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Warrior Monk

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Pray they heal, not put you in the hospital.

He doesn't necessarily hit you with his sword arm. He hits you with his faith.
Dungeons & Dragons designer Andy Collins, on 4th Edition Paladins

The Warrior Monk is a fighter defined by their faith, which serves as a weapon and armor the equal of any mundane wargear. He focuses his mind with sacred chants before the battle, quotes scripture while he smashes aside infidels, strikes with absolute conviction, and fights without fear or hesitation. He is a combination of the archetype of the warrior and the archetype of the shaman. Both archetypes share the need of rites of passage.

This character is often a member of a Church Militant, be it a martial-minded sect within a larger religion or the divine army of a powerful theocracy. Other Warrior Monks have more diverse backgrounds, and could hail from actual monasteries, master-apprentice relationships, or could even be self-taught. Warrior Monks may be shining examples of a religion's ideals, or in some situations may end up fighting a Church Militant if the latter has become a Corrupt Church. Others may ignore religious politics altogether, doing more for their faith by acting as an example.

This character type has two usual regional variants:

  • The Western form of Warrior Monk often turns out as a particularly devout Knight in Shining Armor, a heavily-armed and -armored crusader combining martial prowess with unmatched devotion to the ideals of the church (if not necessarily the church itself). Expect such warriors to be referred to as paladins or templars. In a fantasy setting, these Warrior Monks frequently enjoy tangible signs of their deity's favor, along with a variety of defensive, curative, or augmentative powers, overlapping with the Combat Medic's repertoire. They also occasionally have a few offensive abilities along with battle skills, too. Still, sometimes the best way to deal with a monster or evil-doer is with a good, solid blow to the head, so Western monks often arm and train with blunt weapons such as maces, warhammers and flails, especially if to overcome the vow to never shed blood literally.
  • The Eastern variant are mainly Buddhist in nature, though China has its Taoist mystics and Japan its Mikoshi and Shinto. Whether it be the saffron-robed Shaolin monks or the mountain-wandering Yamabushi or Shugenja, this seemingly-harmless, lightly-armed traveler unexpectedly displays incredible ass-kicking abilities at the sign of trouble, then gives some words of wisdom to any survivors. Due to the differences between Western and Eastern religions, these Warrior Monks tend to be more contemplative ascetics than dogmatic, crusading zealots, but are no less devout than their foreign counterparts; Eastern religion-based monks derive inspiration from fitness and effort connected with higher thought and understanding of themselves and the world around them (without forgetting that Gautama also was once of the warrior caste, having faithful bodyguards to protect him on his pilgrimages from danger, and Bodhidharma being traditionally held as the original teacher of physical prowess to Shaolin), and the mysteries of the world's dynamics, be it qi or the potential buddha in all, allowing one to understand how to flow with all of creation. When it comes to an Eastern-style Warrior Monk's powers, all bets are off: they can be wielders of a Martial Arts Staff, melee masters of Ki Manipulation, or walking avatars of elemental destruction.

If their cause is worthy enough, these characters can be among the most noble heroes in the world. Other times, Warrior Monks can become self-deluded extremists who let the end justify the means. Either way, Good Is Not Soft is likely to be in effect. It is also important to remember that evil churches can have (un)holy warriors, too.

This character type is usually confined to medieval settings, though modern examples exist. See Badass Preacher for when a holy man takes up arms to protect his flock, and Church Militant for religions that don't shy away from violence. Can sometimes overlap with Master Swordsman. Bare-Fisted Monk is a subtrope, and is by no means confined to Eastern-style Warrior Monks. May have Enlightenment Superpowers. Some examples of a Warrior Monk may be encouraged by their order to be a Warrior Poet. Due to many religions following the practice of tonsure, Warrior Monks who wield magical or mystical powers are also likely to be a Bald Mystic.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • X-Men: Nightcrawler is very religious, and was even ordained a Catholic priest in a years-long hallucination. His faith allows him to defeat Dracula where other X-Men had failed.
  • The Priestesses of Hathhalla are this in Artesia. Being women and brutally violent they also fall into Dark Action Girl.
  • Thara Ak-Var from the Supergirl comics is the super-hero known as Flamebird as well as a devout follower of the Church of Rao. In The Hunt for Reactron, it is revealed that she's a Kryptonian's goddess' incarnation.
  • Wonder Woman is an Amazon Princess who is also devoted to her many gods and will some times offer a peaceful hand to her enemy rather than fight them.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • BloodRayne: The monks of the Brimstone affiliated monastery. One huge one guards the artifact they're protecting, while the rest fight back with various weapons when Kagan's soldiers attack, but are overwhelmed nonetheless.
  • The eponymous character from Priest (2011) belongs to an Anglican/Catholic order with the sole purpose of ridding the world of vampires using knives and other pointy objects.
  • Johnny Mnemonic: A hulking, cyber-enhanced assassin is sent after Johnny who dresses like a Franciscan monk and rants about religion. This is likely a humorous riff on a section in Neuromancer where Molly recalls that the assassin who finally caught up to Johnny was "like a monk," but she's referring to his aura of zen calm.

