Some people are satisfied with Good Old Fisticuffs; to them, there's nothing more gratifying than pummeling mooks left and right with your fists. Other people would prefer killing them with fire; perhaps they just just love that smell of napalm in the morning.
And then, there's the people who Take a Third Option: After all, a punch hurts. Fire hurts. A punch of fire is bound to hurt twice as much as either of the two individually. And thus, the art of combining Elemental Powers with close-quarter combat was born.
The Elemental Punch is a melee attack that has an elemental or energy-based upgrade. These come in quite a few flavors:
- Fire is a very common attribute to add to a physical attack. Perhaps this is because of fire's sheer destructive power, or maybe just because an aura of flame enveloping a character's fist is just plain cool.
- Ice-based attacks are also fairly common, due to their tendency to freeze their targets on contact. Attacks of this type are generally encased in some sort of coldness energy rather than actual ice. Although boxing gloves made of ice are rather common.
- Wind adds an extra bit of force to the punch, or allows you to send a hit from far away. In some cases, a wind punch can tear the target to shreds.
- Earth (obviously enough) adds mass and defense to the punch. In rare cases, the shell can be molded into a more effective weapon.
- Electricity throws the Electric Torture aspect into the picture.
- Light-elemental punches have the added benefit of easily indicating the power of the attack. Dark or shadow-elemental punches, naturally, are a common counterpart. These sorts of attacks tend to involve lines being sucked into the glowy part/weapon.
- Another variation involves channeling Pure Energy or Ki into the attack, which generally has an empowering effect rather than adding an elemental attribute. This is typically indicated, once again, by having the fist glow.
Of course, punches are not the only attacks that can be elementally empowered. Elemental kicks are almost as, if not just as, common. Channeling elements into weapons happens quite a bit, if the Flaming Sword and Laser Blade are any indication. And, of course, there's nothing quite like pummeling the enemy with a flying, full-body tackle whilst encased in one's element of choice.
This is a tactic that comes naturally to the Magic Knight and the Supernatural Martial Artist, and, understandably, usually requires Full-Contact Magic. In Video Games, this trope is often employed to prevent non-magical fighters from being excluded from Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors. This may be seen as a Yin-Yang Bomb, combining matter with energy. Compare the Trick Arrow, the archer's answer to the Elemental Punch. See also Swiss Army Appendage, Blasting Time and Power Fist.
Anime and Manga
- Naruto has several examples of this. Naruto's Rasengan is a palm-thrust amplified by spinning chakra; Sasuke's Chidori is a palm thrust that can slice through its targets due to a blade of electricity; the Hyuuga clan's Gentle Fist fighting style relies on releasing chakra channeled through physical attacks; Sakura and Tsunade's superstrength may also be considered something like this because it involves focusing chakra to release a lot at once with one punch/kick/lift.
- Naruto eventually gets an upgraded form of his Rasengan that uses wind chakra, which ends up something of a subversion, namely in that the hundreds of tiny blades it's made of are also cutting his own hand and it only become truly useful when he finds a way to use it as a ranged weapon, though only in Sage Mode.
- Raikage. His punch was pumped full of electricity making it somehow more powerful not to mention that his hand was wrapped in lightning.
- His entire body is covered in lightning.
- Hinata can punch people with an aura of a lion face on each one of her fists.
- One zombie has an explosion element punch.
- Dragonball Z had a few instances of Air Jousting while encased in an aura of ki.
- Jin from Yu Yu Hakusho has this as his signature technique. His Tornado Fist wraps a mini twister around his arm, and even if his fist doesn't connect, the wind still blows his opponent off their feet.
- Digimon, being a Mons franchise, has countless examples of this. Among the main characters, Flamedramon's Fire Rocket attack involves Flamedramon diving headlong into the enemy while on fire, and Galgomon's Bunny Pummel/Dum-Dum Upper is an uppercut with a currently-firing Arm Cannon, and Leomon's Fist of the Beast King, which creates a lion head made of fire.
- In order to maintain the Masquerade while competing in a martial arts tournament, Negi of Mahou Sensei Negima teaches himself to channel his wind magic through his fist for more forceful punches.
- G Gundam's Shining Finger, a one-handed head crush with a hand that "glows with an awesome power".
- Darkness Finger as well.
- Vivio of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha used fists glowing with her magical power in her battle against Nanoha. They're able to shatter Nanoha's Deflector Shields in a few punches like they were nothing.
