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  1. #1
    duke's casettetape lemonpeace's Avatar
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    Default DC's Martial Arts World thread

    A thread to discuss the best martial arts characters, series, and general concepts at DC. All martial artists are appreciated here, pure fighters, weapons specialists, assassins, etc.



    and to get the discussion going; who do you think are the top 10 martial artists in the contemporary DC universe? that means the best in current continuity, on Earth 0, and in their current incarnation. bonus points if you include their specialty or combat style.

    --- --- ---

    As stated above, all martial artists are appreciated here, pure fighters, weapons specialists, assassins, etc. we love all the violence. however, characters that have abilities that do not compliment or factor into their martial arts, or have powers that make their martial arts largely irrelevant, are not eligible for the tier rankings. For example, Midnighter, Deathstroke and Duke Thomas all have superhuman enhancements that factor directly into (and do not take away from) their martial arts prowess; whereas characters like Superman, Black Lightning and Wonder Woman have powers that, more or less, make their martial arts skill irrelevant most of the time.


    with that being said, here's how I'm breaking down the tiers.

    SS Tier (God Tier) "martial arts is my superpower." more than a legend, this tier is for fighters that effectively transcend traditional martial arts and have reached a point where their combat ability are effectively metahuman or mystical in status.


    S Tier (Legendary Tier) this tier is for characters that have skills beyond reasonable human ability and can reliably tangle with certain metahumans. these fighters are the meta of the DC martial arts world, their skills are the stuff of legend and set the bar for martial arts in the DC universe.



    A Tier (Master Tier) these individuals have a distinct fighting style and are athletes operating at the peak of human ability. These are masters of their respective martial arts disciplines and can typically produce capable fighters as pupils. from this tier onward guns become nearly irrelevant.


    B Tier (Elite Tier) these are exceptional combatants that possess combat skills that are leagues ahead of the average fighter. those in this tier are typically near-peak level athletes, relative to an olympian.


    C Tier (Very Good Tier) these are the above-average fighters. typically hardened from experience and can handle most henchmen and street-level threats with no problem. these characters possess above-average physicality and while guns pose a threat, they're not a significant threat.


    D Tier (Decent/Upper Brawler Tier) these are typically self-taught or undisciplined fighters who still know how to handle themselves in a fight.
    Last edited by lemonpeace; 09-03-2021 at 05:22 PM.
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  2. #2
    Extraordinary Member Jackalope89's Avatar
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    Does this include super powered beings like Amazons, Atlanteans, or assassins with super soldier serum?

  3. #3
    Incredible Member Captain Nostalgia's Avatar
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    Perfect right up my alley...I'm just going to stick with heroes and anti heroes though.

    1) Richard the Dragon (Richard Drakunovski)

    Was trained by O sensei and is usually regarded as the gold standard of fighting in the DC universe. He’s trained both the Question, Batgirl (Barbara), and Huntress. In the original Question series one gets the impression that he is a step higher than Lady Shiva.

    He was best friends with Bronze Tiger at one point, both being equal in skill, but Richard seems to have somewhat surpassed him in his own comic, and now as a legendary mentor.

    (Recently he has been upspurred by a new Richard Dragon in Green Arrow (still reading my way through that series)

    2) Batgirl (Cassandra Cain)

    Lady Shiva is her mother and assassin David Cain her father, she was virtually raised to be a killing machine, the “One” that could protect Ra Shal Ghul as a personal bodyguard and assassin. She was therefore trained by the League of Assassins and I imagine Kirigi the evil sensei as well.

    3) Lady Shiva

    She has easily dispensed with Batman in combat, (But also retrains him after Bane breaks his back) The only individual I’m aware of that has defeated her is her daughter Cassandra. It is unclear where she received her initial training that made her and her sister great martial artists, but it is known that she was raised to survive in a village controlled by Ra Shal Ghul, and that she is one of the goddaughters of O sensei who trained Richard the Dragon. On top of that she received further training from the League of Assassins; easily dispensing with the Question (Vic Sage) deciding to save him from certain death to be trained by Richard the Dragon. She has also made overtures to train Black Canary as her mentor.