  • The Acts of Caine:
    • The Monastics are warriors, diplomats and assassins with high-end somatocommand skills. The 'religion' part seems almost tacked on.
    • The Priests of Khryl (and Knights of Khryl) are the Knight in Shining Armor variant of this trope and devotion to their god has its benefits. Khryl is a god of war.
  • In Anathem, the avout, who are monks of science, logic, and philosophy, have an order of the Ringing Vale, who specializes in the science of combat.
  • The Arts of Dark and Light has the Knights of St. Michael, the Order Martial holding the main task of enforcing The Church's Ban on Magic. They are more or less a fantasy version of the Knights Templar, but gather their recruits exclusively from children born with the gift of seeing magic (without being magic-users themselves).
  • Archbishop Turpin in the medieval Chanson de Roland.
  • Dragonvarld:
    • The Sisters of the Eye are nun-like women who use magic to fight dragons.
    • Grald has many monks capable of deadly magic, called the Blessed by the lay people.
  • The Thirty of David Gemmell's Drenai series are a group of warrior monks, who spend their lives training to fight in one battle against evil where all but one of them will die. The survivor is usually sent away before the final attack or their last stand and will form the next Thirty.
  • In Elantris all clergy of the Derethi religion are trained in monasteries where they learn combat skills, among other things. This is taken to its most extreme by Wyrn's favorite enforcers, the Monks of Dakhor, who use a combination of Body Horror and Blood Magic in tandem with fighting skills to make them so dangerous that opponents of the Derethi sometimes call them demons.
  • The Church Knights from The Elenium and The Tamuli by David Eddings are an odd example. While technically orders of cloistered monks when not on the battle fields the normal rules of the clergy are relaxed for them. For example they can get married despite being clergy in an Expy of the medieval Catholic Church. What makes them really odd though is that in a world where Religion is Magic their magical powers come from the Styric Gods (and in the case of the Genedian Knights, the Troll Gods as well). It leaves them essentially straddling two religions while otherwise playing the trope (mostly) straight. Lampshaded within the books themselves when it finally dawns on them all that since 'magic' comes from gods they never really needed to go outside their own religion as the Elene god probably could have been convinced to do the same thing for them that the Styric and Troll gods do for their followers. It's concluded that the Elene god is so aloof, it's no surprise no-one thought it would be possible.
  • Elsabeth Soesten's friend and companion, Brother Hieronymus, is a warrior friar, who is no slouch with a sword and buckler, and studied with a master named Leonardus in his youth, whom he holds in high esteem.
  • In the Emberverse, the Monks of Mt. Angel become this after the Change. Notable in that it is not only a conscious shift from a more traditional monk to Warrior Monk, but that they also Lampshade it very often.
  • The villain of Ivanhoe is a literal Knight Templar as well as an example of the trope.
  • Joscelin Verreuil from the Kushiel's Legacy series belongs to an order called the Cassiline Brotherhood. Cassiline Brothers train for 10 years to become elite bodyguards who serve the royal family. All members swear allegiance to the Precepts of Cassiel which include celibacy.
  • The Monk and the Viking has Brother Aiden who is reluctant but will fight if he has to. After Brother Aiden's return to Ireland and his relationship with Floki is revealed his fellow monks become violent.
  • North from Of Fear and Faith, who is very upfront about his faith in a world where almost no one believes in God anymore. He often prays before and after battle, and always prays for the souls of those who died in battle, whether they were his allies or enemies.
  • The Reynard Cycle: The smith priests of Fenix field "battle priests", who are present during the Battle of the Samara in The Baron of Maleperduys. Naturally, they wield war hammers.
  • Robin Hood: In some of the stories/ballads, Friar Tuck is an accomplished swordsman and archer, and when he isn't he can usually hold his own with his fists or a staff.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire has a few:
    • Thoros of Myr is a red monk of the fire god R'hllor as well as a fearsome fighter. He has overthrown many a man in a melee with his Flaming Sword and was famously the first warrior over the wall during the siege of Pyke. He lapsed in his faith for some time until early in the series, when he experiences a re-awakening.
    • The Drowned Men are holy men of the Drowned God who are expected to take up driftwood cudgels and kick ass for the faith when heathens are about.
    • The men of the Night's Watch belong to a semi-monastic order where they have to have vows of celibacy and renounce all claims to heritage and lands. Calling them monks would be a stretch, since they don't subscribe to a faith (though recruits swear their vows before the Seven or the Old Gods, whichever they choose). The celibacy vow is very lax, as they are informally allowed to have sexual relations as long as these don't produce any offspring. The recruiting has also become gradually lax as well, as they have to scrape from the bottom of the barrel and recruit mostly from convicts and criminals, whereas in better years many lords and heirs "took the Black". The Watch has become a form of punishment, and not a very appetizing one; in the eventuality that a criminal has to choose between jail, execution or "taking the Black", most criminals would chose the alternative to the Watch.
    • The Faceless Men of the House of Black and White are a monastic order based on Braavos of highly specialized and skilled assassins who are in service of the Many-Faced God, a composite god of the multiple religious facets of death. They are said to be skillful enough to achieve even better results than thousands-manned armies.
