**Updated June 2021***
The best martial arts anime feature some of the most intense hand-to-hand combat you’ll find. Fights are usually full contact, and every kick counts, often pairing opponents with equally matched skills in a fight to the . A few popular examples include the Baki series and Kengan Ashura.
We’ve all seen it before: the protagonist and villain are duking it out, only for them to switch up their fighting styles. When this happens, you’re left wondering who will come out on top! Here we take a look at some of the best anime series that feature hand-to-hand combat in no particular order. But heads up, this list will not include any fights from the Baki series, Kengan Ashura and Hajime no Ipo. Those shounen anime so many great fights, it will overpopulate this list and leave no room for the other fights; they deserve a list of their own.
Saitama Vs. Boros (One-Punch Man)
One-punch man is not your typical anime, and the Saitama – Boros fight is one of epic proportions. Imagine, two of the strongest fighters in anime history have the same dream: to find someone they can battle at full strength. After Saitama’s initial punch, Boros unleashes his power and proceeds to go all out on Saitama.
They both exchange punches and sends each other flying all over Boros’ ship, destroying it in the process. As Boros still failed to take Saitama down, he powers up and sends Saitama flying to the moon. And while all this is happening, and Boros’ excitement rises: Saitama is looking bored. Saitama succeeds in landing a powerful form of attack he calls “consecutive normal punches” that tears Boros into pieces, but Boros recovers and throws his ultimate attack!
Saitama deflects it and destroys Boros with his ultimate move: “serious, serious, serious punch.” What makes this the ultimate anime fight scene is that it takes all the action anime series and superpower anime series tropes and throws it against the strongest fighter on earth and this clueless anime character defeats them all with normal and serious punches.
Check Out: 10 Must Watch Anime Like One Punch Man
Kakashi Vs. Obito (Naruto Shippūden)
This is a very heavy scene in the series. The choreography and framing of this fight scene are exquisite. The fight starts with Kakashi and Obito agreeing to not use their ninja technique, and they just go at it with high taking the life of intent. The random flashback of their hand to hand combat training paired with a very sombre musical score hauntingly gives off the vibe that this is the last fight scene of the series; it’s NOT!
Sics VS Buck (Grisaia: Phantom Trigger The Animation)
An alluring variety of action anime, we have a few combat scenes, but Sics versus Buck really got my attention. We see aggressive techniques from a female character, no less! What makes this interesting is the fight does not drag on; it makes it an exciting fight. We see straight punches, proper blocks, and bobbing and weaving choreographed well and captured beautifully. My favorite part is that after getting hit a few times, both fighters breath heavily and lose their tight guards, throwing haymakers with what’s left with their strength. And the finisher? A wrestling move called front face lock suplex!
Lee Vs. Kimimaro (Naruto)
This fight is one for the books. At first, we see Lee struggling to land a hit on Kimimaro and right when Kimimaro is about to stab Lee; he takes his “medicine.” The comedic timing and the pacing of this action scene are perfectly done. Lee demonstrates his natural talent in martial arts with moves and demeanour reminiscent of Jacki Chan’s. Well, of course, the ninja technique comes into play and Lee was rescued by Gaara, but still, Lee’s fists were portrayed beautifully.
Mao Vs Monks (Hinamatsuri)
Although Hinamatsuri is a comedy anime, the character Mao is somewhat a martial artist. In this fight scene, we see Mao go against multiple attackers while utilizing circular, non-aggressive techniques. The pace and the framing of the combat scene prove that Hinamarsuri is more than just another superpower anime series.
All Might Vs. Noumu (My Hero Academia)
A fantasy anime series adaptation of the successful manga, it gives us battle scenes we can’t see in manga fights! Well, this one is less of a fistfight and more like a massacre! All Might, the strongest fighter on earth, using more than 100% of his strength paired with that going beyond “Plus Ultra” attitude, this fight lasted around two minutes and thirty seconds. This action scene is on this list because it is an empty hand fight scene involving superpowers. The triumphant music just hypes up emotion that gives My Hero Academia fans that extra push to exclaim “Plus Ultra!” with All Might.
