So, you know my dragons: Six limbs (typical western dragon), about the size of a Clydesdale horse but "only" half the weight (500 kg). Tissues are reinforced with armchair-type carbon nanotubes. They have a long, flexible neck (think storks). The wings were designed to be able to quad launch (just like with giant pterosaurs).

I'll add clarifications here if requested.

So, I was thinking about filling in gaps in the dragon's move set. You see, big attacks (lunging, running things over, etc...) are fairly simple, but they all use a lot of forward momentum, which makes them vulnerable to counters. What if the dragon wants to use small, compact moves as well?

I wanted the focus on the forelegs for now, but only managed to come up with one idea:

A downward swipe requires the dragon to jump slightly up (and maybe forward), then extend one paw and slash downwards with it. This strike is fairly stable, exposes the dragon little, and has a lot of the dragon's bodyweight behind it. However, it's only as strong as the apparatus that keeps the dragon's claws locked.

It's basically nothing, but I wanted to know if I'm on the right track with making martial art moves for them.

So, would it be viable as a compact move?

  • $\begingroup$ What kind of opponents is the dragon fighting? This strikes me more as an up-close 'wrestling' type move, using body weight and strength rather than any actual martial arts. Good for taking down prey already close to the dragon, and dealing with smaller opponents without piercing weapons. $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Jun 27, 2021 at 0:43
  • $\begingroup$ There is a Dragon Magazine article about dragon martial arts called "Give 'em a Fighting Chance," but I read it years ago and am not sure where it is. $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Jun 27, 2021 at 0:44
  • $\begingroup$ If I follow the attack you're describing, it's a lot like a horse rearing up and planting a hoof (in this case, a sharp clawed one) on an opponent and jamming them into the ground. Otherwise, it's just a leveraged slash downwards. $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Jun 27, 2021 at 4:21

1 Answer 1


I would offer that in fiction, martial arts are more about grace and spectacle than about force dynamics. Think about the Karate Kid's Stork kick. From a physics and force point of view, can you think of a single reason that his move should be any different than a simple front kick?

So in designing your Draconic Martial Arts, I would look for the fanciful rather than the forceful.

A dragon of Spanish descent might drape one wing in front of their adversary, thus concealing most of their weak points from targeted attacks in the manner of a bull fighter.

French and Middle Eastern dragons might embellish this draped deception by flourishing the wings back and forth in a confusing yet still concealing manner, reminiscent of a belly dancer's veil dance.

Getting back to the Karate Kid, maybe Daniel's stork maneuver would have actually worked if the upstretched arms really were stork-like wings, lifting Daniel into the air so that his fancy footwork could strike out repeatedly. The dragon version of the stork kick could involve multiple kick impacts followed by a reach-around 'gotcha' with the spiked tail. Spectacular!

As much as I admire your wanting to make your draconic fighting styles realistic, I must point out that you have given them nano-fiber enforced hides and they are dragons. Equipped like that, if a Clydesdale size dragon danced ballet while slapping his opponent with a feather and reciting poetry, it would still be guaranteed victory against anything except another dragon.


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