    • The Faith Militant is a more straightforward example of warrior monks reminiscent of knightly orders of Christianity in the real world. Basically, enforcers of the Faith of the Seven, the Faith Militant has had various conflicts with the Iron Throne because of their belief that they answer to a higher power than the Kings of Westeros, making them almost completely unaccountable, overtly zealous, and unbending. The early Targaryen kings had constant problems with the Faith Militant that they could not solve through forceful means and the ensuing conflicts left innumerable deaths on both sides until peace was reached by justified concessions leading to a complete armistice of the Faith Militant; then Cersei Lannister gave them leave to arm themselves again.
  • Thraxas runs into two groups of warrior monks, unsurprisingly in Thraxas and the Warrior Monks.
  • Aramis of The Three Musketeers was studying to become a priest.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who: "The Time of Angels"/"Flesh and Stone" has a religious order of Clerics, who judging by the titles they hold appear to be members of a variant of Anglicanism. Refreshingly for a warrior monk order from the far future, they wear practical camouflage combat gear instead of anything overtly religious or ornate.
  • Cursed (2020): Red Paladins are an order of Catholic clergy tasked to hunt down and kill every Fey. Most are titled "Brother", with their leader being called "Father". All wear red robes in the same design as Catholic monks.
  • Mrs. Davis: In the backstory at the beginning it's shown that in late medieval France there was an order of nuns who secretly doubled as female Templar Knights, pulling out swords when accosted by soldiers and slaughtering them (although they take casualties as well). The lead character Simone, in the present day, doubles as a bounty hunter along with being a nun and is quite skilled at combat.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Of the core classes, paladins and clerics are both examples, with paladins being more warrior and the cleric being more religious. There are a wide range of other bonus classes with divine and/or religious abilities mixed with combat abilities.
  • Warhammer 40,000 has several. Although the Ecclesiarchy is a Church Militant that mostly restricts itself to preaching and keeping the whole Imperium fanatical, some priests and drill-abbots actually go into the field and handle some military duties alongside the Imperial Guard, some Inquisitorial cells, and most notably the Sisters of Battle, who are technically a group of client institutions of the Ecclesiarchy.
    • While the Adepta Sororitas have many orders dedicated to medicine, diplomacy, and scholarly pursuits, there are the Orders Militant, better known as Sisters of Battle, who really play this trope straight.
    • In terms of individual Space Marine Chapters, there is something of a sliding scale of this trope. Most Chapters are essentially monastic and militant brotherhoods, and have their members doing little more than sleeping, eating, praying, and drilling for most of their members not at war; and are prone to shouting out mantras, litanies, invocations, canticles, and other Imperial catchphrases in the middle of battle. But in spite of this, many Space Marines think of their founder and true master, normally referred to as the God-Emperor of Mankind by most of humanity, as a very powerful man and nothing else (going along with his own opinion on the matter).
      • The Black Templars, rather unsubtly, play this trope completely straight, since they're a notoriously devout and furiously puritanical chapter. They draw many elements and inspiration from the Teutonic Knights and the Knights Templar.
      • The Dark Angels and successor chapters, however, play this trope just a little less unsubtly, as they are essentially Arthurian knightly orders. However, they are less monastic than the Black Templars, whose sources of inspiration were founded on religious grounds.
      • The Grey Knights, a specialized Chapter of Space Marines serving as the arm militant of the Ordo Malleus, the branch of the Inquisition that specializes in fighting Chaos, are the only faction that has never had an example of anybody turning over to Chaos, so their ranks will inevitably include some Ecclesiarchy priests and the odd Adepta Sororitas elements.
    • And of course, since dark deities also occasionally flirt with this trope, darkly devout Chaos Space Marine chapters and warbands fit. Most notable is the Word Bearers legion, who are arguably the ones ultimately responsible for the state the galaxy is in, who were the first Crusaders of Chaos, opened the way to Chaos worship for every other Imperial faction, and of course remain its most fanatical followers. Ironically, the Word Bearers turned to Chaos because the Emperor rejected their worship of him, culminating in him sending the Ultramarines to demolish the cathedral city the Word Bearers built in his name and forcing them to kneel before him in subjugation. The sting and humiliation of rejection coupled with their need to worship a higher power led them to Chaos.
    • Finally, Space Marine Chaplains and Dark Apostles are the spiritual leaders within Space Marine Chapters and Traitor Legions. These guys are fanatical and charismatic to the point that they become spiritual leaders of good and evil orders of Warrior Monks, which is impressive in itself.
  • Warhammer: Warrior-Priests of Sigmar, who like to bash stuff with big hammers and wear heavy plate armor (although they usually conspicuously leave their heads unprotected, which are frequently shaved as a sign of devotion like actual religious practice). Followers of Ulric are similar, but favor axes and instead display their faith with a variety of wolf totems (usually furs). There are also Bretonnian Questing and Grail Knights, and some Chaos warlords qualify as evil versions of this trope.

