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I am looking for a fighting style a semi pacifist could use; someone who hates violence but has no problem defending himself and putting someone down. He has no problem HURTING the infected, but he refuses to KILL them.

To clarify: This is not a question of what fighting style should he use. this is a question of what real-life fighting style has the least amount of physical harm to the opponent that's not wrestling.

The setting: A zombie-creating infection has spread throughout the population, but the "zombies" are still alive and so the pacifist refuses to kill them. He's a scout for the group so it's more effective to throw or knock the Infected away when they try to grab him instead of carrying a weapon.

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    $\begingroup$ In what context? Street fighting? Any decent pacifist doesn't get involved in such a thing. Why would he train to fight? Are you talking about like a MMA match or something along those lines? Pacifism is always relative to your environment. If you live a very violent life, well, you could still fight like anyone else. I also think that there is only one good way of fighting, and that's being effective within the rules/circumstances you are in. This idea of different styles and so on is almost pure fiction. If you go there, you are in a cartoon = you have complete freedom. Do whatever $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Nov 22 '19 at 19:52
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    $\begingroup$ Are you asking what fighting style minimizes collateral damage, without regard to what happens to non-bystanders? Your second sentence, second paragraph makes it sound like this may be the case... $\endgroup$ – Matthew Nov 22 '19 at 20:13
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    $\begingroup$ @Stupidzombiet movie martial arts are choreographed. Real martial arts do not work that way. If you're happy to have fictional martial arts in your system, then choose pretty much anything and just hollywood it up so it'll do what you want. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Nov 22 '19 at 21:22
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    $\begingroup$ @StarfishPrime While "Jackie Chan" moves specifically are mostly slapstick made up stuff, a LOT of new movie choreographers focus on Capuata, a brazilian form of martial arts that is both an actual fighting style and flashy enough to make hollywood happy. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki - Reinstate Monica Nov 22 '19 at 22:43
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    $\begingroup$ NO fighting style is consistent with pacifism. Pacifism is the belief that violence is never justifiable under any circumstances. What you describe is someone who strongly dislikes violence, but not to the point of being a true pacifist. $\endgroup$ – plasticinsect Nov 22 '19 at 23:06

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The ancient and noble art of Running Away.

Lots of martial arts have maneuvers which minimize harm to their opponents -- but almost all of these consist of chokes, joint locks, pressure points, etc -- all of which are singularly useless against zombies! And many of them tend to expose the martial artist to vectors of zombie infection.

If you really think shattering their zombie kneecaps fits in with the whole pacifist outlook, you could possibly go with that, as a complement to running away, but it feels like a stretch.

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    $\begingroup$ He who runs and gets away, lives to run another day... $\endgroup$ – KillingTime Nov 23 '19 at 8:57
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    $\begingroup$ Rincewind was a master of this art. $\endgroup$ – candied_orange Nov 23 '19 at 13:58
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    $\begingroup$ It may be worth noting that parkour was originally envisioned as exactly this: a martial art focusing in running away and techniques for doing that as quickly and efficiently as possible. $\endgroup$ – KRyan Nov 23 '19 at 19:05
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    $\begingroup$ Miyagi's ultimate defense: No Be There $\endgroup$ – Willk Nov 24 '19 at 22:15
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    $\begingroup$ "[Rincewind] spends most of his time running away, and never particularly bothers with where he's running away to - what he's running from is always more important." --Wiki. It should be noted Rincewind survived a lot of interesting situations. $\endgroup$ – Gloweye Nov 25 '19 at 9:31
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When your opponent is a zombie, there's a risk that the slightest bite, scratch or splash of bodily fluid is enough to infect you with an incurable and rapidly fatal disease. If you're not going to shoot them, you sure as hell shouldn't be grappling with them because there's just too much risk of infection. Sure, you could wear a load of riot gear, but that's gonna slow you down, heat you up and spoil your vision and hearing, and what kind of scout would you be then? Forget martial arts. Waste of your time, probably get you killed.

No, there's only one choice: parkour. Its all about moving around freely and quickly, ideal for a scout and it looks pretty badass too. What's not to like?

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    $\begingroup$ Not sure how rapid the fatality is when it comes to Zombies, but yea, keep your distance. $\endgroup$ – JPhi1618 Nov 25 '19 at 21:19
  • $\begingroup$ @JPhi1618 traditionally it has worked over the speed of plot, which for action-oriented films tends to be quite brisk. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Nov 25 '19 at 21:30
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Aikido

It's a Japanese martial arts form based on the idea of deflecting and redirecting the energy of the attacker. It was developed with the goal of protecting the attacker from injury while defending one's self. The style makes use of throws, pins, and joint locks to subdue the attacker.

