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What the Fu Are You Doing?

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Sokka does the trope right... by doing everything else all wrong.

"Jackie Chan's got everything on me. Don't move over, Bruce Lee."
Tripod, "Krap Karate"

Sometimes, when someone is trying to show off martial arts, they just look goofy. They flail around, fall over, smack into stuff, and a whole bunch of other things. Expect a Priceless Ming Vase to get broken, or the person's own bones.

One version of this is trying to show off karate chop, hitting something like a brick, with hilarious (if painful) results. Also, anyone trying to show off nunchakus without knowing what they're doing will hit themselves in the groin. Possibly repeatedly.

This is sometimes the result of I Know Kung-Faux. May include an Ass-Kicking Pose and Funny Bruce Lee Noises.

Expect this to stop once a character Takes a Level in Badass.

Compare Wimp Fight (when this is applied to a whole fight scene), Fake Special Attack (when one attack is like this) and Black Belt in Origami.

Contrast Artistic License – Martial Arts and Martial Arts and Crafts. Also contrast Confusion Fu, where your opponent doesn't know what the Fu you're doing, but you do, and you're taking advantage of the confusion.

Not an example of Precision F-Strike.


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  • An old Nintendo 64 commercial featured a man swinging around an N64 controller (which is very large, two or three times as large as the PS2's controller) by its cord, until he wound up hitting himself in the testicles with it.
  • All of the Snickers Ad featuring Rowan Atkinson as a wannabe Kung Fu student. Of course, when Mr. Bean tries martial arts, the result can only be disastrous. Unusually, though, he manages to not hit himself too hard with the nunchakus, but that's mostly because he'd rather make percussion music with them.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • During the Namek Saga, Goku mocks the Ginyu Force's obsession with "Super Sentai" Stance poses and other forms of showing off in the middle of fights, pointing out it just wastes time and energy and leaves them open.
    • During the Buu Saga, Goten faces a loudmouth braggart named Ikose in a tournament. Ikose tries to show off by repeatedly punching the air, and runs out of breath doing it. Goten gets confused and asks him what the point of that was, then easily defeats him.
  • Fist of the North Star offers a couple examples:
    • Played with by the mook who tried using Hokuto Shinken on Kenshiro and failed miserably: on one hand, that was actually the result of Kenshiro anticipating what he'd do and hitting him beforehand just to make his death hilarious, but on the other the guy tried to use one of Kenshiro's best known attacks and failed.
    • At another point, Amiba, a self-proclaimed genius, and Toki's Unknown Rival, attempts to pass himself off as Toki to smear his name. He also tries to copy Hokuto Shinken and press his own vital points to power himself up when he inevitably faces Kenshiro. It works for a few moments, as it causes his muscles to swell up, making him look like a luchador parade balloon. His failure to properly strike his own pressure points swings right into Bloody Hilarious as he deflates like a luchador parade balloon with a leak. Kenshiro rightly points out that Hokuto Shinken is not something a sloppy hack of a martial artist like Amiba can master-and to drive it better home, when the real Toki has to fight Raoh he uses the exact same move to much better effect (the muscles don't swell up so much, the hand don't explode, and the muscles stay expanded and increase his strength for the entire fight).
  • Subverted by Kiyomori Yamanoue in Gamaran: when he's attacked by an enemy he's seemingly a hopeless loser, prone to tripping or falling on his butt. This, however, is an act to lower the enemy defense so that he can perform his paralyzing secret attack. Once said attack is used, Kiyomori shows just how much of a threat he is.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Battle Tendency:
    • Joseph pulls out a pair of clackers to battle the Pillar Men, wielding them in similar fashion to nunchakus (complete with anachronistic Funny Bruce Lee Noises)... and, naturally, ends up whacking himself in the back of the head. Caesar, whose best friend was killed by the Pillar Men, gets pissed off because he thinks Joseph is acting goofy on purpose and considers it disrespectful; Joseph insists that he's dead serious, saying that he feels for Caesar's loss and fully intends on making the Pillar Men pay for it.
    • The opening credits for the Animated Adaptation also contain a blink-and-you'll-miss-it sequence where a silhouette of Joseph is whirling his clackers, only to end up tying himself up and falling off-camera.
  • In The Mysterious Cities of Gold, Pedro and Sancho boast that they mastered kung fu by watching the Shaolin monks train. No-one is impressed.
  • Naruto:
    • In the third movie, Rock Lee manages to knock himself in the head with nunchakus, despite being an otherwise competent fighter.
    • In the last filler arc of Part 1, Matsuri has difficulty with weapons until Gaara helps her select one that she wouldn't injure herself with. Even then, it takes a few tries before she can get the hang of it, although she manages to save Gaara's life with it in the final battle of the arc.
  • One Piece:
    • Luffy does this all the time early in the series. Most of his mistakes probably happens because he isn't taking his opponent seriously, but one would assume he doesn't actually want to anchor himself to the bottom of a pool. Much of the dramatic, emotionally poignant fight against Arlong is spent by his crew and allies yelling at him to stop being an idiot. When he starts fighting Smoker, the first thing he does is get his feet stuck on the beams he'd been climbing.
      Smoker: Moron! What the hell are you doing?!
    • Luffy truly combines this with Confusion Fu. He's highly innovative and has an extremely versatile power set, and since many of his foes can predict attacks a fluid, formless style actually counts in his favor. It's very clear that he has almost no formal training however, and said power set makes nunchucks look controllable.
  • Pretty Cure: An episode of Heart Catch Pretty Cure has Tsubomi and Erika take lessons from a martial arts enthusiast after their Curb-Stomp Battle first encounter with Cure Dark. Turns out the kid isn't that great at it and his confidence is shattered when two older students reveal the ruse. A fight with the Monster of the Week helps him regain his confidence and Tsubomi walks away with a very useful skill she uses from time to time.
  • Akane of Ranma ½ trying to learn to use the Martial Arts Rhythmic Gymnastics ribbon. You can guess how this ends.
  • Dino in Reborn, while a fully capable fighter when his subordinates are present, has absolutely no fine motor skills or coordination when they are absent. None of his allies are safe from his whip when his subordinates aren't around.
  • Before getting her powers or any training, Usagi Tsukino from Sailor Moon tried to copy Sailor V's trademark Sailor V Kick for use on her bratty brother, but, not being a Savate expert as Sailor V, only obtained to hit their house' door and hurt herself.
  • An episode of the Slayers OVA features Jeffrey, a prince of sickly stature but assured of his utter dominance in every subject by his highly intimidating mother. This includes his swordplay, which can be generously described as "flailing enthusiastically in the general direction of... someone." He has thus far survived any and all altercations by the intrusion of his mother, who reacts violently and in Paper-Thin Disguise if someone sneezes at Jeffrey the wrong way.