- Reinforce also does this at least once, throwing darkness-fists at Nanoha.
- Not to mention Subaru, who has a combat style centered around firing lasers out of her fists when she punches things.
- Subaru's special ability 'Vibration Shatter' means that her fists may also be considered a kind of Vibroweapon. (Although it's worth noting that most Vibro Weapons act as a kind of lightsaber, whereas Subaru's ability is designed to play hell on intricate machines such as drones or cyborgs by dealing internal damage.
- Sengoku Basara's Yukimura throws a flaming punch at
the HondamHonda Tadakatsu after pole vaulting himself at him using his spears.
- And earlier on his mentor Takeda Shingen throws an even bigger flaming punch, vaporizing his opponent and their surroundings in a matter of seconds.
- Natsu from Fairy Tail consistently uses fire-punches and kicks. Wonderful when he runs into a character that can negate magic in a bubble around him. So what does Natsu do? A fire jet off his elbow.
- Similar effects are observed with Gray (freezing punch), Gajeel (arm turns into iron) and a few others.
- Also, Erza once got extra power on a spear cast by having Natsu punch the spearbutt midthrow.
- In Ranma ½, the Flying Dragon Ascension Blast or Hiryuu Shouten Ha is an uppercut that unleashes a devastating tornado. The Shark Fist blasts a torrent of water (in the shape of a shark, natch). The Flying Dragon Ice Breakthrough or Hiryuu Hyoutoppa, a variant devised by Ranma himself, is a blast of icy wind that can instantly freeze and shatter even foes whose very presence melts rocks into lava.
- Early in the Pokémon anime, most physical attacks simply were physical attacks: Wing Attack was just a bird clobbering the enemy with its wing, Quick Attack was just a really fast dash attack, Horn Attack just meant ramming the opponent with a horn, and so forth. It appears that as the anime progressed, the animators grew more and more attached to the Power Glows concept. Now, virtually every melee attack stronger than Tackle involves making the colliding part of the attacker's body glow.
- Coming from the Logia (elemental in the widest definition of the word) Devil Fruits in One Piece, users can change into/use Fire, Ice, Light, Electricity, Magma, and many more to add to their punches.
- A number of spells in The Slayers, such as Technical Pacifist Amelia's Visfarank, which wraps whatever part of her body she's attacking with in astral energy that allows her to harm otherworldy creatures and deflect magic with kicks and punches.
- In Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris, after Gamera severs his arm to keep Iris from draining his powers, he absorbs Iris' fireballs and forms a new arm out of the fire and punches Iris right in the chest, blowing him up.
Live Action TV
- The Rider Punch and Rider Kick in the Kamen Rider series.
- This is more true in recent seasons. Blade and Stronger's are lightning kicks, Ryuki and Hibiki had fire kicks, Double has recently patented a wind based kick(appropriately a corkscrew kick), and G had a water/wine based kick(again a corkscrew). Shadowmoon, Kuuga, Kabuto, and both Blacks had energy based kicks. All the others are mainly physical in nature with the exceptions of Ohja, Agito, and Ichigo-tachi who are backed by an element (a poison kick which could fall into water, a possible energy kick, and possible wind kicks).
- Sylar famously used a NUKE PAWNCH in Heroes.
- The Path of the Brilliant Flame in Feng Shui allows you to channel fire energy (or any other kind of energy, if you're houserule-happy) into your physical attacks.
- The Weapons Of The Gods RPG has several elemental kung-fu styles, including Blizzard Fist and Holy Fire.
- GURPS has huge number of ways to perform this kind of attack, including:
- The Basic Set has Innate attacks, when limited to touch range only, can be a touch of elemental power, or if linked to a standard punch or kick become an elemental punch.
- The Burning/Icy/Lightning Touch spells in GURPS: Magic work like this.
- Some of the kinds gear in GURPS: Ultratech are basically gloves that channel this kind of attack
- Imbuments where you can do stuff like light your hands on fire because you're just that good.
- Dragon-Claw Elemental Strike.
- Presumably at least some of the creatures in Magic: The Gathering with “Firebreathing” abilities- the ability to pay mana to increase their damage. The most obvious would be this one.
- Any spell in Dungeons & Dragons which requires touching your enemy can be delivered through a punch, though this is harder than just touching them. A number of Prestige Classes also have abilities along these lines, like the enlightened fist (which allows you to convert other spells to touch spells, and cast them without pausing your attacks). In addition, any Spell Blade ability can be applies to unarmed strikes.
