Supernatural Martial Arts

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Tai Chi is moving like water, not actually moving water.

One can achieve amazing things by properly training the body. Many works give the mystic training of the East far more powerful effects. In the real world, if you want to blow up a city or fly, you're out of luck without a bomb or an airplane, but in these worlds, train hard enough and you will gain Supernatural Martial Arts. Often overlaps with Martial Arts and Crafts and frequently includes the Dangerous Forbidden Technique.

Distinct from Kung Fu Wizard, which is when someone has martial arts and magic, but they're separate abilities.

Ki Attacks are a subtrope of this. Dragons Up the Yin-Yang are a common visual motif. Not to be confused with Full-Contact Magic, which is magic first, fighting second.

Compare Charles Atlas Superpower, where training, usually in the Far East, can make you better than any human in real life at plausibly mundane feats. See also Fantastic Fighting Style.

A controversial way to counteract Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards.

Examples of Supernatural Martial Arts include:

Anime and Manga

Comic Books

  • Every single one of the many scions of the Immortal Weapons.
  • Oriental Heroes, late of Jademan Comics.
    • Weapons Of The Gods, likewise. There's a ton of Hong Kong comics revolving around supernatural martial arts, most of which have never made it to the US.
  • In American Born Chinese, The Monkey King acquires numerous abilities through the mastery of various kung fu disciplines.
  • G.I. Joe: When Larry Hama is writing, ninja characters are nearly invincible. Storm Shadow can disappear from locked rooms with no windows.
  • Karate Kid from the Legion of Super-Heroes. despite much delusional fanboyism claiming it's all Charles Atlas Superpower, you can't say that someone who's genetically a baseline unmutated human who regularly spars with Daxamites or smashes glaciers and meteors with his bare hands doesn't have anything up his sleeve.