    Comic Books 
  • In a 1970s Archie Comics story, Reggie becomes obsessed with the show Kung Fu (1972) and walks around town reciting pseudo-profound sayings and performing bogus "moves." He manages to knock himself unconscious moments before a couple of unamused street toughs were about to rough him up. After Archie and Chuck, who have actual proficiency in martial arts, see to the thugs, Reggie comes to and assumes he had knocked them out.
  • Tintin:
    • In Tintin in America, a more "western" version of this trope appears when Tintin attempts to use his lasso, only to end up lassoing himself and his own horse instead.
    • Near the beginning of Flight 714, Prof. Calculus mentions that he practiced Savate in his youth and tries to demonstrate a high kick (lit. "face kick"), but only manages to fall on his back and empty all his pockets.
  • In The Transformers: Dark Cybertron, Skids, who has the power to mimic the skills and movements of others, is pitted against Bludgeon, a martial arts master. He copies Bludgeon's moves, boasts about his new skills, and... gets his ass kicked. Bludgeon mocks him, pointing out that there's a huge difference between actually learning a skill and just miming someone else; Bludgeon spent his entire life learning that fighting style (including how to counter it), while Skids was just copying the superficial details.

    Comic Strips 
  • Rangi Jones from Footrot Flats learned all of his fighting moves from watching kung fu movies. Needless to say, this does not stand him in good stead in a fight against schoolyard bully Lex Murphy.
  • In Garfield, the titular cat shows what happens when an untrained person (well, cat, in his case) tries to karate-chop bricks in this strip.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • An Extremely Goofy Movie has a scene where Bobby brags about being a "yellow-belt" in... something, never specified, and shows off some moves. While being dangled upside-down by his ankles.
  • Kung Fu Panda:
    • The beginning of the first film plays off Po's clumsiness. He actually does know what he is doing (he's been an enthusiast his whole life), he is just too out-of-shape and uncoordinated to pull it off and tries to jump directly into advanced forms.
    • Even after Po becomes a master, he's still a slapstick comedy protagonist. Near the beginning of Kung Fu Panda 2, he and the Furious Five make a dramatic entrance by jumping down on the scene, only he lands facing the wrong way.
    • The Kung Fu Panda 3-tied music video "Nunchuk Princess" shows Mei Mei learning to use nunchaku. Her first tries are tentative and lead to hitting herself a lot, but she gets better thanks to Po's training.
  • The recruits in Mulan grow past this during the Training Montage (since their leader promised to "make a man" out of them).

