"The gun katas. Through analysis of thousands of recorded gunfights, the Cleric has determined that the geometric distribution of antagonists in any gun battle is a statistically predictable element. The gun kata treats the gun as a total weapon, each fluid position representing a maximum kill zone, inflicting maximum damage on the maximum number of opponents while keeping the defender clear of the statistically traditional trajectories of return fire."
—Vice-Counsel DuPont, Equilibrium
The Gun Kata is a firearm-based martial art used by Kurt Wimmer and Jim Vickers in their 2002 film Equilibrium. As opposed to the much more famous Bullet Time popularized by The Matrix, it consists of The Gunslinger dodging bullets by assuming a set of predefined body positions, which are theoretically supposed to reduce their body area exposed to enemy fire to nigh zero, all while raining lead upon the said enemy with their Guns Akimbo without even aiming at them. In his next film, Ultraviolet, Wimmer further expanded the technique by allowing an unarmed Action Girl to assume such positions among the multiple enemies so that they shoot each other instead. May serve as a pseudoscientific justification for the existence of graduates of the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy.
Another form of Gun Kata is depicted in Equilibrium, as well, though it is never explicitly named so. It involves dueling with a single opponent at a very close range, with both duelists wielding guns and trying to point them at each other and pull the trigger, while constantly knocking off the enemy's aim (since a fired shot cannot be blocked or parried as in unarmed combat and fencing, except when Implausible Fencing Powers are in play). Wimmer's commentary on the DVD notes that this different form is actually the result of a recurring problem during filming; they ran out of time and money to do what they originally planned and would not explain the original idea, as he intended to use it in a later movie (it's possible the final fight in Ultraviolet is the result.) Both forms were reproduced in later works, especially in anime.
The focus of the style is simply to shoot where the foe ought to be, and to not be where the foe ought to shoot.
It is essentially the Wing Chun technique "Sticky Hands," with guns in said hands.
Compare and contrast to Gun Fu.
Anime and Manga
- In Madlax (2004), the titular Action Girl uses Gun Kata-like technique in the final episode during the Church Shootout. Although she not so much dodges bullets, as is unaffected by them...
- In most of her fights, it's not so much a kata as it is a dance - with the dance steps somehow taking her where the bullets aren't. She does this with her eyes closed.
- Rushuna Tendou in Grenadier (2004) uses the close-combat form of Gun Kata during the confrontation with her Evil Twin Setsuna Oomido. This added a very interesting style of reloading their weapons amid combat.
- The Extendeds (Stellar, Sting, and Auel) gun down dozens of Coordinators guarding the Armory One in the first episode of Gundam Seed Destiny (2005), while assuming one Asskicking Pose after another.
- Father Tres Iquis' infamous scene in episode 2 ("Witch Hunt") of Trinity Blood (2005) almost exactly emulates the opening shoot-out in Equilibrium. This comes complete with gun flare lighting and Bloodstained-Glass Windows, although it may be Justified in that Father Tres is an android.
- Revy and Mr. Chang's gunplay style in Black Lagoon (2006) is very similar to the Gun Kata, although they apparently do aim their guns.
- At least one episode in 2nd Barrage has Revy doing a perfect imitation of a Grammaton Cleric while standing in the open surrounded by mooks with guns, down to body, arm and hand movements. Severe Badassery ensued.
- Harima (Guns Akimbo, no less) and Hanai engage in a GunKata battle in the second season of School Rumble (2006), with each of their pistols firing on full automatic. This is probably due to special effects added in later by Akira, since they were supposed to be armed only with BB guns.
- In the final episode of Trigun, Vash and the Big Bad added an interesting element in their Revolver Kata. At several points they would attempt to stop the other from firing, by holding the revolver barrel so it could not spin. Similarly they both forced the other's gun to snap open, causing the bullets to fall out of the chambers. This was only after the Wave Motion Gun segment of the fight. The fight consists of gun kata stylizing. Pulling a trigger on a gun across the room using a string, throwing several rounds at your opponent and then shooting them to make them explode, and after they emptied each other's chambers of all but one quickly-reloaded bullet, the most HARDCORE game of Russian Roulette ever.
- Briareos does this all the time in Appleseed Ex Machina—a vast improvement in coolness since the first movie. And for bonus points it was produced by none other than John Woo, making this his first use of Gun Kata.
- In the second season of Mobile Suit Gundam 00, Lockon uses a technique very similar to Gun Kata for his Guns Akimbo-slinging Humongous Mecha. In A Wakening Of The Trailblazer, he does this in conjunction with dozens of Attack Drones for all-out Beam Spamming mayhem.
- Mana Tatsumiya of Mahou Sensei Negima has been seen using Gun Kata from time to time.
- Spike from Cowboy Bebop uses Gun Kata when fighting his nemesis Vicious, most evident in the finale where he parries Vicious's sword with his gun.
