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Analyzing the Martial Arts Skills of Pokemon

Fightland Blog

By Sarah Kurchak

Machamp Lesnar

The middle of the Venn diagram between martial arts lovers and Pokemon fandom is hardly insignificant. Ronda Rousey was famously obsessed with the franchise in her younger days. And it’s easy to see why people who love watching human beings, each armed with their own particular set of skills, step into an arena to fight each other while coaches yell instructions from the sidelines would be into watching a bunch of creatures do the same.

So with Pokemon GO currently running wild and the likes of Rousey and Cro Cop(!) tearing around in search of Pikachu, we’ve decided to get in that action by contributing our own unique take to the stunning glut of stories that have been written on the phenomenon in the past week. With the assistance of the Bulbapedia—and the admirably geeky analysis of some Game FAQs posters like KillerMechanoid—we’ve taken a look at the fighting skills of various Pokemon and the styles that they best represent.

Here’s what we found:

Boxing

Although there’s an argument to be made for the pig monkey fighting-type Pokemon Mankey’s—and its evolved form, Primepae’s—kickboxing abilities, given the number of kicks they can throw when thrust into a Bruce Banner-like rage or thrash attack, their fast footwork, punching skills and impressive reach (thanks to their gangly monkey arms) place them more firmly in the boxing category.

Breloom, a creature that looks like a cross between a kangaroo and a Little Shop of Horrors extra, has similarly fast footwork, which it uses to overcome its significant disadvantage in terms of reach to execute incredibly fast punch combinations with its tiny arms. According to Bulbapedia, “Its technique is equal to that of professional boxers.” It can also resort to attack its opponents with spores when the striking’s not going well, though, which is frowned up in most boxing competition.

The Pokemon most dedicated to the sweet science, though, is one of the Tyrogue final forms, Hitmonchan. In addition to throwing punches faster than the human eye can register, this Pokemon also walks around in red boxing gloves and purple boxing shoes. And it fights in rounds, requiring a break after every three minutes of combat.

Capoeira

While Hitmonchan specializes in boxing, the other possible final forms of Tyrogue, Hitmonpop and Hitmonlee, go in a slightly different direction. With Hitmonpop’s acrobatic attacks that focus on spinning and graceful strikes and Hitmonlee’s balance, which allows it to strike from all sorts of creative positions, both give off a bit of a dance fight vibe.

Judo

With a propensity for throwing foes who are bigger than themselves, and a uniform that includes a diamond-weave gi and a belt that changes in color as it gets stronger, it’s pretty clear to see what discipline the humanoid Pokemon Throh (get it?) favors.

Karate

Sawk has a similar uniform to Throh, but prefers kicking and punching to throwing. Also known as “The Karate Pokemon,” the humanoid Sawk’s greatest goal in life is developing the strongest possible karate chop. They seclude themselves in the mountains, using trees and rocks as heavy bags and pads, and eschewing sleep in an effort to reach their goals. Any interruption from this training makes Sawk terribly annoyed.

Kickboxing/ Muay Thai

Technically, fire/fighting-type Pokemon Blaziken (and its potential evolved form, Mega Blaziken) are actually using 12 limbs when they fight, on account of the fire that they can shoot our of their wrists and ankles, but their strikes—particularly their vicious kicks, enabled by their incredible lower body strength—place them more in line with kickboxing and Muay Thai than any other martial art.

Fellow fire-fighting-type Infernape uses a similar combination of strike and flame-throwing and, according to Bulbapedia, “practices a unique kind of martial art that involves all of its limbs. This style uses fiery punches and kicks as well.” So we’re just going to go with “Muay Thai. With FIRE.”

Kung Fu

Also known as “The Martial Arts Pokemon,” fighting-type Meinfoo is known for both the precision and speed of its strikes, and takes great pride in the latter. According to Bulbapedia, “It also overwhelms opponents with its skillful combination attacks” and “they dominate with onslaughts of flowing, continuous attacks.” Mienfoo take great pride in their speed. And, if they evolve into Mienshao, they become even faster and more deadly. Whether this places them in the Kung Fu arena or the Taekwondo one is up for some debate.

Street Fighting

Dual dark/fighting-type Pokemon Scraggy (and its evolved form, Scrafty) might have the skill of their more classically martial arts-focused brethren, but lack even a modicum of their discipline. They’re basically always looking for a fight, and will attack anyone at almost any provocation.

Fellow dark/fighting-type Pangoro is a bit more altruistic in its motives, as it’s unable to bear seeing anyone pick on vulnerable creatures. But it has a similar hair-trigger temper and, according to Bulbapedia “charges into battle like a berserker, heedless of any damage it might suffer as it bashes its opponents.”

Conkeldurr could, arguably, go in this category as well, but its penchant for smashing opponents with the concrete pillars that it carries around arguably makes it more of a pro wrestling Pokemon than a street fighting one.

Sumo

One of the fighting-type Pokemon Makuhita’s signature moves is the arm thrust, and it practices its techniques and improves it strength by smashing itself into trees during training. The trees don’t often survive. The Makuhita can evolve into the sumo wrestling-inspired Pokemon, Hariyama, a large creature made almost entirely of solid muscle who can push trucks around just as easily as opponents (and more trees).

Taekwondo

Again, there’s a case to be made for Mienfoo and Mienshao leaning more in a TKD direction than a Kung Fu one, but it’s really a matter of personal preference and pedantry.

Wrestling

Dual fire/fighting type Pokemon Pignite appears to focus mostly on the combustible elements of its arsenal, but it does wear what appears to be a singlet, which is, perhaps, why it tends to be classified as a wrestler by people who care about these things. Its evolved form, Emboar, is equally partial to fire attacks and is wearing something that looks vaguely like Tajiri’s WWE pants exploded all over his body, but has at least mastered some swift grappling moves to keep it in this category.

It’s the Machop/Choke/Champ genus that rules the Pokemon wrestling world—and maybe the mixed martial arts one, as well. In Machamp form, the mountain dwelling fighter “can lift many times its own body weight” and “spends its time and energy practicing all different forms of martial arts and trying to improve its abilities.” The Machoke is even bigger and more solid, with muscles as hard as steel and the ability to lift heavy objects with a single finger. It trains daily in the mountains and bears a striking resemblance to Brock Lesnar.

The Machamp, according to Bulbapedia, “punches extremely fast, throwing five hundred punches a second. With only one hand, it can move a mountain. Because of its four arms, it can hit from a multitude of angles and pin all of its foe’s limbs at once. However, it has poor dexterity, and cannot handle delicate work without its arms becoming tangled. It is a rash Pokemon that rushes into action without forethought.”

So it basically fights like Brock Lesnar in his UFC debut. And looks like Brock Lesnar would if the far less infamous tattoo on his back gained sentience and limbs.

 

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