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Teach Me How To Fight

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This is a point in a story where one of the characters, usually an Action Survivor, feels a need to take action against the Big Bad.

The problem is, they can't fight.

Cue The Protagonist going to a trusted friend who can, and asking to be taught. They agree, but although the two are on friendly terms, the training is anything but easy. It's sometimes even Training from Hell but the protagonist takes a level in badass by the end of it. Cue Look What I Can Do Now!.

Note that they actually have to ask for the training themselves.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Change 123 uses this trope twice, both times a boy asks a girl to teach him... well, not actually how to fight, since both boys do indeed have some confidence and experience in fighting (one of them is a black belt in judo and another one a fearless street brawler), but rather how to take their fighting skills to a higher level.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure's first arc, Phantom Blood, Speedwagon requests Zeppeli to train him in hamon so he can be more useful in the fight against Dio. Zeppeli attempts to correct Speedwagon's breathing with a finger to the chest, but winds up missing and just knocking the wind out of him.
  • Oh god poor Shirahama Kenichi in Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple . As the show goes on, one starts to wonder if he would've been better if he just lost the match to Daimonji.
    • On the other hand, the benefits of the training far outweigh the initial (and admittedly still ongoing) terrors Kenichi faces from his masters; he takes several levels in badass to the point that he's able to hold his own against low-level Master-class fighters (even if he doesn't actually win) and he even increases his own training regimen without his masters' input. This is far more evident in the manga, which is still ongoing after the anime ended.
  • Madlax: After Vanessa shoots a person for the first time (it's to protect the eponymous heroine and she only grazes her target, but she angsts nonetheless), she eventually asks Madlax to teach her to shoot. It doesn't end well, as she dies when protecting Madlax again.
  • Mission: Yozakura Family: Taiyo goes to Futaba and asks her to help him become a spy after having a nightmare where he's powerless to stop Mutsumi from being kidnapped. To his surprise, Futaba agrees, under the condition that he manage to survive living in Yozakura's highly booby-trapped mansion for one month.
  • Monster: When Tenma decides that he has to hunt down and kill Johann, the first thing he does is seek training from a retired mercenary on how to properly handle a gun.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi: Negi is already quite good at the start of the manga (it's suspected that he's been training from age four), but it really gets serious when he asks Evangeline to teach him.
    • Several of Negi's students (especially Asuna) also begin training, if they weren't competent fighters already.
  • Happens in Rosario + Vampire, a couple times. The first time with Tsukune being trained by Ruby and Moka. The second time, Tsukune is trained by Touhou Fuhai.
  • Shakugan no Shana: Yuji is a Non-Action Guy, but his insistence on keeping up with Shana's demon-hunting lifestyle led him to receive Training from Hell from several different sources, eventually taking several levels in Badass. Most striking is when he's being pushed around by a minor demon, who intends to use him as bait to draw out Shana. He suddenly realizes that this guy is well below his current power-level, and proceeds to kick his ass. Yep, Yuji's all grown up now...
  • Tokyo Ghoul: Kaneki reaches this point after witnessing the death of Ryouko Fueguchi. Seeing Touka wounded from an attempt to avenge Ryouko's death, he expresses his determination to fight and asks her to teach him.
  • In the Warrior Cats manga The Lost Warrior, Graystripe befriends a house cat, Millie, and tells her all about his life as a ThunderClan warrior. She is so intrigued that she eventually asks him to train her to fight.

    Comic Books 
  • In the comic Superman vs. Muhammad Ali, Ali teaches Superman to box. This is, of course, to create a non-superpowered "fair fight" between the two.

    Fan Works 
  • In Kitsune no Ken: Fist of the Fox, after Hinata gets swatted aside while frantically hitting Zabuza to stop him from twisting Neji's arm in a brawl, she seeks out Nii Yugito and asks for training, with the aim of not being a burden on Naruto and the others in future. Yugito warns her that any training she gets will not be a picnic, but Hinata accepts the condition nonetheless. Following the Time Skip, Hinata's become skilled enough to beat Sasuke in a spar, bearing in mind that Sasuke had previously shown himself able to fight Naruto on even footing without either one holding back.
  • In Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail, Chloe requests Lexi's help to fight with her donut holer so that she can better defend herself against future threats on the Train and if they should ever run into the Apex. She later asks Zack for additional training and that they fight every time they cross paths.
  • In the NUMB3RS story P is for Protection, Charlie asks David this after Don is injured in a fight, though it is mentioned in the end that Don would be the one who would want to teach him.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Also happens in The Forbidden Kingdom with the protagonist and Jackie Chan's character.
  • Hannie Caulder: Hannie wants Price to teach her how to use a gun so she can take revenge on the men who raped her and murdered her husband. Price acquiesces, despite being reluctant every step of the way and trying to dissuade her.
  • Averted in Independence Day: Resurgence. Nerdy accountant Floyd Rosenberg asks Dikembe Umbutu to "teach him everything he knows" about using his machetes on aliens. Umbutu is unimpressed, and doesn't take up the offer.
  • With a name like The Karate Kid, you can probably guess that this happens without seeing the movie.
    • In fact, this is pretty much universal in kung fu movies not starring Jet Li, Bruce Lee, or Chuck Norris. Taken to extremes when the "teacher" is so completely non-badass that the suspension of disbelief is completely broken, e.g. Billy Blanks, Pat Morita, Mako, etc.

