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Boxing is an old, old martial art, much older than some know. The earliest recorded instance of boxing comes from the 3rd millennium, BCE, in Ancient Sumeria. It’s also been featured in ancient Greek and Roman records, from as early as the 2nd millennium, BCE. Other cultures, of course, have developed their own striking arts, but boxing is one of the western world’s most prominent contributions to martial arts culture. There’s a certain purity to just straight-up punching people in the face.
Dick Grayson is shown multiple times to be quite proficient in ‘the sweet science,’ and while he does quite a pick of karate-style kicking as well, I think focusing on the purity of boxing to start would be an excellent step for anyone trying to become Nightwing.
Besides developing extremely effective striking and dodging skills, boxing is also great because its very nature encourages “live practice;” true freeform, contact-based sparring. The sad fact is, you can walk into many different martial arts schools and find very little, if any, contact-based sparring. Unfortunately, the fact is, if you’re not in danger of getting punched in the mouth for real, you’re not really learning how to be a proficient fighter.
Without a doubt, I think boxing is one of the best arts to study even if your goal isn’t to become Nightwing. If you’re trying to become Nightwing, though? Boxing should be right in your wheelhouse.
While Nightwing is said to be primarily an aikido practitioner when it comes to grappling, I went with judo here. Partially because he’s also proficient at judo, and partially because aikido is crap and doesn’t really work outside of comic books or movies. There, I said it. Come at me (especially if you’re an aikido practitioner because I will judo you so hard.)
While there are other grappling arts out there that are good, judo is particularly effective in a superhero-type situation for a number of reasons.
One: Nightwing frequently finds himself facing multiple opponents, and going to the ground is emphasized less in judo vs. other grappling arts. Grappling on the ground is great if you’re facing one opponent, but two or more makes tying yourself up with one person for an extended period of time a liability.
Two: You can end a fight with a throw. Seriously. Masahiko Kimura was famous for rendering opponents unconscious with his osoto gari. Again, when facing multiple opponents, being able to take one out quickly is super effective.
Three: Judo, like boxing, encourages live practice in the form of randori. Without live practice, you’re not actually becoming a proficient fighter, and if we’re trying to become a real-life superhero, we want to be as proficient as possible!
Also, with judo being an international sport, it’s usually pretty easy to find at least ONE dojo near you, if not several. Many colleges and high schools also have active judo clubs. Do judo!
Escrima are short batons or sticks, used primarily in Phillipino arts like kali. They’re Nightwing’s hand-to-hand weapon of choice, when he’s not using his fists. Thought not as easy to find as judo or boxing, I highly recommend you get into a good kali school if you can. In addition to usually engaging in plenty of (say it with me now,) LIVE PRACTICE, kali schools are usually also quite multi-disciplinary. Kali escrima techniques carry over to knives, short sword, and even flailing type weapons, depending on how well-versed the schools instructors are.
Escrima are tons of fun to mess around with, and you wouldn’t be the complete Nightwing without them!
The Flying Grayson
Dick Grayson’s circus career is a big part of the reason he’s so effective as Nightwing. He’s one of the most agile human beings in the DC universe, and for good reason! Brushing up on circus skills is usuall not as simple as learning a new martial art or starting a new workout program, but it can be tons of fun. I was lucky enough to take a circus arts course in college, and I can personally attest to what a blast it can be, and how much it can help with your balance, agility, and proprioception. Here’s a couple circus skills to check out:
The Flying Trapeze
The downside to circus arts is that they typically require quite a bit of specialized equipment, and the trapeze is certainly no exception. It is, however, the art that The Flying Graysons were most known for, so it’s worth checking into if you can. If you’re interested in an “intro” overview, check out this post from Trapeze High in San Diego!
Tight Rope and Slack Line
Tight ropes and slacklines are another common feature in most circus acts. They’re tremendous for building balance, and they’re also a ton of fun! The good news for these is that the barrier for entry is a lot lower than it is for trapeze. You can get started with something as simple as two trees, and this beginner slack line kit from Flybold.
While not strictly a circus art, tricking, flipping and tumbling all feature into many circus acts, and are definitely right up Nightwing’s alley. To get started, I recommend no other place to start than Jujimufu’s awesome website, Acrobolix. Check out How to Start Tricking! Also watch his videos and stuff on Youtube because he’s insane.
Rapid-fire bat-family stuff!
Aaaaand that’s it for the skills of Nightwing! I hope I’ve pointed you in the right direction to begin! Realize that, like Batman, Nightwing is sort of an ultra-human, so this is really only scratching the surface, however if you master even just the skills on this page, you’ll probably be leagues ahead of most other “normal” people on the planet. Don’t be ordinary, be excellent! You deserve it!
I’ll see you again on Thursday with Not Your Sidekick! Until then, as always, remember to live boldly, change the world, and continue to be awesome!