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    $\begingroup$ Without wishing to be inflammatory, it is largely (though not exclusively) not practised as a fighting art, and as such the vast majority of its practitioners will fare badly should they try and apply it in a real fight. Note also that locks and submissions often rely on the victim suffering pain, whereas classical zombies are less likely to be stopped this way. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Nov 22 '19 at 21:19
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    $\begingroup$ @StarfishPrime Granted. However, when I practiced Aikido, there was a lot of emphasis on self defense. This included techniques for breaking and evading holds, and many of these involved manipulation of center of gravity and balance. So if you were trying to be held, some of the techniques could be used to help you escape. $\endgroup$ – Nate White Nov 22 '19 at 21:23
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    $\begingroup$ I can't speak for your experiences, but there's an awful lot of bullshido out there where training is done against weirdly inactive and unresisting opponents. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Nov 22 '19 at 21:25
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    $\begingroup$ @StarfishPrime Agreed, it is the primary reason I left. Many of the techniques are simply ineffective to counter a size difference between attacker and victim. However some of the techniques are not useless. $\endgroup$ – Nate White Nov 22 '19 at 21:27
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    $\begingroup$ @StarfishPrime bullshido aside, I've been studying martial arts for four decades, and a fair proportion of the people I've met in that process that I would LEAST like to tangle with physically are either Aikido practitioners, or study styles that are very heavily informed by Aikido techniques. Aikido is also the only martial art I'm aware of where avoiding harm to someone attacking you is a key principle, so I feel like it's at least THEMATICALLY the best possible answer to OP's question. $\endgroup$ – Morris The Cat Nov 23 '19 at 18:51
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Spit sock hood.

spit sock hood

Your characters carries these hoods with him. Or maybe they are just denim bags he has made. They close with a zip tie. He pulls one over the zombie's head and pulls the cord to tighten it around its neck.

Its head in the spit sock hood, the zombie cannot bite him. Probably it cannot see him. Getting the hood off is going to keep the zombie busy for a long time because the material is tough and the zip tie must be cut with something sharp. The zombie will need help to get it off, but the other zombies are not that helpful.

You can tell where this guy has been because he leaves a trail of zombies with their heads in bags stumbling around and bumping into things.


An easy way to make these hoods would be to use pants, and have the zip tie thru the belt loops.

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    $\begingroup$ That is quite a good idea, and could have some very amusing plot points eg. Leading blind zombies to the characters voice and pushing them in a river, bin etc. $\endgroup$ – Bob Kerman Nov 25 '19 at 6:13
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Judo

It's currently practiced martial art (and Olympic sport) that focuses on throws and take downs. It's also well enough known for your character to have learned it locally.

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    $\begingroup$ A judo throw onto a hard surface isn't always going to be as destructive as a wrestling slam, but it is going to do damage and could easily kill. Also, grappling with something which can deliver a fatal illness through biting seems like a mug's game. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Nov 22 '19 at 21:21
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    $\begingroup$ I'm pretty sure the first judo thrower against a zombie is going to get bit. $\endgroup$ – kleer001 Nov 22 '19 at 22:09
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    $\begingroup$ Judo relies awfully heavily on "You're going to submit to this because the alternative is breaking your own elbow" sort of leverage, and I don't think that would be reliable against a zombie. They'd just break their own elbow and bite you. $\endgroup$ – Morris The Cat Nov 23 '19 at 22:25
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    $\begingroup$ @kleer001 And then the other ones will have to fight zombies who know Judo. $\endgroup$ – user31389 Nov 25 '19 at 14:56
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While I agree with Starfish's and Rodger's assessments of avoidance of unarmed combat with zombies is best, it does not quite answer the question.

IF you are going to engage a zombie in non-lethal unarmed combat, I would suggest Capoeira. Most "non-violent" martial arts styles such as Judo focus on holds, throws, arms locks, etc. which are exactly what you don't want to do against a zombie.

The advantage of Capoeira vs other non-grapply martial arts is that Capoeira is designed to be able to be done with hands bound. This means that a practitioner is trained specifically to be able to avoid a grapple and fight without ever exposing his hands to his opponent (great ideology when fighting a zombie.)