- Warforged have the Shocking Fist feat, which allows them to charge their fist with electricity.
- Pathfinder inherits Dungeons & Dragons's rules on touch spells, and also adds a series of feats which allow a character to use a specific magical ability after hitting with a punch.
- Champions offers any sort of elemental attack as a basic power. Hand to Hand Attack for normal, Killing Attack for, well, killing damage. It being HERO, the special effects are up to the player.
- Mutants and Masterminds has multiple ways of doing this, including adding Mighty to an elemental Strike power, or creating a touch-range aura.
- Likewise, Villains and Vigilantes allows this with its "carrier/payload" option.
- Pokémon has Fire, Ice, and Thunder Punches and Fangs, and other moves such as Volt Tackle, Blaze Kick, and Aqua Tail that combine a physical attack with an elemental attribute. It wasn't until Diamond and Pearl that these moves were labeled as physical attacks, though; they were previously treated as special attacks like Thunderbolt and Ice Beam.
- The move Vacuum Wave is a wind-type variant, projecting a punch of "pure vacuum" at the foe.
- In the Mega Man X and Mega Man Zero games, Zero gets the ability to add elemental powers to his blade.
- Most of the Mega Man Battle Network featured four elementally-attributed sword chips: Fire Sword, Aqua Sword, Elec Sword, and Wood Sword. In some of the games, the swords can be combined into the Element Sword program advance, which uses all four in quick succession.
- Several dual techs in Chrono Trigger combine Crono, Lucca, Frog, and Marle's elemental magic with Crono and Frog's sword strokes or Robo and Ayla's fists and bodies.
- Super Smash Bros. has Captain Falcon unleashing a fiery falcon with his eponymous punches and kicks, Ganondorf channeling dark flames into his punches and kicks, while Lucario had aura mixed into his physical attacks. Many characters also have energy-empowered/elemental physical attacks sprinkled into their movesets.
- Several spells in Secret of Mana allow the girl of your party to give any character's weapon elemental effects (although the character who gives you your first spells implies that these spells only work on the boy's weapons).
- Ditto Seiken Densetsu 3, as long as at least one of party member has the ability to cast the spells or you buy the right consumables.
- In Eternal Sonata, Falsetto has the attack Snow Claw.
- In Street Fighter, M. Bison can make his hands glow with his "Psycho Power". In later games, this would actually burn.
- Ken's flaming Dragon Punch fits the mold, the first obvious proof of his Divergent Character Evolution.
- In Street Fighter II, Chun Li's fist would glow during her standing Fierce Punch.
- In Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition, if Evil Ryu can land the full brunt of his second Ultra combo, he charges his fist with a dark energy then uses it to smash his opponent's face into the ground.
- The fists of the Mishimas in Tekken crackle with electricity when they go for a powerful blow.
- In its sister series, Soul Calibur, powerful, guard-breaking attacks are represented by fire enveloping the user's weapon.
- Murray gets a "Flaming Fist" ability in the third Sly Cooper game, which allows him to incinerate enemies with punches.
- Kirby Squeak Squad has an upgrade to Kirby's Sword copy ability, allowing him to combine Sword with Fire, Ice, or Spark for an elemental blade. The Wheel and Tornado copy abilities can also carry elements once Kirby acquires the proper copy scroll.
- City of Heroes has several element-based powersets. For melee powers this includes fire/ice/energy/stone/electricity punches.
- Samurai Shodown 2 had Wan-Fu channel flame through his weapon. Which might be a bit of overkill, since the weapon involved is a huge stone pillar.
- The Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors series switch between weapons with innate elemental properties and separate equipment that grants elemental attacks. Slaughtering armies of mooks is just that much more satisfying when they fly burning through the air.
- The X-Men Legends series of games and the second cousin Marvel Ultimate Alliance have a large number of buffs that work like this, both individual and team.
- Cole Mcgrath of In Famous is a firm believer in the electro-punch when he has to get his hands dirty, and also has elemental headbutts thrown into the mix.
- The protagonists in all three Disgaea games have these. Laharl and Adell have fire punches, while Mao has a palm of light, or some kind of plasma, it's hard to tell.
- In Warcraft II Ogre magi charged up their fist with blue fire before letting loose their punch. Sadly absent from later games.
- In World of Warcraft, Shamans have these. Rockbiter(Earth), Frostbrand(Ice), Flametongue(Fire), Windfury(Wind) and Earthliving(Life, used for healing). Paladin Seals also works like this, doing holy damage. Death Knights also have these in the form of Ice and Shadow. All classes can enchant their weapons to give similar effects every now and then.