    Video Games 

  • Girl Genius has the Corbettite Order, a monastic order of train running monks. Among other things, they build trains around Europa. Disrupt their schedules, harm their trains, their passengers, or Heaven help you, destroy their kitchens and you'll find out what the "wrath of God" really means.


    Anime & Manga 
  • In Brave10, Seikai's both a monk and a fighter. Often as not, he starts it.
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba: Gyomei Himejima, the Hashira of Rock, used to be a blind monk before being blamed for the massacre of a demon and saved by the Oyakata. He's an extremely powerful warrior swinging around a chain with a giant metal sphere on one end and an axe on the other and he still carries around a rosary and often spouts the Jodo Sect buddhist prayer.
  • Krillin from Dragon Ball. He was already a strong warrior during his introduction, but by the end of the series, he's one of the strongest humans in the world. Debate among fans rages on whether he's the strongest.
  • While not actual monks, in Eyeshield 21, the students of Shinryuuji High School (Shinryuuji means Temple of the Dragon God) are encouraged to invoke this trope, often meditating and reciting Buddhist scriptures. Also subverted since we're often reminded that underneath their stern personas, they're really just your typical girl-crazy teenage boys.
  • The Warrior Priests of the Ishval religion in Fullmetal Alchemist. Even before he gained the ability to kill via Facepalm Of Doom, Scar was shown to be able to take on an entire platoon of soldiers with only his fists.
  • Subverted by Ise Ramon from Gamaran Shura: he surely looks the part, being dressed in a buddhist monk robe and cossack while sporting a bald head and being the best martial artist and killer of the Bakufu. However, nothing indicates that he's actually a monk.
  • Benkei Musashibou from Getter Robo is a monk who started fighting the Oni out of necessity. Even when piloting a giant robot, he still recites Buddhist prayers as a form of attack-calling.
  • Jōjū Senjin!! Mushibugyō:
    • Mushikari member Sougan has the typical looks and attire of a buddhist warrior monk and even wields the Purgatory Spear, a massive hybrid of naginata and trident which can generate explosions when the handle is twisted. He's described as the most devoted, rational and no-nonsense member of their group, wishing to deliver their target to the flames of Hell. He's also some amount of Villainous Valor, being all too willing to sacrifice his arms in an attempt to take down the hero.
    • The brothers Miyoshi Seikai and Isa, two of Sanada Ten Great Bugs, retain a monk-like form as giant roaches, but ruthlessly kill people to "save their souls", praying the Buddha Amida as they murder innocents.
    • Isshin of the Temple Patrol group of the Mushibugyo is a former monk, still sporting the looks and clothing while fighting with a massive rifle made specifically to slay bugs. However, the ghastly looks of the victims of the bugs made him so jaded towards the thought of sending them to Heaven through prayers that he lost his faith and stopped praying for the dead, believing that it does nothing for the corpses. Jinbee's burning determination in trying to save even a clearly doomed farmer from his gruesome end change his mindset as he swears to pray for the deceased as soon as they're done with the anthill fortress.
  • The antagonists from the second season of Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt are the Nanyang monks — a Buddhist cult that rules over the Earth's South Seas. Initially affiliated with The Federation, they defect and oppose both sides at the end of the One Year War, and what they lack in technological warfare, they make up with dogmatic faith created by brainwashing from the leader's Newtype powers which goes as far as using suicide attacks.
  • In Naruto we have the monks of the famous Fire Temple, who are known for their Gift of the Hermits chakra. A major technique derived from this is the Welcoming Approach: Thousand Armed Murder. Very self-explanatory.
  • One Piece has Urouge, a pirate modelled after the typical Japanese warrior monk, along with his crew.
  • Princess Mononoke: The cynical Jigo completely inverts the traditional image of a Japanese Buddhist warrior monk. Instead of being a fighter for a righteous cause, or a contemplative mystic with Enlightenment Superpowers, he and his mercenary band lack any and all moral scruples which would otherwise prevent them from carrying out any act, no matter how repugnant, as long as they gets paid for it, and he makes no attempt to hide this fact. Neither do we see him meditating, reciting mantras, nor performing any kind of Buddhist ceremony.note  The most Buddhist thing about him are probably his robes.
  • Anji Yukyuzan from Rurouni Kenshin is a fallen Buddhist priest, endowed with phoenomenal strength. He usually fights unarmed, though he carries around a shortsword resembling a Buddhist prayer tool.
  • Sanzo from Saiyuki is a perfect example.
  • Vagabond: The monks of the Hōzōin Temple are devout buddhists and very proficient spear wielders. Most of the common ronins who challenge them at their temple quickly get their asses handed to them. Their master, Inshun, deserves special mention for being the first to actually beat Musashi in a fair fight and displaying such prowess, that he made Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy Gion Toji lose all faith in his own ability.

    Comic Books 
  • Black Dynamite: Played with. The Tibetan monks in Issue #3 were fighters centuries ago, but committed themselves to pacifism. It takes Black Dynamite to teach them how to be warriors once again.
  • The Kyoto and Nara sohei from Shi are based on the Buddhist warrior-monks of Japanese history (see "Real Life" below), but Buddhism rarely seems to come up and they act more like ninja. Interestingly, protagonist Ana Ishikawa's internal struggle to balance her sohei training and her grandfather's shaping of her into a tool of vengeance with her devout Catholicism makes her the straightest example of this trope in the comic.

    Film — Live-Action 

  • Musashibō Benkei was a sōhei (see below) who was an important figure in the legend of the Samurai warlord Minamoto no Yoshitsune; he was Yoshitsune's retainer and trusted friend, often depicted as a man of great strength and Undying Loyalty.

  • Conqueror: Yao Shu in Lords of the Bow.
  • Discworld: Thief of Time has The Fighting Monks of the Order of Wen the Eternally Surprised, a.k.a. the History Monks, a.k.a. The Men in Saffron from No Such Monastery. They used to be Time Police whose job was making sure that history happened "correctly". After reality was nearly destroyed when they failed to prevent a Time Crash, their job has become making sure that history happens at all.
  • Fengshen Yanyi: At one poin, Jiang Ziya tells his men that there are three types of people a general must fear to meet on the battlefield: Taoists, Buddhist Monks and women, for all three of them are more likely to have mastered sorcery and arcane powers. Indeed, all three of them are commonly encountered as extremely dangerous opponents.
  • Journey to the West: averted by the mortal Tripitaka, but played straight by his three disciples Monkey, Pigsy and Sandy, who are all very powerful demigods capable of defeating demons with ease and chase away whole armies. Monkey himself is strong enough to be able to run at full speed with two mountains on his shoulders.
  • Way of the Tiger has both the virtuous followers of Kwon and the evil warriors of the Scarlet Mantis, sworn enemies. The Final Boss of the first book alone pits the heroic ninja protagonist in a kung fu duel against the evil master Yaemon.