This also results in a greater emphasis on wide arcing motions vs the more directed strikes like you would expect in something like karate. Depending on what zombie lore you go with, a straight kick/punch may be more likely to get you infected. If the zombie can infect with a scratch, a straight-kick to the chest may put the zombie on its arse quite efficiently, but also put your foot right in its ideal scratch zone. If the zombie has superhuman strength, this also puts your foot at extra risk of being caught, and your foot subsequently going straight into the zombie's mouth. If the zombie is of the "runner" variety, this could be a disadvantage though because it does not offer the ideal form for countering its momentum.

Capoeira is also very popular in choreography and dance which gives your protagonist a good reason to have this skill set in his repertoire while also begin a pacifist.

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    $\begingroup$ Isn’t that capoeira? Or are they two different things? $\endgroup$ – WGroleau Nov 23 '19 at 8:29
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    $\begingroup$ Sounds like capoeira, especially given its brazilian origins. It is very interesting, especially considering its origins... a martial art that looks like a dance, to avoid suspicion from slave owners, and that can be performed when the practitioner is at least partially restrained with chains, as slave work gangs might be. It does look cool, but it isn't obviously more useful in this context than other martial arts (especially compared to running away). $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Nov 23 '19 at 9:52
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    $\begingroup$ Sorry yes, spell check failed me because apparently "Capuata" is a common last name. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki - Reinstate Monica Nov 25 '19 at 14:29
  • $\begingroup$ "I could be wrong, but I believe a straight kick/punch is more likely to end up in the mouth than circular strike to the side" - this depends entirely on how good your aim is, and where you are aiming. The circular strike takes longer, so the zombie has more time to try and put their mouth in the way. For the straight strike, don't aim for the face/mouth! A decent straight kick to the stomach can throw a zombie several meters away from you and knock them onto their back - which better for this scenario than you would achieve with a head kick. $\endgroup$ – Chronocidal Nov 25 '19 at 16:25
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Already some good suggestions for fighting styles, but if he refuses to kill them, then perhaps you're looking for less of a fighting style and more of an avoidance technique?

Perhaps they use fishing nets to tangle up the zombies and immobilize them. They could use a whip, Indiana-Jones-style, to both knock down zombies and rappel between obstacles to avoid the zombies.

Not sure how your zombies sense things, but perhaps they use a strobe light or something to blind them. Or a speaker with heavy bass like a thumper (ie. Dune) so they can't sense vibrations or hear as well. If your zombies detect via sense of smell, they could use smoke bombs with strong odors to disrupt their smell (and vision).

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it's more effective to throw or knock the Infected away when they try to grab him instead of carrying a weapon

No. No it isn't. Just no. All the nope. Even if he's a scout crawling down a cave that's barely wide enough for his body, that's a big hell no.

The martial arts we're familiar with today are simply variations on the duel. The combatants compete under a strict set of rules, and the intention is that both are alive at the end of it. "What about MMA/vale tudo/whatever backyard brawler?" I hear someone ask. They still have rules, most notably that neither person is wearing body armour or carrying a weapon.

This is very different to the kind of fighting where you're actually aiming to kill someone, or at least to prevent yourself being killed by another someone who's actively trying to kill you. One of the more effective martial arts is jiu jitsu; and every jiu jitsu practitioner will tell you that it was intended as a backup skill for when the samurai had lost his sword on the battlefield or was attacked by surprise.

So, back to the zombies. They don't play by any kind of rules - they want to kill you and eat you. So the scout has a weapon for self-protection. He just does, because if he doesn't have a weapon then going anywhere near a zombie is straight-up suicide. He does have the choice of what weapon to use though, and being a pacifist he doesn't take the obvious options of swords or axes to cut heads off.

The obvious choice is a boar spear. This may sound pretty damaging, but these are zombies, right? You can kill them by cutting off their heads, but damage to their body doesn't signify. So a boar spear is perfect - the zombie walks into the spear and impales themselves on it, and the lugs stop the zombie working its way down the spear to get to you. Flip a rope round the zombie (a weight on the end of a line will loop the line round the zombie nicely if you throw it right), attach the ends to cleats mounted on the side of the spear, and you've got the zombie securely attached to the spear. Now you have leverage on your side, so you can control the zombie whilst your friends tie its arms and legs.

Oh, rope skills for achieving that. You did want an unarmed martial art. I give you Hojōjutsu, the Japanese martial art of tying up people (especially resisting people) quickly and effectively. Like most unarmed martial arts, subduing the opponent relies on pain submission which clearly won't work on zombies; but we've dealt with that with the boar spear, and the basic concepts of restraining limbs will still work perfectly well.

