Top 10 Greatest Martial Artists in Comics (Marvel and DC)
When it comes to comic books, there is no shortage of superpowers. Telepathy, teleportation, super strength, invisibility, flight, and Martial arts. Martial arts? Yes, martial arts. Some comic book superheroes are so proficient in martial arts that their understanding of it is a power in itself. Do you agree? I mean, if someone is able to take down a near God based on their mastery of martial arts, shouldn’t that mean that the mastery itself is a superpower?
Over the years, there have been hundreds of superheroes who know martial arts. Unfortunately, I can’t sit here and list them all. What I can do, however, is list the best 10 of them. Let’s take a look at our 10 best martial artists in all of comics.
During the first fifty years of the twentieth century, Karnak was born to the Royal House of Agon. He is the second son of Mander and Azur. The first son, Triton, was exposed to the Terrigen Mists when the time came. Sadly, after his exposure, Triton was left unable to breathe outside of water. Fearing the same would happen to Karnak, his parents elected not to expose him to the Mists.
Even though he was not exposed to the Terrigen Mists didn’t mean that his natural abilities didn’t manifest. During his teenage years, Karnak’s inherent ability to sense weakness in any object or being developed. This, coupled with his impressive fighting abilities earned him the nickname, “The Shatterer.” As The Shatterer, Karnak is able to shatter diamonds, disrupt forcefields, knock his enemies over with a single punch, and crack steel.
His story is fairly well-known. As a result of an accident that left him blind, Matt Murdock’s remaining sense was heightened. This meant that he can hear and feel things long before they happen. It’s been said that his senses are so sharp that he’s able to decipher exactly how many bullets are in a gun from its weight, and can guess the amount of salt on a pretzel because of its taste.
As for martial arts…At a very young age, Matt Murdock began receiving training from a man named Stick. Even though the training was for slightly selfish reasons, Stick trained Matt because he knew that a war was coming to Hell’s Kitchen. Under Stick, Matt became one of the greatest martial artists in comics.
It’s tough to have Daredevil on the list of the greatest martial artists in comics and not have the guy that trained him. Similar to Daredevil, Stick is a blind man with heightened senses. He is the leader of The Chaste and The Chaste was created to destroy the ninja clan known as The Hand. In addition to training Daredevil, Stick also trained Elektra. Although he believed her to be his greatest achievement, he kicked her out of The Chaste because of her arrogance.
Different from most other teachers, Stick is brutal with his students. He sees a lack of discipline, commitment, and skill as a weakness and punishes his students for showing them. Nonetheless, Stick does belong here because there are very few characters as good in martial arts as he is.
7. Cassandra Cain
Even though she was trained by Batman. Even though she took the moniker of Batgirl. And even though she has hyphenated her name to Cassandra Cain-Wayne, Cassandra Cain is not the daughter of Bruce Wayne. She’s the daughter of David Cain and Lady Shiva.
Over the years, Cassandra has been trained by some of the greatest martial artists in comic books. Most notable of these are David Cain, Lady Shiva, Bronze Tiger, Batman, and the League of Assassins. Like her mother, Cassandra is able to read body language so well that she can predict her opponent’s moves before they happen.
6. Bronze Tiger
After mercilessly killing the murderer of his parents, Ben Turner takes it upon himself to find a master who can teach him self-control. After learning his original sensei only sought to use him for his own selfish reasons, Ben seeks out a new sensei. This sensei, aptly named O-Sensei, teaches Ben self-control and how to harness his inner power.
At the conclusion of his training, which included history, philosophy, combat, and science, O-Sensei sends Ben into the world to find his purpose.
The Bronze Tiger is as fierce a martial artist as they come. Not only has he stood tall against the likes of Batman, Lady Shiva, and Richard Dragon, but he has also unwillingly been a member of the League of Assassins.
Of all the greatest martial artists in comics, Shang-Chi is like no other…and here’s why. Unlike many others, Shang-Chi is without traditional powers. Instead, he has developed his fighting to be so strong that it in itself is considered a superpower.
Like the Iron Fist, Shang-Chi can channel his chi. This enables him to dish out far more damage than he receives. This, however, isn’t his most impressive ability. Shang-Chi is so in tune with his body that he has complete control over his nervous system. This means that at any given time, Shang-Chi feels no pain.
4. Lady Shiva
In a universe littered with martial arts masters, Lady Shiva ranks right up there with the best of them. No matter which origin we look at, Lady Shiva learns early on that she is a martial arts prodigy. As a prodigy, she quickly picks up any and all forms of fighting.
That, however, isn’t what makes her so dangerous. What makes her dangerous is that she’s one of the very few characters in DC who can read body language. Like her daughter Cassandra, she can read it so well that she’s able to predict, with accuracy, her opponent’s next move.
3. Karate Kid
After traveling the galaxies for a while, Karate Kid learns that the Legion of Superheroes is looking for new members. Although he’s without superpowers, he applied to the group. Skeptical at first, the group accepts his membership after he was able to hold his own in battle against Superboy. Once in the Legion, he quickly became one of the greatest members of the group ever.
Karate Kid is a master of every form of martial arts up to the 31st Century. As a master, he can sense the weak spot on any object and is able to resist mind control. He has also developed his own form of karate simply called Super Karate.
2. Iron Fist
Now that we are a couple of years removed from Netflix’s Iron Fist show, it seems reasonable to once again talk about Iron Fist.
Iron Fist is Marvel’s greatest martial artist. In truth, if not for someone else on this list, he may be the greatest martial artist in comic books. Iron Fist was trained in K’un Lun by Lei Kung, the Thunderer. After years of training, he was chosen to fight Shou-Loa the Dragon. Upon beating the dragon, he thrusts his hands into its heart and gains the power of the Iron Fist.
As the Iron Fist, Danny Rand is able to focus his Chi into his hand thereby turning it into one of the most powerful weapons in the Marvel Universe.
1. Richard Dragon
You may or may not agree with me but Richard Dragon is the greatest martial artist in comics. Aside from learning every form of martial arts in just under seven years, Richard Dragon has trained the likes of Black Canary, Batgirl, Batman, Lady Shiva, Bronze Tiger, and the Huntress.
Even though it’s clear that he’s a superhero, it wasn’t always this way…Richard Dragon only became the greatest martial artist in comics after he attempted to steal a valuable jade statue but was humiliated by Ben Turner for doing so. The humiliation prompted him to turn his life around and learn martial arts.