Wait, what? Monks...evolving? Don't worry, I don't mean biological evolution, I mean social evolution, the natural progression and alteration of a societal role, specifically the Monk Class.

Considering the many monsters in my setting, Monks changing from pacifists to fighters makes sense, because quite frankly they don't have much chance of surviving otherwise and besides, clergy were at times permitted or required to fight. However, the mix of European and Asian philosophies demonstrated in the link above bring up a few questions, to say the least:

  1. Cohesion-Monks existed in medieval Asia and Europe, but they most certainly did not have the same beliefs and therefore religion. This makes it seem likely that they would conflict, and considering Christianity's track record (just look at the Spanish Inquisition), it seems this conflict will (at least on the European side) be of the violent, battle-for-supremacy variety where "we will conquer your people and decide their beliefs for them!"

  2. Culture Mingling-Even if #1 is accounted for, then we get into martial arts. The role Asian monks had in developing kung-fu and its various disciplines has been overemphazised, but it's quite possible that after entering Alendyias, those same monks will develop new martial arts to deal with them (which is supported by the answer to this question.

However, in order for European monks to utilize martial arts themselves, they would have to either learn it from their Asian counterparts or develop their own. The thing is, I don't see how or why said monks would do the former or the latter, unless of course said monks training to use armaments counts as learning or developing a martial art style, in which case they most certainly will.

However, I can't figure out how the role of Monk would evolve considering both the above points. Sure, I figure they'll use weapons, but what kinds of weapons? Will they start wearing chainmail robes for better protection? How would conflict between medieval European and Asian monks (and therefore clergy) most likely conclude? In short, How Would Monks "Evolve" In Alendyias?

Clarification: Yes, Europe had military religious orders, such as the Knights Templar. However, while this is important to recognize, this is not what I am talking about. Asian or European monks, in general, were pacifists.

I am certain mainstream pacifism, among Monks, will not exist in Alendyias, due to the many monsters. In other words, that monasterical society will switch to either "armed neutrality" (like Switzerland) or become militant, because circumstances (AKA monsters) require them to turn to violence and in "monstrous" conditions Monks will likely decide pacifism isn't for them.
The question also concerns Asian-style martial arts.

Yes, Europe had their own kind of martial arts. However, theirs was not nearly as diverse, and lacked the spiritual and philosophical aspects common to Asian fighting styles. The question thus concerns how Europeans would develop varied fighting styles, each with corresponding philosophies, and how Monks in Asia and Europe could evolve into a more militant role given the above conditions.

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    $\begingroup$ I wouldn't expect monks to start wearing armor if they have martial arts, simply because almost every kind of armor will restrict movement and add weight, both of which will hamper the wearer's ability to fight. Someone else can likely say better, but I figure armor wouldn't enter the picture until and unless bladed weapons do, and possibly not even then. $\endgroup$
    – Tom
    Commented Jun 30, 2021 at 17:29
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    $\begingroup$ I'm not OP, but I'd be curious to know why this is getting downvoted. I was looking forward to writing up the best possible answer after work today. ;) $\endgroup$
    – Tom
    Commented Jun 30, 2021 at 17:33
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    $\begingroup$ Knights Templar, Knights Hospitaller, Knights of Malta, Teutonic Order: all were military religious orders. The point being tthat you have it backwards: it is Europe which actually had mighty military religious orders, some of which even got to rule over extended territory. Asia never had anything remotely comparable as to scale and power. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Jun 30, 2021 at 17:34
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    $\begingroup$ @Tom: Downvoted because the question is asking about a major real-life historical element as if it were something fantastic and imaginary. For example, the Teutonic Order eventually became a sovereign state and undertook major wars which were decisive factors in the shaping of the historical course of northern Central Europe. And yes, it was a for-real religious order, with vows and everything. There are even a great novel and a many movies about them. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Jun 30, 2021 at 17:38
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    $\begingroup$ The emphasis on Asian martial arts focusing on unarmed combat was because they developed under strict weapon bans. This had nothing to do with their having a more pacifist nature. So, it is a more accurate assumption to consider the development of the Monistic Knightly Orders (Templars, etc.) the natural track and unarmed combat as what happened when you weapons are not allowed develop unarmed martial arts as loop hole. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Commented Jun 30, 2021 at 20:18

3 Answers 3

  • I'm going to stick with historical European monks because I am more familiar with them. I can't say too much about the average monk besides that military orders such as the Knights Templar were made up of both the noble and common classes.
  • In fact, one could say that they were an evolution on the very idea of what a monk could be. They got armor and weapons and protected pilgrims in the holy land for over a hundred years. As for the their weapons and equipment, it would like be either around the same the as the regular soldier, in the early parts, but later it would likely have been better, given their vow of poverty.
  • There training would have been better than anyone called into a levy. It is kind of important to point out that the Europeans' did have similarly effective martial arts, its just they were considered a tool, not anything more than that. Thus, most was lost after the advent of guns.

I don't see any issue with cultural immersion idea, so long as both are on good terms.

Historically, the militant orders of the cross were given land and wealth. So, they would have both the weapons and training they needed. But, they weren't the whole of the clergy, far from it. It may be wise not to change the monk class. Instead, you could add a new warrior monk class with land and wealth granted by someone like Pope Julius II, the warrior pope. Then some join and some don't. I would give a quick lock at the militant holy orders before I decide.

