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Lineage of Mystaran Martial Artsby Giampaolo Agosta
Based on this article on the Diffusion and Development of Martial Arts in Mystara I've prepared a graph showing the primary martial arts lineages in Mystara.
Considering the available martial arts (see my graph above), I would find as the root of most systems the following:
- The Sherkasta unarmed/claw fighting -- an Offensive style;
- An ancestral wrestling style from eastern Brun (Nithian and/or Ethengarian common ancestor) -- a Wrestling style;
- The Alphatian style -- likely an Air Elemental style, and therefore Defensive;
- Another ancestral style linked to Water and the Throwing style -- which possibly could be an ancestor of the native Sindhi arts or another Rakasta style (or both).
P.S.: for elemental mystics, you can also consider as an inspiration the martial arts designs from Avatar: The Last Airbender.
I wasn't satisfied with my first version of the genealogical diagram, so I extensively modified it. The main change is that Sindhi arts are now Wrestling rather than Throwing, while Ethengar and Yellow Orcs have been moved to Throwing from Wrestling. This is chiefly to keep consistency with real world styles. India has many wrestling, boxing, and armed styles, but throwing is primarily seen in Judo and related Japanese MAs, and to a lesser extent in some Central Asian arts. Truth to be said, most RW styles are pretty much mixed, or focus on striking or wrestling depending on whether direct hits and grabs are allowed -- MAs that disallow both strikes and locks are practically non-existent -- Judo, which is likely the model for the Throwing style of BECMI, actually includes many holds besides the throws. On the same line, the Defensive style doesn't really exist as a standalone style in RW. Judo and Taijiquan, for example, are mostly defensive (outside competition Judo, all Judo training I'm aware of deals with countering an enemy attack), but the techniques used are primarily throws and grabs/locks or strikes.
Thus, I made the following choices:
- Throwing styles include the equivalent of RW Judo, Aikido, Shuai-jiao, and some Mongolian wrestling, as well as Sambo; these styles start from some lost ancestor in Central Brun (in the Plaktur area) and grow from there (M-Japanese arts developed by the Rakasta, and M-Mongolian ones developed by Ethengars and Yellow Orcs).
- Defensive styles include the equivalent of Baguazhang and Taijiquan; they develop from an Old Alphatian ancestor, mostly in Ochalea (but Darren Posman in Minrothad is a follower of some modern Alphatian version). There may be a bit of Defensive style in others through Alphatian colonists e.g. in Ylaruam contributing to the Dervish fighting style.
- Offensive styles are derived from an ancestral Sherkasta martial art in Skothar. Due to the Rakasta migratory paths, there are descendants across Ochalea, Sind, the Great Waste, and up to Plaktur. They include the M-equivalents of Karate, Hung Gar, Wing Chun, Boxing, etc.
- Wrestling styles originate from a Western Brun common ancestor of the Nithian and Sindhi wrestling style. They represent wrestling styles aiming at pinning the opponent, and include the M-equivalent of Indian (Malla-yuddha) and Iranian (Koshti) wrestling styles, as well as European wrestling styles (Greco-roman and Freestyle). This makes sense with the use of Thothia, Thyatis and Sind as the main regions for these styles.
Mixed styles may be useful if one wants to use the elemental/trigrams graph, for example creating a "Red Dragon Fist" style that is a progression from a mixed Wrestling/Offensive style such as Pankration, or a "Green Dragon Fist" for advanced Torasta practitioners, reintroducing the theme of Dragons & Mystics from the OP.