Full-Contact Magic

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You do not want to get punched by Subaru

The traditional magic user is a Squishy Wizard: old, slow and frail, but able to kill with a glance. With a subtle wave of his hand, the wizard can conjure up the arcane power to do almost anything.

The practitioner of Full Contact Magic is not that. Oh, he can attack you from across the room, but he does it by punching the air, and then you get punched. Each spell cast is punctuated not by a subtle gesture, but a grand motion. Basically, when a wizard casts spells the way a fighter uses swords. Dodging opposing attacks or setting up on-the-spot shields is also important. If the wizard can fly, it's a whole new ball game.

Contrast with Magic Knight, where a wizard is not squishy, but simply is a trained warrior in addition to casting spells. Contrast with Supernatural Martial Arts, where the martial arts training is what creates the magical effect, rather than the magical spells themselves requiring broad motions. When a character can use both Magic and martial arts separately, it's Kung Fu Wizard.

A Sub-Trope of Magical Gesture. Compare and contrast with the less physical Pstandard Psychic Pstance.

Can often result in an Elemental Punch or Sword Beam. Also see Hand Blast.

Examples of Full-Contact Magic include:


Anime and Manga

  • Negi of Mahou Sensei Negima has a fighting style called "mahou-ken" (magic fist) that involves releasing delayed spells with kung fu attacks. Several other characters qualify too.
    • Takamichi is probably the best example. Most of the others hit you from a distance or flat-out punch you while Takamichi uses the pressure from his fists and kanka blasts to make fist beams.
  • Subaru and Vivio in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha uses their ranged attacks this way.
  • Alex Louis Armstrong, of Fullmetal Alchemist. He doesn't punch you, per se... but he does punch rocks, transmuting them into cannon shells, in your direction. That's not to say he won't try and punch your skull in if you're dumb enough to let him get close enough.
    • In fact, a great number of alchemists fit this trope, likely as a result of teachers with similar philosophies as the Elrics' teacher: A strong alchemist needs a strong body. Of the ones that routinely fight, only Mustang makes small motions to do so.
      • Even Mustang makes large flashy motions sometimes, especially when he gets emotional, like when he fights Envy in the brotherhood anime. It doesn't have anything to do with the power or form of his fire attacks though.
    • Alex Louis Armstrong's technique HAS BEEN PASSED DOWN THE ARMSTRONG LINE FOR GENERATIONS!
  • Byakuya Kuchiki in Bleach can control the movements of his Senbonzakura with his mind, but he can improve its movements by gesturing in order to guide the blades.
    • Yoruichi and Soi Fon are masters of specialized style of combat called Shunkô, which combines hakuda with kido. Once their body is charged with magic, a Shunkô master can mow down an acre of forest with a single punch.
  • Natsu from Fairy Tail uses his magic for this almost 100% of the time. Early on, a few villains can't believe he's a mage, due to his strength. This is somewhat odd since most important mages introduced later seem to be like this.
  • Full Metal Panic!: Not really magical, but in Helmajistan Gauron shows us what a telekinetic mecha can do, summoning a ball of energy then doing a slashing motion, ripping a Red Shirt to shreds with a big flash. Why is that unusual? Because another time, he simply pointed his finger at an opponent like a gun, imitated the recoil ("Let me show you. See? BANG.") and the opponent promptly exploded. In The Second Raid finale, Sousuke does this against Gates who is using Clouseau as a human shield: he does a punching motion but stops before hitting Clouseau... Needless to say, it turned out to be his Crowning Moment of Awesome and his team's Mass "Oh Crap".
  • Kurohime generally fights with her magic gun and shoots dragon bullets (literally bullets that turn into dragons) but occasionally turns the gun on herself and shoots herself with strength bullets or armor bullets and gets right into the fight.
  • Some ninjutsu in Naruto seem to require a physical action besides hand seals for use even if it's not used in the attack itself. The most noticeable example is Deva Path Pain, who can use a Shinra Tensei, which repels objects away from him, in all directions without any movement, but needs to use his hand(s) to focus it in one direction or one object or select an object to use Bansho Tenin, which pulls objects toward him, on (presumably he would attract all objects in the area to him otherwise).
  • Angemon: Hand of Fate!