    4) Bronze Tiger

    Trained by O Sensei and equal on par with Richard the Dragon, Ben Turner is mind wiped into becoming a villain who becomes a member of the League of Assassins and further trained by Kirigi. He defeats Batman in hand to hand combat, but his prior training with O Sensei prevents him from killing Batman, (basically he was previously trained to be good) During his time with the League of Assassins he helped train Cassandra Cain (not in a good way) but now runs his own dojo teaching troubled children as part of his personal redemption. It does appear that he was surpassed by Lady Shiva, who, if I recall correctly, becomes the head of the League of Assassins in Batgirl.

    5) Black Canary

    Initially trained by Wildcat (Ted Grant) Black Canary has gone on to be one of the greatest martial artists in the DCU. (though I am unsure where her further training comes from as I don’t think this has been elaborated on) She can hold her own against Cassandra, and Lady Shiva has sought her out as her mentor because of her exceptional martial arts skills.

    6) Connor Hawke

    Raised in a Ashram monastery, Connor was trained in Aikido since the age of 13, and thus would develop into one of DC’s best martial artists, being one of the few who is able to fight Lady Shiva to a standstill.

    7) Batman

    Batman was trained by the Sensei Kirigi in martial arts(I am unsure if this is the same sensei who begins to lead the league of assassins, trained by Wildcat in boxing as a child, and has a debt to O Sensei (though it is never made clear as to why) Batman has defeated his boxing mentor Wildcat in single combat, but as noted has been defeated by both Shiva and Bronze Tiger.

    8) Wildcat (Ted Grant)

    Boxing and fighting mentor to both Batman, Black Canary, Green Arrow, and I believe to an extent Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) He has been surpassed by two of his graduates, not so sure Oliver could get the drop on him though.

    9) The Question (Vic Sage)

    Saved and tested by Lady Shiva, the Question was trained by Richard the Dragon to become one of DC’s most prolific fighters. In return he would take a troubled and reckless Huntress to be trained by the Dragon as well.

    10) Nightwing

    The first protégée to be trained by Batman in various weaponry and martial arts. I’m unclear on the specifics of his training and whether he received further training after leaving Batman (Perhaps an Nightwing aficionado can shine light on this), but he is able to continuously fight and defeat villains like Deathstroke.

  4. #4
    Incredible Member Captain Nostalgia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jackalope89 View Post
    Does this include super powered beings like Amazons, Atlanteans, or assassins with super soldier serum?
    I think it probably just includes street fighter heroes. Even heroes with enhanced abilities like Hawk & Dove makes things convoluted.

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    Astonishing Member marhawkman's Avatar
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    I guess that would leave out Prometheus since his cybernetic implants do a lot of the fighting for him?

    Hmm back in 2010 there was this lady who used the name "White Canary" in the same Birds of Prey run where Sandra Wu-San decided to be the "Jade Canary" for a while. Yeah... it eventually ended up with a fight between the three "Canary"s. But she kinda disappeared after that.

  6. #6
    Extraordinary Member Robotman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Nostalgia View Post
    Perfect right up my alley...I'm just going to stick with heroes and anti heroes though.

    1) Richard the Dragon (Richard Drakunovski)

    Was trained by O sensei and is usually regarded as the gold standard of fighting in the DC universe. He’s trained both the Question, Batgirl (Barbara), and Huntress. In the original Question series one gets the impression that he is a step higher than Lady Shiva.

    He was best friends with Bronze Tiger at one point, both being equal in skill, but Richard seems to have somewhat surpassed him in his own comic, and now as a legendary mentor.

    (Recently he has been upspurred by a new Richard Dragon in Green Arrow (still reading my way through that series)

    2) Batgirl (Cassandra Cain)

    Lady Shiva is her mother and assassin David Cain her father, she was virtually raised to be a killing machine, the “One” that could protect Ra Shal Ghul as a personal bodyguard and assassin. She was therefore trained by the League of Assassins and I imagine Kirigi the evil sensei as well.

    3) Lady Shiva

    She has easily dispensed with Batman in combat, (But also retrains him after Bane breaks his back) The only individual I’m aware of that has defeated her is her daughter Cassandra. It is unclear where she received her initial training that made her and her sister great martial artists, but it is known that she was raised to survive in a village controlled by Ra Shal Ghul, and that she is one of the goddaughters of O sensei who trained Richard the Dragon. On top of that she received further training from the League of Assassins; easily dispensing with the Question (Vic Sage) deciding to save him from certain death to be trained by Richard the Dragon. She has also made overtures to train Black Canary as her mentor.

