The Art of Fighting Section 13: Exclusive Martial Arts Styles

Copyright Johs. Sondrup © 2012

Edited by Peter Mork for The Guild Companion

"Why simply move out of the way of an attack, when a back-flip can do the same and looks so much better?"

Editor's Note: The following is the thirteenth in a series of 13 articles that enhance the combat rules for Rolemaster (RM2). We hope you have enjoyed the series. Next month, we will publish a bonus article devoted to the Power Sword.

Exclusive Styles

Stone Hydra Ken Jutsu

Stone Hydra dates back to a war between Khorfe and Varde some 600 years ago. Consisting mainly of martial artists from the Stone Hydra School, the forces of Khorfe outmaneuvered the men-at-arms from Varde and finally joined them in battle in a forest, where the Varde forces couldn't stand in formation.

The result was devastating. Only one in twenty of the Varde men-at-arms survived the day and the Khorfian martial artists marched on towards Varde city.

The road wasn't quite clear, however. Before the Khorfian could reach Varde, they were met by the Knights of the Bay, a knightly order of Warrior Mages centered in Varde.

Seeing no archers and confident in their martial arts, the Khorfian charged the ranks of the Knights. It was a rude surprise, when the Knights un-leased a volley of Iceballs, Fireballs and other area attack spells that tore into the unarmored martial artists, killing many and leaving even more of them too wounded to fight.

It wasn't enough to stop the Khorfian forces who charged into close combat, where their superior evasive abilities would win the day. They were in for another rude surprise, when they discovered that the warrior mages with their Warrior Blades, plate armor, shields and spells were just as deadly in close combat. However, after the first few intense minutes of combat it started to level out as the spells wore off and the battle tuned into one of endurance and skill.

The battle raged on, and only died out when the two leaders by agreement took a step back to catch their breaths. Nobody knows exactly what the two leaders said to each other, but the fighting stopped and the remains of the Khorfian force walked south towards their home, while the Knights stood looking, making no attempt to pursue them.

It wasn't the end of the war, which the political leaders of both cities insisted on continuing, but both the Knights of the Bay and The Stone Hydra School refused to join combat after that. Angered by what was seen as cowardly behavior, the leaders of Khorfe and Varde expelled the fighting orders from their cities. They did not offer any argument, but simply sold what real estate they owned, packed and left.

The war between the two city-states ended inconclusively a few years later and soon after traveling merchants brought word of the Luman estate to the west that had suddenly been restored and filled with people. Some quiet investigation revealed that there were people from both the Stone Hydra School and Knights of the Bay there.

The King of Varde and the Leader of Khorfe met, agreed that an example needed to be made and soon two fighting forces marched towards the estate. When they reached the Luman estate they were met by a defending force consisting of spell-casting Martial Artists and Warrior Mages with martial arts and Vis Powers. The result was a humiliating defeat for the combined forces.

From that day the school of Stone Hydra Ken-Jutsu, as it came to be known, was left alone and the School became one of the most influential Martial Arts style in the south Sulador. This style is designed to be used by Warrior Mages with or without the Lumanion swords that plays a central role in this style. (Any bastard sword can be used, but a Lumanion sword is always preferred.)

The name Hydra comes from the fact that this style prefers multiple attacks whenever possible and almost all student learn Two Weapon Combat and Adrenal Move - Speed. Some advanced students even learn a special kick attack that can be used with this style.

Masters of Stone Hydra enter combat carefully, as they are fully aware that their style is designed to kill. Not wound, not injure, not knockout, but kill. A sword is an instrument of death and it is the main tool of this style. Even the Martial Arts strikes resemble the way a swordsman would strike with his sword, delivering powerful and straight strikes and kicks.

Concentration Skills:
Adrenal Defense
Adrenal Move - Speed
Adrenal Move - Strength
Martial Balance
Meditation - Vis
Meditation - Sleep

Combat skills:
Iai
Maneuvering in Armor
Martial Arts - Strikes 3
Martial Arts - Sweeps & Throws 2
Stunned Maneuver
Two Weapon Combat
Adrenal Melee - Sword
Adrenal Melee - Two Handed Sword
Weapon Skill - Sword
Weapon Skill - Two-handed sword

Unbalancing Strike:
This attack form focuses on delivering a hard punch the opponent at the right moment to unbalance or push back a foe. To use Unbalancing Strike, a Static Action roll should be made. Success indicates that the character's next Martial Arts attack will deliver an Unbalancing critical of two degrees less severity.
Development Cost: As Yado.