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Adventures Of Johnny Tao, Johnny grew up watching Wuxia films. He spends his free time training with the moves he saw, thinking they are real martial arts. While he can hold his own in a fight, whenever he tries an Awesome, but Impractical move like a flying kick, he ends up looking like a spaz. Later, when he is given real martial arts training, he becomes much more impressive.
  • The eponymous Beverly Hills Ninja, with a three-section staff. Matter of fact, the hero for most of the film falls under this trope ("he's an embarrassment to ninjas everywhere"). Then someone hurts his clan brother. He suddenly becomes a real ninja.
  • In Bulletproof Monk, Kar does a pretty good job using a steel pipe as a staff until he twirls it a little too fast and drops it. Given that his "training" was done by watching wuxia films, this makes sense.
  • In Crank: High Voltage, when Venus runs into a couple of Mooks, he brandishes a pair of nunchaku and twirls them menacingly... only to lose control and send the weapon flying over the mooks' heads. While they are distracted by flying chucks, Venus charges in and punches them out.
  • In Donnie Brasco, Donnie's first "mission" with Lefty is to collect a debt from a guy who claims to have a Black Belt. Before he can get much farther, Donnie grabs him by the hair, punches him in the face and knees him in the groin, which convinces the guy to turn over his car to pay off the debt.
  • Enter the Dragon shows a Mook who has been given little training trying to use nunchucks while he thinks no one can see. His obvious mistakes give away his inexperience to Bruce Lee's character, who proceeds to demonstrate how it's done. This may not be shown on the edit/cut/version you're watching, though.
  • In Ernest Scared Stupid, Ernest declares himself to be a master of "hedgeclip-kido" right before smacking himself in the face with a pair of impromptu nunchaku.
  • In Jet Li's Fearless, he is armed with a three-section staff and takes on the Japanese contender who comes armed with a katana. Halfway through the match, they unintentionally end up swapping weapons and continue fighting pretty well, until the Japanese man whaps himself in the back of the head with the three-section staff. Jet Li graciously offers to swap weapons back for the benefit of both.
  • In Get Over It the obnoxious antagonist Striker has pulled out a pair of nunchucks — prompting the comment "Who keeps nunchucks in their pants?!?' — and is showing off with them when they fly out of his grip and hit a girl holding a rope in a place that's painful for girls too. Ouch. This means she naturally lets go of the rope she's holding and the guy in the harness that the rope is supporting crashes to the ground and lands on another guy. It's like Mouse Trap.
  • Help!: Ringo during a fight scene. Everyone else pretty much ignores him, until he breaks down sobbing because they manage to paint him red.
  • The garage fight from In the Line of Duty 4: Witness has Rachel making an Improvised nun chucks by tying two wrenches together and beating up some mooks, and then passing her wrench-chucks to her partner, Luk, to grab a rebar instead. Luk, being a terrible fighter, proceeds to thump himself in the head with those wrenches.
  • In Ip Man 2, Big Bad boxer Twister mocks the "dancing" of the martial arts demonstration.
  • The Big Bad in the James Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies does this in front of the captured Chinese spy, making lots of karate chop moves and yelling Kiai all the while. He's supposed to be showing how "pathetic" her moves are, but it comes across as Narm. Which is kinda the point; he's mocking her since his Mooks have, y'know, guns.
  • In The Karate Kid, while sparring with Mr. Miyagi, Daniel tries fighting like a boxer, doing fancy footwork and jabs. Miyagi easily trips him and orders him to stop dancing around.
  • Kick-Ass: Hit Girl and Big Daddy know what they're doing. Kick-Ass himself, not so much. Which is why Big Daddy always refers to him as "Ass-Kick".
  • In A Kid in King Arthur's Court, Calvin starts practicing some karate when Princess Katey walks in on him. Despite his attempts to explain he was practicing fighting moves, she thinks he was doing a funny dance. Later, he gets the chance to prove his fighting prowess.
  • Sing (Stephen Chow) in Kung Fu Hustle before he develops his powers.
  • In Man of the House, Roland Sharp ends up facing off against two drunken college boys in a bar:
    Drunk: I should warn you... I know karate!
    Sharp: You better know something.
  • The Mask of Zorro features a swordfighting example. As the young thief begins his apprenticeship with the old Zorro, he shows off some flashy yet flailing maneuvers. The old Zorro then disarms him with one strike, and starts showing him how it's really done.
  • In Napoleon Dynamite when Kip goes up against Rex, his "cage fighting skills" aren't quite at the level he thinks they are, unsurprisingly.
  • In a film called Of Cooks And Kung Fu, here the hero's friend shows off his "rolling eyeballs" technique, which is crossing his eyes and blinking.
  • Race for the Yankee Zephyr. A guard catches the hero sneaking up, intent on braining him with a lump of wood. Instead of grabbing his rifle, the guard begins waving his arms about and howling in a highly exaggerated martial arts style. The hero gapes in astonishment then, as the guard turns to deliver a spinning kick, boots him down the mountainside.
  • The villagers in Robin Hood: Men in Tights do this when trying to shoot bow-and-arrow and when charging against dummies on horseback. Achoo suggests using the dummies instead.
  • Shaolin Soccer: After humiliating a bunch of toughs with his kung fu soccer prowess, the main character is confronted by a scrawny nerd who sketches out a kata while farting. The main character just tells him that he's pathetic and walks away, which reduces the nerd to tears.
  • In Sidekicks, Barry manages to nail himself in both the head and the groin during his nunchaku training montage.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic is seen twirling nunchucks at one point, while making Funny Bruce Lee Noises... and he ends up whacking himself in the face with them and falling to the floor.
    Sonic: OH! [pained] I'm Okay!
  • Seen briefly in Spaceballs, with Lone Star trying to apply a Vulcan nerve pinch and his victim pointing out to him what he's doing wrong. He gets it right on the second try.
  • Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi: During the Ewoks' miraculous comeback during the Battle of Endor, several of them are seen skillfully bringing down speeder bikes with well-thrown bolas. Then Wicket swings his own weapon and knocks himself out instead.
  • At the end of Stay Tuned, the main character applies one of his talents and opens a fencing school. When one of his students tries Flynning, he defeats her easily and calls her out on it.
  • They Call Me Bruce. Bruce is waving around nunchucks in a dojo and ends up breaking the Old Master's Priceless Ming Vase. The master throws Bruce out of his class, telling him to keep the chucks so he can practice with the closet! Bruce then uses the chucks to knock out a robber but knocks himself unconscious too. However the store owner tells reporters a highly exaggerated story of Bruce's heroics, causing everyone to think he's a great kung fu warrior.
  • Undercover Brother, in which the titular hero (wearing arm-shields) has a fight at the end with the villain's trusted lieutenant (who has sword-like blades strapped to both arms). Undercover Brother whips out some nunckaku and starts whizzing them all about, showing off, and then smacks himself between the legs. As the baddie smirks and moves forward for the attack, it becomes clear this was to lull him into a false sense of security - UB delivers a quick left-right-spinkick combo that nearly knocks him unconscious, before he is left behind by his Bad Boss, to go up with the exploding base. Bonus points for doing it all to Michael Jackson's "Beat It".
  • Way of the Dragon: After Tang Lung handily beats several mooks with nunchuku, the last mook grabs some nunchaku and tries to attack, only to knock himself out with them.
  • In the comedy-mystery film Who's Harry Crumb? (1989), the titular Harry trying to show off aikido, so he does a backflip over the couch (imagine doing that when you're the size of John Candy), and the landing causes the dinosaur egg to fall. His boss catches it, though.
  • Wild Wild West:
    • A mook performs a kata with a lot of spinning kicks.
      Mook: I learned that from a Chinaman.
      Jim West: [hits him with a shovel] I just made that up.
    • Also a subversion with Gordon, whom West wants to fight. Gordon starts making weird sounds and making odd gestures in a pathetic attempt to look badass. Turns out, he was just distracting West so that he could hit a button to activate a big mallet.

