Where did Captain America get his fighting skills?

#1 Posted by Owie (3701 posts) - - Show Bio

Captain America is usually considered to be one of the best hand-to-hand fighters in comics. However, I've always been confused about where exactly he is supposed to have gotten these skills. Most martial artists have studied with some masters at one time or another, or there's some story explaining how they picked up their skills. Batman, for example, spent years training before becoming Batman, traveling around to various masters. Iron Fist learned at K'un L'un. Daredevil learned from Stick. Wolverine learned from Ogun. And so on.

But Cap, as far as I know, got the Super Soldier Serum, maybe got some training for a short time from some regular army folks, and suddenly was Mister Tough Guy. Granted his physical stats help, but where did he get the skills that today let him compete with people like Black Panther (trained from childhood in a long line of warriors) and so on?

Here's the best description I've found, from Marvel wikia, and while it hints at some specific trainers, Applegate and Fairbairn aren't exactly world-wide famous for their skills, and it sounds pretty suppositional:

Rogers is an expert in hand-to-hand combat being very skilled in multiple martial arts.[63][64] His training first originated under combat experts Rex Applegate and William Fairbairn whose fields of expertise were European martial arts and Chinese martial arts during WW2. While the majority of the instructors' curriculums were simplified for training the Allied Forces, it is possible that they trained Rogers in the more complex techniques because his body was already developed for them and because the majority of his combat knowledge (including his gymnastic-based techniques) was already established prior to his awakening by the Avengers. As a result, Rogers is well versed in Boxing, Judo, Jujitsu, Historical Fencing and Wushu. It is also possible and likely that he studied more disciplines in the present after being discovered by the Avengers and working for S.H.I.E.L.D. but it has yet to be proven. He has utilized all martial arts techniques from physical combat to chi manipulation. Rogers is one of the finest martial artist earth has ever known.

So, Cap fans...what's up with his skills? Where did he get them?

#2 Posted by TheManInTheShoe (3878 posts) - - Show Bio

I guess he got military training, plus he has lived for a long time so he might pick up things from others. That's the best answer I've got.

#3 Posted by Veshark (9058 posts) - - Show Bio

To be honest, I'm not really sure. The Marvels Project makes a reference to him having 'instructors', but there wasn't any specific name. It's just generally assumed, Cap frequently refers to himself as being 'better-trained' than his opponents. His credibility as a fighter is based more on feats than actual references to his instruction.

As you said, there's also the Super-Soldier aspect to take into account. We're talking about a man who's body is borderline enhanced, and it's not just his body, it's also his brain. His mind processes faster, allowing him to 'see faster', he can master any weapon in seconds, and Black Panther once referred to Cap as being to instinctively adapt to any fighting style and situation. He thinks tactically, and fights tactically.

#4 Posted by End_Boss (725 posts) - - Show Bio

Cap has been around for a very long time (by human standards), has been at his physical peak for most of that time and has been a high-ranking military operative for most of that time.

You can't at all make leaps in logic based on those facts to determine where he may have received specialized combat training?

#5 Posted by Nerx (15088 posts) - - Show Bio

OSS, Fairbairn Sykes and the US military

#6 Posted by Owie (3701 posts) - - Show Bio

@end_boss said:

Cap has been around for a very long time (by human standards), has been at his physical peak for most of that time and has been a high-ranking military operative for most of that time.

You can't at all make leaps in logic based on those facts to determine where he may have received specialized combat training?

No, I can't, really. He hasn't actually been alive and conscious that much longer than most people, he was in a coma most of the time. And he hasn't been in the military for most of his active time. He was in the Avengers, sure, but there he was training other people, not being trained himself. And in any case there are plenty of other characters who have spent lots of time in the military or special ops who are nowhere near his ability level. I can buy that he has picked up some stuff along the way, but he was never, to my knowledge, presented as "half formed" in his training--he was always top level, so his experience since WW2 wasn't the formative experience for his expertise...it's not like he only became an expert combatant sometime in the 70s after being around other heroes for a while. I just feel like most people at his level aren't simply self-taught, or taught by reasonably low-level people. They're taught by people who are already world-class themselves. It's hard to become a master without a master for a teacher, even if the pupil can sometimes exceed the teacher.