Comic Books

  • Nico from Runaways has used her Staff of the One as a very blunt instrument a time or two.

Film

  • While it is possible to use the Force without moving, such as when a user is tied up, most Jedi, Sith, and assorted Force users use hand motions to focus their powers. (And for dramatic effect, of course.)
  • In the film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf and Saruman's staff-fight in Saruman's chambers.
  • The battle between Bavmorda and Fin Raziel in Willow is like the distaff counterpart of the Gandalf/Saruman fight cited above, possibly inspired such as it came out first. (The movie version of the fight, not the book.)
  • The Harry Potter films, particularly the big wizard-fight in Order of the Phoenix, tend to have this - moreso than the novels due to most offensive spells gaining knockback effects for the sake of Rule of Perception.
    • It also happened in the original novel of Order of the Phoenix, when Dumbledore dueled Voldemort.
    • It also says in the original novel that when the Death Eaters and Aurors/good guys fought their wands "flashed like swords."
  • At the end of The Raven (1963), two magicians engage in an all out battle of magic.

Tabletop Games

  • The Akashic Brotherhood in Mage: The Ascension are supposed to use this, complete with a magical martial art called Do.
    • The spiritual successor, Mage: The Awakening, has the Adamantine Arrows, whose basic training involves becoming an accomplished soldier without using any magic. One of their legacies, the Perfect Adept, can teach the ability to punch at a distance.
  • While Dungeons and Dragons usually follows the Squishy Wizard trope, certain spellcasting character builds can venture into this. For example, in D&D 3.5 edition you can combine touch-based spells with a Rogue's sneak attack damage bonus. You can even dual wield touch magic, possibly with a Wizard/Ranger build.
    • 3.5 Edition's Duskblades are warriors trained in magic, and their signature ability is to cast spells as part of melee attacks. The Magus class from Pathfinder behaves similarly.
    • Then there's the 4th Edition Swordmage class from the Forgotten Realms setting, which has the health of a fighter and most of their melee ability coupled with the casting of a warlock (mostly single target effects, rather than a wizard's area nuking) to fulfill the requisite Magic Knight quotient.
    • 4e Monks have implement powers, meaning instead of punching someone in the face they're channeling psionic power to punch someone in the face. They also have some close burst powers (i.e. hitting everyone around you), although some melee guys have that too.
    • The Hexblades are specifically referred to as "melee warlocks", channeling attacks through a sword or dagger rather than launching from a wand. Re-introduced in 4e as an "essentials" class, they combine Squishy Wizard with Full-Contact Magic, and their battle strategy tends to be "Rush in, magic-stab the crap out of something, teleport out before it can hit you back".
      • Warlocks themselves do have an invocation that allows them to channel their Eldritch Blast attack through a melee blow. It's mostly Awesome but Impractical because normal Eldritch Blasts ignore armor and channeled attacks don't.
  • Exalted has not just Combat Charms, but Enlightened Martial Arts styles. A lot of it is simple physical limits and mastering your chosen weapon... at least, until you hit the level of Sidereal Martial Arts, at which point you can hit someone so hard they get a disease/lose their memories/are plagued by nightmares for a week/turn into a woman.
  • Elven Battle-Mages in War Machine specialize in this kind of magic, using special Magitek gauntlets that allow them fire concussive blasts or hit enemies with extreme force.