Live-Action TV

Tabletop Games

  • Exalted. There is literally a Supernatural Martial Art for everything. Bondage Fighting? Laughing Wounds. Turning yourself into a living golem with extendable magic claws? Prismatic Arrangement of Creation. Whether it's drowning someone in their own blood, ripping someone's soul out of their body, or simply hitting someone hard enough to knock them out, there's a martial arts style dedicated to the concept. This includes hitting someone so hard they contract a supernatural disease... And so does everyone else in a 15 mile radius. And Charcoal March of Spiders: when you absolutely, positively have to punch out everyone on the continent twice in the same instant (or turn them into a duck, or erase them from Creation, or...), accept no substitutes. Or for the more restrained, hitting a man so hard his girlfriend dumps him. Probably the Trope Namer, as the name is used in the game itself.
    • Celestial Monkey Style could also qualify, although only if the target happens to be particularly brave.[1]
    • Exalted actually has a special metaphor for this: the Perfect Lotus. The soil it grows in is mundane martial arts like kung-fu and karate; they're a decent enough means of combat for mortals. The roots are the Terrestrial styles like Five Dragons, Seafaring Hero, Orgiastic Fugitive, Live Wire or Golden Exhalation. The stem is Celestial styles like Righteous Devil, Celestial Monkey, Laughing Wounds, Thousand-Wounds Gear and the various Celestial Exalts' personal Hero Styles. The actual flower -- described as completely separate from the soil from which the Lotus grows -- is the Sidereal styles, such as Kaleidoscopic Border of Logic, Charcoal March of Spiders, Obsidian Shards of Infinity, Citrine Poxes of Contagion, and Prismatic Arrangement of Creation (most of which do something horrible to Exalted's already-wounded game balance—Obsidian Shards has moves that let you guarantee the future, while Kaleidoscopic Border has a move that gives you a mind-control stare).
  • There's a whole Splat of these guys in the Old World of Darkness game Mage: The Ascension, the Akashic Brotherhood. They are (mostly) Asiatic monks with a specialty in Mind magic who weave their spells through various meditation techniques and practice a specific type of kung-fu magic called Do, which they claim is the martial art upon which all others are based.
    • Werewolf: The Apocalypse includes the Stargazers who, in addition to being one of the more mystical werewolf tribes, invented a martial art, Kailindo, which incorporates a werewolf's shapeshifting abilities and bits of wind-magic.
    • Old World of Darkness vampires could learn Kibatsumejutsu, "the art of fighting with claw and fang". It was mentioned in the Combat sourcebook, and quickly forgotten, it seems.
  • The spiritual successor to the Akashic Brotherhood in the New World of Darkness is the legacy of mages called the "Perfected Adepts". They harness spiritual energy in order to enhance their bodily performance. One of the Sourcebooks also has details of a magical fighting style known as "The Adamant Hand".
  • Shadowrun's Adepts can exemplify this as well; they can have any of a number of innate magical powers, many of which are linked to their combat skills.
  • Western example, sort of: Dungeons & Dragons.
    • The Tome of Battle. Some Diamond Mind maneuvers allows you to slow time down by being really focused and good at hitting people with swords. The Desert Wind maneuver group, which creates fire (usually). The Shadow Hand maneuver group, which allows you to turn invisible, teleport, walk through walls, and create illusions by being really focused.
    • The monk from 3.5e has a rather eclectic collection of abilities stemming from what amounts to training hard and channeling ki. Said abilities include moving fast, surviving crazy falls, dodging fireballs, immunity to diseases and poisons, resistance to magic, teleportation, turning into a ghost, speaking with any creature with a language, killing people with a touch and ceasing to age. Train hard kids, and all this will be yours!
    • Death Fist from GURPS: Martial Arts combines martial arts and chi powers then backs up all of that with magic that allows you to alter yourself and opponent. There's also Dragon-Man Kung Fu where you learn to breathe fire.
    • GURPS Lensman. The Adepts of North Polar Jupiter are said to use the martial art "Thuleschlag", which at higher levels allows the user to become invisible and blind or kill an opponent by touching them.
  • Feng Shui's various fu powers allow a martial artist to do a variety of effects, like setting someone ablaze with your fists, creating a blade out of pure darkness, stopping bullets, and making spectacular flying leaps.
  • Weapons Of The Gods is all about this trope. Martial arts techniques at the low end let you do things like run up walls, freeze people with a punch, or turn nigh-invisible. At the high end, they let you fly for miles, wipe out a horde of Mooks with one attack, or kill someone nine times over.
  • Anima: Beyond Fantasy has a whole system for building from scratch any kind of Supernatural Martial Arts technique. The official techniques are a varied bunch; among the weirdest we find a Rose-themed style of fencing and a Kill Sat invoking martial art.
  • Mysticism in RuneQuest is all about supernatural martial arts, usually gained by giving in to temptation while trying to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence. (Frankly, a lot of monastic disciples are really there just to advance to the point where the temptations offered are really good.) Some non-mystic religions offer similar powers; notably, in Mongoose Publishing's Second Age books there's a brawler who can literally hit you so hard your parents die.
    • Stars Without Number sourcebook Mandate Archive: Martial Arts has two styles with each level to be learned in the style requiring mastery of psychic disciplines on the same skill level. Mindwall style (Precognition and Telekinesis) uses swords and staves, and allows to stop and deflect projectiles. Hmm. Red Dawn Style (Precognition) is an unarmed combat style that allows to act quickly in general (Initiative bonus) and exploit openings the practitioner can see before they happen in particular.