    Live-Action TV 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The sohei from various editions' Oriental Adventures or Kara-tur campaign settings are an example. Monks themselves are a very weak example, given that the class has very little overt religiosity attached to it beyond getting Religion as a class skill in some editions.
    • There's also the githzerai, the Good Counterpart to the githyanki who are ascetic, frugal nomads that live their lives by the teachings of the philosopher Zerthimon.
  • Legend of the Five Rings has many orders of monks, several with varying levels of martial expertise.
    • Some members of the ise zumi tattooed monks of the Dragon Clan and certain sects of the Brotherhood of Shinsei train specifically as warriors, particularly those in the Dragon Clan's Hitomi order or the Brotherhood's Order of Osano-Wo.
    • This is in addition to many orders of monks, even those who are nominally pacifists, that still train in martial techniques as a spiritual practice. (Their vows of pacifism also generally don't apply to anyone or anything corrupted by the Shadowlands.)
    • But the Spider Clan's warrior monks (directly inspired by Japan's historical sohei) are the best example of this trope, as befits their clan's harsh position as Rokugan's Social Darwinist clan.
  • Magic: The Gathering has them in both of its Asian-inspired planes. In Kamigawa, based off Japan, the Budoka and Kannushi seek harmony with nature, but when the kami war rages on they're forced to fight against the very spirits they seek union with. In Tarkir, based off literally everything but Japan, the Jeskai are more focused on personal perfection and martial arts. Upon the plane's re-writing, the Ojutai clan that replaces them are repressive, fanatical dragon-worshipping theocrats.
  • In Rocket Age some Martian monasteries have a martial bent and a number of martial arts originate from them, such as Celestial Fist.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! there's Armed Samurai Ben Kei, who naturally, is based on Musashibō Benkei.

    Video Games 
  • Body Blows: Lo Ray is a Shaolin Monk capable of wielding fire (like Liu Kang described above) who competes in the tournament. However, he is a bit of a case of Nun Too Holy as his biography states that he is motivated by gaining fame and fortune.
  • Garr from Breath of Fire III may deceive some with his looks (he's, after all, a giant, alcohol-loving gargoyle), but he shows early hints of this like his giant beads and the praying pose he does when casting magic. Then mid-way through the game he's revealed to be part of a very devout city and he's, himself, part of a group of "angels" sent by God to eliminate evil. And it turns out the "God" is none other than Myria (BOF1's Big Bad, and the "evil" is the series' protagonist race, the Brood/Dragon Clan.
  • Donovan in Darkstalkers was a Dhampyr turned Buddhist monk who adhered to his religion's teachings to tame his Enemy Within.
  • The Monk class is a recurring archetype in Final Fantasy. Most frequently taking inspiration from warrior monks and martial arts masters, they excel at pummeling their foes with their bare hands while often seeking some form of spiritual or martial enlightenment.
    • In Final Fantasy IV, Yang is the first named monk in the series and one of the highest ranked and morst respected warrior monks of Fabul, a nation famous for training its soldiers to fight with their bare hands.
    • In Final Fantasy XIV, the Fist of Rhalgr is a sect of monks who seek to emulate Ala Mhigo's patron god, the Destroyer Deity Rhalgr, by seeking martial perfection. In addition to physical conditioning, the monks of the Fist of Rhalgr seek to open their "chakras", metaphorical valves that regulate the flow of aether, to channel explosives amounts of energy into their fists to produce destructive results.
  • Norio from Ghost of Tsushima is a sohei warrior monk who joins forces with Jin Sakai in liberating Tsushima Island from the Mongols. He also wields a naginata, as was customary for sohei, and often states that he fights for the sake of peace upon Tsushima.
  • The "Martial Artist" from GURPS: Dungeon Fantasy.
  • Heroes of Might and Magic has monks who fire energy balls and later call down meteors. The exception was the two first games, but even they had religious figures in hooded robes that throw energy balls. They just happened to be called druids instead of monks.
  • The eponymous entities in Kamiko are shrine maidens who have been bestowed one of Japan's Imperial Regalia by the gods, turning them into mighty warriors with the power to slay demons.
  • Legend of Legaia: The Order of Biron is a monastic order of Eastern-style Warrior Monks, combining spiritual teachings with martial arts training. Gala, one of your party members, is a member of the order at the beginning of the game. Like many examples of this trope, he wields axes, clubs, and maces.
  • Mortal Kombat gives us Liu Kang and Kung Lao. They even got a spinoff called Shaolin Monks.
  • NetHack: The Monk role is a mystic martial arts expert who maintains rigorous spiritual conduct (ideally, though not always in practice.)
  • Onmyōji (2016) gives us Aobōzu the Buddhist priest, and to an extent the protagonist Abe no Seimei, who is an onmyōji (practitioner of onmyōdō).
  • Samurai Warriors: Wind Ninjas are actually wandering monks wearing an integral komuso hat and using their wooden flutes as weapons alongside acrobatics. The first game had naginata-wielding warrior monks fighting in the Honganji ranks and the second game features both Monk and Nun bodyguards, armed with naginata and able to create healing items for the player's sake. A few of the customization options for the Edit Character allows you to play as a monk.
  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice: aside from fallen buddhist monks who have pursued heretical paths, the game has the Spear Adepts of Senpou Temple (who mostly chase you around swinging double-ended naginata), the deadly Shinobi Hunters (mercenary Sohei armed with cross-spears) and the boss Corrupted Monk (actually a towering buddhist nun in a Oni mask wielding a Oonaginata).
  • Total War: Sohei warrior monks are recruitable in both Shogun: Total War and Total War: Shogun 2. In the second game, they are the specialty of the Uesugi clan. The Ikko-Ikki also use the Sohei as a special unit.
  • Strider (2014): Juroung is a spiritual shaman warrior with water-based powers and a blind, complete belief in Grandmaster Meio's godhood and the right of his "vision" for Earth. As his closest subordinate, he rules the Underground in his name and fights fully convinced that "his will guides" him to victory.

    Western Animation 
  • Even if Aang of Avatar: The Last Airbender didn't expect to turn out this way, he certainly fits the mold. The previous Airbender Avatar, Yangchen, was also this (even if she was technically a nun). She tells him, in no uncertain terms, that his duty to the world outweighs his own personal beliefs and that he should kill Fire Lord Ozai.
  • The monks in Xiaolin Showdown.