Vis Powers:
Mind Pull
Weapon Vis

Kata:
Any one-handed bladed weapon may be used in Katas.

Wind Dragon Akai-Jujutsu

Created a long time ago in Sulador, this is one of the most complex of all Martial Arts, stressing the balance of External Power and Internal Power and is meant to be a combination of hard and soft, circular and linear techniques. Weapon techniques are designed to be deadly and are integrated into the style. Thus Wind Dragon uses Adrenal Melee instead of Weapon Kata. This is considered the External Power of this style.

When not using weapons, the philosophy of Wind Dragon is to use minimum force. As a saying from an old master goes: "When pushed, pull - When pulled, push."

A person swinging a sword at you, should be helped to do so. Of course the Wind Dragon master would never interfere with the path of the sword by getting into its way. And the attacker will have to follow the sword as it is speeded up by the master, leaving the attacker open for throws or a simple strike. There is little strength used in Wind Dragon when not using weapons as it relies on quickness and agility to redirect the force of the attacker.

Wind Dragon also teaches students to meditate and to find the harmony within them, so that they can enter the state of 'No Mind' where the students react in the right way without thinking. The style also teaches a wide range of Adrenal Moves, Vis Powers and Vis Techniques.

With the range of attacks, defenses and skills in this art, one could assume that it was widely spread and popular. That is however not the case. Wind Dragon style lacks one important thing: Glamour. It doesn't have many good looking stances because the masters discourage their use, believing that they make the body too rigid. To complicate matters even more, students are also required to learn how to heal people. Masters of this style are thus rare and teach a limited number of students.

Concentration Skills:
Adrenal Defense
Adrenal Move - Landing
Adrenal Move - Strength
Adrenal Move - Speed
Vis Technique
Martial Balance
Meditation - Cleansing
Meditation - Vis
Meditation - Sleep

Combat Skills:
Disarm Foe, Unarmed
Iai
Martial Arts - Strikes 3
Martial Arts - Sweeps & Throws 4
Stunned Maneuver
Weapon Skill - Sword
Weapon Skill - Two Handed Sword
Adrenal Melee - Sword
Adrenal Melee - Two Handed Sword
Yado

Stunning Strike:
A Stunning Strike is aimed against the nerve-centers of the opponent and is used to neutralize people, rather than kill them. Unfortunately it doesn't work if the opponent is wearing anything more protective than Soft Leather armor. Upon making a successful Static Action roll, the next striking attack versus any target with AT 1-8 is designed to stun. If a critical is achieved for the next attack, there is a 20% chance/Critical Severity that the target will be stunned, unless a CO-based RR is made versus the character's ranks in Stunning Strikes. The target is stunned for 1 round/5% failure.

Vis Powers:
Enemy Sense
Hand of Healing a.k.a. 'Healing touch'
Intuitive Combat a.k.a. 'No Mind'

Kata:
Iron Fan / Club

Other Skills:
Diagnosis
First Aid
Herb Lore

Steel Tiger Kung Fu

If there ever was a Martial Arts style that was designed to impress people, Steel Tiger is it. At first glance it looks incredible complex. Everything is done with seemingly complicated moves and impressive stances like Crouching Tiger, Tiger fights the Dragon and many, many more. All moves have names that are designed to sound great and complicated. A Steel Tiger move with a simple name simply does not exist (or is promptly renamed). Even the Adrenal Defense of this style looks special. Why simply move out of the way of an attack, when a back-flip can do the same and looks so much better?

A Steel Tiger master will seem like a whirlwind of special moves and acrobatic maneuvers when he fights, attacking with impressive strikes, kicks or throws and defending with fancy parries, back-flips and the like (keeping the opponent off balance and hopefully intimidated).

There's a reason for this: Steel Tiger Style looks good because it's designed for use in Martial Artist competitions and shows and when taking away all the flashing moves there is a solid Martial Art style underneath. It also has a good range of Adrenal Moves (renamed to sound better), meditation and Vis Powers. Steel Tiger teaches only swords or naginata (spear) as Adrenal Melee and those weapons are always highly decorated.

