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Spider-Man definitely has one of the cooler sets of skills and abilities out of the characters we’ve covered before. Super strength, super agility, the ability to stick to walls, shoot webbing (granted that’s a gadget, not an ability…) Seriously, every time I visit New York City I find myself wishing I had Spidey’s abilities!
Unfortunately, a fair portion of his superpowers are pretty unattainable (that’s why they’re called superpowers…) We can still emulate some aspects of your friendly neighborhood arachnid, however, so let’s take a look!
How to Fight Like Spiderman
Obviously, Spider-Man’s superhuman abilities definitely help here, but we can still try to get some of his fighting skills under our belts! To that effect, I’ve selected two martial arts, one for canon reasons, and one for thematic reasons. These should help us emulate Spider-Man’s own engineered art, “The Way of the Spider.”
For cannon reasons, we’re going to start with Kung Fu. We do this because Spider-Man trained with Shang Chi to form the real base of his “Way of the Spider,” and Shang Chi is, of course, the master of Kung Fu. Now, there’s a bunch of different styles of Kung Fu out there, and they hail from different regions of China. There is, of course, the famous “Five Animals” styles, as popularized in films and TV shows, but there’s also a bunch of other Chinese martial arts that fit under the overall heading of “kung fu,” which makes sense since China is HUGE and has a TON of people.
If you’re looking to learn Kung Fu, rather than looking for a particular style, I’d say just look for a school near you. No sense getting your heart set on Tiger when all you’ve got near you is Mantis (which would be insane because Mantis is super hard to find BUT I DIGRESS.) The most important thing is finding a reputable teacher of something, you can always branch out later. In fact, a good teacher will probably have connections and recommendations for other places of study once he or she feels you’ve reached an adequate level to branch out.
How do you find a good teacher? Check out my article on How to Spot McDojos!
This, of course, is a more thematic art than one from Spider-Man canon. I don’t think there’s any history in comics or movies of Spider-Man learning capoeira, but thematically it fits very well! Capoeira is sort of half dance/half martial art. It originated in Brazil, and features a combination of combat techniques, acrobatics, and dance, all set to music. If you’ve never seen it before, definitely check it out. I wouldn’t necessarily step into an MMA ring with just capoeira training, but the acrobatic flair definitely fits Spider-Man’s style!
Personally, if I were looking to emulate Spider-Man’s combat style, I’d start with whatever style of kung fu is available, and then maybe start taking some capoeira lessons on the side. If capoeira isn’t available, I’d probably see if there were open classes available at a local gymnastics school.
Obviously one of Spider-Man’s most notable abilities is sticking to, and climbing, sheer flat walls and ceilings. Unfortunately, that’s not really a possibility for us average mortals, however, some boulders and free climbers sure seem like they come close to it! Just check out “The French Spider-Man,” Alain Robert! Let’s talk about some basic climbing techniques and hand holds, and how to approach them.
These are the most basic types of handholds you’ll encounter on a climb, and they’re basically exactly what they sound like: small horizontally-oriented ledges that you can hang off off with either an open hand or crimp grip. An overhand grip is basically what you see monkeys do when hanging on something, curl your fingertips around the edge and hang. A crimp grip is similar, but instead of just hanging off your fingertips, you actually arch your fingers upwards, in order to apply more pressure to the edge. Tougher on your fingers, but allows you to get a more secure grip!
Slopers and Pinches
Slopers and pinches are similarly shaped holds that you change your approach to based on your size. Slopers are rounded, bulbous shapes that you can’t fit your hand around. You use an open hand grip on these, and rely on friction caused by the pressure of your hand and bodyweight to hold on. Pinches are smaller rounded shapes, ones that you can wrap (or almost wrap) your hand around. These can be more rectangular or more rounded in shape, and you grap them by wrapping your thumb and fingers around them (almost like how you would grip a doorknob.)
Pockets and Side Holds
Pockets are holes in a climbing face that you can fit your fingers into, but not your whole hand (typically.) These require some serious hand strength because sometimes you can only fit one or two fingers into them! Side holds also require serious hand strength. Think of them as “sideways” or “vertically” aligned edged (like the molding on the side of your doorway.) You old onto these using an open or pinch grip with one hand, while exerting some sort of counter-acting pull on a grip with your other hand and foot, in the opposite direction.
Palming and Slab Climbs
Palming is a technique used most commonly on slab climbs, which is the most Spider-Man-looking thing climbers do. Basically, a slab is a slanted rock face with basically no clear hand holds on it. You perform it by finding slight depressions in the rock face, sticking your hand down flat on them, and driving the heel of your palm into the face. It’s important to wear proper climbing shoes while slab climbing, because while palming helps, usually the rubber of your shoes is the one bearing the majority of your weight!
Now, that’s just a few climbing techniques and grip types, but I encourage you to look into climbing more if you’re looking to be like Spider-Man (or even if you’re not!) It’s awesome exercise and tons of fun! If you do, however, make sure you’re working with an experienced instructor in a safe environment! Don’t just go out and start climbing skyscrapers, that’s just asking for a bad day!
Spider-Man: The Original American Ninja Warrior
American Ninja Warrior’s become more popular every year, and for good reason! There’s not many things more awesome than doing crazy obstacle courses! I feel like Spider-Man would kind of be the ultimate ninja warrior ringer, though. Sticky fingertips and super jumping would definitely assist on that.
Of course, while you used to have to get on the show to play out on a ninja warrior course, there are now ninja warrior gyms popping up all over the country, and even a national ninja competitive league! Check out this website here and see if you’ve got somewhere near you: http://www.ninjawarriorgyms.com/ There’s even a couple tutorials for the most iconic obstacles!
So, obviously we’re no going to be developing actual short-term precognition anytime soon. However, you can still enhance your situational awareness and reflexes! Learning a martial art will definitely help with this, but there’s other things you can do to boost them as well! I actually went into this in my recent article about Krieg from Borderlands: How to Ride a Meat Bicycle (check out the section on adaptive combat, as well!)
In closing, while we may not have the ability to manifest true superpowers (yet,) through diligent practice you can still gain skills and abilities far beyond those of normal people. Remember, the key is practice, and developing good learning habits!
That’s it for today. I’ll see you again on Thursday with The Responsibility of Spider-Man!
As always, remember to live boldly, change the world, and continue to be awesome!
Dan “DaRatmastah” Wallace