    4) Bronze Tiger

    Trained by O Sensei and equal on par with Richard the Dragon, Ben Turner is mind wiped into becoming a villain who becomes a member of the League of Assassins and further trained by Kirigi. He defeats Batman in hand to hand combat, but his prior training with O Sensei prevents him from killing Batman, (basically he was previously trained to be good) During his time with the League of Assassins he helped train Cassandra Cain (not in a good way) but now runs his own dojo teaching troubled children as part of his personal redemption. It does appear that he was surpassed by Lady Shiva, who, if I recall correctly, becomes the head of the League of Assassins in Batgirl.

    5) Black Canary

    Initially trained by Wildcat (Ted Grant) Black Canary has gone on to be one of the greatest martial artists in the DCU. (though I am unsure where her further training comes from as I don’t think this has been elaborated on) She can hold her own against Cassandra, and Lady Shiva has sought her out as her mentor because of her exceptional martial arts skills.

    6) Connor Hawke

    Raised in a Ashram monastery, Connor was trained in Aikido since the age of 13, and thus would develop into one of DC’s best martial artists, being one of the few who is able to fight Lady Shiva to a standstill.

    7) Batman

    Batman was trained by the Sensei Kirigi in martial arts(I am unsure if this is the same sensei who begins to lead the league of assassins, trained by Wildcat in boxing as a child, and has a debt to O Sensei (though it is never made clear as to why) Batman has defeated his boxing mentor Wildcat in single combat, but as noted has been defeated by both Shiva and Bronze Tiger.

    8) Wildcat (Ted Grant)

    Boxing and fighting mentor to both Batman, Black Canary, Green Arrow, and I believe to an extent Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) He has been surpassed by two of his graduates, not so sure Oliver could get the drop on him though.

    9) The Question (Vic Sage)

    Saved and tested by Lady Shiva, the Question was trained by Richard the Dragon to become one of DC’s most prolific fighters. In return he would take a troubled and reckless Huntress to be trained by the Dragon as well.

    10) Nightwing

    The first protégée to be trained by Batman in various weaponry and martial arts. I’m unclear on the specifics of his training and whether he received further training after leaving Batman (Perhaps an Nightwing aficionado can shine light on this), but he is able to continuously fight and defeat villains like Deathstroke.
    That’s a pretty good list but I wouldn’t rank Nightwing that high up.

  7. #7
    Original CBR member Jabare's Avatar
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    these rankings are based on an average of showings past and present. For certain characters like Dragon, Tiger, and Shiva have pre-defined rankings based on their histories

    *I will update this later

    God Tier (He who stands alone)
    1. Karate Kid
    -The best fighter in the DC Universe. His feats are cartoony. No one touches Karate Kid

    Legendary
    2. O-Sensei
    -Teach and master of the legendary trio

    3. Richard Dragon
    -often called the best fighter in the DC Universe

    4. Bronze Tiger
    -the man who decisively beat Batman multiple times. His exploits in Task Force X are well noted, and although he doesn't get the love he once did his spot is well deserved. He and Shiva are in the same ballpark, but he edges her out based on their fights with Batman. Ben bested Bruce with less effort on both occasions

    5. Lady Shiva
    -the deadliest non-superpowered woman in the DC Universe

    6. Sensei
    -probably the most knowledgeable martial arts master in the world.

    7. Bruce Wayne
    -Nuff said. Frankly, he didn't use to be this high, and the ways some people right him he'd be even higher, but that's Batman for you.

