anymore, and still active (though rarely involved in fights) as the head of the Hunter Association prior to his death, but he fits the trope otherwise.
    • Biscuit Krueger is a subversion, as she's in her late 50s but uses her powers to resemble a young girl, and even in her true form she doesn't look older than mid-30. She was a master of Nen as well as Netero's style of kung-fu, and trained Gon & Killua throughout the Greed Island and Chimera Ant arcs.
  • Jiji from Ichi the Killer wears baggy clothing and walks with a slump in order to disguise his true strength.
  • The first words out of anyone's mouth when they face down Andrei Rublev on IGPX: Immortal Grand Prix's race tracks tend to be something like "The game's changed while you were away, old man!" The next words, usually said a few minutes later, tend to be something like "Man! The Rocket's no joke!" while their mechs are either flat on the track or in some other pants-down situation. However, Andrei is a downplayed version. While his tactics still leave pilots reeling, his body can't keep up nearly as well as it used to: the years between his retirement and his temporary comeback were not kind to him.
  • Hayato Furinji of Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple. He is the undisputed most experienced and powerful master in a series filled to the brim with martial arts masters. Unlike many other Old Masters, though, Hayato still has an imposing physique: the man is huge and extremely buff despite his advanced age.
  • Prince Kamehame, despite being 70 years old and having a bum heel, is able to defeat Kinnikuman via pinfall in only seven seconds. In the Dream Choujin Tag Arc, he wrestles alongside Kinnikuman in his Kinnikuman Great guise, and they defeat Black Hole and Pentagon together before he's mortally injured by Sunshine's Cursed Roller.
  • The original head trainer in the Space-Time Administration Bureau from Lyrical Nanoha, an old woman who the supplementary manga reveals had trained Nanoha and Fate. And just to make a point on how much more the two leads need to learn despite the events of the first two seasons, she, a lowly AA-ranked mage using standard equipment, managed to beat the two of them at the same time.
  • Mobile Fighter G Gundam: Master Asia's not as old as he looks note  but he is still past his prime and the Grand Master of the School of the Undefeated of the East. He can effortlessly catch cannonballs and demolish Humongous Mecha with his bare hands, and when putting forth some actual effort can punch a skyscraper hard enough to launch it into the air. While G Gundam is a World of Badass, virtually no one else is that badass.
  • Both Torogai and Jiguro from Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit.
  • Naruto:
    • The Third Hokage, who despite being a decrepit-looking 70-year-old man, is extremely powerful and skilled, able to go toe-to-toe with the likes of the Big Bad Orochimaru. Many have called him one of the most powerful Shinobi to come out of the Leaf Village, perhaps equaling or even surpassing the late Fourth Hokage. A shame he dies, but even then he fights to the bitter end, sealing Orochimaru's arms and thus rendering them dead and useless.
    • In that vein we also have Jiraiya, who is the strongest of all three Sannin, could kill three paths of Pain (up until then, that was practically impossible), permanently kill one path, and was the master to Naruto himself. Not only that, his master, Fukasaku, an 800 year old toad and one of the most powerful beings in Naruto, is also this. How much does Jiraiya fit this trope? Every pupil who willingly chose to follow his example is a legend, spoken of with godlike reverence by others.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi:
    • Subverted: the Old Master — who comes complete with mysteriousness, tea drinking, and repeated comments about today's youth — looks like a ten year old girl, has a crush on the main character's father, insists she is utterly evil, and makes at least token attempts to turn her students to The Dark Side whenever the topic of conversation veers anywhere near a decent opening. Well, that and an occasional detour into vamp territory, which generally fails spectacularly due to the fact that her main pupil/object of her affections is ten. Oh, and it is not just magic, for she has been studying Aikijujutsu for the past century and probably learned it from the fellow who originated same.
    • The Mundus Magicus arc introduced a straighter variant in the form of the former Ala Rubra member Jack Rackan, who acts as a somewhat goofy Obi-Wan towards the Ala Alba. Of course, the goofiness is a façade.
  • One Piece: Whitebeard, Sengoku, Rayleigh, Garp and Zeff among many others. It helps that if you're a pirate or a marine the only way you can live to see old age is by being stronger and more badass than everyone else. Minor character Lao G is a straight example though, being a 70-year-old who fights solely with martial arts and teaches hand-to-hand combat to the junior crewmembers of the Doflamingo Pirates.
  • "Silverfang" Bang from One-Punch Man is a martial arts instructor and the third highest-ranked hero in the world, although (like everyone else in the series) he's no match for The Protagonist.
    • Bang's brother Bomb also serves this role, being the creator of his own martial arts style. There's also Nichirin from the Council of Swordmasters, who trained Spring Mustachio and Atomic Samurai.
  • Happōsai and Cologne from Ranma ½ who are both 100+ years old and roughly one foot tall. While Cologne plays this trope straight, Happōsai more or less inverts it. He barely has any interest in martial arts, and his efforts as a sensei means he can, charitably, be described as a Fair-Weather Mentor. He's a major-league Panty Thief and Lovable Sex Maniac (only without the lovable), to the extent that he literally gets weak and sickly, losing the majority of his martial arts prowess, if prevented from stealing underwear and groping women. Yet, despite this almost completely opposed personality and the fact he considers being a pervert far more important and meaningful to being a martial artist, he is still an incredibly powerful fighter, capable of smacking down Pantyhose Taro with one of his normally firecracker-grade bomb attacks.
  • Saiyuki: When Genjo Sanzo meets Master Abbot Jikaku in the Burial arc, he seems like just a harmless old man- until he kills several youkai attacking a temple. Turns out he was once known as 'The Ogre' for his vicious training of would-be Sanzo candidates, including Sanzo's own master Koumyou.
  • Two in Samurai Champloo: One crazed hermit who might be Miyamoto Musashi, and the series' Big Bad, who is either this or Retired Badass (his age is never given, but he is an evil version of The Last DJ of the old samurai ways).
  • In School Rumble, Mikoto finds Hinai training in the mountains, with an old man dispensing mystical-sounding advice. Mikoto Hinai if he's his sensei, but Hinai responds that it's just some random old guy.
  • Shaman King: When the zombie of Pyron, a martial arts actor, is released from control of Ren's sister Jun, Yoh's friends decided to call upon the spirit of Pyron's old master, Shamon, who was 96 when he died, to try and becalm the raging spirit of Pyron. When Shamon possessed Yoh, he quickly assumed a stooped stance, and didn't do anything... until Pyron tried to hit him.
  • Tears to Tiara's Master Ogam. While he spends much of the early episodes as the calm and serious old guy, it's not long before he breaks out his MAGICAL POWERS and blows up an ogre.
  • Tenchi Muyo!: Katsuhito Masaki in the OAV series (actually he's quite formidable in all of his incarnations, but...). Granted, he's really a young man — relatively; where he's from, 725 years plus or minus is considered youthful — masquerading as an old man, but even the trope's description warns us that looks can be deceiving. Capable of taking on even the most powerful villains in the galaxy and fighting them to a draw, if not actually winning...and this was at least in part because Katsushito felt his grandson Tenchi needed to defeat the villains himself as part of his training.
  • Toriko: Knocking Master Jirou fits the bill, as demonstrated when he effortlessly paralyzed a beast that took the combined might of Toriko and Coco to bring down. Later on, the IGO president shows us that he also qualifies.
  • Vagabond (the Takehiko Inoue manga):
    • Four for Miyamoto Musashi: his father Shinmen Munisai, Houzouin In'ei, Yagyuu Sekishuusai are all Musashi's Old Masters (to a point), yet subvert the trope in their own ways: Munisai wasn't much of a master (his obsession with being "invincible under the sun" actually left him closing off his world, fearing his own child and pushing away others), In'ei was actually Inshun's Old Master and trained Musashi because no one else could threaten Inshun's life and thus get Inshun to develop further, and Sekishuusai is 'just' an old man who's since retired, passing down the system to his son; what he does impart onto Musashi is one of the most profound lessons, after Musashi defeats himself by internalizing the idea of "the invincible Sekishuusai" until it becomes a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: "Invincible's just a word."
    • Sasaki Kojirou's adoptive father Kanemaki Jisai subverts the trope too: living by the sword has left him unmarried, without children or friends, and thus hopeless... until Kojirou comes along; at that point, he advertises himself (unsuccessfully) as an Old Master to make a living so that he could raise Kojirou away from the sword. When Kojirou shows a terrifying affinity for the sword (by disarming an evil Old Master and then attacking the corpse) however, Jisai spending the next half of the boy's life embodying the phrase "old age and trickery beat youth and speed," trying to repeatedly dissuade the boy by defeating his challenges with cunning and underhanded means... until his former disciple Itou Ittousai comes along and secretly takes Kojirou under his wing. After he finds out, Jisai reluctantly gives up Kojirou into Ittousai's custody, thinking that he gave his life to the sword only to have nothing but regrets... until he finds that although he couldn't keep Kojirou away from the sword, he did raise a decent man with great potential. "My life dedicated to the sword — it was worth it all. It was worth it because I managed to leave behind a great swordsman like you..."
  • Rokujuro from Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL. Yuma becomes his student, and then has to deal with Yamikawa, a former student who was a disappointment.
  • Genkai from YuYu Hakusho, the defining example of the "just wants a break" version, and badass grandma.

  • And of course, one cannot forget the unnamed Master in The Frantics' legendary "Tae Kwon Leep" skit.

    Comic Books 
  • Archie Comics:
    • He's not that old, but the students of Riverdale High underestimated Coach Kleats in several sports. The same thing happened, with the entire male faculty challenging the varsity basketball players to a charity game.