  • Subverted in Fraternity of the Stone by David Morrell. A man whose parents were killed by terrorists asks his Honorary Uncle to help him learn the skills to fight terrorism. Years later he realises that the man he looked up to actually arranged the bombing himself. There's a similar plot in Brotherhood of the Rose — two orphaned boys turned CIA hitmen realise their mentor has manipulated them all their lives, including setting up a mugging so they'd be motivated to learn martial arts.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: After having fainted twice when being exposed to dementors, Harry asks the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher Lupin how to fight them off, and Lupin teaches him the Patronus Charm, which is able to repel them.
    • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: After being saddled with a highly incompetent and nasty Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, who deliberately refuses to properly teach the students how to cast defensive spells, Hermione asks Harry to teach her and several other students instead, thus leading to the foundation of Dumbledore's Army.
  • Pendragon: After nearly being beaten to death by Saint Dane, Bobby asks Loor to do this. His training is very much Training from Hell.
  • Jason Marshall, in Rogue of Gor, devises a plan to defeat the pirates who are terrorizing the peaceful river-ports along the Vosk. But first he must learn to fight with a sword. He wins the gratitude of the broken-down alcoholic Callimachus, who when sober is an excellent swordsman, levels up as per the plan and does indeed defeat the mean old pirates over the course of the remainder of the book and the next one.
  • Richard Cypher of the Sword of Truth spends a good portion of the first book doing this, until he takes up the mantle of the Seeker and starts calling the shots. He's a woodsman who doesn't even let himself be angry because his mother was killed by a fire caused by an angry outburst. He knows questing, and killing, from nothing.

    Live Action TV 
  • Angel: Subverted when Connor asks Angel how to fight vampires; he's actually doing it to learn Angel's fighting style so he can kill him.
  • Arrow
    • After her sister Sara Lance is killed in front of her, Laurel asks Oliver Queen to train her so she can join Team Arrow. He refuses. Harshly. Undeterred, she gets training from ex-vigilante-turned-boxing instructor Ted Grant, and Nyssa al Ghul of the League of Assassins (Sara's former lover) and eventually becomes The Sixth Ranger.
    • After becoming estranged from her own family Thea Queen decides she is too weak and trusting, and joins her biological father, supervillain Malcolm Merlyn, because she is determined to become strong no matter the cost. When Thea balks at the harsher elements of his training, Malcolm realises he needs to start treating her like a student not a daughter and it becomes Training from Hell. Although she later becomes disillusioned with her father, she willingly admits that he did make her strong.
  • Babylon 5: Sheridan asks Kosh to teach him how to fight "those things" (the Shadows) after first learning about them, and that they were connected to the fate of his wife on the doomed voyage of the Icarus ("In the Shadow of Z'ha'dum").
  • Done in Community episode "Comparative Religion" when Troy and Pierce have to teach Jeff how to fight a bully.
  • Heroes: Claire asks Noah to teach her to fight. She is reluctant to actually do this until he tells her to "Just hit me!" with a plank of wood.
  • Punky Brewster takes boxing lessons from champ Marvin Hagler as she prepares for a fight against a school bully.
  • The Vampire Diaries: Elena goes to Alaric for fighting lessons. While she can't really compete with the superpowered fighters, she does take a small level in badass. Probably comes in handy once she becomes a vampire herself.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons adventure OA5 Mad Monkey vs. The Dragon Claw. During the sea journey NPC Ko La Ko approaches one of the PCs and asks the PC to teach him kung fu so he won't be so useless in a fight.

    Video Games 
  • Shirou from Fate/stay night. Saber starts training him just to shut him up and convince him that he's out of his league fighting Servants. In the Fate route, she then notes that his body is quite well-trained, and continues the training to help him survive against Servants for a few seconds or possibly take down other Masters. In Unlimited Blade Works, thanks to Archer's skills seeping into him Shirou can somewhat keep up with Saber, but she then becomes very dissatisfied because he's performing better using Archer's technique rather than hers.
  • In Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade, young archer Wolt asks Old Soldier Marcus for sword training, since he feels he'd be able to protect his friend and liege-lord Roy better if he was closer to the fight. Marcus refuses because Wolt is too old to begin learning nownote  and because he thinks Wolt should be proud of the skills he already has with a bow.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines: Downplayed in one specific conversation between the Player Character and Nines Rodriguez. If they're on good terms with him, they can ask for self-defense tips and get a free point in the Brawl skill — no time, effort, or Training Montage required.

    Web Original 
  • Subverted in Void Domain. Both Juliana and Shalise ask another person to train them. Neither are all that helpful.

    Western Animation 
  • The Merrie Melodies cartoon "Count Me Out" (1939) starred Egghead as he learns to be a prize fighter using an instructional record.
  • In the Deputy Dawg cartoon "Seize You Later, Alligator, " Al E. Gator is having a rough time against a gator-wrestling Indian. But he steps up to win after the Indian picks on Muskie. Al, carried home in triumph, says he's going to teach everyone how to wrestle.
  • W.I.T.C.H.: In "D is for Dangerous", a few episodes after Will's boyfriend Matt found out about her being a Guardian, he asks Rebel Leader Caleb to train him so that he can fight alongside her, thinking that a Non-Action Guy won't be good enough for her. By the end of the episode, she assures him to Be Yourself and that she's not looking for a "dangerous" guy, but he does retain Caleb's lessons and is shown to be better at fighting in subsequent episodes.

     Real Life 
  • Any military training obviously enough. But mentioned for historical interest is the Great Louisiana Maneuvers of 1941. These were a Teach Me How To Fight on a national scale, meant to change an army meant for small border actions into one capable of fighting World War II. The commanders of the "blue army" and the "red army" included many famous American generals.
  • Cassius Clay A.K.A Muhammad Ali's origin story. After his brand new bike was stolen, Ali was taken to the boxing gym by the police officer he complained to so he could learn how to fight. The rest is history.