    8. Deathstroke
    -despite jobbing here and there, he's still the deadliest assassin in the DC Universe. I want to put him over Bruce but he hasn't been written that way in well over a decade

    Elite of the Elite
    7. Nightwing
    -Dick Grayson's rating ebbs and flows. He's going to be below Bruce but ahead of the rest of the Batfamily. He was ranked higher years ago than his stock fell due to an influx of other DC martial artists. However, his higher current ranking is largely due to the gauntlet he ran from 2009 to 2011 where Bruce Wayne is out of the picture and he has to fill those shows. Besting the likes of Ra's Al Ghul, Deathstroke, Cassandra Cain, Cheshire, Jason Todd, etc., etc. Hi stock kind of took a hit in the New 52, but he still has some solid feats over the year

    8. Batgirl (Cassandra Cain)
    -older comic readers will balk at this ranking, but frankly, she could have been lower. It's been well over a decade since she's been "a top fighter" in the DC Universe. Given her encounters with Jason, Shiva and others. She's still very good but not nearly the level she was at when people ranked her ahead of Bruce. I don't know if DC will ever make her that high again. Some will argue Jason should be ahead of her, but I'm going to keep her this high in recognition of her past feats. Despite what you see of her now at one point she was competing for that top spot as the best martial artist

    9. Black Canary
    -Black Canary is another incredible fighter and one people will argue should be higher, but recent years matter, and her stock has fallen a little. Still a top 10 fighter

    10. David Cain
    -Another fighter that used to be higher on the list, but has fallen off in recent years. Still a superb fighter I can't place him outside the top 10

    11. Connor Hawke
    -This ranking is out of respect for the Pre-New 52 Connor

    12. Wildcat
    -Ted Grant, while probably not the most skilled of those above him is still incredibly effective and his record speaks for itself.

    Superb
    13. Katana
    -underrated fighter

    14. Ra's Al Ghul
    -this is more a ranking out of context and where he should be on paper

    15. Bane
    - this could be too high, this is based on Knightfall and a few showings. If it wasn't for Knightfall he wouldn't sniff this spot

    16. Jason Todd
    -he could be higher, and probably should be especially if we look at his New 52 showings, but given who his opponents were and the current timeline they don't hold as much weight. I might move him higher tho

    17. Damian Wayne
    -Damian is hard to rank. DC's been pushing him hard for a while, however, there are certain people you can't put him ahead of

    18. Cheshire

    19. Batwoman

    20. Tim Drake
    -Now Tim should probably be higher, so I'll likely come back and move him up like Jason. I just don't feel he's currently as good as when he was Red Robin.

    Barbara Gordon
    -Barbara's always been a competent fighter, but her feats are not on par with everyone else. unless we pull out the Oracle feats. How she fought so effectively in a wheelchair I'll never know.

    Very Good
    Oliver Queen
    -this feels appropriate. I don't care how much you all love Arrow he's not moving up too much

    Roy Harper
    -he could be lower honestly

    Huntress
    -she could be a little higher, but not by much





    I'll rank these nine later tomorrow:
    Question
    King Snake
    Rene Montoya
    Constantine Drakon
    Shado
    Shrike
    Lady Vic
    Stephanie Brown
    Hush

    unranked:
    Midnighter (the original version would probably be in Legendary, the current version is more like Elite)
    Ozymandias (he'd be in Legendary)
    The J-man

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robotman View Post
    That’s a pretty good list but I wouldn’t rank Nightwing that high up.
    Nightwing is probably the best hand-to-hand combatant at the bat-family (after Cass) and is arguably the same level or close to Batman (it changes from time to time). He trained against metahumans since he was a literal child, and lead almost every team in the DCU. Makes sense for him to be in the top 10.

    I assume that Damian would be at the top of the list once he's an adult.

  9. #9
    duke's casettetape lemonpeace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jackalope89 View Post
    Does this include super powered beings like Amazons, Atlanteans, or assassins with super soldier serum?
    hmmm I'll say you can include them but only based on the merit of their martial arts skill. so character that have abilities that do not compliment or factor into their martial arts, or have powers that make their martial arts largely irrelevant, need not apply. for example, Midnighter and Deathstroke's superhuman enhancements factor directly into their martial arts prowess but people like Black Lightning or Wonder Woman have powers that more or less make their martial arts skill irrelevant most of the time.
    Last edited by lemonpeace; 09-02-2021 at 06:51 PM.
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  10. #10
    Incredible Member Captain Nostalgia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robotman View Post
    That’s a pretty good list but I wouldn’t rank Nightwing that high up.
    Thanks I was looking at my list and couldn't think of someone to place higher than him...at least with metahuman enhancements.



