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Martial Arts Guide

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Martial Arts Guide

Martial arts have existed for thousands of years, in various forms. Technically, any combat form that requires training and learning can be considered a martial art. This guide exists to help Freedom City players add a little extra history, depth and fun to their characters. Though, this guide is intended to be used as a toolbox. Use whichever parts of it suit your needs, and ignore the parts that you don't feel like using. I've done it this way to help as many people as possible with the guide, not to create a series of hoops a character needs go through.

There are many ways that choosing a martial arts style or styles can help your character. I will discuss many of these, discuss a variety of styles, and offer tips and ideas on how to write hand-to-hand combat. In addition, I will also discuss how to implement these styles in terms of skill and feat choices.

Also, I intend to continually grow this thread over time, so if a style or issue is not covered, feel free to PM me with a request, and I will definitely keep it in mind for further updates.

Table of Contents

History and Other Fluff

Martial arts have a rich, varied history. Nations and cultures from all over the world have created and developed a diverse tapestry of forms, styles and disciplines. From Brazil's Capoeira to China's Kung Fu. This can open up all sorts of back story potential. Who taught them? What did they learn? Where did they learn it from? Did your character wander East Asia to learn from the best, or did he or she sign up for karate classes in the dojo down the street? Of course, you don't have to specify where every element of your hero's combat abilities come from, but there is something to add if you want it.

Many fighting styles come with a philosophy. A mindset that is taught along with the techniques. How does this affect your character? Does your character take the training and discard the philosophy? Does it define your character? Why did you character choose that style? What does the chosen style say about your character?

Many styles of combat have their own subcultures, groups of practitioners and disciples that share a common history and/or philosophy. How does your character interact with them? Does he or she have rivals? Can your character potentially teach others in his or her chosen styles?

On a more practical side, there's also writing. If your character uses hand-to-hand combat, you may find yourself struggling to describe exactly what he or she does, or struggle to avoid falling into the same, repetitive motions. Having a specific style (and knowing how that style is performed) can help you develop a more interesting fighting style than simple punches or kicks.

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Fighting Styles

Some fighting styles are fairly common, while others are only known by a handful of people. You can take karate lessons in dozens of places in many metropolitan areas, but finding someone willing to teach you Five Animals Kung Fu can be a bit more difficult.

Of course, that can be part of the point. Maybe your character's actual training is limited to self-defense classes taught at the local YMCA or YWCA, or maybe your character sought out a legendary master. Maybe he or she has a history, former Golden Gloves champion or contender, perhaps?

Of course, the rarity of your fighting style has no bearing whatsoever in game terms. If you want your character to know a rare style, he or she knows a rare style. That's how the game works. But, if you want to explain where that style came from, how he or she learned it. It can help if you know the difference between a style that the hero can learn easily within the city and a style that is only taught in another country or to very few people.

The fighting styles will be listed with a Rarity rating. Common means that finding instructors within Freedom City (or any large city in the country) is easy. Uncommon means that it takes a bit of work to find an instructor. Rare means that it's hard to find an instructor within Freedom City, or another large city, and Esoteric means that finding an instructor would be difficult, and may require travel to another country to learn.


Origin: Japan

Rarity: Uncommon

Aikido is all about throws, generally on the defensive. Aikido masters can twist virtually any attack into a throw, defending themselves without causing undo harm to their attackers unless it becomes necessary. A practitioner of aikido is called an aikidoka. Once a target is down, an aikidoka will often force them into a submission with a quick move, ending the fight.

For feat choice in aikido, it is necessary to have improved grapple, though improved grab is also a good idea. Grappling finesse is also ideal, because an aikidoka need not be especially strong to work with the style. Improved trip is also a good idea, because an aikidoka will often throw his opponents to the ground so quickly that they hardly had them in a grapple at all. An aikidoka may also want defensive attack, because they seldom start a fight first. In fact, virtually all grappling feats are applicable to aikido.

When writing aikido, remember that it is a flowing style. It uses momentum and elegant turns and twists to move opponents without using brute force. It emphasizes using an opponent's own momentum against them. Remember that an aikidoka can look like they are barely moving or using effort, and still perform devastating and painful throws.