- In the Mazinkaiser SKL OAV series, the eponymous Super Robot uses this technique. (Along with a healthy dose of Gun Fu) It even acknowledges it by striking a pose directly from Equilibrium before absolutely slaughtering Kiba's men. Check it out yourself.
- Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, episode 6 features a brief scene wherein Panty gets into a Guns Akimbo gun kata duel with Scanty, her evil counterpart.
- The Butei in Hidan no Aria utilize Gun Kata as a martial art called "Arukata", in which they use the premise that both combatants are wearing bulletproof vests.
- The films of Kurt Wimmer make heavy use of this trope.
- Violet Song jat Shariff in Ultraviolet (2006) uses a similar style, though it is never given a name. The movements in this film are more fluid and dance-like than those used in Equilibrium, which is how Wimmer would have originally preferred.
- Art Of War had a similar style fight in an empty hallway. A certain amount of respect and honor was loaded into the scene, as when they ran out of bullets, they went back to back and talked while casually reloading. Shaw and Bly spend most of the fight throwing snapshots... panic firing. It's more like Gun Fu since they still use acrobatic dodging.
- Wanted has the hero running through a crowd of mooks, emptying guns into them, throwing away the empties and picking up new ones from the mooks he's shot, all without breaking stride.
- The Matrix shows this in the Government Lobby shootout in which Neo and Trinity are able to flip between pillars and run along walls to avoid being shot all while easily dispatching the goons. At least it took place in a simulated reality where the laws of physics didn't have to apply; few other movies using this trope can claim that.
- Actually it's more like the opposite. Considering that gun-kata is supposed to be all about surgical precision... landing every shot at the exact right spot at the exact right moment of a fight. The Matrix lobby-scene is suppressive fire, with the hackers continuously pushing the SWAT back by gratuitous use of More Dakka.
- The fight between Neo and Smith in the subway station was more like the second form of Gun Kata of Equilibrium mentioned above, where both combatants attempted to shoot each other in close quarter combat while simultaneously knocking their opponent's shots awry.
- Angels & Demons, of all films, actually had a short, fairly realistic version. About 3/4ths of the way through the film, the assassin ambushes the inspector at close range. The assassin shoves a gun at the inspector's face, and he slaps it away just as it fires. The inspector then tries to shoot the assassin in the face, and the assassin slaps his gun away just as it fires. then the assassin pulls a knife and kills the inspector.
- El Mariachi in Desperado seems to demonstrate a sort of primitive form of Gun Kata during the fight scene in the bar. Flamenco dancing with pistols included.
- Agent Zero in X Men Origins Wolverine does that a bit.
Live Action TV
- The Smallville episode "Siren" actually had a fight between Lex Luthor and Green Arrow that resembled Gun Kata with Lex using a gun, and Green Arrow using a crossbow.
- In Sanctuary Pilot Episode "Sanctuary for All", the a villain from the past, John Druitt, demonstrates something similar to second form of Gun Kata in his close-range gun-face off against Ashley, daughter of Helen Magus (and his own), by making her miss all the shots she does on changing her aim with martial arts.
- Banban Akaza in Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger uses a fighting style called "Juu Kun Do", named after Jeet Kune Do with the Japanese word for "gun" added in. There's a reason why his name sounds like "bang bang".
- Don't forget his Power Rangers SPD counterpart Jack Landors.
- In Conspiracy X, there is a skill "Gun Fu" which lets the player effectively design his own Gun Kata.
- Hero System adds Zen Riflery (aka "Gun Fu" or "Woojutsu") as a fictional martial art in, The Ultimate Martial Artist.
- White Wolf's Exalted ...
- ... has a style of Supernatural Martial Arts called the "Righteous Devil Style" which has been described as applying Gun Kata to hand-held flamethrowers.
- ... has another, lesser-known style called "Golden Exhalation Style" which supports both variations of Gun Kata: defenses against incoming fire, and close-quarters combat with firearms. To be a bit annoying, Righteous Devil Style is more of a western shoot-out and duel at high noon style, and while Golden Exhalation Style does facilitate defending with your gun, it also focuses a lot on long range fire and careful aiming. For real Gun Kata, check out the homebrewed Hellfire Ballet Style [dead link].
- ... mostly relies on short-range flamethrower-type firearms and long-range energy weapons for personal ranged weapons; but for those that believe Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better, there's also an item called a "Prayer Piece," which is a lot closer to a Real Life revolver.
- Ares Firefight in Shadowrun was developped specifically to mimic those types of movies. To quote the book: "In 2068, Ares Macrotechnology unveiled a completely new martial arts form based on the popular image of a gunfighter whirling through a melee with a pistol in each hand, shooting as much as punching and kicking. The product found its market in eager young gunslingers raised on a steady diet of trideo action flicks."