  • Discworld:
  • Heralds of Valdemar:
    • In Exile's Valour, two students try to show off using stage fighting. A thrown sword shatters a huge mirror.
    • In the previous novel Exile's Honour, two students have been trained to do fancy court fighting. Alberich proceeds to kick their ass, since they were not trained to fight. It's mentioned if they were completely untrained, he'd have used all the padding he could lay his hands on, because they were liable to do anything.
  • One that's not played for laughs: in one of the Humanx Commonwealth prequel novels, the human protagonist Cheelo Montoya mugs a married couple at stun-gunpoint; the man attempts to karate-chop Montoya's gun arm, leading to the gun going off aimed directly at the man's heart. It's only a stun gun, so under normal circumstances, it would merely cause brief heart palpitations. The man, however, was born with a weak heart, which stops permanently.
  • Mercy Thompson: Mercy actually invokes this trope in a few of the early novels, explaining injuries she got fighting supernatural threats as being the result of having a sparring partner at the dojo who's a McNinja idiot.
  • In the junior novelization for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2, April attempts to convince Keno that Mikey's nunchaku are really hers and ends up smacking herself several times in the arms and chest.
  • Bites Lightsong the Bold in the podex in Warbreaker. He believes due to some Past Life Skills that he used to be some kind of cop or detective. When he confronts the villains at the climax of the book, he finds out the hard way that forensic accountants don't know how to use swords.
  • A Wizard in Rhyme: In The Secular Wizard, a pair of squires end up dueling each other. Except that the only form of fighting they know is swordfighting, and they're using their fists. So they wind up making a lot of painful but ineffective strikes at each other until the one the hero is friends with accidentally knocks his opponent out.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Anytime someone is shown with nunchakus on America's Funniest Home Videos, expect it to end like this (usually with one end headed "down south").
  • Wesley from Angel managed to do this a few times in the first season. Hilariously, he once casually gestures with an axe to try to impress a girl, and embeds it in the wall. This was used in his sequence in the opening credits for years. And again, much worse, in season four while amnesiac.
  • In the Blackadder episode "Born to Be King", Edmund challenges McAngus to a duel; he flails his sword around, trying to look like he knows what he's doing, then McAngus takes one swipe, cutting his blade in half.
  • In a fifth season episode of Bones, Hodgins attempts to use nunchucks on a crash dummy to test if they correspond to the crime weapon. Naturally, he almost knocks himself out. Luckily, Arastoo shows us how it's done.
  • Cheers. Cliff, a notorious braggart, claims to know martial arts. He busts a board in half and his friends are convinced. Quietly he asks Diane to take him to the hospital, for he has broken many fingers.
  • In Community episode "Early 21st Century Romanticism", Chang's nunchaku goes awry when he accidentally smashes Jeff's floor lamp.
  • A segment on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart has Jon Stewart digitally inserted into scenes from The Mask of Zorro; during the Training Montage, we see Jon swinging his sword like it's on fire, shouting "Come on, come on, come one! Right here, right here, right here!" At which point Anthony Hopkins' Don Diego disarms him with a lazy tap. Note that this is only slightly worse than what the character he's replacing actually did in the movie.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In his début episode, the recently-regenerated-more-than-slightly-insane Fourth Doctor chops a brick in half with his bare hand — recall that his previous incarnation Knew Karate. A few minutes later he tries it again, and nearly breaks his fingers.
    • "The Vampires of Venice": Rory faces down a vampire with a broom, which he attempts to use to intimidate the vampire, by flailing it around wildly as if he was a master swordsman while making lightsaber noises. Unfortunately for him, the vampire he's facing is a master swordsman. Cue Oh, Crap! on Rory's part.
  • In an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Will Smith visited a dojo to learn martial arts. He finds a convenient block of wood on a stand and tries to hand chop through it. One hurt hand later he tries it with his foot and actually manages to break through it (though he still hurt his foot doing it). Then he finds a samurai sword lying around while waiting for the sensei. He picked up the sword and proceeded to strike dramatic poses with it while talking with his mouth out of sync with his words. The sensei came in while he was going this and asks him if he's having fun and tells him that everybody tries that. On the other hand, he wonders who broke his coffee table.
  • One episode of Friends involves Phoebe spending the day with her younger half brother, Frank Jr. At one point (after having gone to Times Square to get ninja stars), he's on the Friends' rooftop patio thing flailing around with nunchucks.