    • Mr. Weatherbee is no slouch, either.
  • Black Canary: In the Young Justice animated TV series, she's the team's official combat trainer. Old only relative to the teenaged heroes, of course; Word of God puts her at 24 in that universe.
    • She herself has trained under several in the comics, most notably Wildcat, though she's also studied in East-Asia and was briefly trained by Lady Shiva.
  • Stick from Daredevil. Even being dead doesn't stop him from coming back every couple of years, to dispense some sage advice.
  • The Ancient One, mentor to Doctor Strange. He managed to stretch his lifespan to about 600 years and was still in reasonably good physical and mental health when he died.
  • In the first few issues of Ninja High School, Ichiban fights her grandfather... Well, she challenges him anyway. Fight ends before it begins.
  • Dr. Yagyu from Nth Man: The Ultimate Ninja is a Ninja master in his late 60s, but thinks nothing of stepping into a war zone with a satchel full of throwing stars and a machine pistol.
  • O-Sensei, a master martial artist who trained Richard Dragon, Bronze Tiger and (depending on continuity) Lady Shiva, was well over one-hundred at the time of his death, there having been records of him as a young man in the 1890s.
  • Tim's first martial arts teacher as Robin outside the Batfamily was the Rahul Lama, a very old Tibetan refugee living in Paris who was the last living master of an ancient fighting style and whom Tim noticed never seemed to run out of stamina.
  • Splinter, to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (and that includes the animated series). Splinter's former owner, Himato Yoshi also served as his master (though in some adaptations, the two are actually the same character.)
  • Katsuichi-sensei, the hermit who taught Usagi just about everything he knows, is at least a Middle-aged Master.

    Fan Works 
  • Similar to the BlazBlue games, Jubei was this to Ragna in BlazBlue Alternative: Remnant, but this time, Ragna was also briefly mentored by Maria Calavera. He even brings up to Jaune that, despite being old and blind, she's still easily able to kick his ass.
  • In The Butcher Bird, Dayavin Tenzin is one of these, despite his Dented Iron status due to his age making him fragile.
  • In The Chaotic Three, Yoda is an obvious example of this, but the term also applies to the time-displaced Luke Skywalker; while he muses that he gets tired more easily than he did in the past, Luke is recognised by all of the Jedi of the past as being strong in the Force, to the extent that he defeats Palpatine in a duel.
  • Child of the Storm has the canon examples of Albus Dumbledore, and the Senior Council of the White Council (though in the latter case, they get Stronger with Age, magically speaking, even if they do have to work at staying roughly in shape). However, the crowning example is probably Doctor Strange a.k.a. Taliesin, who despite looking somewhere in his mid-forties, was born over 1500 years years ago, and thanks to time travel, is actually more like 500,000 years old - and that's a guess. He stopped bothering to count after he turned 100,000. As a result of this, he's incredibly experienced, capable of keeping a Loki-level opponent at bay while multitasking, then absolutely flattening him once he returns his full attention to the matter at hand, and routinely manipulates, bullies, and outright terrifies most of the most powerful beings in the setting.
  • A downplayed example shows with Tsume in Eroninja. While "only" in her mid-40s, she's still well past her prime and it's noted a couple times that it's only her skill and experience that keeps her from losing challenges for Alpha of the Inuzuka clan. Though once she's bonded to Naruto, the reversion to her prime that comes with it has her mopping floors with the next several challengers.
  • Koharu, Homura, and Danzo in the First Try Series are all noted as being easily stronger than pretty much everyone else in Konoha. Naruto tells his teammates that the only reason none of them are Hokage is because Sarutobi is that much more badass than all of them.
  • In Incarnation of Legends, Hachiman exudes this feeling despite being immortal and eternally youthful as a god. His Divine Arms techniques are the envy of everyone in the Far East as the pinnacle of martial arts, leading others to join his familia in pursuit of them.
  • Pokémon Reset Bloodlines features a few examples:
    • Eagun is Famed in Story as one of the strongest trainers in the Orre region, to the point that while visiting Agate Village (one of the few safe havens from Cipher's influence), Team Rocket leader Giovanni is wary of taking him on.
    • Ultima in the Sevii Islands trains starter Pokémon to unlock the full potential of the Ultimate Moves. Her own Pokémon are not to be taken lightly.
    • Also Mabel, who in this story is a Kalos League Conference winner, and trains her (honorary) grandkids to master Mega Evolution.
  • Unbiased takes things further than canon when it's revealed that the rigors of shinobi life mean most start developing arthritis and muscle weakness in their thirties. So those who make it to their fifties, let alone their seventies like Hiruzen and Oonoki, are rightly feared as being some of the most badass people around.

    Films — Animation 
  • Kung Fu Panda:
    • Downplayed a bit in where Shifu is the old master to the Furious Five and Po, but he himself has more to learn from both his own mentor, Master Oogway, and from Po's own insight.
    • Played straight with extremely pacifist and soft-spoken Oogway himself (who is about 1000 years old), to the point that he was originally able to take down the undefeatable Big Bad in less than a second. According to Shifu, Oogway is the one who invented kung-fu, so it'd make sense for him to know more than anyone else about it. We see more of his badassery in the TV series, such as when he completely floors the incredibly agile Monkey.
  • Being a deconstruction of a standard hero quest, The LEGO Movie naturally has one of these. His name is Vitruvius, and he prefers the term "experienced."
  • The Lion King (1994): Rafiki ends the film kicking some serious hyena butt.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Creed II: Ivan Drago has become one of these in his old age, as he came out of his fight with Rocky without any significant injuries, is still in great shape and exercises every morning in Kiev. This is in contrast with Rocky who is worn out inside and out due to injuries, brain damage from said fight and recovering from cancer.
  • Crossworlds stars Rutger Hauer as one of these.
  • Gangster Squad has Max Kennard as a gunslinger type of these, an aging but skilled gunhand who's able to shoot a can in the air half-a-dozen times before running out of bullets. He takes young cop Navidad Ramírez under his wing and his skills noticeably improve, culminating in Navidad helping Kennard take out The Dragon before he can kill O'Mara just before Kennard dies from his wounds.
  • The white-haired old monk in Hong Kil Dong, who is not only a master martial artist but has magic powers. He leaps into a crowd of bandits, defeats them all singlehandedly, and saves young Hong Kil Dong and Kil Dong's mom from being murdered.
  • Deconstructed in Ip Man 2. While Master Hung is kickass enough to hold his own against Ip and the Twister at first, the length of the exhibition match causes exhaustion to start setting in leading to his death.
  • The most famous example is, without a doubt, Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid.
  • Pai Mei in Kill Bill: Volume 2. He's more of a cruel and evil master than the kindly Mr. Miyagi type and according to the film's mythology was responsible for the destruction of the Shaolin Temple because a Shaolin monk that he passed on the road didn't return the slight nod that he gave him. He's been known to snatch out the eyes of those who look on him with defiance and snap the backs and necks of those who give him sass like they were twigs. This eventually gets him killed when he snatches out Elle Driver's right eye for calling him a "miserable old fool," and she retaliates by poisoning his fish heads. He hates Caucasians, despises Americans and has nothing but contempt for women. So of course his greatest student, the only one he teaches his Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique, is a blonde American woman who also learns to love him as a father, joyfully snatching out Driver's left eye as vengeance for him. (Of course, it's entirely possible that Pai Mei simply hated everyone until they proved themselves to him. About the only thing he seems to like are fish heads.)
  • Red appears to be this, with a team of retired black-ops investigating their former employer. The designation itself stands for Retired, Extremely Dangerous.
  • Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins subverts this by making its old Korean mentor capable of assorted miraculous feats but also a blatant racist and sexist. He is from a different generation.
  • The guardian of the Wall in Stardust. "The man must be 90 years old." "Well, then, he's had plenty of time to practice, hasn't he?"
  • Star Wars:
    • Grand Master Yoda, especially his first appearance in The Empire Strikes Back. 900 years old, he is; kick your ass, he still can. Thanks to CGI, fans get to see him in action in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, as well as the "micro-series" Star Wars: Clone Wars and a few episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
    • Also Count Dooku in Attack of the Clones, who, while established as a ex-Jedi early in the film, is only revealed as a master swordsman when he neatly trounces Obi-Wan and Anakin during the final battle — until the arrival of the other Old Master, of course. And even then he holds his own.
    • From The Phantom Menace, Qui-Gon Jinn. Played by the future trainer of Batman and leader of the A-Team, Qui-Gon is the first maverick master seen on-screen (chronologically), at odds with the Jedi Council but respected nonetheless. He trained Obi-Wan and was the person most accountable for introducing Anakin Skywalker to the way of the Jedi. All things considered ...
    • Obi-Wan in Episode IV, Sidious in III, and the Emperor in VI, is introduced as a physically frail old man who unleashes previously unseen powers or abilities by the end of the film. Obi-Wan literally "become[s] more powerful than you can possibly imagine".
    • Luke Skywalker reaches this point in the sequel movies. Despite being old and somewhat out-of-practice, he's still powerful enough to utterly embarrass his former student and nephew.

  • There are several of these in Atharon. To even survive in that world, a person has to be a master of something, whether a fighting skill or carpentry (so you're hard to replace). Some of them work as a teachers for the new generation.
  • The Belgariad: Belgarath, sure he looks like a scruffy old vagabond, but he's also 7000 years old and barring The Chosen One, he's the single most powerful sorcerer EVER. As in, once, he got annoyed with a hammer and threw it away. Up, up, and away. Into space. That was several thousand years before the story, and apparently it's still going. The Big Bad's followers consider him to be Satan and need a change of underwear at the mention of his name.
