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Tengu are a race of upright, humanoid creatures with the ability to fly and other avian characteristics to a varying degree.

Konoha-tengu (foliage tengu) are six-limbed humanoid avians. The bird species they resemble varies, with the most prevalent being corvids but there are tengu that resemble birds of prey.

Their wings are capable of powered flight but that requires them to be very lithe, forcing the other limbs weaker compared to humans'. Their bones are hollow, but not weaker than humans' however, most of their muscle strength is in the wings, and the placement makes it difficult for them to use those for combat.

To summarize:

  1. Konoha-tengu have two legs (both end in claws with sharp talons), two arms, the hands have opposable thumbs and are covered with scales (color varies with species). The nails on the hands are sharp but smaller. Finally, the wings are attached below the shoulders with their own separate bones. The center of mass is slightly higher for tengu than for humans.
  2. While their bones are fairly strong, most of their power is concentrated into the flight muscle.
  3. They obviously prefer to stay out of melee range, but sometimes they won't be able to.

What martial art would be the best suited for konoha-tengu for when their opponents get into melee range?

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  • $\begingroup$ In birdpeople culture, this is considered a "dick move". $\endgroup$
    – John O
    Apr 12 '20 at 17:36
  • $\begingroup$ This is somewhat a duplicate of worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/158864/… $\endgroup$
    – Riddles
    Apr 12 '20 at 18:21
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    $\begingroup$ white crane, eagle claw, karate $\endgroup$
    – Li Jun
    Apr 13 '20 at 2:17
  • $\begingroup$ do you want to include weapon martial arts ? $\endgroup$
    – Li Jun
    Apr 13 '20 at 3:50
  • $\begingroup$ Are they fighting other Konoha-tengu, or some other fantasy race? $\endgroup$
    – user22917
    Apr 25 '20 at 18:50
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Any striking based martial arts should work well, wrestling, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and judo would be difficult and awkward as their wings would get in the way of grappling and rolling.

Geese and swan are known to have very powerful wings that can break bones when they attack people. Tengu's wings can be used as an extra pair of limbs to attack with, using spinning attacks with a longer range than their arms and flapping at a closer range.

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Give a look at how the secretarybird hunts: they use their legs for stomping snakes, like you can see in this video.

I therefore guess that some variant of the Taekwondo would suits them, since it uses mostly legs.

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I would suggest a martial art which involves close grappling such as Brazilian Jiu jitsu , Most predators in the wild are build for grappling prey so this would probably be most effective.

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Birds generally fight with their feet, using their relatively powerful legs and large claws to do the work. I can imagine the Tengu using their wings and legs to pull themselves rapidly away from strikes, then strike back using foot claws. An Emu and other large birds can disembowel a human easily, and have.

So I would look for a martial art that involves lots of kicking and fast thrusts and pullbacks. The one that comes to mind is Muay Thai from Thailand. One of its techniques is the 'foot thrust', which is a lot like a move a large bird might make. Muay Thai also uses hard points like elbows and knees a lot in striking A Tengu's elbow joint on the wing is probably very strong, and since wings stretch and are controlled by powerful muscles, a foot jab to stab an opponent with a claw and/or put him off balance, followed by a spinning elbow strike would be an interesting combination.

Tengu fight by holding their wings way back behind them, but folded at the elbow. In this way, they can quickly flap out of harm's way when a strike is aimed at them, and their wing elbows are cocked back ready to strike. If someone tries to strike a Tengu, it can use a combination of flapping snd retracting its legs to pull it out of danger, then the feet uncoil and strike the enemy. This is sort of how large predator birds fight on the ground. They hop around using their wings and legs until they are in a position to uncoil a strike.

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If they're going to fight against humans, they'll want to emphasize the advantages they have over humans. The big advantages I see are:

  • talons mean that simply grabbing on to an opponent anywhere is dangerous

  • wings allow them to move more freely than humans can, and mean that they don't always need to support themselves using their limbs

What I'm picturing looks like a bizarre blend of capoeira and Brazillian jiu-jitsu.

Why capoeira? Acrobatics allow any talon to attack any point on the opponent's body. They wouldn't be cartwheels and handstands exactly, because they aren't supporting their own weight on the ground, but they could pretty easily invert to grab the opponent's ankle with their hands, or dig their feet into the armpits, or swoop around to grab onto the back. More freedom of movement means it would be harder for a human to block, trap, or control them. They wouldn't exactly be flying, but they would appear to be almost weightless. They would never present their back to the enemy: pinned wings => dead bird. So you would see lots of cartwheel movements, spins around the opponent, flips over (or under?) the opponent, but no spinning kicks or anything like that.

Why BJJ? The lack of limb strength means that impact striking would be ineffective, and talons mean that it wouldn't be necessary. Once they've got a grip on their enemy, they will almost start to climb them. Not necessarily going upwards, but advancing their position so that the enemy would have to fight their way past all four limbs to attack anything useful. They might be hanging off the side, perched on the shoulders, whatever. If you can rotate the scene to make it look like the bird is perched on the human, the bird is happy. From there, they can rip and tear to their heart's content.

BJJ practitioners often fight while lying on their back using all four limbs at once, so you would get some similar techniques, but you wouldn't need to actually fight from the back, because you're close enough to weightless. The sort of climbing technique is pretty analogous to a lot of BJJ fighting.

I can find you one source of visual inspiration for what mostly-weightless grappling might look like: two guys doing BJJ underwater. I recommend watching on 2X speed, because they get slowed down by the water. Obviously the techniques would be different - if I can scratch you to death I won't go for an armbar - but the movements pretty closely resemble what I imagined as I was writing this.

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This is a great video you can use for inspiration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyLl3K3R8Xk.

I would recommend watching the whole thing, but a quick summary is that hawks and eagles use their claws for grappling and slashing, while falcons and secretary birds use high precision strikes. One thing you may want to consider is that they could almost always keep their wings spread. This provides a lot a stability without hindering side-to-side movement.

Also, if their martial arts are based on fighting one another, you may want them to focus on blunt-force attacks, which tend to be very damaging to birds. I know you said that their bones are on par with humans, but the mechanics of the situation means that cannot be the case. A hollow structure will always be weaker, in terms of absolute strength, than a solid structure of the same shape and size. In order for hollow bones to be as strong as solid bones, they would need to be significantly thicker, but that would increase the bones' weight and the whole point of hollow bones is to cut down on weight.

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  • $\begingroup$ I doubt bone marrow would significantly increase the bones' absolute strength. $\endgroup$ Apr 27 '20 at 9:23
  • $\begingroup$ When I said hollow bones need to be larger than solid bones to have the same absolute strength, I was referring to the thickness of the ossificated parts of the bone. I will try to be clearer in the future. $\endgroup$
    – E Tam
    Apr 28 '20 at 19:05

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