    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • Guardian adds an original character named Imogen who is a temple swordfighter, implied to be of the same discipline as Auron, as the muscle on Lady Ginnem's pilgrimage.
  • The Mountain and the Wolf: The Warrior is a man who appears in Westeros and starts aiding the local population to fight back against the Chaos forces of the Wolf by preaching his creed. Unfortunately, that creed is that of Khorne, the War God of Chaos (and this was intentional on the Wolf's part, he hoped to create a Training the Peaceful Villagers situation that would provide his forces with better fights.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The gunslinger kick-ass "priests" in Equilibrium also fit in this trope. They are referred to as clerics and their leader is called Father. They're ostensibly secular Culture Police, but they strongly play up the quasi-religious theme and the martial arts angle without easily falling into either the Western or the Eastern subtrope.
  • Soldiers in the movie The Men Who Stare at Goats. They refer to themselves as warrior monks, using new age phrases, and their goal is to be Jedi-like warriors.
  • Red Sonja: The priestesses from the Order of the Talisman wield swords to protect the artifact from Queen Gedren and her troops. Although they fail in the end, they take many soldiers with them first.
  • Star Wars: The Jedi combine Western chivalry and swordsmanship with Eastern mysticism, ascetics, and acrobatics. They don't worship any deity in the usual sense, although their reverence of the Force itself fills in quite nicely. It goes as far as their headquarters being named the Jedi Temple. They're also forbidden to have attachments, which they define as meaning obsessive/abusive/controlling relationships to people, things, or even emotions.
    "You must not grow too attached, too fond, too in love with life as it is now. The emotions are valuable and should not be suppressed... but you must learn to rule them, Padawan, lest they rule you."
    Jedi Master Depa Bilaba (Kanan: The Last Padawan)