    • The other Disciples of Aldur are no slouches either. Or even the Disciples of Torak - Ctuchik managed to go toe to toe with the aforementioned Belgarath and gave him what the prequel reveals to have been the toughest fight in his entire life. No one with that much power and age (and thus knowledge and, hopefully, wisdom) should be underestimated.
  • By some of the later books which are set during his retirement from front line duty, Ciaphas Cain (HERO OF THE IMPERIUM) becomes this to his cadets despite his body not being that physically old due to rejuvenat treatments. He combines unconventional thinking with the Badass martial skills that saw him survive tangling with some of the Imperium's worst enemies for decades.
  • Patera Silk, the protagonist of Gene Wolfe's Book of the Long Sun, learns swordsmanship from Master Xiphias, who is one of these. His name is derived from a species of swordfish.
  • Conan the Barbarian by Robert E. Howard: In "The Tower of the Elephant" Conan meets Taurus, whom he has heard of as "the prince of thieves." Taurus, liking his spirit, takes him along and immediately instructs him.
    "You made one mistake," said Conan.
    Taurus' eyes flashed angrily.
    "I? I, a mistake? Impossible!"
    "You should have dragged the body into the bushes."
    "Said the novice to the master of the art. They will not change the guard until past midnight. Should any come searching for him now, and find his body, they would flee at once to Yara, bellowing the news, and give us time to escape. Were they not to find it, they'd go beating up the bushes and catch us like rats in a trap."
  • In The Destroyer series of novels, 80 year old (at the start of the book series - which has been ongoing for almost 50 years now) tiny Chiun is quite literally, the most dangerous man in the world. If he wants you dead, you might as well shoot yourself.
  • Discworld:
    • Cohen the Barbarian, the greatest (and oldest) barbarian hero in the world. Those who underestimate him because of his age don't realize that living to be over seventy in a dangerous profession such as barbarian heroism means he's good at it. The book Interesting Times introduces the Silver Horde, a group consisting of Cohen and some of his fellow elderly barbarians, all of whom are still incredibly dangerous (despite one of them being in a wheelchair). The seven of them conquer a continent roughly analogous to China. This is shown to be a mix of being so experienced that they don't have to be fast to win and being masters of Combat Pragmatism (though this is later shown to have some limits - especially when forced into a battle of attrition. They can slaughter plenty of Mooks, but they get tired much faster than they used to).
      Six Beneficient Winds: But ... they're so old!
      Mr Saveloy: Indeed, and of course, this is true. They are very old barbarian heroes.
      Six Beneficient Winds: *as the penny starts to drop* Oh, my...
      Mr Saveloy: That's right. They've had a lifetime's experience of not dying. They've become very good at it...
      [Saveloy could see it dawning in the fat man's eyes]
    • Lu-Tze, first appeared in Small Gods, but really got to strut his stuff in Thief of Time. And Lu-Tze mastered the technique (mentioned with Cohen earlier) of letting his reputation precede him: particularly Rule #1. Because, although he rarely uses it, Lu-Tze has the capability to knock even the personification of Time for a loop.
      Rule #1: Do not act incautiously when confronting little bald wrinkly smiling men.
    • On another branch is Esmerelda 'Granny' Weatherwax. What she lacks in physical skills (which is less than you might think - she's deadly with a hatpin), she more than makes up for in her knowledge of Discworld psychology (or "headology", as she puts it). She is no less a master of reputation than Cohen or Lu-Tze, and reputation and psychology are her primary weapons. Like Lu-Tze, everyone questions whether she is a real witch, but she has shown the ability (if not the eagerness) to perform very powerful magic when she really needs it. In fact, the main cited reason she doesn't use it is because she knows how good she'd be at it. When she does use magic, it tends to be subtly and turning an enemy's strengths against them - such as when she casually turns a very powerful Voodoo practitioner's doll against her by sticking her hand in a torch, making the effect travel down the link to the doll, which burns up. As the the other witch says, dazed, Lily Weatherwax (Esme's apparently more powerful older sister) spent ten years trying to overpower her - Esme didn't even have to sweat. That being said, when raw power is required, she's more than capable. Such as when she moved the entire kingdom of Lancre forward in time 15 years (in Wyrd Sisters).
    • Granny's grandmother, Alison Weatherwax, is implied to have been as powerful, if not more so - when she was even older than Granny at the time, she went out to Uberwald and encountered the previous Count Magpyr. He was a very old master vampire, the stronger and subtly smarter uncle of the very powerful and dangerously intelligent Count Magpyr of Carpe Jugulum. She beat him in a fair fight and rammed a stake through his heart. She was 75. Even Granny is impressed by that, and filled with a certain family pride, implying that he'd have been a far harder opponent than the younger Count. For context, he nearly destroyed her, both physically and mentally, and she had to resort to putting her mind into her own blood, let the entire clan of vampires drink it, tricking them into inviting her in. As she says with some satisfaction - "I ain't been vampired. You've been Weatherwaxed." While brilliant, she admitted she was forced to do it because she couldn't beat him in a straight fight, and she was also backed up by a vengeful [[spoiler: phoenix and a priest who'd just become a Badass Preacher. With that in mind, Alison's feat is all the more impressive.
    • Pretty much any of the wizards (except maybe the Bursar), because while they appear to be old, fat, and a maybe slightly demented, they've all gotten old and fat while surviving the unbridled ambitions of both their companions of age, and much younger, fitter wizards. Ridcully is a particular example, having proved to be essentially unkillable (thus ending the habit of Klingon Promotion), as well as being a Boisterous Bruiser who does things like go three rounds bare-knuckle boxing with trolls (who are made of rock).
  • The Dresden Files has a plethora of these, both human and non-human.
    • The seven Senior Council of Wizards are generally the strongest and eldest members of the group, usual ascension minimum age being near their 200s. Here is a quick rundown of some of their strengths.
      • The leader, Arthur Langtry, is called the Merlin and is the strongest of the lot. A master of defensive magics, he once created a barrier ward on the fly to hold back an entire court of evil vampires and monsters from beyond the universe. The most impressive aspect is the wards need to be grounded by some threshold, like the one guarding a home. Lacking one means the ward's strength is reduced greatly. So, even without that essential quality to make a good ward, he maintains one against a threat that includes multiple beings that successfully faked godhood for thousands of years through raw power leading an army of monsters and Eldritch Abominations.
      • Ebenezer McCoy is one of the youngest members. He once nearly killed a vampire by just clutching his fist and Force-choking her with no effort on his part. He destroys enemy bases by dropping old satellites orbiting in space on them. Professional smartass Harry Dresden addresses him as, "sir". When the two end up in a duel, a much more battle-hardened Dresden, now the nigh superhumanly strong and resilient Winter Knight, a One-Man Army who's killed two minor-league Physical Gods in close combat and undergone Training from Hell from Mab herself, is under no illusions that even under what are - for him - ideal conditions and with Ebenezar not really wanting the fight, he's going to get his ass beaten. And does. Since he was just stalling for time, it worked out anyway.
      • Ancient Mai, a miniature senior citizen type, has an incredibly sharp intellect and is frighteningly good at deucing things. Regarding her magical abilities, what we know is limited, but when the hero Harry Dresden sees her escort of battle-hardened Wardens, magical soldiers trained to kill other mages and dark things, one is holding her umbrella. She has also made guardian statues able to detect dark magic.
      • Joseph "Injun Joe" Listens-to-Winds is a Native American shaman, best healer in the Council, regularly goes back to med school every ten years to see what new things have come about, and is a master of shapeshifting, having once sent a walking Physical God running in fear of its destruction after a shapeshifting battle. This is not even the most impressive feat he pulls off in the series.
    • Odin, the Norse God, is still alive and well in the Dresden-verse. While not as powerful as he once was, his previous students include Myrrdin Emrys, aka the Original Merlin from 1,000 years back. A powerful and dangerous man, not above priming Harry and setting him on a course of action without ever seeming to be anything but friendly and respectful.
    • Skaldi Skjeldson is one of Odin's Einherjar. He has been around for roughly 2,000 years. While he may look like a middle aged man, he is a skilled combat fighter. When one of Harry's friends, Murphy, a genuine martial arts master, trains against him, Skaldi never loses. At the last moment before Skaldi would lose, he pulls out some new move or trick to secure a victory.
    • Regarding the villains, there's Nicodemus Archleone, leader of the Denarians. 2000 plus years old, we rarely see much of his Fallen, Anduriel, much less of his abilities - all the other Denarians transform in some way. The only visibly odd thing about Nicodemus is that his shadow sometimes takes on a life of its own, and Dresden admits that while all the other Denarians whip their Fallen and powers out all over the place, having fought Nicodemus twice he still barely knows anything about what Anduriel can do, other than occasionally turning into wings and chauffeuring Nicodemus around. He also explicitly notes that this is because Nicodemus is so dangerous that he's never actually had to resort to using Anduriel. While the fact he's got Judas' noose as a tie (and thus has a Healing Factor that would make Wolverine blush except when someone a.k.a. Harry decides to strangle him with it) helps, he's also a Master Swordsman who only feels threatened by Shiro, who's explicitly to swordsmanship what Mozart was to music. When he finally does have to resort to Anduriel in combat, he's able to take on both Michael, Knight of the Cross, a Master Swordsman wielding Amoracchius a.k.a. freaking Excalibur, and Harry simultaneously for a fair while, despite being at his psychologically most vulnerable, ever. While he's eventually forced to cut and run, it's impressive as hell.
