Enhanced Combat – The ability to engage in hand to hand combat with a superhuman level of skill. I have yellow belts in Judo, Taekwondo and Karate. I also was awarded more or less the equivalent of a blue belt in Wing Chun. I also know a little about an awful lot of martial arts. However, I will be the first one to admit that I have always been far more a scholar of martial arts than a practitioner of martial arts. I am proud of my Fox Martial Arts Taxonomy. I realize comic book fights are pretty fake. For example even the phoniest fight done with stunt men in a movie can only be so fake because of the laws of physics. Comic books like CGI don’t even have the limitations of the laws of physics. Still I find that comic book fights with a veneer of attempted realism are more interesting than fights that don’t even have this veneer. I have been reading comic books for 55 years and the following are martial art centered fights that got my attention growing up.
The World of the Dark Knight published by DK provides an excellent overview of Batman’s martial arts knowledge broken down by category. If you are interested in martial arts categories then make sure to read Fox Martial Arts Taxonomy.
Lady Shiva (DC) kills Richard Dragon (DC) in Richard Dragon V1 #12 but is resurrected.
Lady Shiva trains Robin (DC) but is defeated via trickery but the trick will only work once.
In the Marvel Universe there are some famous fights between martial arts experts and some of the top super powered heroes.
Iron Fist (Marvel) knocks down Iron Man (Marvel) in Iron Fist V1 #1
Shang Chi (Marvel) manages to throw Spider-Man in Giant Size Spider-Man #2.
Totally Stupid Enhanced Combat!
Every once in a while a comic book writer decides to give a character who has never shown any martial arts abilities incredible abilities which are then never shown again. My martial arts background makes me cringe when I read these types of fights.
The Invisible Woman (Marvel) take on the Wrecker (Marvel) with a staff made via her invisible force field power. The Wrecker is a sparring partner of Thor! The Wrecker can shrug off blows that would destroy a building but a woman of normal strength can deliver a blow that can hurt him? Absurdity is piled on top of absurdity. The staff then disappears and she delivers a blow to the gaishoho point which is on the Pericardium meridian between the Radius and the ulna bones with a haito Uchi i.e. ridge hand (Tales of the Thing #3). Why not deliver a blow to the same point with the psionic staff since the force of her muscles power would be amplified due to leverage? If the Invisible Women were some master of the martial arts then she would also know just about any blow delivered with your hand is even more deadly when delivered in an equivalent manner with a weapon. That’s why martial artists use weapons. Hand to hand is not meant to replace weapons but to be used when you don’t have a weapon handy! Just total nonsense even by comic book standards!
However the stupidest martial arts fight ever occurred in Invincible Iron Man V3 #4. Pepper Potts (Marvel) has never, ever been shown to have any interests in being anything but pretty but suddenly she can take on a dozen, not ninjas, but cyber ninjas, and the Techno Golem (Marvel), who is more or less as powerful as Iron Man, at the same time!
My first encounter with Iron Man and therefore Pepper Potts was in Tales of Suspense V1 #55. I am sorry, minus some major mini-series that reboots the character dramatically, the new version of Pepper Potts is just totally, totally, totally stupid!
Another great example of stupid enhanced combat! Superman is actually a better martial artist than Batman according to Batman in Dark Knight III-The Master Race #9. So the master detective and martial arts master of the DC universe has been watching Superman fight for 30 years or more but never figured out that Superman has been holding back until now! Plus, Kryptonians have accelerated healing and Superman refuses to kill so by the time he hurts the second Krytonian the first one has healed and there are over a dozen Kryptonians. This fight would just go one forever. Frank Miller did a great job with the first Dark Knight series and it’s just been downhill after that!