If it’s not a bother, do you have a master list of different fighting styles? I’m in the process of world building and I want different tribes to have a different styles than the others.

We don’t, creating one would take a lot more time and in depth
research than either Starke or I are willing to commit. There are a lot
of different styles of combat out there, both currently alive and dead.

However,
I will say that you’re coming at your research from the wrong
perspective. Combat is inherently and directly tied to your world
building, it isn’t an outside source where you pick from a list and you
slap the ones you like on top of that.

There are too many
different styles of combat that will not be applicable to your setting
and society, even if you find them visually interesting or have heard
that they are “the best”. More than that, they directly relate to
cultural attitudes about violence and their practitioner’s societal
roles.

The peasant who is not legally permitted to carry weapons
but must devise alternate options to defend themselves against raiders
and bandits will create a martial style that is totally different from
the lord in his ivory tower.

There will be historical examples
similar to what you’re looking for, but you begin by culling the
unnecessary factors such as cultures that are not applicable to the
world your creating and the time periods that accompany them.

If
you want to write a fantasy novel set in a setting similar to 14th
century Europe then there isn’t that much reason to begin by looking at
fighting styles from India, Japan, or China. (Though studying up on the
Middle East might be applicable.)

Start with your own setting and
the troubles these tribes face from where they live (mountains? valleys?
deserts?), what they eat/how they get their food (agricultural?
hunter/gatherer? raiding?), and the kind of technology that they’re
capable of devising i.e. what do they use? bows? knives? spears? what
are those tools made of? A large supply of refined ore, the ability to
create metal, and skills in blacksmithing are required for major
advancements like metal swords and armor. A society that is regularly on
the move won’t have a use for swords or develop them.

Historically,
different styles of combat have been developed as a direct result of
devising a means to protect oneself from outside threats, this relates
to both the environmental factors and the society’s technological level
(i.e. what kinds of weapons they are capable of creating).

All
these will tell you what kind of society you have and the kind of
society you have dictates how they fight, how good they are at combat,
and the specialized styles that they developed as a result of their
unique experiences.

Once you understand the kind of society you
have, then your research pool is slimmed to the point where you can
easily look up similar societies that exist or existed in order to get a
better understanding of other considerations and the way they went
about it.

The mistake a lot of writers make when trying to devise
their own combat styles or utilize another combat style for their work
is the belief that they are interchangeable. However, combat and the
ways in which we fight are a result of environmental and sociological
factors as we adapt to face the threats that could end our existences.

You
have a culture that comes from the plains and must rove vast distances
in search of food? They may fight on horseback primarily, wielding bows
(also initially used for hunting) and they raid other groups for food.
Their style of combat relies heavily on mounted combat because horses
are the backbone of their society.

You’ve got a culture where the
primary source of food is too large or to dangerous to be brought down
single handed or is difficult to find. The primary weapon of the hunter
is the spear, but more than that they may also use other helpful tools
such as hunting dogs to locate and bring down their prey. Dogs have
historically been used as part of attack forces for a very long time.
The human and dog tag team against other humans is a legitimate combat
option.

It’s not a question of “what is available”, it’s what do I
have and what is the natural and logical extension of those choices
then research thoroughly to develop a better understanding of the
concepts that you’re working with.

The way combat happens, the training, and the strategies employed are inherently tied to the cultures which create them, their societal norms, and their history.

Even approaches to combat training are heavily reliant on the historical period as most of our modern ideas of what army is are just that: modern.

You don’t want to be the guy who writes the story where his main character is practicing Aikido in 1150 England. And if you can’t tell me why that’s silly beyond Aikido being Japanese, then you need to do more research.

-Michi

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