Video Games

  • In the games proper, Gensokyo's magic duels consist of a lazily-drifting defender hurling out ten trillion bullets floating out at fifteen miles per hour while the attacker slowly but precisely and VERY CAREFULLY dodges their elaborate patterns until time runs out. Since out of context this looks really hilarious, in most fan works they're shown as full contact magic to capture their actual intensity.
    • Fighting Game Spinoffs Immaterial and Missing Power, Scarlet Weather Rhapsody and Hisoutensoku upgrade the fights into outright magically-enhanced slugfests.
    • There are exceptions to "lazily-drifting," by the way. For instance, there's Marisa Kirisame's Last Word, "Blazing Star": She wraps herself with magic to become a Kamehame Hadoken-sized comet. She then proceeds to rush at you.
  • A good amount of Bayonetta's special attacks are like these, creating fists or legs (or guillotines, or dragons) of enchanted hair to smash, dismantle, and mangle her enemies.
  • The attacks of the Blood Mages in Warcraft III. Is spinning around really necessary to throw a fist-sized ball of green flame? Though if we are at it, every magic user does this (even Archimonde who supposedly has near-godlike powers does smashing gestures with his hands to throw a human-sized ball of green flame).
  • This is how Golbez fights in Dissidia Final Fantasy; he waves his arms, causing energy beams and other phenomena to blast the opponent. This actually means that he's got both close-range and long-range attacks at the same time, so he has few strategic holes compared to a lot of other characters.
    • In fact, this earned Golbez the nickname 'Double-Trouble-chan' with the game's designers, as this multi-ranged moveset proved problematic in the development stages.
    • A lot of the magical characters in Dissidia work like this, though not to Golbez's extent--Kefka, for example, pitches fireballs like baseballs, Kuja does a backflip when casting Seraphic Star, and Onion Knight does this a lot, including kicking a comet at the enemy.
    • It continued into Duodecim 012, the prequel, between Gilgamesh casting a Razor Wind attack as through throwing a shuriken, Yuna swinging her staff in broad arcs while summoning creatures that use attacks in a similar manner, and Vaan creating instantaneous stalagmites before him by stomping the ground.
  • Many Pokémon close-ranged attacks are animated as being points of light gathering on the attacking limb which explode on contact, giving the impression of wizard-monsters beating the hell out of each other with contact spells, a kind of Hit Flash.
    • Vacuum wave plays it straighter, where your Mon punches a fast-moving wave of air at the enemy.
  • Spell Fist in Ragnarok Online requires you to cancel a spell and whack your opponent. Each physical hit done by the Sorcerer (3rd class Sage/Professor) has damage equivalent to the spell cast.
  • The Kinetic Attack powerset in City of Heroes invokes this trope with its attack animations.
  • Biotics in the Mass Effect series use exaggerated actions and associated muscle memory to stimulate their abilities. Jack uses punches to clobber giant robots.
  • Red spirits in Eien no Aselia work like this whenever they're using effective melee abilities. Which basically means if you're using Himika because Orpha and Nanaru are pure casters. Orpha does gain magical melee abilities later, though.
  • In Dragon Age II, mages swing and twirl their spear-like staves to rain down magical death at a distance or to whack baddies who've invaded their personal space, complete with nifty elemental contrails.
  • In Dungeon Fighter Online, the Mage class can specialize as a Battle Mage, allowing her to use weapons and attack enemies at close range as opposed to the long-range attacks she's usually known for.
  • Starkiller of The Force Unleashed fame sort of does a physical "push" with his hands when using force push, especially if he charges it first, and that's before he combines his saber moves with his force powers...
    • Especially evident when he Force-punches a walker a dozen times in rapid succession.

Web Original

Western Animation

  • Gwen from Ben 10 mixes a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and magic alien energy-manipulation powers for dynamic and fluid fighting scenes.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender the Elemental Powers are all controlled by the physical action of the bender, and each element has a different martial art used to use the power more effectively (though it appears there can be variations as to which style is used). People occasionally use weapons in conjunction with the bending as well. Additionally, the more skilled a bender is, the more they can get out of an action, with the pinnacle of this being Bumi's ability to control boulders with his chin. In the artbook, the creators specifically mentioned they wanted to get away from the more traditional "wand magic".