  • Home Improvement:
    • One episode had Tim attempting to break a board with his head. Take a wild guess what happens.
    • Al, on the other hand, has a rare badass moment when he successfully pulls it off. (He achieved it first, which convinced Tim that he had to be able to do it, except that Al had studied the martial art in question.) Also a case of Al being the better handyman, as Tim tried to break it against the grain instead of along it.
  • In a running gag, Mac from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is obsessed with doing martial arts to prove that he's a badass. However, he is not a badass, and his karate skills consist of aimlessly chopping and kicking the air while making whooshing sounds. In one episode, he even manages to choke himself out.
  • Invoked in Kamen Rider Fourze: In one episode the Monster of the Week attacks Ryusei, who defends himself with his considerable Jeet Kun Do skills. However, he realizes that Tomoko (a member of the Kamen Rider Club) is watching, and in order to maintain his cover as a Lovable Coward, he throws out a really clumsy kick that lands him on his butt, then runs screaming away from the monster.
  • In an episode of Mortified, Taylor attempts to scare off some bullies with made up martial arts moves. When the bullies leave because of two cops walking the beach behind her, Taylor become convinced she is a martial arts prodigy.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000:
  • Power Rangers:
    • Bulk in multiple episodes of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers.
      • In one episode called "A Star Is Born", there are auditions for a commercial about karate. Bulk enters the audition and shows of his "incredible karate skills" (read: making random movements while shouting). He passes the audition, but at the end of the episode we see the finished commercial; Bulk is the "before" and Tommy (a real martial artist) is the "after".
      • In "Mirror of Regret", Bulk has Skull for company, and they end up on the floor.
      • He continues it in Samurai, as early as the first episode. Poor Spike, being taught to be a samurai by "Uncle Bulk".
      • On the few occasions they actually fight, Bulk and Skull prove to be quite effective fighters despite retaining their distinct lack of skill. Their random incompetence seems to function as effective Confusion Fu.
    • In one episode of Power Rangers RPM, Ziggy attempts to intimidate Dillon into coming back to the Garage with a display of martial arts that is so bad Dillon just gives up and goes back with him. Keep in mind that Dillon can rip a Grinder (type of robot Mooks) in half with little effort.
  • The Professionals. In "Involvement", Bodie and Doyle are incredulous when a junkie adopts a karate stance, even though they're pointing guns at him. "Even Bruce Lee can't dodge bullets!" (it's in The '70s, before martial artists started doing that). When he refuses to back down, Bodie tosses his gun to Doyle and lays the junkie out with a punch to the face.
    Bodie: Looks easier on the movies, doesn't it?
  • In the fifth season premiere of Psych, Shawn gets into a fight with a Triad enforcer in a martial arts studio. Shawn had taken his first martial arts class earlier that day, and with little kids at that, but was genuinely extremely confident that he was going to win. He is knocked through a wall immediately, then spends the rest of the fight trying to survive. Eventually Juliet comes in and saves him, but he's still convinced he won.
  • In the Red Dwarf episode "Polymorph", when they go to face the creature, Lister Flynns with a baseball bat, and hits himself in the balls.
  • In Stargate SG-1, O'Neill decides to give Teal'c a boxing lesson. However, when O'Neill starts doing footwork, Teal'c tells him to stop dancing around and get back to teaching him a fighting style. Of course, boxing is a legitimate fighting style and footwork is important, but Teal'c is not from Earth and has apparently never seen anything similar. Notably, the footwork does not help O'Neill, and the lack of it does not hurt Teal'c.
  • In Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Rev. Wayne's The Apprentice audition tape includes a segment where he flails punches at the camera shouting, "Karate! Karate! Karate! Ninjitsu!"
  • An episode of V.I.P. saw Valerie Irons — who had a false reputation as a badass while the rest of her group did the fighting for her — forced into a fight with a highly skilled warrior who was doing the same thing on behalf of the unskilled villain of the week. She had to stall until one of the VIP group was ready to remotely control her body. When she managed to strike him once by fluke, her opponent believed he'd fallen for obfuscating clumsiness.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess: In "Send in the Clones", when Xena gets knocked out, a Xena fangirl named Polly tries to take on the villainess Alti. Polly just flails around while making Funny Bruce Lee Noises. Alti rolls her eyes and knocks her out with one punch. At the very least, she bought enough time for Xena to recover.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • One episode of TNA featured James Storm trying to use nunchucks on his opponent, only to hit himself in the head with them.