    • The Archive, though not the current possessor - Ivy is a small child when first introduced, and into her late teens by the most recent book. The Archive, meanwhile, is the entire collected written knowledge of humanity over the last five thousand years. When in an environment explicitly designed to make her vulnerable, including cutting off the supply of magic to the area and trapping her there, she casually vaporises a Denarian with a single spell, and takes on about a dozen at once, with Harry awestruck at the sheer precision and magical skill at work. The only one who provides a remote challenge is Tessa, also an example, only being a little younger than Nicodemus (her husband) and a powerful practitioner of magic in her own right - and by 'challenge' we mean, 'has to actually pay attention to her'. This is even more impressive given that magical stamina and strength are heavily tied to age - and for all her ancient knowledge, physically Ivy is twelve. Harry later explicitly states that if it hadn't been for the magic trap, she'd have eaten the Denarians alive, and that the Council's assessment of her as being on par with the Winter and Summer Ladies, minor-league Physical Gods, is a significant underestimate.
  • In Emergence, by David R. Palmer, the character referred to by the narrator as "Teacher" or "Master" (depending on context. Name is given as Soo Kim McDivott) plays this role for the narrator and several other characters.
  • Mazer Rackham in Ender's Game, hero of the second Bug War and Ender's trainer in the third one. According to the prequel novels, he was also key in stopping the First Invasion, while still a member of the New Zealand SAS. Interestingly, the novels slightly deconstruct his greatness, showing that he failed his admittance test into the Mobile Operations Police (a multinational task force).
  • Gangsta Granny: The Granny can swim up pipes and abseil down skyscrapers.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Dumbledore is clearly a prime example. He's incredibly old, but most people speak of him in complete awe. In the fifth book we probably get the best view of his power when he takes down three ministry officials (with a little help) and then battles Voldemort to a draw after restraining some half a dozen Death Eaters. This is likely due to the fact that in the wizarding world knowledge actually equals power and Dumbledore has had plenty of training time.
    • Some of the other teachers at Hogwarts qualify. Flitwick, it's mentioned in the second book, is an old duelling champion. McGonagall is powerful enough to enchant the school itself to come to life and use it as a weapon. She, Slughorn and Shacklebolt duel Voldemort in the final book. Naturally, they are also masters in their respective fields - or they wouldn't be teachers.
      McGonagall: We teachers are rather good at magic, you know.
    • Another example is (probably) Augusta Longbottom. We never actually hear what she's a master of, but she's incredibly powerful.
  • From the Honor Harrington novella From The Highlands, Master Robert Tye has a well-earned reputation as a dangerous martial artist, which in one case allows him to casually avoid a genetically engineered Super Soldier trying to kill him.
  • Bodger from The Incredible Journey is a goofy, half-blind old bull terrier whose goal in life seems to be to mooch as much love and food from humans as possible. He is also a dog fighting veteran and can still beat up other dogs when he needs to.
  • The titular character of The Iron Teeth. Don't let his age fool you. Blacknail has learned not to mess with his master Saeter. The old scout is still a force to be reckoned with.
  • Kaa in The Jungle Book. The oldest creature in the jungle, Kaa offers sage advice to those who seek it, and painful, suffocating death to those who cross him. Or happen to be near him when he is hungry. He doesn't discriminate that much.
  • The Last of the Renshai:
    • Colbey Calistinsson trilogy. Never mind that he is 67, in an era where people seldom lived to 40. He was perfectly calm about taking out a group of 15, training a 16-year-old girl in the art of the sword, fighting a group of 100 with only Santagithi to help him, and an army of 10000 quaracks, by himself.
    • The Renshai race, which Colbey was a part of, almost never lived to the age of 25.
    • Santagithi is also a very competent swordsman, at the age of 58, waiting until the end of the battle to die, because he tripped on a rock.
  • Druss from David Gemmell's first published novel, Legend, is an unusually blunt variant of this trope. Sixty-years-old, built like a bull, and quite capable of single-handedly slaughtering a dozen men half his age. His presence, and wisdom, inspire the younger characters to heroism; after all, he is a living legend. Meanwhile, he's trying to pretend he's not half-dead from exhaustion, agonised by arthritis, and determined to avoid senility through battle.
  • Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings. Théoden also kicks some serious ass.
  • In the The Lost Fleet series of books by John Hemry, Captain John Geary has spent a century in suspended animation while his reputation became Shrouded in Myth... and everyone else forgot effective naval tactics in favor of simply charging at the enemy. Which means once he takes command, forces that follow his orders tend to win amazingly one-sided victories unless ridiculously outnumbered — then they just win. The "forgot" part comes from the fact that such knowledge comes partly from experience and partly from being passed on by experienced fleet commanders. Unfortunately, after a century of constant warfare, all those officers were killed before passing on their experience. Thus, being able to accurately plan a fleet action, accounting for the speed-of-light time lag (basically, fight in 4 dimensions), is a lost art. He still faces a lot of opposition to his tactics from the more hardcore ship commanders, especially when the legendary "Fighting" Falco comes aboard, who claims that "fighting spirit" is enough to win battles. To their credit, the Syndics start to pick up on Geary's tactics, although they are still amateurs at it. The "old" part is averted here thanks to Geary spending the century on ice. He definitely feels out of place, but he's hardly an old man. On the other hands, due to heavy attrition, most fleet officers even in command positions are way younger than him.
  • Drona of The Mahabharata. He was the mentor to the Pandavas, and taught Arjuna, the world's greatest archer, nearly everything he knew. He has access to a number of mantras and esoteric combat techniques no one else knows. When the civil war happens, Drona is 85 and still nearly invincible.
  • In Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain, Master Scorpion is the old master. Ray might be one of the first people to impress him in a very long time, and he still gets curb-stomped.
    Master Scorpion: I want you, boy. One year. Train under me for one year, and, when we are finished, you will humiliate Joe the Fist. You will fight him, and he will look like the child.
    Reviled: It was an honor to match myself against the Master, but I am not looking for a teacher right now.
    Master Scorpion: [grinning] I can wait. There are limits to what you can teach yourself. Sooner rather than later, you will come to me.
  • Eda Bell, one of the two teachers of hand-to-hand combat in Tamora Pierce's Protector of the Small books says something to the effect of "I may look like someone's grandmother, but some grandchildren require more raising than others."
  • The Reynard Cycle: Isengrim has become one of these by Defender of the Crown. He wipes the floor with three skilled duelists who initially scoff at the idea of three against one.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Ser Barristan Selmy is the last living member of King Aerys' old Kingsguard, if you leave Jaime Lannister out of the count, and can easily defeat younger adversaries.
    • Syrio Forel, the First Sword of Braavos, who takes on several Mooks to protect Arya while she escapes, and bludgeons them to death with a wooden sword. He dies a few minutes later to a knight, though. In his defense, the knight was wearing armor and he was aware that the fight was hopeless.
    • In the prequel series Fire & Blood, Samgood of Sour Hill, also known as Sour Sam, was a sixty-three year old hedge knight before he ascended to become a Kingsguard to Jaehaerys Targeryen. He was gaunt, bald, nearly toothless, and moved faster than men half his age, his skills honed by a lifetime of battle.
  • Star Wars Legends: Wedge Antilles qualifies by the end of his career, having served in and survived three galactic wars, fighting in his final pitched battle before semi-retirement aged sixty one, shooting down one of his successors as Rogue Leader in the process.
  • The Lance Lord from Gemmell's Stones of Power series.
  • There are several of these in Unique, but Helga takes first place. She decides to step up her grandson's training partway through the book. Now Jan gets woken up in the morning by a loud scream and a knife thrown at him. Followed by a nice big breakfast.
  • Subverted in The Wise Man's Fear where Shehyn, the elderly teacher of an order of legendary fighters, battles one of her much younger students, the student much more energetic vs Shehyn's measured movements - and Shehyn loses. Kvothe wonders if this means the one who beat her is the leader now, which the member he's talking to finds amusing. Not only would it be ridiculous to base their leadership off of who wins a single fight, but Shehyn is very old. It's not realistic to expect her to always beat someone with much more energy. Of course, Shehyn is still extremely good.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Battlestar Galactica (2003), the main character, Commander Bill Adama is an Old Master. His morals and ethics dictate the conduct of the rest of the crew (i.e. characters remarking on more than one occasion "Cmdr. Adama would/would not do this"), and he openly regards many of them like children to him (which is extremely worrisome when you consider his terrible relationship with Lee, his actual son). This does not change the fact that, as we see in the season one episode "Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part 1", and the season three episode "Unfinished Business", Bill's capable of stepping into the boxing ring the crew has set up and beating the stuffing out of said "children" should he feel the need. He's pretty handy with a flashlight, too.
  • Cobra Kai: John Kreese at around 70 can still stand toe-to-toe with his middle-aged best student Johnny Lawrence.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Ser Barristan Selmy's age grants him a wealth of experiences unmatched by almost anyone living.
    • Rodrik Cassel is old and the man of arms for Winterfell.
  • Knightfall has Master Talus, an elderly Knight Templer who is the Master of Initiates in charge of training and evaluating all potential knights. When King Philip begins The Purge of the Knight Templar, Talus is one of the few knights to escape and he leads a daring rescue of the other knights. He then performs a You Shall Not Pass! so people under his protection can escape. We then see him a few minutes later as he is sheathing his swords and the street behind him is covered in dead enemies. Despite his age, he is probably the deadliest Knight Templer shown in the show.
  • Grasshopper, Master Po from Kung Fu, surely one of the Trope Makers of the Old Master, and owner/operator of a Disability Superpower to boot. Or The Ancient One from Kung Fu The Legend Continues, who might have been several hundred years old.
  • NCIS:
    • In "Worst Nightmare", the team has a difficult time keeping up with the grandfather of a missing girl.