  • Book of the Ancestor: the eponymous church of the Ancestor trains all its novices in hand-to-hand combat, swordfighting, dagger-fighting and other disciplines. Upon becoming fully-fledges nuns and monks, they can opt to become martial sisters/brothers and serve as the military arm of the church and as elite troops for the empire. In battle, they combine a serene state of mind they reached through meditation with rather western-style weaponry and fantasy/sci-fi armor.
  • The sfvantskors, warrior-mystics of the Old Faith from The Chathrand Voyages are basically what you'd get if you mixed Eastern-style ninjas, shaolin monks, and Western-style paladins. They have a well-earned reputation for being some of the most badass warriors in their world. Neda Pathkendle, also known as Neda Phoenix-Flame, sister of the main protagonist, is one.
  • The Abellican Church from R. A. Salvatore's Demon Wars saga has very strong martial traditions (the only warrior able to consistently best elf-trained swordsmen is an Abellican monk, albeit an evil one), though not all Abellican clergy follow that path. They are Western-style monks, but their fighting techniques are based in Eastern-style martial arts, originally learned from the Jhesta Tu mystics of the Walk of Clouds.
  • Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara makes reference to a temple full of Shaolin Acrocanthosaurus.
  • The members of the eponymous organization of Special Circumstances come from a wide range of religions, both Western and Eastern varieties, each having their faith an integral part of their offensive and defensive capabilities.
  • The Carawen monks of The Witchlands are a religious order founded to protect the Cahr Awen. As a result, they put heavy focus on combat training (a mix of Western and Eastern styles), and their mercenary branch is quite renowned for its effectiveness. Evraine and Aeduen were both trained by them, and even though the former is a healer, she's still an Action Girl.
  • The Burning Kingdoms: Parijatdvipa has priestly warriors who fight with great skill.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Star Trek: Picard: The Qowat Milat is an order of Romulan warrior nuns, reputed to be among the best single-combat fighters in the galaxy, whom even the infamous Tal Shiar fears.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • Age of Empires:
    • In Age of Empires III, most healer units (usually represented in the series by monks) have a weak melee attack, but "The WarChiefs" introduces the Warrior Priest, unique to the Aztecs, and The Asian Dynasties introduces religious settlements as minor civs, all of which gives a warrior monk-like unit (except for the Jesuits, which give Conquistadors).
    • Age of Empires IV introduces the Warrior Monks, exclusive to the Rus.
  • Akuji from the PS1 game Akuji The Heartless fits this trope well. Even before his adventures in the underworld, the game establishes him as a bloodthirsty Voodoo priest who has killed LOADS of people in battle, to better perfect his magic.
  • Alani from Battleborn is a fish alien warrior monk who uses Ket, her order's martial art. Said martial art involves water manipulating nanotech.
  • The Paladins from The Battle For Wesnoth are described directly as 'warrior monks' in the in-game description. While mainly Western-style, the no-religion-in-Wesnoth rule dictates that they gain their power not from any divine source, but from adherence to the philosophy of good itself. Although they are not as tough than their more mundane counterparts, the Grand Knights, they are faster, have basic healing abilities and are wield an Arcane-power infused attack that makes them extremely effective in combating Undead entities.
  • There are several monk units in Conqueror's Blade: Cudgel Monks, who are basically Shaolin martial artists; Crescent Monks, huge bruisers who live a party life off the battlefield; Naginata Monks, a Japanese-themed polearm unit; and Monastic Knights, European knightly cavalrymen.
  • The Monk player class of Diablo III is a mixed example, being a martial artist who hails from the setting's equivalent of Russia and is a holy warrior in the vein of western examples while their religion is reminiscient of some combination of Buddhism and Hinduism (with its a large number of deities and belief in reincarnation) wearing clothing with inspiration from the former.
  • Dungeon Keeper 2 features monks that are look like the traditional plump, brown-robed European friars, but possess the hand-to-hand fighting skills of Shaolin monks. As did the prequel's, though they focused more on healing and spellcasting (everybody in the prequel did more spellcasting).
  • The Shinwa are this in Earth & Beyond, albeit in spaceships. In truth, they seem to be warriors first, monks second, which makes sense given that they are the Jenquai military.
  • In The Elder Scrolls, the Blades have elements of this. The Blades are an Ancient Order of Protectors who have long served the emperors of Tamriel as bodyguards and spies. They undergo Training from Hell that turns them into a katana-wielding One-Man Army with spy skills. Many Blades are also predisposed to the worship of Talos, the Deity of Human Origin who is the ascended form of Tiber Septim, the founder of the Third Tamriellic Empire and the person who re-formed the Blades after they were previously dissolved. The Order of Talos soon formed within the Blades in his service. Given that the Blades are essentially Samurai crossed with a western-style order of knights, they have traits falling on both sides of this trope's variants.
  • Sulik from Fallout 2 is a somewhat strange warrior who is guided by the spirits, if the Chosen One is a Good Karma character he can join his party. He gives spiritual advice for each location in the game.
  • The Fire Emblem series has tons of these. In some games you can promote the previously helpless Clerics into badass axe-wielding men of faith. Then there's the former dragon Gotoh, who gave men the gift of magic, from Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & the Blade of Light and Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem; Celica, one of the two protagonists of Fire Emblem Gaiden who wields swords as well as her White Magic; Frost from New Mystery of the Emblem; and Jodel from Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade, just to name a few.
  • The Pax Dei, the military forces of the Order of the New Dawn, from Ground Control is an army composed of warrior monks in a Sci-Fi setting, from the lowliest Crusader (a basic infantryman) to a Volans (heavy Hover Tank) pilot to a Paladin (an autonomously operating general). They don't have any special personal powers, but they do have heavy weapons and war machines, and plenty of Applied Phlebotinum.
  • Yorick Mori, the Shepherd of Lost Souls, from League of Legends hails from a monastery of the Blessed Isles, containing elements of western and eastern influence, up to wielding a modified Buddhist monk's spade as his primary weapon. He is also the last of his kind after the isles were ruined and became the undead-infested Shadow Isles, and fights to undo their curse.
  • Majesty features Monks trained at the temple of Dauros, the God of Law, who are a mashup of both varieties; they specialise in hand-to-hand combat that apparently draws from Kung-Fu, but their aesthetic is decidedly Catholic, including something very like Gregorian chanting being audible from the temple when at least one monk is resting there.
    • The Paladins, also made available by building a Temple to Dauros, are rather obviously based on Joan of Arc.
  • Mass Effect 2 adds not one but two Warrior Monks to Commander Shepard's team.
    • First is Samara, a member of a very rare sect of asari warriors who swear off having family or possessions beyond weapons and armor, and follow a strict Code which obligates them to protect the innocent and stop lawbreakers. Samara at one point compares herself to a Knight Errant or a samurai.
    • On a more informal level, meanwhile, there is Thane Krios, a drell assassin and devout polytheist who kills people he believes deserve to die in an effort to make the galaxy a better place. Best illustrated in his first lines:
      Thane: Prayers for the wicked should never be forsaken.
      Shepard: Do you really think she deserves it?
      Thane: Not for her. For me.
    • Neither of these are straightforwardly "holy" characters. Samara's Code takes a very hardline stance toward crime, and though she's capable of finessing situations to keep from being forced to take unnecessary action, she makes it clear that this only goes so far. Thane's religion, meanwhile, takes the concept of a soul separate from the body a step or two beyond human faiths, to the point that he makes a clear distinction between acts of his own personal volition and acts that are performed solely by his body (for example, in the service of others, a mindset doubtless informed by the fact that he was raised as an assassin from the age of six) — he holds himself no more responsible for the latter than he would consider a gun to blame for shooting someone, a philosophy that would probably make prosecuting a drell serial killer a real headache.
  • Might and Magic 7 has a monk class that is a combination of the Shaolin and Western style of monk, with magic for good measure.
  • The monks of Pillars of Eternity are bare-fisted fighters who wear little or no armor and use meditation and sometimes hallucinogens to achieve understanding. They believe that one can achieve enlightenment and purify the soul through pain, and their powers are activating by spending points they get as they take damage in combat. Whether a particular monk is more Eastern, Western, or something altogether different depends on their origin culture, but the companion monk introduced in White March, Zahua, hails from the Ixamitl Plains, and draws more from pre-Columbian Mexico than anything else.
  • The Monk class in Ragnarok Online is a cross of East and West — kung-fu with distinct Catholic motifs.
  • Worldof Warcraft brought in Monks with the Pandaria expansion, who have traits of both types.

  • Guilded Age: Penk, after becoming an avatar of Tectonicus.
  • An example of a kung-fu nun, Chen-Chen in Harkovast has incredible abilities relating to her martial arts training she received as a member of a religious order.
  • In The Order of the Stick, Miko Miyazaki and the rest of the Azurite Paladins of the Sapphire Guard are Western-style Paladins from an Eastern-inspired civilization who call themselves Samurai. Miko further complicates matters by having levels in the actual Monk class.

    Web Original 
  • The SCP Foundation has its own specialized military called the Mobile Task Force (MTF) to fight the more aggresive SCP entities in the world. One of the branches of MTF is Chi-13, a.k.a. "Choir Boys" who mandate strong religious beliefs. They welcome all faiths, but it's the belief in that faith that's required, as it's the Choir Boys' job to fight wicked entities vulnerable to belief and holy objects like silver.

