Character Spotlight: The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

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Character Spotlight: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Name: The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Game(s): Various arcade and console names bearing their name

Archetype: Fighter

Class: Brawler


Skilled in various martial arts disciplines

Leadership (Leonardo)

Technology (Donatello)

Partying (Michaelangelo)

Scrapping (Raphael)

Eating pizza

Skateboarding/sewer surfing


COWABUNGA!  Freaking ninja turtles, man.  You’re looking at what is most likely the biggest single reason I’m talking to you right now.  No, seriously!  I started karate when I was three because I LOVED these guys.  Since I posted the Patreon poll super early this week because of karate camp, we didn’t get any votes in, so I got to pick who I wanted to do, and since the movie just came out and all that, I figured, why not the teenage mutant ninja turtles?  I’m sure quite a few of you spent tons of money on their arcade games, just like I did (Turtles in Time, in particular), so the qualify!

The turtles are cool because they each have their own individual personalities, which gives us a lot to pull from for our breakdon!  They’re extremely skilled martial artists, though I framed them in the Brawler class because of their general penchant for sloppy-yet-effective solutions for problems, as well as their general tendency to go looking for a fight.  Let’s talk a look at what they’re made of!

Trained by a Rat

So, the turtles trained exclusively under Master Splinter for basically all of their lives, making them incredibly skilled martial artists.  The funny thing is, they don’t actually do that much ninjutsu-type stuff!  Most of their fighting and weaponry is a lot closer to Okinawan empty hand and weapon styles, rather than Japanese ninjutsu (which is of dubious origin, anyway).  The exception to this is Leonardo, who fights with katana, but beyond that, they’re almost exclusively Okinawan.  As such, I’d recommend three arts:


Okinawan karate is one of the oldest martial arts traditions, originating from just “te,” as developed from kung fu practitioners visiting from China, fused with local fighting traditions.


The okinawan study of weaponry, kobudo is focused on the study of the bo(staff), sai, nunchaku, tonfa(tuifa), kama, and other nifty blunt and pointy objects.  Kobudo is rarely studied alone, and is instead taught in concert with karate (typically after achieving a high rank in empty hand).


Here’s Leonardo’s happy place.  Kendo is the modern sport that originated out of the Japanese samurai schools.  Now, yes, traditionally the Samurai were enemies of the Ninja (although some historians maintain that the ninja never actually existed, and were just samurai trained in espionage), however if you want to learn modern katana swordplay, this is your best bet!

As always, I recommend you take your time to find a reputable school.  For my guidelines on this, check out Beware the McDojo!

Sewer Surfing

So, outside of fighting, what do the turtles do?  Skateboard!  Skateboarding is awesome!  No seriously though, skateboarding is awesome.  Whether you’re interested in street, vert, or longboarding, skateboarding is a great way to improve coordination and balance, promote proprioception, and have a really fun time while doing it.  Of course, proper protective equipment is always a good idea, since we hate injuries around here, but even with all the protective gear and the cost of a good deck, it’s still a pretty cheap hobby to get into!

Here’s a couple links to get you started:

Beginners Guide to Skateboarding 

How to Longboard

Beyond this, I’d recommend looking up your local skate shop and going down to see them.  Let them know you’re interested in getting into skating.  Skaters are usually super chill people, and they should have lots of info on what to buy for your first setup, where to go, if there are any classes in your area, etc.

Pick a Turtle, Any Turtle

One of the cool thing about the turtles is, as I mentioned, their personalities!  Let’s give them a once-over, to help you pick which one you want to emulate!


Leonardo is the leader of the group.  He’s arguably the most skilled of his brothers, with the possible exception of Raphael, and exhibits the most well-rounded judgement of the four of them.  He’s not quick to anger, but he is more than capable of defending himself, or avenging others.  As the leader, he must exhibit the most “balance” out of the four, to keep his brothers united and on-task.  If you’re like Leo, you’re the person who stays calm under pressure, observes before acting, and then acts decisively to solve a problem.  You’ll also want to check out the video about leadership that I’ll have going live on Saturday.


The tech support of the group, Donatello is a total nerd, and it’s awesome!  He was my favorite growing up because I, too, was a giant nerd, and I loved all the stuff that Donnie built!  In addition to being the tech guy, Donnie’s also probably the most passive guy in the group.  He’s relatively slow to anger, avoids a fight if he can solve things in a more constructive manner, and generally doesn’t cause problems.  At the same time, however, his weapon, the bo, is arguably the most powerful weapon in the group, and his combat prowess cannot be denied.  If you’re like Donnie, you take your time, avoid conflict when possible, and always look to improve the situation, through technology if possible.


Raphael is the hardheaded scrapper of the group.  Extremely skilled in combat, Raphael can sometimes beat Leo in a straight-up fight.  His temper and impatience make him a poor leader, however, and he’s pretty content to just be “the muscle,” although he sometimes chafes under Leonardo’s leadership.  Raph’s brutal combat style is efficient, fast, and powerful, marking him clearly as one of the strongest in the group.  If you’re like Raph, you don’t take crap from anyone, and you’re never one to back down from a fight.  You’re not necessarily interested in leading, but you sure as hell don’t like being told what to do, either.  You little troublemaker, you.


The nunchaku-wielding goofball of the group is, in a way, the heart and soul of the turtles.  He’s not necessarily the best fighter, or the brains, or the leader.  He does, however, keep his spirits up, and in doing so, keeps his brothers spirits up, too.  He’s always able to crack a joke, or see the bright side of the situation, and that is an incredibly important thing to have in a group of friends.  If you’re like Mikey, you’re always looking on the upside as well, and trying to boost those around you.  Just remember, there is, occasionally, and inappropriate time for a joke.  =P


That’s it for our spotlight!  Tune in on Friday for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles workout!  Until then, remember to live boldly, change the world, and continue to be awesome!

Dan “DaRatmastah” Wallace

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