    • Gibbs' former boss and teacher Mike Franks should easily qualify.
    • And, of course, Gibbs himself.
  • Power Rangers:
    • In Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue, Chad's former mentor Tomashiro was a guy like this, but he and Chad weren't exactly on good terms. Tomashiro was sorely disappointed that his student had chosen his current occupation (as a Ranger) rather than take the role as his successor. This led to Tomashiro foolishly accepting the demon Cyclopter as a student, who naturally turned on him after learning enough. (Chad eventually won back his mentor's respect.)
    • Both played straight and averted in Power Rangers Jungle Fury; some of the masters and teachers from the Order of the Claw are indeed old masters. However, in the first episode, when the rangers are sent to the Jungle Karma Pizza restaurant to find their new master, they see a man who looks like your stereotypical old master and immidiately assume he must be the one they are searching for, only to find out he is just a customer and the real master is the much younger owner of the restaurant.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • Master Bra'tac. In his first appearance in the series, started off by complaining about his old age, then promptly incapacitated Colonel O'Neill in an embarassingly short fight sequence. Continues to refer to himself as an old man during the entire 10 seasons despite the fact that he is obviously one of the most skilled warriors in the galaxy. Some other Jaffa make the mistake of confusing his age with weakness. Too late and to their sorrow do they realize that a prominent man living a century and a half in an entire society of expendable warriors should have been a clue as to his badassery. Bonus points for being called "Master" by virtually every Jaffa and on some occasions even Humans, seemingly an honorary title given only to Bra'tac out of respect for his wisdom.
      Kinsey: Which is why I've taken it upon myself to come on down and hear what Mister Bra'tac has to say personally.
      O'Neill: Master Bra'tac. Master.
    • Due to his 50 years spent in a time warp in SG-1's final episode, Teal'c is even older than Bra'tac now. As of that episode, he's nearly 160 in subjective years. That makes him physically about 5 years Bra'tac's senior, though he doesn't look it. Teal'c lived and practiced for those fifty years, and still kicks so much rear after it.
  • Star Trek:
    • A non-combat example from Star Trek: The Next Generation is seen in Unification, when Spock instantly and accurately figures out the details and major players of a Romulan plot before Picard — or even Data, who is arguably more intelligent than Spock — even have a chance to draw a breath. It helped that he'd been immersed in their culture for years instead of trying to pick up the whole situation in a few hours.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine shows the later years of Dahar Master Kor, who despite suffering dementia, is able to hold off a fleet of Jem'Hadar fighters with a skeleton crew on a crippled bird-of-prey long enough for Martok's task force to get away.
    • Fellow Dahar Masters Kang and Koloth — with the help of Jadzia Dax — defeat the albino's army with little effort in Blood Oath.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Monks eventually gain Timeless Body, which means that, while they still visibly age, they take no penalties for aging and remain every bit as physically powerful as they were at their prime. At the level a monk gains that ability he/she is also not to be trifled with, or at least not unless you're pretty much any other class at the same level.
  • Exalted: Sidereals will eventually become this, if they aren't already. They know the best Supernatural Martial Arts there are (that only they can learn), they rely on subtle but masterful measures, their non-martial-arts powers require esoteric wisdom to make good use of, and they keep low profile— though that last one is a magically enforced rule of reality.
  • Feng Shui: The Old Master archetype has the highest starting Martial Arts and Chi scores of the whole archetype list and five Fu Schticks, and though he only starts with a Body score of 4, his Unique Schtick allows him to use unarmed attacks to wallop characters with 10 base damage (equivalent of Body 8 or 9). You just know it's a bad move to mess with him.
  • In Nomine: The Archangel Michael is the second or third oldest angel in the universe — and, since he's also the Archangel of War, he can take down just about any opponent or group of opponents you care to name. After he personally booted his older brother Lucifer out of Heaven, the rest of the demonic army decided to show itself out.
  • Mutant Chronicles: Sebastian Crenshaw is 55 years old in a universe where average life expectancy is 40, but still the Solar System's most skilled assassin, swordsman and martial artist.
  • Sentinels of the Multiverse:
    • Mister Fixer is a devastatingly skilled martial artist who Word of God holds is the most skilled martial artist in the setting (other people might hit harder, but they usually use superpowers to do it) - and being blind doesn't slow him down. Originally conceived in-universe as a Blaxploitation / kung fu Fad Super when those were the new hotness, Reimagining the Artifact positioned that as the exuberance of youth, with the years since then having left him as a beaten-down old man with a few extra decades of regrets, coming out of retirement to take on the crime syndicate poisoning his city - with his skills as sharp as ever, even though he's set aside his bo staves and nunchaku in favour of tyre irons, jack handles and crowbars.
    • John Rhodes, aka The Scholar, is a friendly-looking older man who typically wears a bathrobe and gives off strong Jeff Bridges vibes. He's over a hundred years old, not that he looks it, and is possibly the most skilled true alchemist in the world.
  • Warhammer 40,000
    • Chapter Masters of the Space Marines only get there by earning the respect of an entire chapter of super soldiers. Usually done by, at the very least, surviving and distinguishing yourself in centuries of battle against nightmarish odds in a crapsack universe. After first growing up on and proving yourself Badass by the standards of a Death World where one is considered an Old Master if they live to thirty, then surviving the Training from Hell and augmentation surgeries needed to be turned into a Super Soldier.
    • The oldest actively serving Space Marine is Dante, Chapter Master of the Blood Angels, clocking in at over 1,400 years (the Blood Angels in general have a reputation of living longer than average if the Black Rage doesn't claim them).
    • The oldest Loyalist Marine is Bjorn the Fellhanded, now interred in a Dreadnought and thus kept in a chemically induced coma most of the time. By the best reckoning, he is well over 13,000 years old, old enough to remember the original Legions, fought in the Great Crusade, and most impressively fought alongside the Emperor himself. Yet, when the call is given, he can still kick ass with the best of them.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Combat gives us Old Aces. In a line of work where pilots usually retire or get promoted away from a cockpit around their mid-to-late-thirties, we have:
    • Ashley Bernitz, aka 8492th squadron leader / Grabacr 1 in Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War, a 30-years veteran who is still a top-notch pilot and leading member of The Conspiracy. He is 53.
    • In the same game, Pops the resident mechanic turns out to be legendary Belkan ace Wolfgang "Huckebein the Raven" Buchner, Bernitz's personal Nemesis. And he still got it, as he manages to escape an enemy squadron in end-game planes using only his skill and a trainer jet. He is in his late fifties.
    • Belka seems to love this trope since Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War has two more: squadron leaders Dietrich Kellerman and Anton Kupchenko. Kellerman is the founder of Belka's best military flight school. Kupchenko is both the head of A World With No Boundaries and the co-creator of Project Pendragon, which gave birth to all Belkan superweapons. They're respectively 45 and 48.
    • Mihaly in Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown is old enough to have grey hair and two teenage granddaughters and needs special equipment to operate his plane, putting him in his late fifties to mid sixties. He still shoots down anything not controlled by a player like it's nothing.
  • Akatsuki Blitzkampf has the local Mighty Glacier, Fritz, a quiet swordsman in his 70's or 80's who is incredibly badass and is one of the very few cast members who's a survivor of the past war from fifty years ago.
  • In Assassins Creed, the single most dangerous opponent you can face in a straight sword fight? Your own ancient, gray-bearded master, Al-Mualim, in the final battle. He uses extensive trickery. Being able to magically multiply yourself has some clear advantages in battle.
    • Although his true age is unknown, La Volpe from the sequel is clearly no spring chicken as his wrinkled face shows. Nevertheless, the first time Ezio meets him, the former is winded trying to keep him.
    • Ezio and Altair eventually become this, as shown in Assassin's Creed: Revelations.
  • Augus from Asura's Wrath, a Cool Old Guy who is quite fond of the finer things in life and has quite the Blood Knight streak to him. Unfortunately, he's also one of the Seven Deities who Asura has sworn vengeance against for betraying him. The battle you have against him is one of the most awesome ones of the game.
  • Fo Fai from Battle Arena Toshinden. According to the manual, he's 103 when the first tournament starts.
  • The Battle Cats features this trope in the form of Hermit Cat, which is quite possibly the strongest enemy in the entire game.
  • The magician Patrus from Betrayal at Krondor is a hardy old geezer. It doesn't matter if you're a tough dark elf fighter, mess with him and you'll be disposed off in an unceremonious huff.
    • For that matter, Gorath also qualifies, after surviving in a position of leadership in a cutthroat society for close to two and a half centuries.
  • Bloodborne has Gehrman, an old, senile and peg-legged retired Hunter who teaches new Hunters the ropes. And if you turn down his offer to Mercy Kill you, he'll demonstrate that the senility is an act, the loss of one leg has not slowed him down and his retirement has not so much as dulled the edge of The First Hunter.
    • There's also Eileen the Crow, the Hunter of Hunters, a very old woman who's tasked with hunting down Hunters who've gone mad or become infected with the scourge of beasts. In her case though, the trope is deconstructed: Her stubborn refusal to accept that she's passed her prime and is in no shape to hunt down her marks any longer ends up with her own death if you do not come to her rescue.
