Home Entertainment Top List Thursdays – Top Ten movie martial arts

Top List Thursdays – Top Ten movie martial arts

4 min read

Kicking ass has been around since the dawn of movies. From the slapstick slaps of Laurel Hardy, through to awkwardly choreographed attacks from the seventies Kung Fu boom, culminating with Tony Jaa destroying and remaking the universe every time he throws a flaming leg kick, violence has always played a crucial, if exaggerated role in the movies.

Here’s a look at ten such magnificently fictional fighting styles. (Warning, spoilers and NSFW swearing and violence to follow)

Gun-Kata (Equilibrium)

Guns don’t kill people. Highly trained Batmen with custom-designed pistol-whipping firearms with an uncanny ability to instantly adjust the optimum angle needed to both dodge and kill an opponent kill people.

Lots and lots of people in this gun kata originating film. It’s just a pity that the spiritual follow-up, Ultra-Violet, took this concept out into a back alley and executed it, in cold blood.

Rex Kwon Do (Napoleon Dynamite)

All the brutality of blocking poorly executed leg sweeps, double the patriotism when donning the ceremonial stars and stripes gi. Rex Kwon Do is more than just a method to instill dojo manners in your students.

It’s a way of life man!

Hokuto Shinken (Fist of the North Star)

Much like myself and Kervyn, North fist must never cross South Fist, but unlike the two of us, there’s a lot less slapping with this martial art.

Triggering key pressure points on an opponent, practioners are taught from an early age to ever wear white, due to the sheer amount of exploding skulls and organs that accompanies each and every blow from this gory fighting style.

Hamster Style Kung Fu (Orgazmo)

Hamster style Kung Fu. The chosen form of boot to ass of many a midget who happens to be incredibly short, provided that they’ve suffered enough mental trauma in order to master it.

Also, a remarkably effective way to defeat a horny Ron Jeremy.

Buddha Palm (Kung Fu Hustle)

We’ve covered our love of Kung Fu Hustle before, but c’mon, did you think a martial art as mind-staggeringly powerful as Buddha Palm could be contained within one article?

Hells no, as this prompt demonstration of Looney Toon style physics bending shows why Stephen Chow might just be the Asian version of Chuck Norris.

The Glow (The Last Dragon)

A martial art so fearsome, so legendary, that only Bruce Lee(roy) could master it. And in a battle for his life, against the deadly hands of Sho Nuff, the meanest and the baddest shogun that Harlem ever saw.

The only time that I ever attained the glow myself, it was that day that I overdosed on Tabasco sauce. At least that’s what the doctor told me, after I finally came out of my seizure.

Lightsaber Combat styles (Star Wars films)

What, you thought the Jedi were just clumsily waving their laser swords around, getting lucky with each strike? Nope! That’s all part of a complex system of seven different forms, with such exotic names as Makashi, Ataru and – I’m sorry, but even I’m not nerdy enough to buy this.

If you think that you can handle all this expanded universe knowledge, here’s an in depth look at fanboys came up with.

Gymkata (Gymkata)

The beauty of gymkata, is that no matter where you are, there’ll always be some form of equipment laying around, in order to help you maximise your gymnastics based fighting style.

Yes, because when it comes to manly martial arts, nothing is more intimidating than a man in leggings performing a standing bridge transition to your face.

Cobra Kai (The Karate Kid)

How does one describe the Cobra Kai style of karate? Well imagine your regular karate, but like, more violent. And in your face. With even more aggro punches than usual.

Also, don’t knock it’s leg sweeping abilities. They’re deadly in the hands/feet of a true master!

Baritsu (Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes: A game of shadows)

Ah, Victorian England. A time of such gentlemanly pursuits, that it even transcended into fighting itself. While the idea of such a form of combat may not actually be fictional, the manner in which Robert Downey JRs unintelligible Sherlock Holmes uses the martial art, most certainly is.

Fast strikes and even quicker thinking, it’s the fisticuffs of choice for Mr Holmes.

Last Updated: July 5, 2012


  1. James Francis

    July 5, 2012 at 13:49

    Great article! But I now wish I could unsee Gymkata.


  2. Geoffrey Tim

    July 5, 2012 at 14:20



  3. Kervyn Cloete

    July 5, 2012 at 14:35

    GEEK ON!

    The Star Wars universe actually has it’s own true martial arts in the form Teras Kasi, a kung fu style combat arts that used blistering speed and was created specifically to battle Jedi in hand to hand battles.


    • Darryn_Bonthuys

      July 5, 2012 at 14:50

      And here I thought that it was just the name of one horrendously bad fighting game.


    • James Francis

      July 5, 2012 at 18:15

      That comment is all kinds of sad…


      • Darryn_Bonthuys

        July 5, 2012 at 19:20

        Lulz, I think the first time that I heard of Teras Kasi, was when I read it on the Shadows of The Empire novel.

        Does that win me back some geek cred?


        • Kervyn Cloete

          July 5, 2012 at 20:02

          I think he’s referring to me. But I don’t care about his insults, I’m protected by my Super Beard and Flannel Shirt of Justice!


  4. WernerE

    July 5, 2012 at 15:45

    Wow the fighting scene in The Glow is hilarious! How could I have missed this gem? Sparks, inspirational 80’s background “rock-pop” and more glowing than Twilight vampires…


    • Geoffrey Tim

      July 5, 2012 at 15:46

      I loved that movie as a kid. The Last Dragon….it was fantastic blaxploitation kung fun nonsense. 


      • Kervyn Cloete

        July 5, 2012 at 15:50

        Yeah, I grew up on that movie. When my older brother used to bully me as a kid, he used to pin my arms, slap/punch/pinch me shouting “WHO’S DA MASTER?!”


    • Darryn_Bonthuys

      July 5, 2012 at 19:21

      The whole film is actually on Youtube, if you’re keen to watch it. Or you could wait a week and see what time eTV will play it, seeing as how they love to recycle old movies.


      • Justin Hess

        July 5, 2012 at 22:15

        By your mere mentioning of it, it’s bound to come on at two o’ clock, Saturday afternoon.

        Only on e……


      • James Francis

        July 6, 2012 at 09:49

        Can any of you honestly watch it more than once?


  5. The Last Dragon Tribute

    July 5, 2012 at 20:32

    “Catches Bullets with his Teeth? Catches bullets with his Teeth?!?!? N!$$a PLEASE!!!”

    Great article Darryn you’ve really tapped into some classics here. I obviously love The Last Dragon, but also love the variety of styles you pulled into the list! Gotta love Gymkata – who would have thought that village would have a palma horse right in the middle of the town square? How convenient for our hero!

    Shared our article on Facebook (Fan Tribute to The Last Dragon) & Twitter (@TheLastGlow)


    • Darryn_Bonthuys

      July 6, 2012 at 07:46

      Thanks buddy! We’ve been quoting The Last Dragon non-stop since we put this article up, that’s how much we love this gem of a film. 😀


  6. V@mp

    July 5, 2012 at 23:28

    What? No Kung Pow? Blasphemy!  🙂


    • Darryn_Bonthuys

      July 6, 2012 at 07:44

      I refuse to believe that Kung Pow is fictional, after I spent R10 000 on “Swinging the chain” lessons.


    • Kervyn Cloete

      July 6, 2012 at 08:53

      Darryn has a black belt in Face-to-Fist style.


    • James Francis

      July 6, 2012 at 09:49

      My finger points!


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