    Video Games 
  • Breath of Fire:
    • Near the beginning of Breath of Fire III, Ryu (no, not that one) is just an amnesiac kid who's fallen in with bad company and been handed a shortsword. Resultingly, his basic Attack-animation consists of him turning his back to the enemy, covering his face with his arm, and flailing his sword wildly in the general direction of his foe. After he's gotten some experience and Character Development, it turns into a conservative-but-effective shoulder-slice, but strangely enough, this affects neither his hit-percentage nor his damage-output.
    • This also appears in Breath of Fire II, in almost the exact same context (this Ryu isn't amnesiac, but he's still just a kid at the time). It's not nearly as noticeable there though, since kid Ryu only fights a grand total of 2 plot-based battles and neither of them is winnable.
  • The Talk-Radio track in Grand Theft Auto III features Lazlo, the host of the show, interviewing Reed Tucker, the owner of a martial arts dojo/vegan food store who is described by Lazlo as a "scrawny, pasty dude" with a lisp and embodies this trope. After one too many ridiculous claims (such as how he was trained by a 430-year old monk an can chop a bus in half), he eventually boasts that he can chop Lazlo's desk apart ("I have already visualized the desk as two half-desks") with the expected results.
  • Critically failing the Test Your Might segment in Mortal Kombat 9 causes your character to just injure their hand instead (though they're still able to at least put a dent or crack in whatever they're trying to break, even if it's diamond.)
  • Senran Kagura has Murasame, who uses a Kusari-gama... very poorly. Most of his attacks involve him falling over, getting tied up by the chains and accidentally hitting himself.
  • Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny introduced Dampierre, whose game plan basically revolves around pratfalling and faking pain. Somewhat subverted, as he actually has a decent mixup attack after most of these falls, which keeps the opponent guessing.
  • From the original Street Fighter game: Two bonus rounds involve Ryu/Ken trying to break brick pieces. It's possible to break all or some of those pieces, or fail altogether. The last part of which causes the character to look like this with booing sounds in the background to match.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge has a variant with Slash. During the boss fight with him, one of his attacks is to spin around and swing his twin katanas (similarly to Leonardo's charge attack), only to make himself dizzy. Most of his other attacks make use of brute force, including tossing boulders, bouncing in his shell, and grabbing the player character to spin them around all over the arena like a top. All in all, he doesn't fight very much like a ninja turtle.
  • Downplayed with Forest Law from Tekken, who is very good at fighting. As soon as you give him a pair of nunchakus, however... In his ending in Tekken Tag Tournament, he and Paul Phoenix are practicing and end up accidentally performing Cross Counter Groin Attacks on each other.