  • $\begingroup$ Good idea on creating an order of militant Monks, but not exactly what I am looking for. Given Alendyias monster-ridden environment, I am certain Monks will become more militant just to defend themselves from said monsters, and I am wondering how that would change their role and behavior. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Commented Jun 30, 2021 at 19:03
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    $\begingroup$ Odin said to always carry a spear as a walking stick when one travels. It would be likely for them to travel in groups heading that advice. Perhaps 5 - 10, I just guessing. I'm not familiar with your world. At least, not yet.... new to the site. $\endgroup$
    – Clair
    Commented Jun 30, 2021 at 19:27
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    $\begingroup$ @Clair Questions should be self-sufficient, though details can be added through links. If you find you're willing to answer, but think you'd need more details before, don't hesitate to ask as a comment of the question. Since you've reached a reputation above 50, you should be able to do it now ;). $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 30, 2021 at 20:26
  • $\begingroup$ Hey, is there a way to sign up to get your new questions? $\endgroup$
    – Clair
    Commented Jun 30, 2021 at 20:34
  • $\begingroup$ @Clair: I think so....you can select tags to follow, and all my questions typically have a magic or low-fantasy tag. Otherwise, I don't know. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Commented Jul 1, 2021 at 0:14

Martial Arts Focus on the Best Options You Have at Your Disposal

In Europe, monks went straight from pacifist hermits to fully armed and very well trained knightly orders. In Asia, many monks learned to fight first and foremost with improvised weapons, or even bare handed, but often lacked much experience with specialized weapons like swords and spears. In Brazil, Capoeira was developed as an entirely weaponless martial art. But, when you look at the spectrum of martial arts styles, they actually have nothing to do with how pacifist your practitioners start off, but rather, how permissive thier society is of them learning how to fight.

In Europe, the Viking age created a culture where every single man was expected to be armed and able to defend himself. This is because Viking raids were so frequent and unpredictable that there was no time to call in professional solders. So when it came time for Monks to learn to fight, they were not only allowed to own weapons and armor, but it was encouraged by thier society. So, these monks did learn a lot of very sophisticated grappling and boxing techniques just like Asian monks did, but mostly as a means to the end of stabbing, hacking, or smashing your foe with a proper weapon.

Asian history however is much more concerned with the threat of rebellion. So, many asian rulers passed laws that limited the ownership of weapons to lessen this risk. So it was in many cases illegal for a non-military caste like monks to learn how to use things like swords/spears/etc. So, thier focus on non-deadly combat was not at all about how pacifist they were compared to European Monks and more to do with them not being allowed to arm themselves like soldiers.

Capoeira is probably the best example how your options matter more than your beleifs since it is not a monistic martial art at all. The people who invented it had no grand ideals of pacifism: they were slaves. Not only was owning weapons illegal for them, but being caught practicing any sort of combat was brutally punished. So Brazilian slaves learned to practice fighting in ways designed to look like dance: no weapons, no grappling, just a bunch of flashy maneuvers that could do a lot of damage if a person were to so happen to get in the way of your "cool dance moves".

So, the very primase of the question is actually a bit off... you do not need to answer the question how Monistic Martial Arts would evolve at all. Instead you need to ask yourself how tolerant your society would be of your monks arming themselves. In a world filled with monsters that could possibly attack anywhere at any time, you pretty much have recreated the same circumstances as the Viking Age. So, your monks will almost certainly form something like the monistic knightly orders completely skipping over any period of practicing unarmed martial arts.


Through most of history Christian monks were not great warriors because they didn't value physical exertion. They believed that focus on physical mastery would prevent spiritual enlightenment.

"For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live" (Romans 8:13)

If you want them to evolve you need muscular christianity.

Muscular Christianity is a philosophical movement that originated in England in the mid-19th century, characterized by a belief in patriotic duty, discipline, self-sacrifice, masculinity, and the moral and physical beauty of athleticism.

The movement came into vogue during the Victorian era as a method of building character in pupils at English public schools. It is most often associated with English author Thomas Hughes and his 1857 novel Tom Brown's School Days, as well as writers Charles Kingsley and Ralph Connor.1 American President Theodore Roosevelt was raised in a household that practiced Muscular Christianity and was a prominent adherent to the movement.2 Roosevelt, Kingsley, and Hughes promoted physical strength and health as well as an active pursuit of Christian ideals in personal life and politics. Muscular Christianity has continued through organizations that combine physical and Christian spiritual development.[3] It is influential within both Catholicism and Protestantism.[4][5]

Have this become important earlier on, and you'll have lots of muscular monks who can fight well.

They would probably learn sword fighting, mace fighting, and other weapon based martial arts, much like many other groups.

Teddy Roosevelt is a good example of what a Christian monk might be like.

In the earliest years of the 20th century, judo and jiu-jitsu were far from household names in the U.S. But Americans, Roosevelt included, had begun to hear about the sports.

And the president wanted to experience them firsthand.

Like he had done with Dwyer, Long and others, Roosevelt looked to study under Yoshiaki Yamashita. The judoka from Kanazawa, Ishikawa, Japan, as Jonathan Snowden put it in Shooters: The Toughest Men in Professional Wrestling, was "one of judo's most successful ambassadors in this period."

Some Asian monks would probably wander around europe, and Christian monks would learn their ways, advancing from wrestling and boxing to other martial arts, the monks finding spiritual release in pure physical exertion.

  • $\begingroup$ Ah, thank you! This will definitely help me develop the Monk class! $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Commented Jun 30, 2021 at 19:04
  • $\begingroup$ Glad to help. I gave an example of a muscular christian learning asian martial arts to help. $\endgroup$
    – Nepene Nep
    Commented Jun 30, 2021 at 21:32

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