  • The Master in Destroy All Humans!: Path of the Furon, who is a parody of Master Po.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • In the series backstory, Frandar Hunding was the legendary Yokudan/Redguard Ansei, or "Sword Saint", who is quite possibly the greatest Master Swordsman in the history of Nirn. After winning 90 duels against rival swordsmen, Frandar retired at age 30 and retreated to Mount Hattu, where he wrote his legendary treatise on swordsmanship, the Book of Circles. At age 60, a group of Ansei, led by his son Divad, came to him and asked him to lead them in battle against the Yokudan Emperor Hira, who was attempting to consolidate power by eliminating the Ansei. Frandar reluctantly led them to victory, but at great cost. Due to being considered "red with blood" by the citizens of Yokuda, he chose to self-exile to Tamriel, becoming one of the first Yokudans to settle there. Later, pushing 90, he was still acting as a Frontline General when he finally fell in battle against the giant goblins of Hammerfell.
    • Also from the backstory, Chimeri Lord Nerevar was (at least) in his 300s at the time of his death and was still serving as a Frontline General, having infiltrated the Dwemer Red Mountain stronghold. Granted, the races of Mer are Long-Lived compared to the races of Men, but not counting those who've enhanced their lifespans with magic or divine powers, that is still quite old for a Mer.
    • In Morrowind, Blades Spymaster and initial main quest Quest Giver Caius Cosades is a balding, gray-haired old man. However, his stats and skills are better than most. He even fits the martial arts basis of the trope, being one of the highest level trainers of the Hand to Hand skill.
    • The series has the Greybeards, masters of the Thu'um (the draconic Language of Magic). The Greybeards have trained their voices to such an incredible extent that even a misplaced whisper could kill a person. They play a major part in Skyrim, where they summon the Dragonborn to High Hrothgar, their monastery on the Throat of the World, the tallest mountain in Tamriel, for training in the Thu'um. When they greet the Dragonborn with a politely whispered "Dovahkiin", the whole mountain shakes from the force of it. Even when they speak in full voice to summon the Dragonborn to High Hrothgar, all of Skyrim hears it. It should be noted that this isn't just lore fluff, the four Greybeards are some of the highest level-NPCs in the game, with Arngeir sitting pretty at level 150.
  • EXTRAPOWER: Attack of Darkforce: Old man Roshi is an old karate master, now living in hermitage. His guardianship over Kojiro is why he's an excellent, if arrogant, martial artist today, and his skills haven't dulled with age. Unfortunately, he gets done in when an enhanced Half-Human Hybrid is brought into the equation.
  • Tung Fu-Rue and Jubei Yamada from the Fatal Fury series, along with Lee Pai-Long from Art of Fighting. Tung even made it as a bonus character in the PS2 version of KOF XI. Makes you wonder why they didn't form a team in KOF.
    • Tung continues his role as mentor in KOF, forming the new hero team in XIV with his final two disciples, Shun'ei and Meitenkun.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy XI has Maat, the old man responsible for raising the level cap from 50 to 75 (or just to 70 on a few expansion jobs). He uses both Wax On, Wax Off and Training from Hell methods to raise your limits, but you never take him too seriously, and think he's just an advisor... then you go to break the 70-75 cap, which has you fight him, and most likely see him gleefully rend you into paste, even unfairly so. Simply put, anyone who's 75 respects him. Or hates him. It kinda varies. Love him or hate him, you have to respect him. Even if you fought Maat as a Red Mage back in the days before he was nerfed, you have to smile when you see Maat whalloping the crap out of enemies in the past in the Wings of the Goddess expansion.
    • Final Fantasy XIV's Shadowbringers has Ran'jit who's this, as well as one of the main villains that consistently gets in the way of the Warrior of Darkness's path by being just about an Implacable Man.
  • The Great Sensei from God Hand. He will kick your ass.
  • Master Li in Jade Empire, the question is, what's a man like him doing teaching a bunch of peasant kids out on the edge of the Empire?
  • Saisyu Kusanagi, Chin Gensai, Takuma Sakazaki, and a number of others from The King of Fighters. Several of them got together to form the Old Man Team one year: Saisyu, Takuma and Colonel Badass Heidern (despite them not being that old, compared to Chin). In KOF 2002 Unlimited Match, Chin joins the team in Saisyu's place, due to the game being a dream match for the 99 to 2002 editions and Bao occupying his position in the Psycho Soldier team. Lampshaded with their theme song, In Spite of One's Age, a soft and relaxing tune. You may want to hear the '98 version, and 2002 Unlimited Match version.
  • Master Xehanort in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep is the Big Bad of the game, and the entire first saga of the franchise, and is a hunched-over old man.note  However, in spite of his age he's still one of the most powerful entities in the series so far — in the cutscene before the final battles of the three storylines, he raises plateaus of earth into the air and creates a whirlwind of Keyblades to attack the heroes with, all with a few waves of the hand. And when one of the heroes, Ven, gets close enough to attack, Xehanort evades the sneak attack, holds Ven in the air by the head, and freezes him solid. Then the time the actual boss battle comes around, and he averts Cutscene Power to the Max by doing all of those things as attacks. However, he's not content with being unable to unleash his full power just because his body's too old and feeble to handle it, which is why he spends most of the game corrupting one of the heroes, Terra, so that he can steal his body at the right opportunity. As seen with the resulting Terra-Xehanort, as well as his younger self, he's even more horrifyingly powerful when he has a body that won't give out at a moment's notice.
  • Jolee Bindo in Knights of the Old Republic, who is old enough to be starting to lose his memory and for the little hair he has left to be completely white, and yet with the proper build and gear is a contender for the title of most powerful character (including the player) in the game at high levels. On the other hand he dismisses the idea of being a teacher and claims just to be travelling with you for fun.
  • The Legend of Spyro: While the four Dragon Guardians' age isn't mentioned, their words imply they're getting too old for the job, but that doesn't mean the Apes attacking the temple in the second game didn't get their butts kicked by the four of them. Yeah, Spyro and Cynder outclass them in the end, but that's what they were hoping for.
  • In Live A Live, the player character of one chapter is a nameless old master of a dying school of Kung Fu in search of a young disciple to pass his art on to.
  • Mass Effect: Beware of any krogan who has lived past the age of 1,000. Since krogan are predisposed to spend their lives in combat, very few of them reach old age... and those that do have probably seen more battles than every human in an army put together. Such krogan are often known as "Battlemasters" and are considered some of the most dangerous warriors in all of existence. Asari matriarchs (from a race that lives just as long as krogan) with combat training tend to also qualify, although they're less likely to be front-line specialists.
  • The Matrix: Path of Neo has one of these as the last test in a Mortal Kombat parody tournament training level.
  • In the Mortal Kombat series, Bo Rai Cho fills this role. An ancient martial artist native to the Outworld who invented Drunken Fist, his many students include Li Mei, Kung Lao, and Liu Kang, the hero of the series. In the Konquest Mode of Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, it states that he was also the sensei of the 17th Century samurai Musō Gonnosuke Katsuyoshi, who was a Real Life personality. And he's no slouch himself. In Deadly Alliance, it is stated that the only reason he never took part in the original tournament in an attempt to defeat Shang Tsung himself is because, as an Outworld native, Shao Kahn would get credit for his victory, which was what Kahn wanted in the first place.
  • In Ōkami, the sensei which teaches you new moves starts out when he first talks to you as a kind old man....but when you purchase a new move his head literally spins completely around, turning his giant chin into a giant forehead, and his long mustache into badass eyebrows, and his back straightens out, and his cane becomes a bamboo riding crop.
  • The Master from Paper Mario. While he appears to be asthmatic and weak, when he goes quite literally Super Saiyan on Mario, he turns out to be quite possibly the game's hardest foe.
  • Parappa The Rapper: Chop Chop Master Onion, anyone?
  • Played straight in Phantasy Star Universe with Headmaster Nav - the only difference being that he's a CAST (an android) who only looks like an old man. He's still almost 200 years old, though.
  • In Pokémon Red and Blue, there was originally going to be a battle with Prof. Oak, who apparently keeps the Pokémon neither you nor your rival chooses. He would have been the strongest Trainer in the game - even better than the Champion - but, for some reason, the battle was dummied out. However, using a GameShark, the battle can still be accessed.
    • Pokémon Sword and Shield has gym leader Opal who at 88 years old is definitely the oldest gym leader in her region and possibly the oldest trainer in the entire series. Looking at two of the League Cards will imply she was even Champion for a while until losing the title to another trainer who grew up to be this — Mustard of the Isle of Armor.
  • Ford Cruller, from Psychonauts, is a skilled and powerful Psychonaut who suffered brain damage in a fierce psychic battle a while ago. Now, unless he's near a source of Psitanium (like that beneath Whispering Rocks camp), he slips into a number of alternate personalities. So he works as Mission Control when he's not doing odd jobs around Whispering Rocks. He also ends up becoming Raz's psychic tutor.
  • Haohmaru's master, Caffeine Nicotine in Samurai Shodown II.
  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice:
    • The Owl, Wolf's adoptive father. The only man in the game to have the title "Great Shinobi". And he'll prove more than worthy of it in his boss fights, as even without his bag of tricks (ranging from shuriken and poison to firecrackers and smoke bombs), he's an agile old bird who can easily swing his massive sword around. This goes double for the slightly younger version of him in the second Hirata Estate memory, who's not only physically stronger than present-day Owl, but can summon an owl spirit familiar to aid him in battle.
    • Lady Butterfly is an elderly kunoichi who was one of Wolf's former mentors, and age hasn't stopped her from being a highly acrobatic fighter with incredibly powerful illusion magic.
    • Isshin Ashina, the patriarch of the Ashina clan, was known as the "Sword Saint" in his youth. While his age has long since caught up with him, his swordsmanship is arguably even more refined than during his prime; despite being terminally ill, he's still capable of easily slaughtering entire ninja squadrons in his guise as the "Tengu of Ashina", an alter-ego he also uses to secretly mentor Wolf in swordsmanship. In fact, the old man is powerful enough to be the final boss in one possible ending (in the other endings, he is revived at the peak of his power by his grandson Genichiro's sacrifice, and this version of Isshin is by far the most difficult boss in the game).