As a consequence, Steel Tiger students are hugely popular in competitions and as showmen, making other and more serious Martial Artists look down on this style. Masters of the style are quite calm about that and as one Master remarked to his gloating opponent after losing a competition: "The difference between you and me is that I make this look good!" The opponent snorted and responded: "What are you so happy about? You lost!" "Only the competition," said the Steel Tiger Master with a smile as he looked around at the cheering people. "I won the crowd!"

Masters of Steel Dragon Style always have lots of people wanting to learn the style, but traditionally the masters themselves are restricted in how many students they may teach, due to the simple fact that if everybody knows the style, it wouldn't be as impressive. The only real downside with this style is that many of its moves require room to move around.

Concentration Skills:
Adrenal Defense
Adrenal Move - Landing (Tiger jump from the Mountain)
Adrenal Move - Leaping (Great Tiger Leap (Normally includes at least one flip))
Adrenal Move - Strength (Power of the Tiger)
Adrenal Move - Speed (Whirling death of Claws)
Martial Balance
Meditation - Vis
Meditation - Sleep

Combat Skills:
Iai
Martial Arts - Strikes 4
Martial Arts - Sweeps & Throws 3
Weapon Skill - Sword
Weapon Skill - Two Handed Sword
Adrenal Melee - Sword (Steel Teeth of the Tiger)
Adrenal Melee - Two handed Sword (Steel Fangs of the Tiger)

Unbalancing Strike (Greater Pawn Strike):
This attack form focuses on delivering a hard punch the opponent at the right moment to unbalance or push back a foe. To use Unbalancing Strike, a Static Action roll should be made. Success indicates that the character's next Martial Arts attack will deliver an Unbalancing critical of two degrees less severity.
Development Cost: As Yado.

Vis Powers:
Flying Jump

Kata:
Knife or sword

Other skills:
Acrobatics
Seduction

Knights of Mianta Ken Jutsu

The Order of Mianta is without a doubt one of the oldest fighting orders in the world and traces its roots back at least 8,000 years. It might be even older than that, but the only ones that know exactly how old the order really is are the Grandmasters of the order and they keep silent about it. What is known is that, from its early days, the order has been dedicated to fight unlife where ever they find it. Through the ages, the Order of Mianta has several times been described as an order of paladins without a god.

The Order of Mianta is completely and utterly free from all obligations to countries, organizations and religions and resists any attempt at changing this. The fact that they do not have obligations to anybody makes the Order of Mianta neutral in most cases, which is the reason why, from time to time, they are used as counselors and mediators by other people. Because of this, most Knights of Mianta are taught how to be a counselor as part of their training.

Another thing that sets the order apart from other fighting orders is the use of Power Swords. The knowledge of how to make these swords has been lost to the rest of the world, but the Order of Mianta knows how to make these powerful weapons and all knights have one.

The Knights of Mianta generally do not use Magic. Instead they use Psionic powers, Vis-abilities, Power Swords and Martial Arts to combat their enemies. However several Knights have been known to use Magic, so the Order does allow the use of Magic. It is entirely possible that the Order does have some spell users among its ranks, but all sources agree that it is not something the Order actively trains their Knights in (mostly due to the fact that the Order's headquarter, Castle Mianta, is located in the middle of an anti-Magic zone).

The Knights' training in Adrenal Defense does mean that they do not wear great armors and use horses and lances like most other knights. This also means that they do not fight in tournaments, except in archery competitions and even there they are rare.

In fact most ordinary people would not recognize a Knight of Mianta unless the knight chose to brandish his Power Sword and even then they might be taken for a Death Knight of Alana because the Death Knights also use Power Swords from time to time. (The Order of Mianta and The Death Knights of Alana have a very good relation with each other and have been known to work together on several occasions.)

Most members of other knightly orders will recognize a Knight of Mianta and will treat him with respect, if not friendliness, depending on which knightly order they belong to. However, the Knights of Mianta have something that the headmaster of many other knightly orders would give a few castles and a couple hundred trained warhorses for: A rock solid reputation as heroes, backed up with countless bard-tales and age-old legends, that almost every person in the world knows a few of. Ordinary people simply love the Knights of Mianta and the tales about them. Meeting a Knight of Mianta would be the event of the year for most people.