    Quote Originally Posted by Jabare View Post
    these rankings are based on an average of showings past and present. For certain characters like Dragon, Tiger, and Shiva have pre-defined rankings based on their histories

    *I will update this later

    God Tier (He who stands alone)
    1. Karate Kid
    -The best fighter in the DC Universe. His feats are cartoony. No one touches Karate Kid

    Legendary
    2. O-Sensei
    -Teach and master of the legendary trio

    3. Richard Dragon
    -often called the best fighter in the DC Universe

    4. Bronze Tiger
    -the man who decisively beat Batman multiple times. His exploits in Task Force X are well noted, and although he doesn't get the love he once did his spot is well deserved. He and Shiva are in the same ballpark, but he edges her out based on their fights with Batman. Ben bested Bruce with less effort on both occasions

    5. Lady Shiva
    -the deadliest non-superpowered woman in the DC Universe

    6. Sensei
    -probably the most knowledgeable martial arts master in the world.

    7. Bruce Wayne
    -Nuff said. Frankly, he didn't use to be this high, and the ways some people right him he'd be even higher, but that's Batman for you.

    8. Deathstroke
    -despite jobbing here and there, he's still the deadliest assassin in the DC Universe. I want to put him over Bruce but he hasn't been written that way in well over a decade

    Elite of the Elite
    7. Nightwing
    -Dick Grayson's rating ebbs and flows. He's going to be below Bruce but ahead of the rest of the Batfamily. He was ranked higher years ago than his stock fell due to an influx of other DC martial artists. However, his higher current ranking is largely due to the gauntlet he ran from 2009 to 2011 where Bruce Wayne is out of the picture and he has to fill those shows. Besting the likes of Ra's Al Ghul, Deathstroke, Cassandra Cain, Cheshire, Jason Todd, etc., etc. Hi stock kind of took a hit in the New 52, but he still has some solid feats over the year

    8. Batgirl (Cassandra Cain)
    -older comic readers will balk at this ranking, but frankly, she could have been lower. It's been well over a decade since she's been "a top fighter" in the DC Universe. Given her encounters with Jason, Shiva and others. She's still very good but not nearly the level she was at when people ranked her ahead of Bruce. I don't know if DC will ever make her that high again. Some will argue Jason should be ahead of her, but I'm going to keep her this high in recognition of her past feats. Despite what you see of her now at one point she was competing for that top spot as the best martial artist

    9. Black Canary
    -Black Canary is another incredible fighter and one people will argue should be higher, but recent years matter, and her stock has fallen a little. Still a top 10 fighter

    10. David Cain
    -Another fighter that used to be higher on the list, but has fallen off in recent years. Still a superb fighter I can't place him outside the top 10

    11. Connor Hawke
    -This ranking is out of respect for the Pre-New 52 Connor

    12. Wildcat
    -Ted Grant, while probably not the most skilled of those above him is still incredibly effective and his record speaks for itself.

    Superb
    13. Katana
    -underrated fighter

    14. Ra's Al Ghul
    -this is more a ranking out of context and where he should be on paper

    15. Bane
    - this could be too high, this is based on Knightfall and a few showings. If it wasn't for Knightfall he wouldn't sniff this spot

    16. Jason Todd
    -he could be higher, and probably should be especially if we look at his New 52 showings, but given who his opponents were and the current timeline they don't hold as much weight. I might move him higher tho

    17. Damian Wayne
    -Damian is hard to rank. DC's been pushing him hard for a while, however, there are certain people you can't put him ahead of

    18. Cheshire

    19. Batwoman

    20. Tim Drake
    -Now Tim should probably be higher, so I'll likely come back and move him up like Jason. I just don't feel he's currently as good as when he was Red Robin.

    Barbara Gordon
    -Barbara's always been a competent fighter, but her feats are not on par with everyone else. unless we pull out the Oracle feats. How she fought so effectively in a wheelchair I'll never know.

    Very Good
    Oliver Queen
    -this feels appropriate. I don't care how much you all love Arrow he's not moving up too much

    Roy Harper
    -he could be lower honestly

    Huntress
    -she could be a little higher, but not by much





    I'll rank these nine later tomorrow:
    Question
    King Snake
    Rene Montoya
    Constantine Drakon
    Shado
    Shrike
    Lady Vic
    Stephanie Brown
    Hush

    unranked:
    Midnighter (the original version would probably be in Legendary, the current version is more like Elite)
    Ozymandias (he'd be in Legendary)
    Good list, I might combine yours with mine if I expand my list...though I'm sure there would be some disagreements as there always are on these type of threads.