  • Sengoku Basara casts Yoshihiro Shimazu as one of these, a Master Swordsman who carries a BFS that would put the Buster Sword to shame and yet uses it with enough finesse to precisely deal One Hit Kills to any opponent. Many of the characters in the game revere him for his skills and seek lessons from him, for good reason
  • Edge Master from the Soul Series. He is Kilik's master and can also use every weapon in the game with equal proficiency to its owner. One of the oldest, non-immortal characters in the series (though his actual age is unknown).
  • Street Fighter:
    • Gen. He's actually a Blood Knight in at least his '70s who is deathly ill, but prefers to die in a fight than succumb to his illness.
    • Gouken, the elder brother of Akuma and the legendary master of Ryu and Ken. Initially only known through backstory and rumors, he was finally made playable in the home ports of Street Fighter IV.
    • Oro from III, an elderly hermit who is 140-years-young and still more powerful than the average young fighter in their prime. So much that he voluntarily disables one of his arms just to even the odds for his opponent.
  • In Super Punch-Out on the SNES, you fight a Chinese martial arts master called Hoy Quarlow. He is both the most unorthodox and most irritating opponent in the game, not so much for his difficulty (he is indeed a tough opponent), but for the fact he unabashedly cheats; half the time he doesn't punch you, but kicks you and hits you with his walking stick. In a boxing game. You can guess that he's That One Boss...
  • Master Rishu from Super Robot Wars Original Generation deserves a mention here. While being a side character who is only mentioned to be Sanger's teacher in the first game, and using a cane to walk, he was more than capable to take on multiple bioroids armed with automatic weapons while using only a sword, hidden in his cane. Later, in OG 2.5 he becomes an actual playable character, piloting Grungust type 0.
  • Wang Jinrei from the Tekken series. When he participates in The King of Iron Fist Tournament 5, he's 105 years old, has a bad back, and is somewhat senile. He can still send the young'uns tumbling across the arena with ease, however. Later, in Tekken 7, we're introduced to another old master in the form of Wing Chun practicioner Leroy Smith. He's at least over 50 years old and blind in one eye after getting shot, but he's skilled enough as a martial artist to have singlehandedly torn through several criminal gangs, as well as square off against people several years younger than him in and come out on top.
  • Thief: Artemus was Garrett's former teacher and the only person able to outsneak the Master Thief.
  • Master Zen, the ancient martial arts master in Tony Hawk's American Wasteland. For some reason, his teaching translate very well to skateboarding while still conveying supernatural abilities. He's also a total goofball, in spite of his wisdom.
  • Lau Chan from Virtua Fighter. As well as Shun Di.
  • Sotaro Komaki from Yakuza embodies this trope in the game, being one of the fighting instructors from Zero forwards, and being capable of teaching Kiryu everything from how to fight gun-wielding opponents to the immensely powerful Komaki Tiger Drop. He is also perfectly capable of kicking his pupil's ass, should the need arise.
    • Replace "martial artist" with "cabaret club hostess", and this trope applies very well to Yuki, in her appearance in Kiwami 2. Yuki is at this point 39 years old, which is ancient for a hostess. However, what she lacks in youthful beauty, she more than makes up for in grace, poise, charm and skill. In spite of being nearly twice the age of her employees, she can still run circles around them without even trying when she works the floor.

    Web Comics 
  • Master Surya from The Beast Legion.
  • Dragon Ball Multiverse: Krillin from U9.
  • In El Goonish Shive, this is invoked.
    Greg: For alas it is my greatest of shames as an anime martial arts master that I am not an old man or a pervert!!!
  • Dr. Sun Jen-djieh from Girl Genius. When Baron Wulfenbach bypassed his medical order of staying in bed by building a bed into a Humongous Mecha, Dr. Sun destroyed that mecha. By hand.
  • Thaco from Goblins.
  • Dr. Herb from Gold Coin Comics.
  • Master Fei of How I Killed Your Master certainly counts.
    Ji Jiao: Everyone knows you haven't fought in ten years. You're out of practice, out of touch—
    Ji Bao: — And outnumbered.
    Master Fei: Not by my reckoning.
    (One Curb-Stomp Battle later...)
    Master Fei: It's been ten years since anyone spoke of my fights because no-one has walked away from them in that time.
  • Ten Winds of Keychain of Creation. Ten's a Terrestrial Exalt, the weakest Exalted type - but he's badass enough to make other, nominally more powerful Exalted think twice about facing him.
  • In Latchkey Kingdom, Willa's grandfather, "Old Man" Dragonfly, has been continually adventuring since his youth. The kingdom is full of adventurers and wannabe heroes eager to take care of monsters, but when things get out of hand, they call up Old Man Dragonfly. His character bio says that he's saved the kingdom dozens of times.
  • Karl Tagon, Captain Tagon's father from Schlock Mercenary. He might be in his 70s or 80s, but that doesn't prevent him from being both a brilliant senior officer and a good soldier.
  • Feng from Sluggy Freelance. His fight with Kusari would have been a tie if it weren't for her Healing Factor.

    Web Original 
  • This RPG-motivational invokes the obvious.
  • The Old Man and Prof. Oak from Pokémon, according to this video.
  • Sensei Ito of the Whateley Universe. He is a little old man without powers who teaches martial arts to teens who are mutants with superpowers. In his first appearance (the first day of classes), he schools Flying Brick Lancer. In later stories, we learn that Lancer was the fourth superpowered teen he clobbered that day.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Avatar: The Last Airbender: King Bumi, Uncle Iroh, Jeong Jeong, Master Pakku and Monk Gyatso are all prime examples of this trope, each being one of the most powerful of their respective elemental bending discipline (Iroh and Bumi make heavy use of Obfuscating Stupidity as well). Although never seen in combat, Monk Gyatso qualifies because of the amount of dead Firebenders surrounding his corpse, which he fought during Sozin's comet. Whether or not Piandao counts is based solely on how old you think he is. In the Grand Finale, King Bumi, Uncle Iroh, Jeong Jeong, Master Pakku and Piandao all show up and take back Ba Sing Se themselves. For bonus points, the episode in which we see them is actually named "The Old Masters".
    • The Legend of Korra:
      • In the Sequel Series, Katara becomes this when she's seen as a member of the Order of the White Lotus. That, and she's also Korra's Waterbending teacher.
      • Zuko and Toph also became Old Masters by the time of Korra, with Zuko taking an active role in caging Zaheer and the other Red Lotus members (and can hold his own in a fight against them) and Toph being able to curbstomp Korra and Kuvira's army with just a few basic Earthbending moves. Toph in particular, with her journey to find herself, can likely lay claim to being the greatest Earthbender who ever lived.
  • DC Animated Universe:
    • Bruce Wayne from Batman Beyond is definitely an example of this trope. Stooped over and forced to rely on a cane to help him walk, he still stares daggers through anyone who would presume to show him his place, and is more than capable of beating the holy howling tar out of an entire motorcycle gang by himself, standing almost completely still, with nothing but his cane. This plus his still-razor-sharp mind and the experience of his years as the original Batman makes him somehow more intimidating than when he was in his physical prime. This is proven in an episode where his younger self visits the future, forcing Batman to play good cop to Old Man Wayne.
      Old Man Wayne: I can't believe I was ever that green. [he grabs the thug away from Batman] This is how you interrogate someone!
      [cut to the gang member telling the Old Man everything up to and including that he wet the bed until he was a teenager]
    • Another example in the DC Animated Universe, much earlier on, is Batman's own master; Yoru Sensei, who quickly immobilizes Kyodai Ken, just shortly after Kyodai beat Bruce Wayne in a sparring match. Given that Kyodai was less than half Yoru Sensei's age, and Yoru Sensei himself looks like the man in the example picture, he definitely qualifies.
  • Spoofed in the George of the Jungle episode "Still Got It", in the form of Grouch-Mouth. He's an elderly tiger who gets picked on at first but," You're forgeting that Ol' Grouch-Mouth is the king of the pranks." He then gets in his scooter and goes on a pranking rampage, until the now-decrepit "Mighty Berment" (who originally defeated him) arrives. The two fight. While the fight was anticlimactic, it turns out the two are old friends and join forces to show how pranks are really done. They go on an even bigger pranking rampage. George ends up sending Berments Wife, Mighty Mary, to save the day and the two pranksters leave.
  • The Hollow: The Last Ironwood Tree has shades of this. Besides being an incredibly old and wise being, she is also the only inhabitant of the Hollow who actually helps the kids by providing them advice, directions and determining if they're already worthy to face Colrath.
  • Uncle in Jackie Chan Adventures. Not only is he an expert Martial Artist, but also one of the most powerful Chi Wizards in the world, helping his nephew save the world on a regular basis with his extensive magic.
  • Jasmine Lee in The Life and Times of Juniper Lee is the protagonist's grandma (called "Ah Mah", literally grandma in pin yin) and the previous mantle bearer of the Te Xuan Ze role. Having at least sixty years of fighting experience under her belt, she trains Juniper in being a better protector and guardian. Even though she experiences some backlash from her age, she still manages to wipe the floor, whether the enemy is a huge monster or an army of magically-enhanced magic-hating humans.
  • Mrs. Twombly in Littlest Pet Shop (2012) was a master (and the founder) of kung-fu quilting until a Career-Ending Injury in 1969. (The series is set in the present.) She eventually recovered and kept her skills sharp in private but chose to permanently retire, having turned to teaching upon request.