    Web Comics 
  • Darken: In this strip, Mink proves that she has no business trying to use a flail.
  • Kiel'ndia from Drowtales smacks herself in the head with her own chain whip after Kyo'nne (the girl she's trying to rescue) tells her to stop attacking.
  • In a Goblins strip, Minmax decides that an invisible enemy stole his sword and spends several panels flailing around randomly while his teammates try to figure out what's actually going on.
  • The Handbook of Heroes: On his very introduction, Ninja's assassination attempt on Elf Princess with a kusarigama solely results in a self-inflicted Groin Attack.
  • In Latchkey Kingdom, Debbie gets a pair of Nunchuks for Xmas, and immediately hits herself in the eye.
  • Double-subverted in Nip and Tuck during the tropical cruise story arc. Several men have been sexually harassing Hortense to the point that she eventually punches one of them. Tuck and Thelma try to leave before a fight breaks out but the reptile men refuse to let anyone leave before someone gets hurt in retaliation so Tuck subverts the trope and executes a perfect kung-fu style kick into the lead reptile man's chin knocking him out cold. Immediately double subverted when Thelma exclaims she never knew Tuck could do that, and Tuck says that he actually can't and collapses from the pulled groin muscles he just suffered executing that kick.
  • This exchange in Schlock Mercenary:
    Massey: I shall defeat them with my legal-jitsu! [strikes "kung fu" pose]
    Tagon: I thought you passed Shodan's unarmed combat class.
  • Sinfest: Seymour tries to use crosses-nunchucks against Legion. However, the chain snags into his fake Holy Halo and he knocks himself out.