Due to their extensive training in self discipline, the Knights of Mianta usually appear calm and collected at all times. This has led people to think that the Knights have no emotions. This is not correct, as the Knights of Mianta fall in love, get angry or happy just like all other people. They are just better at hiding these emotions.

The fighting style used by the Knights centers around the use of swords, especially the Power Sword, and the use of Vis Powers, thus the hand to hand style is rather simple. Simple does, however, not mean ineffective. It's just that the focus of the style is very internal and concentrated on Vis.

Concentration Skills:
Adrenal Defense
Adrenal Move - Balance
Adrenal Move - Landing
Adrenal Move - Speed
Adrenal Move - Strength
Vis Technique
Martial Balance
Meditation - Vis
Meditation - Sleep

Combat Skills:
Iai
Martial Arts - Strikes 2
Martial Arts - Sweeps & Throws 2
Stunned Maneuver
Two Weapon Combat
Adrenal Melee - Sword
Adrenal Melee - Power Sword
Weapon Skill - Sword
Weapon Skill - Power Sword

Unbalancing Strike:
This attack form focuses on delivering a hard punch the opponent at the right moment to unbalance or push back a foe. To use Unbalancing Strike, a Static Action roll should be made. Success indicates that the character's next Martial Arts attack will deliver an Unbalancing critical of two degrees less severity.
Development Cost: As Yado.

Vis Powers:
Intuitive Combat
Mind Push
Mind Pull
Enemy Sense
Energy Sparks
Energy Weapon
Chose two (2) Vis Techniques

Kata:
Sword

Other Skills:
Craft: Counselor

Nin-Jutsu

The now famous Japanese Ninjas were trained as spies, assassins, scouts and infiltrators from a very early age. The ninja use of stealth tactics against better-armed enemy samurai does not mean that they were limited to espionage and undercover work: that is simply where their actions most notably differed from the more accepted tactics of samurai.

At the time, conflicts between the clans that controlled small regions of land had established guerrilla warfare and assassination as valuable alternatives to frontal assault. Because Bushido, the Samurai Code, forbade such tactics as dishonorable, a clan chief could not expect his own troops to perform the tasks required; thus, he had to buy or broker the assistance of ninja to perform selective strikes, espionage, assassination, and infiltration of enemy strongholds. Though typically classified as assassins, many of the ninja were warriors in all senses.

Despite public belief, Nin-Justu is not one of the most advanced Martial Arts in existence. Like most other thing used by the Ninjas, Nin-Jutsu is simple, effective and to the point. It does excel in concentration skills and the use of Vis because those cannot be easily detected.

Concentration Skills:
Adrenal Defense
Adrenal Move - Balance
Adrenal Move - Landing
Adrenal Move - Leaping
Adrenal Move - Strength
Adrenal Move - Speed
Vis Technique
Martial Balance
Meditation - Vis

Combat Skills:
Disarm Foe, Armed
Disarm Foe, Unarmed
Martial Arts - Strikes 3
Martial Arts - Sweeps & Throws 2
Restricted Area Combat
Adrenal Melee - Sword (Ninja-to)

Stunning Strike:
A Stunning Strike is aimed against the nerve-centers of the opponent and is used to neutralize people, rather than kill them. Unfortunately it doesn't work if the opponent is wearing anything more protective than Soft Leather armor. Upon making a successful Static Action roll, the next striking attack versus any target with AT 1-8 is designed to stun. If a critical is achieved for the next attack, there is a 20% chance/Critical Severity that the target will be stunned, unless a CO-based RR is made versus the character's ranks in Stunning Strikes. The target is stunned for 1 round/5% failure.

Vis Powers:
Stealth of the Wolf
Enter the Flow
Ghost Walk
Weapon Vis
Chose two (2) Vis Techniques

Other Skills:
All Ninjas have been taught the use of special maneuvers for stealth and evasion. This includes Ko-Ashi (small, stabbing steps to reduce noise when walking outside), Yoko-Aruki (sideways walking to reduce one's silhouette) and Nuki-Ashi (sweeping-step to reduce noise when walking on floors). This knowledge gives all ninjas an automatic +15 bonus to Stalk and Hide maneuvers.