Unarmed combat against a zombie though, did I say no enough times? No. Not enough times. It's a no.

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  • $\begingroup$ I was gonna say that this could be the basis for an excellent manga character, but then I decided to look it up and found this: battleangel.fandom.com/wiki/Hojōjutsu $\endgroup$ – MooNieu Nov 25 '19 at 3:11
  • $\begingroup$ Adding "weaponised bondage" to the list of things I never thought I'd find on this site. $\endgroup$ – F1Krazy Nov 26 '19 at 13:28
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    $\begingroup$ @P.M.B. But no boar spear. I like boar spears, because they're a solution to a problem you never thought anyone would have, namely a berzerk piggy prepared to completely kebab itself if it can only take you with it. Plus awesome hog roast afterwards. $\endgroup$ – Graham Nov 26 '19 at 13:54
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    $\begingroup$ @F1Krazy Let's just say the reason I know it exists is NSFW and leave it there. ;) $\endgroup$ – Graham Nov 26 '19 at 13:56
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I can't imagine how someone could think of a pacifist martial art style against a zombie. Come on man! we are dealing with zombies. How dare you use judo techniques to fight a zombie?

My alternate suggestion for a pacifist, (of course if running away is not an option) is to develop some kind of poisonous/anesthetic gas that knocks them unconscious and doesn't kill them. But discovering that kind of gas or spray is another issue that I have no idea about.

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Ecky Thump

The ancient Lancastrian martial art focuses on mainly the use of clubs and in generally effective whilst non fatal

enter image description here

Your hero could club the zombies, knocking them down, quickly and quietly.

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Aikido Yoshinkan

Aikido Yoshinkan is a style of Aikido developed by Gozo Shioda sensei aimed to improve the capabilities of Aikido for self-defense. Aikido's way is based on bringing peaceful resolutions to situations involving conflics some of which can include phisical violence. Yoshinkan is considered the hardest and more aggresive Aikido path because it puts special attention in the atemis or "blows and strikes to the body" launched by the guardian or defender. That means in most of the movements of Aikido Yoshinkan the defender will launch one or two blows to the arms, wrists, chins or ribs of the attacker. That's why Aikido Yoshinkan has been the martial art of choice to form the agents of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police. This extra punch is what makes -IMHO- Yoshinkan as one of the best martial arts to train if you are not into more physical martial arts like taekwondo. Having said that I have taken myself yoshinkan classes for three years and it has helped me a lot in my daily life. During the time I had classes I used to have my arms and body covered in bruises and that was more exaggerated after long Yoshinkan sessions, from this I now know what physical pain feels like. These can be rewarding in other ways, for example into life outside of the dojo, helping to gain confidence in regular life situations.

Take into account that we are talking about a martial art, so in mosts of the dojos commitment is a must.

The problem with Yoshinkan is that is hard to find an official Aikido Yoshinkan dojo.

Good Luck with your choice.

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to WorldBuilding.SE! Could you explain why you believe this would be the best fighting style for a pacifist? "There's tons of info on the Internet" isn't really enough, as Stack Exchange answers are supposed to stand along rather than relying on external sources. See here for more information. $\endgroup$ – F1Krazy Nov 26 '19 at 13:25
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    $\begingroup$ I've also just realised that Aikido was already suggested four days ago, along with an actual explanation. $\endgroup$ – F1Krazy Nov 26 '19 at 13:30
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    $\begingroup$ Improved. Aikido was already suggested but I wanted to treat Aikido Yoshinkan as a different martial art like soccer and indoor soccer are not the same. But that's my point of view. Regards and thanks for the feedback. $\endgroup$ – Mulisec Nov 26 '19 at 14:44
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    $\begingroup$ Fair enough, I didn't realise there was a distinction. Thanks for making the edits, this is a much better answer now. $\endgroup$ – F1Krazy Nov 26 '19 at 14:45
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What about pole weapons (spears etc), like very long, metal stick ?

They could be cut from right to left, hoping that one of them will fall over and block the way for the others.

Alternatively, you could use it as a javelin …

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  • $\begingroup$ The OP suggested that the character in question doesn't carry weapons. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Nov 23 '19 at 13:59
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I'd recommend a martial art which focuses on joint locks. There are several out there, so take your pick from them.

The reason I recommend such arts is because of the nature of the opponent. Martial arts which focus on stopping others by hurting them are going to be very surprised when they run into a zombie. Police officers have to deal with this: opponents hopped up on PCP don't care about what damage they do to their own bodies. A lot of techniques which strive to cause submission via pain don't work on these individuals. While the definition of "zombie" can vary from story to story, typically they are rather oblivious to pain.