Video Games

  • The Mortal Kombat series of video games. Characters can hurl fireballs and even shoot lasers from Ki attacks. In Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, characters can still fight on despite having what looks like a giant World War 1 trench sword sticking out of them from an "impaling" move.
  • In Chrono Trigger, Ayla embodies this. She fights bare handed and when fully leveled, does by far the most damage in the game --- even the game's Big Bad (a time travelling, planet consuming parasite) dies in 3 critical hits.
  • Jade Empire, in addition to more conventional martial arts, has Ki-powered styles that involve throwing fire from your hands, bringing down storms of hail, and causing localized earth tremors, among other things. Even one of the "conventional" Martial Styles lets you grow Wolverine-like claws out of your knuckles.
    • And don't forget the martial arts that turn you into various monsters.
  • Street Fighter games let you throw fireballs, or even make your body a fireball.
  • Starting with the Final Fantasy VI, the Final Fantasy franchise makes its Bare Fisted Monks as supernatural as its magic users, often granting them Super Strength, Super Speed, and improbable agility.
    • Sabin Rene Figaro and Duncan Harcourt can punch hundreds of times per second, smash foes with beams of Battle Aura, release fiery clones of themselves, shed their Life Force to heal others, fling Razor Wind with their hands, and split themselves into many copies to pummel an enemy from all directions. Oh, and suplex runaway trains.
    • Tifa Lockhart (and probably her master Zangan) can lift and toss Humongous Mecha, and unleash gigantic explosions of Battle Aura with a single punch. And summon dolphins!
    • Zell Dincht can crack open yawning chasms with a punch, turn himself into an energy missile that can go through enemies, somersault-kick enemies high up into the stratosphere, and run around the world in less than five seconds as wind-up for an explosive punch. He can also do the now-famous "lift and toss mountain-sized enemies."
    • Monks in Ivalice can resuscitate fallen comrades with a shout, punch people without coming into physical contact, rend the earth, heal injuries or status effects with their Battle Aura, or kill with a touch.
    • Basch is shown as being capable of punching reality with his Limit Breaks. Makes one wonder how he managed to get captured so easily... Of course Vayne can do the same thing with a similar attack. Fran also has two Limit Breaks but hers cause explosions and a Razor Wind.
    • Snow doesn't even know any martial arts, but he can beat gods to death by kicking and punching them. And this is before he gets his phlebotinum powers.
  • Phantom Dust has the ki school as one of its five skill sets. In addition to basic punches and kicks strong enough to put holes in solid conrete walls, it allows the player to jump thirty feet in the air, dash at lightning speeds, fire ki blasts, enhance their strength and walking speed, brush aside speeding fireballs and laser blasts, regenerate health, and apparently punch the memories out of their target, making them forget their skills.
  • Ganondorf in Super Smash Bros.
    • Same goes for Captain Falcon, what with his flaming punches, kicks and bearhugs.
    • And Lucario, with assorted Ki Attacks.
  • In the online game, Urban Rivals, the Fang Pi Clang is made up of many different martial artists.
  • Power Fist techniques in Disgaea allows for such various techniques as teleportation, the Megaton Punch, and, at maximum levels, punching a hole in the universe and making a black hole.
  • Taking the Unarmed skill tree in Dungeons of Dredmor rewards you with bonuses to Magic Power and Aethereal Damage once you reach the highest levels.
  • The original Shinobi; once per stage, Joe Musashi can nuke the field using Ninja Magic!

Web Comics

  • El Goonish Shive: Anime-Style Martial Arts. Later revealed to be the characters unconsciously using their latent magic abilities to enhance their strength (and make themselves glow).
  • Seeing how it's set in Exalted's Creation, Keychain of Creation naturally has this. There are plenty of more action-packed scenes over the course of the comic, but this filler strip probably sums it up best in only three panels.

Western Animation

  • Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra are something between this and Full-Contact Magic, as bending is basically regular, real-world martial arts moves used by people who can cause movement of a certain element to utilize the element more efficiently. All four bending styles are based off of real-world Chinese martial arts; Waterbending is Tai Chi, Airbending Ba Gua, Firebending Northern Shaolin Kung Fu, and Earthbending Hung Gar. Also as with real-world martial arts, they evolve and change over long periods of time, with new schools spinning off of the ancient traditions.

Katara: It's not Magic, it's Water Bending.

  • Kim Possible's Ron Stoppable and his Mystical Monkey Powers.
  1. One Celestial Monkey style charm permits you to make a called shot to the area that represents someone's primary virtue. Temperance is the head, Conviction the guts, Compassion the heart, and Valour the groin.