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Wang Ye vs Zhuge Qing’s Followers (Hitori no Shita)
A more modern anime: Hitori no Sita is a supernatural combat anime that offers a showcase of anime fights. The one that pops out the most is this one. The crisp animation style and the quick pace is reminiscent of Naruto combat scenes that would already give it a spot on this list. But what makes it more interesting is that in this scene, we can appreciate the soft and hard styles of Asian martial arts: The circular movements, the use of every part of the body as a weapon and; the translation of bodyweight to power from the fist.
Meliodas Vs. Ban (The Seven Deadly Sins)
Seven Deadly Sins is an anime with lots of Meliodas versus Ban fights. We have the one where Meliodas was afallen angel king, then the excessively bloody one inside the perfect cube merlin created. But the best one would be from Episode eleven. The Seven Deadly Sins has a fun, and lively art style and the fight scenes will not spare the comedic elements. It’s a fistfight between two overpowered characters; forget martial arts technique and form, the action scenes capture the essence of an all-out brawl between two immortals.
Check Out: 13 Must Watch Anime Like Seven Deadly Sins
Edward Vs Greed (Fullmetal Alchemist 2003)
Not the brotherhood but from the older version. Full metal alchemist is an anime with lots of fight scenes; this one has an intense, dark atmosphere that delivers the weight of the fight better. Using fluid motion and effective use of his magic, our metal alchemist gets through Greeds guard and stabs him straight through the heart. The 2003 version gives us a better view where we can better appreciate the movements and fight sequence.
Gon Vs. Hisoka (Hunter X Hunter)
This epic fight scene got my heart pumping the first time I watched the series. We get the fresh hunter, Gon: inexperienced yet trying his best against a seasoned taker of life, Hisoka, in an arena fighting with a point system rule. We see bodies flying, tiles getting ripped off the floors, a very weird moment when we see Hisoka’s oddities, that all accumulates to a TKO end! The results were kind of anticlimactic, but the hand to hand combat scene could be one of the best fights in anime history.
Clair and Suuichi Vs. Hikawa (Gleipnir)
An adaptation of a manga series: Gleipnir is an anime that is borderline a psychological thriller anime. We see Suuichi as a mascot suit as Clair wears him. They are attacked by the equally superpowered Hikawa for a coin. In this scene, the framing and the pace of the fight scene really intense. As the fight progress and Clair gets comfortable inside Suuichi, we see a very brutal and beat down framed and animated to deliver the pain and disbelief that Suuichi feels.
Spike Vs. Vincent (Cowboy Bebop: The Movie)
Now, Cowboy Bebop is not really a martial arts anime, but this is one of the best fights in anime history. The funky rock music accompanied by grunts and the sound of fists hitting human flesh; the superb art style and the framing of these action scenes; the shaky camera effect and; the overall choreography of this Cowboy Bebop: The Movie would give any martial arts anime a run for their money.
Jin Vs Daewi (God of Highschool)
Another supernatural combat anime: God of Highschool, is a series with plenty of fight scenes. The premise is some organization is looking for the strongest fighter and use the tournament as a way to find them. Jin and Daewi’s fight set the expectations for the rest of the series. Jin, with his personal style of taekwondo against Daewi’s Kyokushin Karate, we are treated to an awesome trade-off. The colour and animation style might be new to some anime fans since this is an anime adaptation of a manhwa, the Korean manga, but it does not disappoint when it comes to the combat scenes. Something we can’t get in manga fights.
Eren Vs. Reiner (Attack On Titan)
Right from the start, our little Eren isn’t the strongest fighter. We see him eat fist after fist, even after his heartfelt inner monologue. What makes this a great anime fight is are the grappling techniques he uses against the armoured titan. It’s not very common to see a splendid interpretation of martial arts techniques in a non-martial arts anime. The way this fight scene shows the transition of submission holds and chokes are amazing. Although no martial artist would attempt a triangle armbar as Eren did on a non-padded floor, he can get away with it all because he’s a titan.
And that last guillotine makes this one amazing anime fight.
Touta Vs. Kaito (UQ Holder)
UQ holder is another Fantasy anime series that offers a lot of combat scenes throughout the series. Although this can be an anime with mature themes, it is a series with plenty of anime fights and a superb story. This scene, in particular, shows us the awesome animation style and quick pace fighting scene. The fight is that of a typical anime with overpowered characters that duke it out.