The advantage of joint locks is that they use physics to stop an opponent. If I can put your joints in a configuration that prevents your fist from reaching my body, you simply cannot punch me. It doesn't matter how zombie-ish you might be. Physics is physics. You need your body to do things. If I own your body, you can't do things.

As one practices joint locks, one starts to become aware of how exposed a joint can be once you get it out there. We, as humans, instinctively protect our joints using our muscles. We don't let them get into the really bad positions. Once you get a zombie's elbow or shoulder into the right position, they are just a few pounds of force away from a dislocation. Dislocation will affect zombies. It affects the physics of how our joints and muscles work together to move our limbs. So as the fight escalates, your hero can start taking out limbs in order to keep the fight under control.

To escalate beyond that, I would recommend they practice in a bladed weapon of some sort: knife, sword, etc. This is a bit odd, given that the purpose of these weapons is often to kill, but I think it works with the zombie theme. Assuming the zombies are not as dependent on a circulatory system as we are, there's less risk of them dying of blood loss. And there's plenty of things that you can cut with a sword that aren't arteries. In the same vein as the joint locks disabling joints, its impossible for the body to operate if you cut the tendons linking the muscles to the bones.

For an excellent example, in my martial art's sword form there's a wonderful little down-up hack which has been described as trying to reach around the guard of the opponent's sword to sever the tendons in the thumb. Lose those tendons, and you cannot meaningfully hold a sword. Perhaps more on point, there's several tendons in the leg, such as the Achilles which, when severed, prevents walking. It's much easier to escape a zombie horde when they can't walk after you. And even if the zombies do bleed like we do, many of these can be reached with a blade without having to sever major veins or arteries at the same time.

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You are not going to take this answer seriously but whatever. In handgun self defense the #1 goal is to not use the gun. The gun is the absolute last answer to your problem. It levels the playing field so that say an elderly person who cannot tune and practice their physic still has a chance. It requires practice but that practice is against a target not a human of equal or greater strength. Think about it, if you are training to fight against a human you are not a pacifist. If you are at target practice it does not have violence in mind but instead is a fun skill based activity.

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to WorldBuilding.SE! I'm afraid i'm not quite sure what your actual answer to the question is. Are you saying someone who knows how to fight cannot by definition be a pacifist? I don't think that's quite true. $\endgroup$ – F1Krazy Nov 23 '19 at 16:56
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    $\begingroup$ I put to you that, in handgun self defense, not using the gun is in fact the #2 goal. The #1 goal is of course "don't die". If not using the gun was the #1 goal then handgun self defense would consist entirely of "don't ever carry or touch a gun". $\endgroup$ – Daron Nov 25 '19 at 18:48
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Have a look at Stickfighting - somewhat popularized by Sherlock Holmes in the Elementary TV series. The sticks are blunt and easy to come by, it offers enough force to incapacitate but also a tool to just push the infected away. And it requires no touching, which in case of infections I'd avoid...

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Many martial arts carries a philosophy of peace and the real masters always teach that one should not engage in combat if not for self defence or a third-person defence. Because of that, I don't see as a problem a pacifist who knows how to fight.

Krav Maga is known for its focus on real-world situations and its extreme efficiency. Because it is a military self-defence and fighting system, a few techniques are for killing; but many are not.

As a civilian who practiced, along with other related martial arts like Kombato and Kali Silat, you learn a lot how to defend yourself and your beloveds.

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Ninjutsu

The way of the Ninja is first to go undetected, perfect for a scout, second to run away from unwinnable battles, great for a pacifist and third to disable foes with the minimal effort, ideal for someone who doesn't know when their next meal is coming.

Your scout uses disguises, camouflage, deception, silence, shadows, patience and the environment around themselves to avoid conflict while still achieving their goals.

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Running away is lame, touching the zombies doesn't fit. There needs to be a middleground:

He could have been a police dog trainer. They usually wear a vest and gloves, baiting the attacker to bite into them. People that do such a job are usually also heavy and strong enough to withstand a zombie's hits. Still he'd have to ask himself if he could take the bigger ones or if he should rather run away. He'd probably regularly spray his equipment with some bitter chemicals, so the zombies would let go of him after the first bite. The need to get new spray, could be used as a plot point. He would respect the zombies the same way he respects dogs and also treat them the same way...

It makes so much sense that I wonder if it was used before.

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