- "Way of the Pistol" from GURPS: High Tech not only includes awesome handgun skills but also intimate knowledge of how pistols work, allowing tricks like taking apart the enemy's weapon in the middle of a fight.
- Hall of Mirrors is an Equilibrium mod for Max Payne 2 that introduces the movie's famous Gun Kata into the gameplay, replacing normal Berettas with "Grammaton Sidearms" complete with the impossibly cool muzzle flashes.
- Lady and Dante in the cutscenes for Devil May Cry 3. Also, Dante's fighting style "Gunslinger" has several moves resembling Gun Kata. A early cutscene in Devil May Cry 4 also involves Dante and Nero putting Gun Kata maneuvers through their paces against each other. New trailers for the Devil May Cry reboot, by Ninja Theory, shows a young Dante once again performing moves resembling Gun Kata.
- In Wild ARMs 5, before the second to final boss fight in the game Dean pulls off this while warming up with the final bad guy. The bad guy uses a "sword" but it still counts.
- Reiji and Xiaomu, main characters of Namco x Capcom have a combo attack called "Juu no Kata" (Which translates to "Gun Kata"). In their second appearance in Super Robot Wars OG Saga: Endless Frontier their finishing poses parody Equilibrium and Ultraviolet respectively.
- City of Heroes players were begging for this for years. Dual Pistols are in the game now, and many of the power's animations resemble Gun Kata. You can also switch between types of ammo strategically, depending on whether you'd rather slow, debuff or heap extra damage on your foes.
- Noel Vermillion from BlazBlue uses a fighting style that is an homage to Equilibrium, which was stated during the BlazBlue x Guilty Gear panel at AX 2009. This is most obvious during her Astral Heat, which goes through the kata seen practiced in the movie, including the finishing pose holding the backs of the guns towards one another.
- Shania's bodyguard Natan from Shadow Hearts: From the New World uses this, although game-wise he functions like a Mighty Glacier.
- Fetish Fuel Station Attendant Luna from Vanguard Princess uses this and kicking as her primary form of attack.
- In the Champions Online MMORPG, numerous Munitions: Pistols attack invoke this. In fact, Lead Tempest and Bullet Ballet's animations are almost taken straight from Equilibrium.
- In Second Life Gun Kata is explicitly possible with the Sin Wicked Cleric or Sinistar pistols, based on Equilibrium.
- In Gungrave, the main character Beyond The Grave uses the full range of gun-kata from Equilibrium (and some of Desperado thrown in for good measure). . Grave will stand in one spot, spinning, jumping and ducking while firing two 13mm handguns. This is called the bullet dance (or Burst Mode), which allows Grave to fire 360 degrees. One odd fact is that the use of the recoil of the guns to spin him from side to side in mid-air. He also uses the weapons in his coffin, a large variety of machine guns, rocket launchers, missile launchers and cannon in a gunkata combination. Also, the pose made in Equilibrium where one gun is pointed up, the other down to form a cross, is one of the signature pose for the game. In the sequel, one of Grave's final Special Attacks/Demolition Shots is "Executioner's Blood", which is the standard burst but at least five times greater in power, complete with multiple view angles and a vanity pause. The game also borrows from guns in a coffin, as Grave is technically an undead hero. Unfortunately, the animation removed most of the gunkata, focusing on the 'Godfather' plot instead.
- Doom RL has a trait named Gun Kata. It lets you fire pistols for free after dodging and reloads them when you kill something.
- Quake III Arena had something akin to a Gun Kata when two players in close combat picked up the railgun. Both would zoom around each other, trying to avoid the other's shots and hit his rival. The railguns had a 5 second cooldown and a near instant kill upon hitting a target, so duels could very easily resemble this trope.
- The Spin Attack Tequila Bomb from Stranglehold fits the definition to a T: it makes Tequila absolutely invulnerable for a short period of time, while he guns down every mook currently in the room with fluid, ballet-like movements. Bonus points for the game playing beautiful music when he does it. Double bonus points if you activate it with dual submachineguns.
- Bayonetta mixes this with Bullet Time but even without it she's still dancing around attacks.
- The Gunslinger class in Ragnarok Online has a rendition of Equilibrium's dark room scene as one of the skills for handguns. Among lots of other stuff with other kinds of weapons.
- Learning how to play Bullet Hell games is almost akin to this art. Since the projectiles are slow enough and typically shoot in a defined pattern, in order to score hits you have to set yourself up not only to manipulate where the enemy shoots and thus, give you a favorable formation of said pattern to dodge, but at the same time you need to be in a position to shoot the enemy back. And in fact, by rote memorization (playing the game a bunch of times), this is really the only way of surviving long enough when a up against thousands of bullets at once.
- Coyote Starrk in the Play Station 3 game Bleach: Soul Resurreccion uses Gun Kata as his basic attack style.
- Freddie Wong is a proud practitioner, as seen in the short Alarmageddon.