Krabi Krabong

According to legend, this style of fencing dates back 2,000 years, and began when men of the Mon race from the North took refuge in Siam and were organized into fighting units called Krom Darb-Song-Mu, or "sword in both hands". These fierce warriors maintained their skills with constant training, following 10 basic positions, including "dancing", "checking", and "swaggering."

Krabi Krabong evolved over hundreds of years of struggle and developed into a dynamic battlefield art that encompassed a complete system of strategy and tactics for both armed and unarmed combat, with or without armor. Krabi Krabong grew to include techniques for using numerous weapons, but no matter which one was used, the associated footwork remained the same as it did for empty-hand fighting. This principle of simplicity meant that a soldier could learn the footwork, and then concentrate on weapons and bare-hand techniques with minimal distraction.

In this, Krabi Krabong is closely connected to Muay Boran. In fact they are so close that Muay Boran is considered to be the part of Krabi Krabong dedicated to hand to hand combat. Weapons taught in Krabi Krabong differ from school to school and region to region, but all of them teach the use of Krabi (sword), Ngau (spear) and Plong (staff). Two weapon combinations such as two swords or a sword/buckler combination are also taught.

Its attacks are characterized by their explosive and extremely destructive power, inflicting the adversary with the most damage possible in the shortest possible time, bringing every fight to a quick, but brutal, end.

Like in Muay Boran, a breathing technique called Phalang Chit is also studied for the development of inner strength and physical powers.

Concentration Skills:
Adrenal Defense
Adrenal Move - Speed
Martial Balance
Meditation - Cleansing
Meditation - Vis

Combat Skills:
Disarm Foe (Armed)
Disarm Foe (Unarmed)
Maneuvering in Armor
Martial Arts - Strikes 4
Martial Arts - Sweeps & Throws 1
Stunned Maneuver
Two Weapon Combat
Adrenal Melee - Sword
Adrenal Melee - Staff
Adrenal Melee - Polearm
Weapon Skill - Sword
Weapon Skill - Staff
Weapon Skill - Polearm

Elbow and Knee Strikes:
These fast and powerful attacks can also be used at closed range, so Muay Boran fighters are not penalized for attacking while being held as long as they have an arm or leg free. The strikes also need much less room to work in, so Muay Boran fighters suffer only half the normal penalties from Restricted Area Combat.

Vis Powers:
Fist of Power
Weapon Vis

Kalarippayattu

Kalarippayattu is an ancient Indian martial art practiced in South India. Most likely it was developed in the 11th century by merging even older traditions dating back as far as the 2nd century BC and, like many other ancient Martial Arts Styles it was designed to be used by warriors in combat, with or without armor and weapons.

There are many different styles of Kalarippayattu, separated into three main schools of thought: the northern styles, the central styles, and the southern styles, but all of them incorporate strikes, kicks, grappling, martial dance, and weaponry, as well as healing techniques. Another important ingredient in Kalarippayattu is the Marmma Vidya which is the knowledge of pressure points of the body, which can be used to cause intense pain to the opponent or even kill instantly.

Weapon training and mastery in fighting with weapons is an integrated part of Kalaripayattu. First weapons made of cane are taken up and after skill is acquired in them, then wooden weapons are practiced and finally the lethal metallic weapons are practiced. The wooden weapons consist of Nedum chan (quarterstaff) and Otta Kol (a curved club). The metal weapons are Kadhara (dagger), Udaval (sword) and Valum Parichayum (sword and shield).

Masters of Kalarippayattu are also taught Vis Technique.

Concentration Skills:
Adrenal Defense
Adrenal Move - Speed
Vis Technique
Martial Balance
Meditation - Cleansing
Meditation - Vis
Meditation - Sleep

Combat Skills:
Disarm Foe (Armed)
Disarm Foe (Unarmed)
Martial Arts - Strikes 4
Martial Arts - Sweeps & Throws 1
Stunned Maneuver
Two Weapon Combat
Adrenal Melee - Dagger
Adrenal Melee - Sword
Adrenal Melee - Staff
Adrenal Melee - Polearm
Weapon Skill - Dagger
Weapon Skill - Polearm
Weapon Skill - Sword
Weapon Skill - Staff

Vis Powers:
Hand of Healing
Weapon Vis
Chose one (1) Vis Technique

Other Skills:
Diagnosis
First Aid
Herb Lore