    I forgot about Karate Kid, good call, there is Karate Kid 2 as well, who is just as good as Val.

    The only thing I disagree with is the placement of Huntress. She's received some training from Richard the Dragon, when she was getting reformed. I think she could take Jason Todd and have a good fight with Katana.

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    I notice that most of the characters people are picking aren't actually characters in contemporary use at DC. Some haven't been seen in ages, in fact.
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    My list doesn't look terribly different than a lot of people's here, but I'll post it, anyway.

    Richard Dragon
    Lady Shiva
    Bronze Tiger
    Cassandra Cain
    Batman
    Wildcat
    Black Canary
    Conner Hawke

    I couldn't come up with ten and I tried to keep mine to non-powered individuals who for the most part exist within the same time and could be considered (at least at some point in time) lead characters.
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    I'd rank Sa'ar as God tier/Legendary. He basically owned Shiva and put Martian Manhunter down on his knees. Jin-Si would also be considered God tier. She is the SPIRIT of martial arts, after-all. Owning Batman with a few moves.

    DCnU Midnighter is more impressive than his WS counterpart, IMO. He did make the Batfamily look inferior during the Orphan arc.

    David Cain would be under elite, IMO. At least in his prime.

    Constantine Drakon is elite.

    I-Ching is legendary.

  14. #14
    Original CBR member Jabare's Avatar
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    OMG I forgot I-Ching

    I'm trying not to rank enhanced dudes outside of like Deathstroke, Midnighter and Ozy level. It's just too hard to account for Wonder Woman and Superman level beings and seperate their skills from their stats.

    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Nostalgia View Post
    Thanks I was looking at my list and couldn't think of someone to place higher than him...at least with metahuman enhancements.





    Good list, I might combine yours with mine if I expand my list...though I'm sure there would be some disagreements as there always are on these type of threads.

    I forgot about Karate Kid, good call, there is Karate Kid 2 as well, who is just as good as Val.

    The only thing I disagree with is the placement of Huntress. She's received some training from Richard the Dragon, when she was getting reformed. I think she could take Jason Todd and have a good fight with Katana.
    You may have a point with Huntress. What has she been doing recently? It always gets tougher to rank characters for me when you get outside the top 5 or 10 fighters. I'm trying to take a character's entire history into account and lean a little heavier on their more recent histories (last 5 to 10 years). Typically I prefer to put fighters into tiers without ranking them. It saves me the headache, lol. But I always love discussing topics like these takes me back to the days when I use to frequent battle boards.

    I use to have a good sense for the Batfamily, but they keep adding people. Duke, Luke Fox, Tim Fox, Harper Row, etc.

    I liked your list. It's more in line with how I ranked characters in the early 2000s, but I'm trying to make an approximation for recent showings and where I think DC roughly pegs each fighter.
    Last edited by Jabare; 09-02-2021 at 06:22 PM.
    The J-man

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jabare View Post
    OMG I forgot I-Ching

    I'm trying not to rank enhanced dudes outside of like Deathstroke, Midnighter and Ozy level. It's just too hard to account for Wonder Woman and Superman level beings and seperate their skills from their stats.



    You may have a point with Huntress. What has she been doing recently? It always gets tougher to rank characters for me when you get outside the top 5 or 10 fighters. I'm trying to take a character's entire history into account and lean a little heavier on their more recent histories (last 5 to 10 years). Typically I prefer to put fighters into tiers without ranking them. It saves me the headache, lol. But I always love discussing topics like these takes me back to the days when I use to frequent battle boards.

    I use to have a good sense for the Batfamily, but they keep adding people. Duke, Luke Fox, Tim Fox, Harper Row, etc.

    I liked your list. It's more in line with how I ranked characters in the early 2000s, but I'm trying to make an approximation for recent showings and where I think DC roughly pegs each fighter.
    Who are you saying are enhanced?

    I wouldn't consider Midnighter then. How much is skill vs enhancements/battle computer? Although, Prometheus DID say he was one of the best fighters in the world in his solo series run.

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