As Touta is stabbed through the chest, he borrows power and sends Kaito flying through buildings, steel beam and all. What makes this fight different from other action anime series fights is this: As Touta was about to deliver the final blow, he stops himself refusing to give in to his borrowed power; both fighters agree to settle the match with arm wrestling deciding to choose technique over strength. Although some manga reader might say that the manga delivers the story arc better, but you can’t see this in any manga fights.
Spike Vs. Electra (Cowboy Bebop: The Movie)
Another one from Cowboy Bebop: The Movie! Although we don’t see any attacks landing in this scene, we see the beautiful artwork and pace reminiscent of old Jacki Chan movies. We see an interpretation of the number one principle of street fighting: anything is a weapon as Spike uses a broom to fend off Electra. The jazzy funk music backing the tone up and the flirtatious quips from Spike make this an enjoyable fight sequence.
Eren vs Annie (Attack on titan )
After turning into a titan, the alluring variety, Annie receives a sucker punch. As we established: our boy, Eren, isn’t the best fighter. This fight scene starts with a sucker punch to Annies left cheek. Aside from the superb story and character development that Attack on titan offers, some fans enjoy the perfect portrayal of martial arts in a non-martial arts anime. In this scene, we see Annie’s flawless Muay Thai.
Nagisa vs Karma (Assassination Classroom)
The tone and emotions that were involved in this fight are so heavy it makes Nagisa’s fight against Takaoka come in second place. The stakes are high as they fight to decide Sensei Koro’s fate. At first, Nagisa is at a disadvantage as Karma is relatively stronger and more adept at fighting.
The movements look natural and spontaneous, something a manga reader couldn’t appreciate in manga fights. It starts out as a knife fight, and as the fight progress, they both lose their knife and end up duking it out. Nagisa is not a strong fighter, but he makes up for it with devious tactics. Nagisa’s Triangle choke takedown is awesomely timed and framed. It’s debatable if Karma let Nagisa win or Nagisa just got through to him, but I tell yah, in real life, a triangle choke takedown like that would render you either unconscious or unable to think of grabbing for a weapon.
Kid Goku Vs. Tien Shinhan (Dragon Ball)
It’s a superpower anime series that has a martial arts competition as one of the story arcs. Of course, it has awesome super powers fighting scenes! It has overpowered characters, including Goku, scattered with fight scenes throughout the entire series using energy blasts as a form of attack! This fight, though, is quite interesting as we see a martial artist realizing that he can finally go ham on someone. The action scene, animation style and the pacing is classic Dragon Ball style with its intense music. The only thing I find annoying is the battle commentator.
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Kamui Vs. Hosen (Gintama)
Gintama is another one of those “not your typical anime” that features fights scenes every so often. The cast of characters are always flung into wacky adventures, so it’s not rare to see bloody fights in this shounen anime. One of these scenes is the fast-paced fight Kamui had against Hosen.
The two fighters going at it in a battle of power vs. speed, but what really made this episode so exciting was how we finally got to see some high-level close-quarters combat scenes! The animation itself is quite tough to follow because everything is moving so fast, but unfortunately for us, this fight ends in a draw.
Motoko Vs. Raizo (Ghost In The Shell: Arise)
A modern anime adaptation of the successful manga: this fantasy anime series has a crisp and more fluid animation style. This means that we can appreciate the combat scenes more. The hand to hand combat between Motoko and Raizo showcases the animation and the attention to details. The slow-motion and close up of the impact scenes give the audience an idea of how much getting smashed through a wall would feel.
Goten and Trunks Vs. Android 18 (Dragon Ball Z)
Another series from dragon ball: has the same martial arts tournament scheme and the same annoying battle commentator. This scene is not as heavy as Goku or Tien and even not as serious as the other combat scenes in the series. Why is it here? Well, it’s a fun battle scene where Android 18 takes on the Goten and Trunks wearing a disguise. If you’re not satisfied with this fight, the whole Dragon Ball series has plenty of action but not as fun as this one.
Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai (Sakuta Vs. Bully)
This one is not a fistfight; it’s a massacre! This is here because this is how I imagine most fights in real life would go, and this anime portrayed it perfectly. This is probably the fastest non-superpower anime fight I have ever seen in my entire life.
Do you think we missed any of your favorite hand-to-hand combat scenes? Make sure you drop them in the comments below, and we will add them to our next article.