Origin: Unknown, but current rules developed in the UK

Rarity: Common

Boxing is almost universal, and in a city like Freedom City, finding a tutor would be easy. Boxing uses only the fists, and nothing else, both grapples and kicks are banned. Boxers use quick footwork to move about, and sway at the hips to dodge attacks. The emphasis in boxing is in outmaneuvering your foe and then landing the strongest blows you can muster.

For boxing, feat choice is often dependent on the kind of boxer the individual is. Some are like Mike Tyson, using overwhelming brute force. Other characters would perhaps be more like Muhammad Ali, using expert footwork and dodging to manipulate foes into leaving an opening. Boxers can make use of virtually every combat feat, except those that specifically involve grapples.

When writing boxing, remember that dodging usually happens at the hips. Emphasize the strength and power of the blows over fancier techniques. Remember that a melee attack need not be one attack, a boxer can, for example, unleash a short combo even though the rules list it as one attack. As long as the damage does not go over caps, it doesn't matter how you describe the attack. You could describe power attack as a devastating haymaker, or, a quick, brutal combo of blows that is wild and uncontrolled. Boxers also make use of cross blows, uppercuts, jabs, and haymakers. They strike exclusively at the upper body in competition, but a superhero isn't necessarily limited to those areas.


Origin: Brazil

Rarity: Uncommon

Capoeira is a martial art with a very distinct visual style. The user looks as though he or she is dancing, flowing from one attack to the next, using kicks, punches and wide movements. It features flips and acrobatic stunts. A practitioner of capoeira is called a capoeirista.

For feats and skills, it is a good idea to put ranks in acrobatics, or even perform: dance, though perform: dance isn't necessary, and is only for fluff purposes. Acrobatic bluff is a good feat choice, as is all-out attack. You may also want to grab instant up and prone fighting, due to the fact that a capoierista's constant movements mean that they can easily stand up, and can fight while laying down as easily as they can while standing. As another aspect of constantly moving move by action can also represent the constant movement of a capoierista.Elusive target isn't a bad idea either, because with all that moving around, your hero is likely to be hard to hit in a crowd. Takedown attack is a very logical choice, because to the sheer amount of movement the style requires enables the user to strike multiple foes with ease.

When writing capoiera, know that capoeiristas use a form of movement called 'ginga'. It involves constantly swinging one's arms back and forth in order to never stop moving. They use wide, sweeping blows and throw their limbs with a lot of momentum. They also twist and move, doing handstands, flips and other acrobatic moves. In fact, a capoeirista may resemble a breakdancer in motion due to the wild and unusual motions.


Origin: Phillipines

Rarity: Uncommon

Eskrima (also known as arnis or kali) is a fighting style that has several varieties, the most commonly known of which involves two short sticks ranging in length from a little under to a little over two feet in length. Eskrima can also involve knives, staves, canes or open hand fighting. The weapons are also mixed and matched occasionally as well. A practitioner of eskrima is called an eskrimador, unless they call it arnis, in which the word is arnisador, or kali, in which the word is either kalista or mangangali. Different islands and organizations call the style different things, but it's all the same basic style.. Eskrima's two stick form involves using them to block and deflect blows, strike vulnerable spots on the body, and attack with ferocity. The open hand variety uses many of the same techniques, only without weapons.

In terms of feats, accurate attack is a natural choice, sacrificing raw power for precision. Improved disarm is also a good idea, as disarming a foe is an important aspect of the style. Stunning attack is also useful, as a quick, sharp blow to the head is a common tactic. Quick draw, while not a necessary feat for the style, is helpful in ensuring that the sticks are easily available when needed.

When writing eskrima, it is important not to forget that both sticks are used in combat together. Feel free to throw in a few stick-twirls and spins, as learning to do that is part of the style. As with boxing, it is perfectly viable to describe multiple strikes for one attack. In fact, because eskrima is more about speed and precision than brute force, it's a good idea to do so frequently anyway. Though is a mobile style, most blows are deflected, parried or outright blocked instead of dodged. The sticks can be used individually or together. For example, a disarm may involve using one stick as leverage while using the other to twist the weapon out of the enemy's hands. Or, it could involve twirling one stick around a weapon and moving it into a position where the enemy simply cannot hold onto it any more. The sticks can be used in tandem, individually, or as part of a combination that involves using one, then the other in quick succession.

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