#7 Posted by Saren (25631 posts) - - Show Bio

Most of the handbooks and guide entries I've seen attribute his training to unnamed "private tutors". There isn't a great deal of documentation for Rogers' fighting ability.

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#8 Posted by NorrinBoltagonPrime21 (5825 posts) - - Show Bio

Experience during WWII?

#9 Edited by Dernman (14990 posts) - - Show Bio

They should do a story on Caps training.

#10 Edited by PowerHerc (83401 posts) - - Show Bio

Training and experience.

#11 Posted by Battle_Forum_Junkie (7863 posts) - - Show Bio

@owie: Here's my theory: Along with Captain America gaining increased physical stats as a result of the Super Soldier Serum he also gained a sped up mind, allowing him to be able to learn all these different Martial Arts in in a record amount of time not possible for regular humans, or even most super humans, for that matter.

#12 Posted by Owie (3701 posts) - - Show Bio

@owie: Here's my theory: Along with Captain America gaining increased physical stats as a result of the Super Soldier Serum he also gained a sped up mind, allowing him to be able to learn all these different Martial Arts in in a record amount of time not possible for regular humans, or even most super humans, for that matter.

I think this idea (which Veshark also mentioned) is the best explanation to me, and it's interesting because it makes him somewhat Taskmaster-ish.

@nerx said:

OSS, Fairbairn Sykes and the US military

So do you know anything about this Sykes guy?

#13 Posted by Wardemon32 (4150 posts) - - Show Bio

This is why I say he can't beat Batman H2H

#14 Posted by Nerx (15088 posts) - - Show Bio

@owie: Him and Applegate

They were called combatives

#15 Posted by Havenless (1340 posts) - - Show Bio

Batman knows something like 182 forms of martial arts, and applies the appropriate one for the situation.

On the other hand, Captain America mastered 10 or so, and then created his own style that incorporates the best parts of each one, his 'perfect' style for what he does. No idea where he first started though.

#16 Posted by Owie (3701 posts) - - Show Bio

@nerx said:

@owie: Him and Applegate

They were called combatives

That was a cool video, but are you saying that Sykes and Applegate were actual people involved in this, or just that they did this kind of thing?

#17 Posted by Nerx (15088 posts) - - Show Bio

@havenless: 173 actually

@owie: They were in charge of training, google it up

#18 Posted by Owie (3701 posts) - - Show Bio

@nerx said:

@owie: They were in charge of training, google it up

I wasn't sure since their names weren't in the video. I did just look them up, that's actually very cool. I can see these guys as being worthwhile original teachers for Cap.

#19 Posted by Nerx (15088 posts) - - Show Bio

@owie: they trained the allies to kick nazi butt

#20 Edited by Owie (3701 posts) - - Show Bio

@nerx said:

@owie: they trained the allies to kick nazi butt

When it got to the point in the video where they encouraged eye gouging, I knew they were serious!

#21 Edited by Nerx (15088 posts) - - Show Bio

@owie: this is what they told the men before they send them to front lines, and they are good tips when your friend refuses to pass the potatoes during christmas dinner.

#22 Posted by MyNameWasDeleted (679 posts) - - Show Bio

before Spidey lost his powers and went for a little kung fu training he had a style that he just fell into because his body was appropriately amped up and limber, a spider-style of fighting.. right? same holds for Cap, but he also had intense hand to hand training as well

he enjoys a good fight:

#23 Posted by Owie (3701 posts) - - Show Bio

@nerx said:

@owie: this is what they told the men before they send them to front lines, and they are good tips when your friend refuses to pass the potatoes during christmas dinner.

Yeah. I was surprised how practical they were. I was impressed at the lack of whitewashing, really.

before Spidey lost his powers and went for a little kung fu training he had a style that he just fell into because his body was appropriately amped up and limber, a spider-style of fighting.. right? same holds for Cap, but he also had intense hand to hand training as well

he enjoys a good fight:

Yes, but the point is, where did he get that H2H training? To a degree, I guess I am now satisfied with the Sykes/Applegate tradition of training. Plus. Spidey was always respected for his overall fighting ability, but that was heavily based on his highly enhanced stats. While Cap has a strong rep for his skills regardless of stats. Fun scan.

#24 Edited by Nerx (15088 posts) - - Show Bio
#25 Posted by Owie (3701 posts) - - Show Bio

@nerx said:

@owie: whitewashing?