  • Sensei Wu in Ninjago. He can beat up attackers with just an old bamboo staff despite his old age. Not to mention that he knows spinjitsu better than just about anybody.
    Sensei Wu: [to Kai] You are not ready to face my pinky toe!
  • A very dark example in Star Wars Rebels when Ezra meets a mysterious fellow who wants to be called "Old Master". That fellow is Darth Maul, and he's as strong as ever.
  • In the Stargate Infinity episode "Stones", the crew met a race of squirrel people. To cross a bridge a kindly old man requests that one of the team fight him. When the Action Girl, stating that she'll 'take it easy on the old geezer' tries and gets her ass handed to her, the team leader quips:
    "Now you know why I didn't fight him. When a guy's standing on a bridge itching for a fight, you figure he knows something you don't."
  • In Teen Titans there was the True Master (named Chu Hui in the end credits) a rare female example of this trope. Her habit of giving answers that had simple meanings when people expected complicated ones was very similar to Mr. Miyagi's habit of doing so.
  • Scavenger in Transformers Armada. Not only is he the kind of fighter badass enough to catch a blow from an unstoppably powerful sword with his arm, but he makes a pretty good double agent.
  • Master Fung of Xiaolin Showdown is a classic example, being an actual Chinese monk. Not only is he filled with wisdom (And the cheesy sayings that come with it), he's also a force to be reckoned with when he fights, taking on several of Chase Young's tiger minions at once and winning, and in one instance, fighting Chase and Wuya in a wheelchair and holding his own. However, due to his age, he doesn't quite have the energy to keep it up...

    Real Life 
  • Ueshiba Morihei, founder of Aikido, now pictured above. If that throw looks effortless, it's because he was above effort. In Japan he is referred to as O-Sensei, the Great Teacher. He's the Old Master of other Old Masters. It helps that aikido is based on passivity and indirectness, but seriously, that guy was like 90 pounds.
    • One of his students who went on to join this trope was Gozo Shioda, best known for having fun with a doubtful Robert Kennedy's 210lbs bodyguard. Many people have seen the video of an MMA fighter exposing and pummeling a fake Aikido master and self-proclaimed ki manipulator. What most don't know is that same fighter, Tsuyoshi Iwakura, had previously fought Shioda, who was over 70 at the time, back when Iwakura was an amateur boxer in the nineties. The result was Iwakura being thrown and getting his shoulder dislocated. Apparently, real Aikido masters only look fake until they toss someone into the emergency room. (Note, however, that Shioda was also a Judo black belt.)
  • According to Shiji, the King of Wu was so impressed by Sun Tzu that he appointed him General after his first audience. Sun Tzu went on to enable several crushing military victories and establish the State of Wu as the dominant power in the region.
  • Almost every old martial arts master who has kept in practice with his/her martial art of choice seems to be as strong as and even quicker than their fittest young students. But they don't need to be quicker. They have seen all the tricks anyone could possibly attempt before. They also don't need to be stronger. They know how to use angles to their advantage. By this stage they have refined their sense of timing to the point that regardless of how fast you are, they are still where they need to be before you are. One of the most important things to learn in fighting is how to control the fight. Their experience has taught them their strengths, weaknesses, and how to use them to make their opponent fight to their benefit.
  • This trope is actually enforced by several martial arts; once you hit black belt, you can only go up in rank provided you are old enough. For example, in Kobudo, to get to 10th Dan, you have to be 72 years old, minimum. This is because, contrary to the popular perception in the West that a black belt is a "master", a 1st Dan black belt actually only denotes basic expertise in a school's style. To be a master of a martial art involves more than just learning the school's existing techniques and philosophy, but to fully understand and even expand on them. A 10th Dan (or the equivalent; some martial arts only have 5 Dan ranks) denotes the level of mastery that would be impossible without a lifetime of training, and thus many martial arts only confer it either with an age requirement or a requirement for number of years in the previous rank.
  • The late, the great, Helio Gracie, one of the founders of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He continued to train hard and utilise the martial art he helped to create until his death at the age of 95.
    • Brazilian Jiujitsu also enforces this trope via its requirement that a practitioner must spend a minimum number of years in each rank before they can qualify for the next. Anyone who attains black belt at the age of 19 (the youngest it's possible to do so) can only reach 9th degree (at which point the belt is red rather than black and the practitioner is addressed as "grandmaster") at age 67 or older. 10th degree has only ever been awarded to Brazilian Jiujitsu co-founders Carlos and Helio Gracie, and their 3 brothers who assisted them in refining the art. For anyone else to become a 10th degree master of Brazilian Jiujitsu would require them to not just match the founders' skill but also revolutionize the martial art on the same level that they did...which is exceedingly unlikely to ever happen.
  • Gene LeBell, judo champion and master catch wrestler, is another grandpa you would not want to mess with. At 82, he still trains and teaches judo and MMA.
  • Jon Bluming, one of the first foreign Kodokan judokas and the man who brought Kyokushin karate to Europe never quit manhandling martial artists the age of his grandsons before his death.
  • A 24-year-old mugger with a knife made the mistake of breaking into 72-year-old Frank Corti's home and threatened him and his wife. Corti, a former boxer, beat the mugger's left eye and mouth purple with two punches.
  • A newspaper story concerned three youths who mugged a retired gentleman in his sixties as he left a London Underground station late at night. Unfortunately for them, the job he had recently retired from was thirty years teaching unarmed combat to the SAS. His attackers were arrested in hospital.
  • Master Lau Kar Leung. A veteran action star of the Hong Kong Cinema (he is best known for his movies which he made during the 1970s and 1980s for the Shaw Brothers Studio) as well as director and fight choreographer, as well as the grand master and practitioner of Hung Gar style of Kung Fu system (the inspiration for earthbending), which was made famous by Chinese hero Wong Fei-Hung. Yes, that Wong Fei-Hung. Interestingly, Sifu Lau's father, Lau Cham, was a student of Lam Sai Wing, pupil of the legendary Wong Fei Hung. Today, he's in his late 70's and is still active in films choreographing fight scenes, and he is well respected from his colleagues and peers. His last starring role (as of yet) is in the film Drunken Monkey, and as you can see, he's not mellowing with age. (He's almost 70 years old there, for crying out loud!)
  • Anko Itosu, one of the founders of modern Karate, took on a much-publicized challenge for a fight between Judo (the Japanese Martial-Art) and Karate (the Okinawan Style) when he was in his late seventies. The Japanese were insulted and the Judo champion spent the first few minutes of the fight mocking the old man. Itosu threw one punch, the other guy hit the ground, and then Itosu helped revive the unconscious Judo champion.
  • Lu Zijian, reportedly 117 or 118 years old, said to have lived in three centuries, and master of huolong taiyi tai chi. The man has aged amazingly well and was known to have mopped the floor with opponents in his youth. The man actively started joining all the martial arts contests he could the ripe old age of 86.
  • Not quite as old as most of these examples, but Bernard Hopkins continues to dominate in boxing at 46. Remember one thing, most boxers are considered old and faded by the time they get into their mid-thirties, so in boxing years, Hopkins (or rather Master Hopkins, as most boxing fans are beginning to refer to him now) is absolutely ancient and is still handling guys half his age. In fact, in June 2011, Hopkins became the oldest boxer ever to win a major world championship when he defeated Jean Pascal to win the WBC, IBO and The Ring Light Heavyweight belts.
  • Ip Chun, son of Ip Man himself. See him kick ass with Wing Chun.
  • In the world of film soundtracks and Orchestral Bombing, when all modern scores are dominated by computer and electronic software, John Williams showed why he is still intellectually superior with the 2012 releases of War Horse and The Adventures of Tintin (2011). This composer (yes, the same one that also gave you the unforgettable scores from Superman, StarWars and the Indiana Jones films of 30 years ago) is over 80 years old. How did he celebrate his 70th birthday? By conducting the Salt Lake City symphony orchestra performing the theme song he composed for the XIX Winter Olympic Games, at the Opening Ceremony.
  • Frank Lee. One of the pioneers of martial arts in Western Canada by introducing White Crane Kung Fu and Muay Thai there. Black Belt magazine once called him the Father of Kickboxing in North America. He's in his 70s and still teaching his own brand of mixed martial arts, which he evolved when he was in a number of street fights and bar brawls as an immigrant. A couple of tough fights and he realized his kung-fu wasn't well-rounded enough to last against experienced fighters who've had a chance to wise up, so he started adding elements from other fighting arts including boxing and Greco-Roman wrestling.
  • Pinball has Roger Sharpe, the man who single-handedly destroyed New York City's 34-year-long ban on pinballs and saved the hobby with a Badass Boast, Improbable Aiming Skills, and one damn good Skill Shot. In his seventies, Sharpe is no longer the nation's top-rated player, but remains in the Top 200 worldwide. And pinball badassery is apparently genetic, as his sons are rated in the World's Top Ten.
  • Richard Turner is 64-years-old, a self-proclaimed card mechanic, and in 2009 a Sixth Degree Black Belt in the Wa Do Kai system. For the card mechanic skill, he is able to shift a deck of cards around from a randomly shuffled deck by two other people and deal a round of Texas Hold'em poker with one player getting four kings in the final deal. The techniques he used were so good, they fooled Penn and Teller, the aforementioned two people who shuffled the deck, when they were done right in front of them. For added bonus, Richard Turner is completely blind.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Bad Ass Old Guy, The Yoda


The Master

He's mastered martial arts and his natural Furon psychic powers to the point of outright being able to pause time itself, a power he passes down to Crypto.

How well does it match the trope?

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Main / OldMaster

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