This article originally appeared in Pyramid #20

Breaking Bricks... and Telephone Poles, Boulders and the Reality Barrier

The "Anything Goes"
Martial Arts Style in GURPS

by Robert M. Schroeck

"I'm Ranma Saotome of the Saotome School of Anything Goes Martial Arts. I accept your challenge."

Musabetsu Kakuto is a Japanese style whose name can be translated variously as "The School of Indiscriminate Grappling," "The Unlimited (or Unrestricted) Martial Arts," but most commonly as "Anything Goes Martial Arts." It is an extremely-mutated offshoot of Kempo, practiced by a very small number of artists located almost exclusively in the vicinity of Tokyo. It is also a wild, unrestrained martial arts style best suited for lighthearted campaigns such as GURPS Illuminati University.

"Anything Goes" is unique among arts in that it is a solely Cinematic style; it has no "realistic" form. Any character who wants it must also purchase the Trained By A Master advantage. It must be played with the optional Chambara Fighting rules (p. 64). [Editor's Note: All page references are for GURPS Martial Arts, 2nd Edition.] Additionally, most if not all students will require a number of Super Advantages (see GURPS Supers) to acquire anything beyond the basics of the style. These can be acquired after character creation; many are "learned" or imparted by the rigors of training.

Philosophy and Focus

Much like Jeet Kune Do, "Anything Goes" is a pragmatic style and has been structured around expedience and utility rather than artistic symmetry. The core principle of the school is being ready to take on anyone, by any rules, weapons, or restrictions, as long as it involves physical fighting. Its artists are trained to expect and counter literally anything that might happen in combat, and to counterattack effectively. The style has little in the way of a philosophical or theological underpinning, although its practitioners are expected to adhere to a strict code of honor.

Students of this style are trained to use nearly every known combat move. The proportion of offensive ("karate-style") maneuvers to defensive ("judo-style") ones varies with the student, but by default Musabetsu Kakuto seems to lean more on the defensive side. However, this does not make the style an "internal" one; its repertoire of aggressive attacks is extensive and varied.

Strikes and kicks of all types are the most common offensive moves; the occasional throw is interspersed where tactically useful. Surprisingly, considering the philosophy of the school, no holds or locks are taught at all. The classic martial arts weapons are also eschewed, although the use of improvised weaponry is usually studied; in the hands of a skilled "Anything Goes" artist, almost anything from furniture to food can become an implement of death. The use of formal weaponry is not forbidden, though, and while uncommon, it is not unheard of for a student to take up casual study of one or more weapons as an adjunct to his training. Most commonly a proficiency with knives is seen, although it is rarely used in combat.

Defensively, the focus tends to be on dodging incoming attacks, often with Chambara jumps. Parrying is a close second behind dodging; both receive great emphasis in training. Among the techniques imparted are parries which trap incoming weapons rather than deflect them; however, while useful in a pinch, such parries often leave the combatants in a dangerous "Mexican standoff."


In order to gain mastery of the "Anything Goes" style, students are required to become almost the ultimate in physical perfection. A flawless sense of balance and the ability to make prodigious jumps are necessary for complete mastery, and the student who cannot achieve either soon turns to another style. Great, soaring leaps — two to four or more times the artist's height — are a trademark of "Anything Goes"; the school is a Chambara style, and in fact specializes in fighting in mid-air.

Training in the school is harsh and demanding. Katas are avoided, to prevent the acquisition of "preprogrammed" sequences of moves that risk making the student predictable in battle. Instead, all-out combat is the typical training exercise, with no punches pulled and no holds barred. Certain special techniques may be taught by subjecting the student to ordeals that border on torture; students often suffer permanent psychological scars whether or not the training imparts its lesson. However, the rigors of "Anything Goes" training are such that a successful student on his way to mastery will usually become able to withstand an incredible amount of physical punishment, often far beyond normal human tolerances (see the notes at the end of this article).

Those who pursue "Anything Goes" are also encouraged to learn any technique or maneuver they find useful in any other schools. In fact, many of the more advanced ki techniques in this school were originally "lifted" from other styles.

One side effect of Musabetsu Kakuto's intense training program is that frequently its students have a tendency to apply their skills to many other areas, creating martial arts variations on everything from cooking to figure skating. As a result, the practitioners of this style often lead interesting lives . . .

In combat, new maneuvers and unexpected applications of old maneuvers are encouraged; frequently included among such unexpected moves is the unusual tactic of suddenly running away in order to gain more time to think over combat options. Cooperative effort among several artists is also taught; there are a number of devastating techniques in this school that require at least two participants.

