The DC Universe is full of super-powered beings with the strength of demigods. If you’re not blessed with the gift of meta-human abilities, it’s probably best to learn some martial arts if you’re going to defend yourself. Luckily, there are plenty of characters with extensive knowledge to learn from.
Some are heroes, some are villains, but these martial arts masters’ knowledge makes them dangerous enough to stand their own against their super-powered opponents.
Connor Hawke is the son of Oliver Queen aka the Green Arrow. He is the second person to become the Green Arrow, following in his father’s footsteps. When he took up the mantle, what separated him from Oliver is that, not only he could match his father’s skill with a bow and arrow, he also exceeded his father’s ability at hand-to-hand combat.
Thanks to his training in a California monastery called the Ashram, Connor developed the ability to learn any fighting style simply by watching and mimicking it. This alone makes him one of the most powerful hand-to-hand combatants in the entirety of the DC Universe.
Richard Dragon’s origin is unique because he first appeared as a character in a novel, Kung Fu Master, Richard Dragon: Dragon’s Fists (1974), written by Dennis O’Neil and James R. Berry. O’Neil, a DC Comics mainstay, then adapted the book into the monthly comic book series Richard Dragon, Kung Fu Fighter, bringing Richard Dragon into the DC Universe.
Beginning his life as a young thief in Japan, Richard Dragon was eventually caught while breaking into a dojo. However, instead of punishing him, the dojo’s sensei trained him to become a master of the martial arts. His knowledge includes mastery in Aikido, Judo, Karate, Muay Thai, Taekwondo, Jujutsu, and more. Having finally found a purpose in life, Dragon chose to travel the world, using his abilities to help wherever needed.
Born to assassins David Cain and Lady Shiva, Cassandra Cain was deprived of human contact as a child to the point that she became mute and illiterate. Her brain operates differently from everyone else. The brain power not utilized for learning how to talk or write, was instead put towards learning how to fight. She is a master of several martial arts, including Jeet Kune Do, Muay Thai, and Ninjutsu.
After joining the Bat-Family, Cassandra continued her training, learning from Batman, Black Canary and Oracle. She became the first Batgirl with her own monthly comic book, running for 73 issues from 2000 to 2006. A different take on Cassandra was brought to life in the Birds of Prey movie, but here’s hoping we get to see her incredible moves in live-action soon.
Ben Turner was created as a supporting character to Richard Dragon, with whom he trained in the martial arts under O-Sensei. However, unlike Dragon, Turner decided to use his skills for personal gain, becoming the assassin known as Bronze Tiger. He has been known to go toe to toe with the likes of Richard Dragon, Lady Shiva, and Batman.
Bronze Tiger can be incredibly dangerous when he combines his mastery of several martial arts with his lightning-like reflexes. He can attack his opponent before they even see him coming. He has appeared in live-action on The CW’s Arrow TV show played by Michael Jai White, who brought Bronze Tiger’s martial arts skills to life.
Originally created by Charlton Comics before being purchased by DC, Judomaster is not like the other martial arts masters in the DC Universe. Instead of mastering several techniques, his training prioritized quality over quantity, becoming a master of only one martial art, Judo. There is definitely some merit to not spreading your focus across several disciplines, and instead zeroing in on just one. It may not make him the most well-rounded hero, but there’s no denying he is the best there is at what he does.
While Judomaster may be one of the more obscure characters of the DC Universe, he recently made his live-action debut on HBO Max’s Peacemaker, where Nhut Le brought the character’s incredible Judo skills to life. If you’re in trouble, and you need someone to save you using Judo and only Judo, there’s only one man for the job.
Cheshire, real name Jade Nguyen, is an assassin in the DC Universe known for her knowledge of hand-to-band combat and her poison-tipped fingernails. She can out-think and out-maneuver her opponent, and then kill them with just a single scratch. This makes her an incredibly lethal combatant because all she needs is a single, small opening to end her opponent’s life.
While Cheshire isn’t afraid to take a life, she does walk the line between good and evil. Her usual foes are the Teen Titans, but she has also fought alongside them when deemed necessary. She even has an on again, off again romantic relationship with the Titans’ Roy Harper. Whether Cheshire is on the side of good or evil, you better hope she’s not against you. Otherwise, you’ll get away with just a scratch.
Unlike a lot of master martial artists in the DC Universe, Dinah Lance, aka the Black Canary, is a super-powered hero, gifted with the ability to scream sound waves so loud, they can bring down whatever is in her path. While that may give her an advantage against her opponents, what makes Black Canary dangerous is how she combines her powers with her extensive knowledge of a multitude of martial arts, including Aikido, Jujutsu, Krav Maga, and more.
Black Canary’s expertise has been recognized by the DC Universe at large, helping train many fighters, including Cassandra Cain and Connor Hawke. Her fighting ability has been translated into live-action as well, proving herself on the Arrow TV series, the Birds of Prey movie, and her upcoming solo movie on HBO Max.
Ra’s Al Ghul
Becoming a master of a martial art is something that takes years of hard work and dedication. Therefore, it should be no surprise that Ra’s Al Ghul is one of the most dangerous martial artists in the DC Universe. As the leader of the League Of Assassins, Ra’s Al Ghul uses the Lazarus Pit to extend his own life. He has been alive for hundreds of years, and, in that time, has mastered several martial arts.
Ra’s Al Ghul is such a respected martial artist, he has bestowed his knowledge onto many, including his army of assassins, who act out his evil schemes, his daughters, Nyssa and Talia, and even Batman. Ra’s Al Ghul is a true force in the DC Universe. One who will continue to persist, and inevitably outlive every opponent in his path.
Lady Shiva was created as an antagonist to Richard Dragon, and has gone on to become one of, if not the best assassin in the DC Universe, able to hold her own against the likes of Richard Dragon and Batman. As part of her training, she developed the incredible ability to predict her opponent’s moves before they make them. This means, no matter who she’s fighting, Shiva will never be caught off-guard. How do you fight someone who is always one step ahead of you?
While Lady Shiva does hold true to a code of ethics, she does not necessarily fall on the side of good or evil. One day she will collect a payment for a hit, and the next she will help Batman save Gotham City. Her martial arts ability make Lady Shiva one of the most formidable friends and/or foes to every hero in the DC Universe.
Batman may not have actual super-powers, but what makes him a superhero is his ability to do just about anything and everything extremely well. His vigilante war against crime has led him to become a master of over 100 different martial arts. What makes Batman such a powerful martial artist is his incredible dedication. He frequently struggles with being Batman more often than he is Bruce Wayne, and part of that is his non-stop drive to keep learning how to be a better fighter.
Batman’s fighting prowess has also followed him on to the big screen. We saw Bruce Wayne train with the League of Shadows in Batman Begins. During this time, he learned and mastered several martial arts that made him such a formidable fighter in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. Even though the seemingly brutal and violent The Batman got a surprising PG-13 rating, it seems Batman’s position as a top-tier martial artist in the DC Universe isn’t changing anytime soon.
Next:The 15 Most Powerful DC Characters, Ranked
The show’s EP made the announcement with a cast & crew photo.
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