    Web Original 
  • Whateley Universe: Generator tries teaching herself using her roommate's nunchuks and clocks herself. Even after she uses her powers and 'possesses' the nunchuks, she still gets hit. By possessed nunchuks that are trying to tell her something.

    Web Videos 
  • There are way, WAY to many videos of people failing at martial arts, unintentionally or otherwise, to even begin to list on this page. The most famous is either the Star Wars Kid or "afro-ninja."note 
  • A staple of Enter the Dojo, where most of the feared kata of Ameri-Do-Te come down to this. Most combat moves are either various forms of a Groin Attack, or something that looks more likely to hurt the user than the opponent (particularly "the Hurticane", which consists of flailing around like you're having an epileptic fit). Matt Page, the creator of the show, has claimed that a lot of them were based on actual "deadly techniques" espoused by self-proclaimed experts he'd met.
  • In the ending of season 2 of The Guild, Zaboo attempts to cartwheel out of a fight with a stuntman, but instead accidentally kicks over a nearby girl.
  • The battle between Kung Tai Ted and Master Kempo Dojo feature this heavily due to deliberately bad acting, and both of them manage to inflict a Groin Attack on themselves with their nunchuks.

    Western Animation 
  • In The Amazing World of Gumball, this is the entire point of the episode "The Gi".
  • Sokka of Avatar: The Last Airbender, when he is trying to find a good weapon. He keeps falling over or smacking himself until he finds a sword.
  • When Detective Yashimoto of Cyber Six attempts to use some basic kung-fu moves to intimidate the muscular Fixed Ideas, Jose decides to get in on the action and challenge him. Of course Jose has no idea what he's doing and after a few punches and some odd noises, manages to knock himself out with his own foot. This proves enough of a distraction Yashimoto to escape and rescue his sister.
  • Darkwing Duck: Darkwing's means of proving his identity in the episode "Apes of Wrath".
  • Fry does this to himself in Futurama with a literal giant nutcracker.
  • Hong Kong Phooey is all this and a bag of chips. His kung Fu "prowess" on bad guys is negligible; it's his cat Spot that corrals the crooks, yet Phooey thinks he did it so fast it even amazed him.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures: Jade does this in the second episode; she is Jackie's niece after all. She ends up high kicking a waiter's tray in a restaurant causing a chain of events to occur that allows for the Rooster Talisman to end up in the soup she ends up drinking.
  • In Kim Possible. Ron is the most notable example, especially when he is training with a staff in Japan and shows pretty impressive speed... accidentally stripping himself to his boxers in the process. Pretty much every scene with Ron until he got in touch with his monkey powers, and even after that.
  • The Looney Tunes cartoon "Robin Hood Daffy", in which Daffy hurts himself with his buck-and-a-quarter quarterstaff.
    Daffy: Ho! Ha-ha! Guard! Turn! Parry! Dodge! Spin! Ha! Thrust!
    [the quarterstaff bounces off the ground, hits him in the face, and bends his beak]
  • Happens repeatedly in Miraculous Ladybug thanks to their continued use of less-than-likely weapons of complicated use - specifically, a yo-yo:
    • Ladybug's powers come with a magic yo-yo that is effectively indestructible and has an infinite length string... But it took her a while to get the hang of it, with her first attempt at using it resulting in her entangling herself and Cat Noir and hanging them both to a roof. Even during the battle with Stormy Weather, she messed up.
    • When trying to cosplay as Ladybug, Chloé also tried to imitate her by now advanced yo-yo skills... And tying herself up. Come Season 2, though, and she's gotten enough of a hang of it to dance with the yo-yo.
    • When Ladybug and Cat Noir had to swap Miraculous, Cat ended up hitting himself in the head with the yo-yo.
  • One episode of Ozzy & Drix has Ozzy attempt to link his body to Hector's so he can control him in a fight with the school bully. When Chief Gluteus catches him and tries to detain him, this trope ensues for Hector himself, which ends up freaking out the bully so much that he throws the fight.
  • The sword-fighting abilities of "Da Samurai" (don't confuse with the main character) in Samurai Jack, could be interpreted like this. Despite this, his fighting style serves him well enough to take down a couple of robots in a tavern.
  • The Simpsons:
    • The episode "The Monkey Suit" has a one-off gag where the family goes to a museum exhibit about the history of weapons. They see a film called Nunchuks: Cool But Useless, which shows a Chinese vase depicting the invention of the nunchuks: the inventor smacking himself in the face, getting laughed at, and smacking the laughter.
    • Let's not forget Bart's "Touch of Death" technique, which he develops by skipping martial arts classes to play video games. All it is is him holding out a hand with thumb and pinky extended while making Funny Bruce Lee Noises, but since the rest of the family doesn't know he's bluffing, they buy it.
  • The Smurfs: The episode "Karate Clumsy" is built entirely around this tropes, as Clumsy Smurf has to learn karate in order to battle Ninja Rat.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM): Antoine attempts to learn martial arts ("King Fu") from Bunnie in one episode, but generally fails to do much other than spout Funny Bruce Lee Noises, damage everything in the environment but the practice dummy, and eventually send it flying through a window into Sonic's hut. He manages to save Sonic from a sneak attack with a flying kick late in the episode, though. That and a post-battle demo gain him praise, but he thinks the latter wasn't so good. He fumbles the second demo, lands on Dulcy's foot, and she wrecks the hut they're in.
  • In the Star vs. the Forces of Evil episode "All Belts Are Off", Jeremy Birnbaum is chosen to perform a martial arts demonstration. His demonstration is just him excessively boasting and doing random, clumsy punches and kicks. The audience can easily tell he's an amateur and the Grandmaster he was trying to impress falls asleep.
  • Harold from Total Drama is occasionally guilty of this, such as knocking himself out with his own nunchucks. When it counts, though, he's surprisingly competent.
  • Dermott Fictel in The Venture Bros. claims to be a self-trained master of jeet kun do who also teaches ninjutsu and has had his hands registered as deadly weapons. Unsurprisingly, every time he's actually had to show off his skills, he comes off as, charitably, a novice. His attempts to show off nunchaku skills result in him losing his grip and accidentally tossing them at someone.

    Real Life 
  • Diemon Dave, an Appalachian McNinja with his own line of training videos.
  • Anyone, anywhere, who watched a lot of kung fu flicks and thought they could fight by imitating what they saw. Of course, nowadays, replace "kung fu flicks" with "UFC pay-per-views" and you've got what's been called an "MMA-hole." And there's also the mimicking of Professional Wrestling moves which plays this straight with the fancier moves (go ahead and try to do a "Canadian Destroyer" with an unwilling opponent, or for that matter a 50 lb garbage can) and can invert it (sometimes tragically) with simpler maneuvers.
  • Using any weapon without training can turn into this. Some weapons, such as flails, are known to be notoriously dangerous to their wielders even with training.
    • For example, Charles Darwin tried using bolas during his visit to Argentina. He was relatively lucky, and only tripped up his own horse. The gauchos with him reportedly found this very amusing.
    • Nunchucks are notorious for this, exacerbated by the fact that the physical properties of the weapon make it impossible to do the moves at anything less than full speed, as most other weapons allow you to get used to how it moves before trying to move it quickly. Averted early on, when people will use speedchucks (lighter and thinner chucks that are fast, but wont hurt much when hitting yourself) in training and presentation. Played Straight again when they switch to a thicker chuck later on in training, and haven't become accustomed to the weight.
    • Even training under the watchful eye of someone more talented than you doesn't make you immune to this. Ask anyone who has done any weapons training for any significant length of time and they will have at least one story (or more...) per weapon of accidentally hitting, cutting, stabbing, whacking, or otherwise inflicting pain on themselves.
  • In Martial Arts, it is often said that the most dangerous belt is a White Belt — God only knows how they could hurt you (or themselves)!
  • In baseball, the losing team in a lopsided game might send a position player out to pitch to avoid wearing out the bullpen. What usually follows are slow and wild pitches that wouldn't make the grade in Little League let alone the majors. Occasionally, these substitute pitchers do surprisingly well because their lack of speed and control confuse batters too much.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Kung Fool, What The Fu


Mr Bean - Kung Fu Master

Mr Bean showing off his (non-existing) Kung Fu skills.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / WhatTheFuAreYouDoing

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