Special Abilities

Advanced students often develop powerful ki-based attacks with which they can devastate opponents from a distance. As with the purely physical elements of the style, there are also multiperson ki attacks. Note that ki blasts are usually fueled by a specific emotion, such as anger, confidence or even depression. (The choice of emotion should be appropriate to the character conception.) If the character is somehow prevented from feeling the necessary emotion, whether through mind control, drugs or other less exotic means, he will be unable to summon up the ki for his attack. Ki attacks will have specific names — such as "Mouko Takabisha" ("fierce tiger domination") or "Shishi Houkoudan" ("lion's roar projectile"); the artist will almost always shout the name of the attack as he releases it, much like a kiai.

Other ki effects allow the advanced practitioner to develop a broad array of unusual powers. See the notes at the end of this article for some of the more common ki manifestations.

Furthermore, a student who has mastered one or more ki powers will usually manifest a glowing "battle aura" just before and during combat, and any time he is angry. The color of the aura varies from artist to artist, and often (but not always) is indicative of the emotion from which his ki is drawn; once the character acquires a battle aura, its color never changes.

The main specialty of this style, though, is mid-air combat. In addition to the normal Chambara dodges, practitioners of "Anything Goes" often leap to attack, trading blows with their opponents in mid-jump; demonstrations of incredible "hang time" is common during such battles. Artists can not only attack in mid-air, but block and parry, as well, without altering the course of their leaps. Any time an opponent fails to parry or block an attack he must make a Jumping or Acrobatics roll in order to maintain his original trajectory; if he fails, he is knocked to the ground and takes appropriate falling damage. Similarly, an attacker who is successfully blocked or parried must do the same.

Musabetsu Kakuto (No Realistic Abilities)/65 points

Primary skills: Acrobatics [2], Judo, Jumping [2], Karate, Throwing.

Secondary skills: Meditation, Running, Savoir-Faire (Dojo).

Optional skills: Knife, Really Huge Mallet, other weapons; Tactics, style familiarities.

Maneuvers: Breakfall, Elbow Strike, Hit Location, Hook Kick, Jump Kick, Kicking, Knee Strike, Spin Kick, Sweeping Kick.

Cinematic skills: Breaking Blow, Pressure Points.

Cinematic maneuvers: Enhanced Dodge, Enhanced Parry (bare hands only), Flying Jump Kick, Perfect Balance, Roll With Blow, Super Jumping.

Note on special abilities: In addition to the cinematic abilities listed above, the following powers are frequently displayed by advanced students and masters of Musabetsu Kakuto.

Those artists who have at least 2 levels of Super Jumping often have the Catfall super-advantage.

Extraordinary strength, often 3 or more times normal, is frequently displayed, either continuously or in moments of extreme emotion. Purchase this using Enhanced ST from GURPS Supers, with an appropriate Limitation for emotion-triggered bursts of strength.

Damage Resistance is very common. Buy the character's first 2 DR as Toughness; additional points of DR beyond the first 2 cost 3 character points apiece, as per Supers. No matter how much DR he has, though, the character always suffers at least cosmetic effects from every attack: superficial bruising from pummels, charred clothing and sooty skin from fire, and so on.

Ki attacks are purchased as Generic crushing attacks from Supers, usable only when experiencing the appropriate emotion. (The value of this limitation will vary based on the personality of the character, but it is usually the emotion he experiences most often.) Students usually master a one-target attack first, followed by an area effect (explosion) attack, but this is by no means a hard-and-fast rule. Ki attacks, despite their resemblance to energy blasts, are kinetic in nature, and normally do no burning or other special damage.

Some artists display the ability to materialize a weapon or weapons out of thin air. This is considered an attack power of an appropriate damage type (again, from Supers) with the No Concentration enhancement and the No Range limitation. The weapon's physical appearance and continuous presence between individual attacks are special effects; no separate weapon skill is needed to actually use it.

Certain masters of Musabetsu Kakuto have displayed the ability to increase their size several-fold. Purchase this as levels of Growth and commensurate Enhanced ST, with the Limitation "Usable Only When in Combat or Angry."

At their simplest, battle auras have no real game effect except to alert bystanders that the artist is both highly skilled and seriously ticked off. However, the GM may wish to charge a minimum of 5 character points (and possibly more!) for a battle aura on the grounds that it operates not unlike an "instant Reputation," and may even be grounds for a Fright Check for some viewers. Please note that battle auras cannot be turned on and off at will!

Other powers are possible, as well. The style's eclectic format and openness to the techniques of other styles makes it impossible to predict precisely what special abilities any one practitioner of Musabetsu Kakuto may be hiding.

Article publication date: July 1, 1996

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