    Western Animation 
  • Codename: Kids Next Door: The Kids Next Door could fit this trope to a certain degree, though they're modeled mostly as a military organization, the kids that join them are generally taught and trained to fight to protect kids and their rights from evil, and do whatever is associated with achieving that goal. And KND Operatives, for the most part, have an ingrained determination to fight for that cause while never giving it up. Those traits give the KND much in common with warrior monks. Essentially, they're taught to fight for an ideal, though not political or religious, has been what kept the KND together and what might be the cause of how it's an organization that's been around since the 19th century.
  • Depending on their type of magic, rune mages in The Dragon Prince could fit either the Western or Eastern variant of this trope. Sun mages are also referred to as "priests," and examples such as Babukar from Tales of Xadia use their magic for battle, seeking "worthy foes" to defeat. Sky mages, meanwhile, share the mysticism, ascetics, and acrobatics of Eastern-style warrior monks.
  • A very rare villainous example can be found in the Daughters of Aku from Samurai Jack. Raised and trained by the Cult of Aku, they are very devout and Jack's most dangerous opponents, bar none.

    Real Life 
  • Bishops and other clergy often fought in The Crusades. It's widely believed that clerical law against spilling blood forced them to use blunt weapons such as maces, but this is a myth. There are a number of medieval illustrations of clerics using edged weapons, for instance, in the Rolandslied of Conrad the Priest, c. 1170. Even more notably, a monk is depicted as the master in illustrations in the I.33 manuscript.
  • The Sohei of Japan and the original Shaolin monks are obvious historical Eastern variants. Famous warlord Uesugi Kenshin became a monk of the Buddhist god Bishamonten, and is depicted as His devout follower in both Samurai Warriors and Sengoku Basara.
  • In Korea, during wartime, Buddhist monks often furnished a large number of fighters, either for government armies, or as volunteers fighting on their own against aggressors. During the 16th century Japanese invasion of Korea, this led to occasional battles where combatants on both sides were Buddhist monks.
  • During the High Middle Ages, there were a significant number of these in the form of the Crusading Orders. While there were dozens, the big three, so to speak, were The Knights Hospitallers and The Knights Templar, and the Teutonic Knights — the latter originally being a Hospitaller Order that took elements from both Hospitallers and Templars. Not only were they militarily important, being large contingents of professional soldiers in an era where professional soldiers were a definite rarity, but they also wielded secular political and financial power — though the actual power they had was often exaggerated, particularly where the Templars were concerned. In fact, of the three, the Templars were arguably the weakest as they lacked a solid territorial base (the Hospitallers took Rhodes, then Malta, and the Ordenstaat of the Teutonic Knights encompassed a significant chunk of the Baltic coast from Germany to Western Russia. The Templars, by contrast, bought Cyprus, then sold it when they realised they couldn't hold it).
    • How holy these warriors were depends on how favourably you view their actions and members, but it is worth noting that they were frequently criticised in their own time for being power-hungry, land-hungry, and more concerned with financial/political gain than doing their Christian duty. It is also worth noting that while a number of these criticisms were justified, many of them were written by unsympathetic contemporaries, and those who deposed them. In fact, Muslim sources were often more complimentary than Christian ones, citing their genuine faith (considered admirable, even in infidels), their bravery and skill in battle, and the fact that long-term interactions with Muslims and Jews made them far more reasonable company than freshly arrived fanatics. One Islamic source actually called the Templars "his friends", remarking how a group of them intervened to protect him when a freshly arrived Crusader harassed him while he was at prayer and apologised for their fellow crusader's rudeness.
    • Certainly, the Orders weren't exactly wide-eyed idealists. Some were so bad that other Orders refused to include them — the Livonian Sword Brothers, renowned for being so dissolute that event the Teutonic Order refused to take them, despite how valuable their lands were, and had to be forced into it. The Teutons themselves became infamous for effectively turning the crusading experience into a package tour for the young nobles of Europe by the 15th century. Funnily enough, one of those nobles was none other than Henry of Bolingbroke a.k.a. Henry IV of England.
  • On the Islamic side, ghazis and some orders of dervishes would also qualify to varying degrees. Most of the key religious figures in Islam including their founding fathers were warriors or commanders because the political situation of the time demanded it.
  • In the 1380 CE Battle of Kulikovo, both Russian and an unspecified Tatar Khanate's armies put forth a champion to decide the outcome without actually fighting. The Tatar champion was Temir-murza and the Russian, the warrior monk Alexander Peresvet. Unfortunately, the two killed each other in the first round and an all-out battle still took place. Another prominent Russian warrior monk participant of this battle was Rodion Oslyabya.
  • Military chaplains are considered non-combatants, but carry a side-arm and are often present in combat operations.
  • Joan of Arc was a chaste maiden dedicated to the church, and could qualify. (Though she would more precisely be classified as a Warrior Nun.)
  • The Shaolin Monks.
  • Clergymen provided a surprising number of guerrilla fighters during World War II, particularly in the Balkans as well as in Cold War era Latin America. Some of these zig-zagged this trope by having abandoned religion and joined communist guerrilla forces (e.g. priest-guerrillas in Tito's army and Cuba's Guillermo Sandinas), even though many still performed religious roles vis-a-vis civilian populations in the areas they controlled.
  • St. Ignatius of Loyola provides a strange non-violent version of this. Beginning his adult life as a soldier and only taking up the monk life after damm near losing his leg from being shot by a French cannon, Loyola would go on to become perhaps the most impactful theologian of his time by founding the Society of Jesus, an order whose organisation borrowed heavily from Ignatius' military training (albeit in a non-violent way), preaching a constant state of "campaigning" through conversion, education and intercultural dialogue, all the while expanding catholic influence throughout the world.
  • Sometimes, a practitioner of martial arts ends up succumbing to a belief that Eastern martial arts are un-Christian. Results may vary, but at least some of these folks solve the conundrum of whether or not to drop the practice by filing off the perceived "Eastern" aspects and replacing them with Christian concepts.



The last surviving warrior monk from Cedar Temple.

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