- The Sword Magic ability in the Final Fantasy series works like this:
- Final Fantasy V restricted it to certain swords, but kept it as a constant effect once cast.
- Final Fantasy IX had it as a Combination Attack between Vivi and Steiner, where the latter had to use MP each time to use it.
- Final Fantasy X-2 had it as an ability of the Warrior dress sphere, but once it was mastered you could use it with any other sphere.
- The remake of Final Fantasy IV on the DS didn't have a Sword Magic ability, but Cid had Upgrade, which let him expand an attack item to charge his weapon with that element. You could also get an Augment to give this to another character.
- Final Fantasy XIII has it as an exclusive ability of the Ravager/Blaster role as a single attack. Synergists had an ability that made it a lingering effect.
- The Final Fantasy Tactics Advance series has the Gladiator class.
- In Final Fantasy IV, Yang can use claws which allow his fists to cause elemental damage such as fire, ice and lightning.
- The Torchlight Alchemist has the Ember Shock spell. Fully leveled, it does (assuming no memory flaws or patches leading to this information being outdated) the highest amount of single-attack damage in the game and substantially damages anyone close enough to get hit by the shockwave, in addition to stunning your target and everything near you. Even though it's lightning-element, it's strong enough that you can typically kill lightning-resistant enemies with it through the sheer quantity of the damage.
- This is standard for element-oriented playable characters in Freedom Force, since all of them need at least one melee attack and a skill chain based on it. The purest example is El Diablo's "Burning Fists."
- This is a standard-issue ability for keyblade-wielders in Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep courtesy of the Command Styles. Firestorm, Thunderbolt and Diamond Dust are available to all three of the main characters, but Ven gets Cyclone and Wingblade while Terra gets Rockbreaker and Dark Impulse. Aqua gets more generalized magical abilities like Ghost Drive and Spellweaver.
- In Dubloon, characters can learn moves like "Ice Palm" or "Fire Punch".
- The second generation of Worms included the classic Fire Punch.
- Monks in Dungeons and Dragons Online have earth, fire, air, water and ki-based unarmed attacks available at anytime, which can scale tremendously in damage. One of the special Ki Attacks can shoot a cone of fire.
- Psychonauts punch with telekinesis-based fists. Human-sized fists.
- In the Fatal Fury and The King of Fighters series, there's Terry Bogard and his iconic Burning Knuckle special move.
- Jade Empire has the Storm Dragon style, which is a martial art that paralyzes with electricity. The heavy attack calls a lightning bolt from the sky.
- Blitz of the Whateley Universe has touch-based electrical powers, so she has to make contact to shock you. And she's a martial artist. So this is exactly her style of fighting. She's learning to use a meteor hammer.
- Elemental psychics in Darwin's Soldiers can use elemental punches. Two notable examples are Modified Hailey's Flaming Fist of Doom and Cale's "thunderpunch".
- In Tag Match, a short movie produced by Thousand Pounds Action Company, James Young's character (the second one to fight the lady) conducts electricity through his fists twice, using that ability to paralyze his opponent.
- Firebenders in Avatar: The Last Airbender have done this on occasion, with a particularly spectacular example in "The Southern Raiders" when two of these collided with each other, causing an explosion.
- Some Earthbenders have also been seen to surround their fists (or entire bodies) with rock, although it typically seems to be a defensive strategy.
- In The Legend of Korra, Tahno does a waterbending uppercut, though he fails to connect.
- In one episode of The Boondocks, Huey dons a glove that gives him electrically charged punches.
- On Justice League Unlimited, Batman has been known to use taser-equipped brass knuckles.
- Static Shock. Go on, guess what element.
- In El Goonish Shive, Justin seems to use the ki channeling variation during the fight with the fire summon.
- In Gunnerkrigg Court Zimmy delivers one of these from the ether to Antimony's father.
- A bit later Ysengrin had a disagreement with some of his "subordinates", so Antimony wrapped him in a fire that didn't burn him. So he had a bit of fun before she transformed into fire elemental as fully as she does and smiled at them.
- Magick Chicks had Melissa "charging" her hands, in Eerie Cuties re-crossover chapter she delivered a "slap-ZAP!" to Ash. And later a "palm sized meteor strike overdrive" to Tandy, who tried to pull Insulted Awake, but pissed her off seriously, and probably in several ways at once.