Q&A: Hand to Hand Styles for a Monster Hunter

What should be the hand-to-hand combat style (or more) taught to a creature hunter? Just to have a reference to study. (Sorry for the bad english.)

I know we’ve said this before, but there really isn’t any unarmed fighting style designed for dealing with things significantly larger or tougher than humans. A lot of unarmed martial arts focus on fighting other humans, because those are the foes they’re expected to be used against.

That said, a lot of martial arts, particularly Eastern ones, incorporate weapon styles at more advanced levels. So, while you might start with unarmed techniques, you would eventually graduate to using a staff, a sword, a polearm, and eventually more exotic weapon (such as the urumi, or meteor hammer, depending on your martial art.)

When you view weapons as a natural evolution from unarmed training, a lot of martial arts, particularly from India and China, become very viable options, if they fit the tone you’re going for.

To an extent, I’d actually suggest looking at this the other way around. Take your setting, and then ask yourself, “what martial arts best fit that world?” For example, if your setting is based on India, then you would want to reference Indian martial arts. (And, there are many surviving Indian martial arts.)

China is a similar situation, if you’re wanting to work with an East Asian setting, you’ll probably want to look at the Chinese martial arts, of which there are many.

There are martial arts that will be much harder to research, particularly ones that have not been preserved. In the some cases, we’re sure that there was some kind of martial art in that culture, but we have no idea what it looked like. (This is especially true with many indigenous peoples. Paradoxically, this is also an issue with European martial arts, as Europe aggressively discarded combat systems as warfare changed.)

If you’re looking at a modern day monster hunter, you probably will want to look at practical martial arts, such as Systema, MCMAP, or Krav Maga. If you’re patterning of a fantasy pseudo-Europe, then you probably want to look at HEMA, though that won’t be unarmed. If you’re patterning off of some other historical setting, you’ll need to look at the martial arts relevant to that era.

-Starke

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