In other words they didn't try to hide the truth that war is ugly and doesn't have rules. I thought it was smart that they really tried to convince the viewers that while they might like to play fair in normal life, they had to hit "above the belt and below the belt" in war because if you don't, the other guy will.

#26 Edited by Nerx (15088 posts) - - Show Bio

@owie: no reason to do that for war

#27 Edited by tg1982 (2715 posts) - - Show Bio

@owie: There are many factors that can be attributed to Cap being a master H2H combatant. First due to the SSS, his body, as we all know, is at the absolute pinnacle of human potential, therefore he does not need to train to get into shape to learn any martial art, because he is already at, or more accurately, surpasses the required amount of physical ability needed to perform what ever martial art he would be learning. Second, again, due to the SSS, Cap was granted with an eidetic memory (total recall) allowing him to recall everything he's ever experienced with a 100% accuracy, so ,basically, he can learn a move or technique once and not have to repeat it for days, weeks, months (whatever time frame it would take to master a technique). Third, he is a man who is always training, always trying to improve himself, so it is IMO, not only logical, but probable, that what ever martial arts that were created after WW2, he at the least familiarized himself with them if not became proficient in them. Fourth, again due to the SSS, Cap has legendary endurance and stamina, so if needed he can train longer and harder than many humans to perfect whatever style he is learning. All this makes it possible for him to learn any martial art in a fraction of the time it would take a normal human.

And can I just say...

@veshark said:
and Black Panther once referred to Cap as being to instinctively adapt to any fighting style and situation. He thinks tactically, and fights tactically.

Thank you!!!!! I've been saying this for a LONG, LONG time, complete with the actual scan. It's nice to not be the only one!!!! LOL.

#28 Posted by wolverine1610 (250 posts) - - Show Bio

military at first, maybe shield training and various members of the avengers who are pretty extensive in martial arts like black panther and shang chi

#29 Edited by tg1982 (2715 posts) - - Show Bio

Also as for Fairbairn and Sykes...

Just a little bit of what Fairbairn taught during WW2

#30 Posted by Veshark (9058 posts) - - Show Bio

@tg1982

Yeah, it's a really good point to bring up, especially since it comes from BP - a renowned martial artist himself. Good point about Cap's eidetic memory though, I forgot to mention that one!

#31 Posted by tg1982 (2715 posts) - - Show Bio
#32 Posted by Owie (3701 posts) - - Show Bio
@tg1982 said:

@owie: There are many factors that can be attributed to Cap being a master H2H combatant. First due to the SSS, his body, as we all know, is at the absolute pinnacle of human potential, therefore he does not need to train to get into shape to learn any martial art, because he is already at, or more accurately, surpasses the required amount of physical ability needed to perform what ever martial art he would be learning. Second, again, due to the SSS, Cap was granted with an eidetic memory (total recall) allowing him to recall everything he's ever experienced with a 100% accuracy, so ,basically, he can learn a move or technique once and not have to repeat it for days, weeks, months (whatever time frame it would take to master a technique). Third, he is a man who is always training, always trying to improve himself, so it is IMO, not only logical, but probable, that what ever martial arts that were created after WW2, he at the least familiarized himself with them if not became proficient in them. Fourth, again due to the SSS, Cap has legendary endurance and stamina, so if needed he can train longer and harder than many humans to perfect whatever style he is learning. All this makes it possible for him to learn any martial art in a fraction of the time it would take a normal human.

Certainly his physical capacity and hard work are big pieces of the puzzle, but I'm sort of taking those for granted and wondering where the actual learning came from in the first place. I like the eidetic memory part though, that makes sense--basically the Taskmaster-ish thing a couple other people mentioned above.

#33 Edited by tg1982 (2715 posts) - - Show Bio

@owie said:

Certainly his physical capacity and hard work are big pieces of the puzzle, but I'm sort of taking those for granted and wondering where the actual learning came from in the first place. I like the eidetic memory part though, that makes sense--basically the Taskmaster-ish thing a couple other people mentioned above.

I believe that he had learned from various masters, but Marvel (or at least the various writers on Cap) just don't focus on the training aspect in detail, for whatever reason. As for being like Taskmaster, yeah to a certain extent. He still has to practice moves to get the muscle memory down, but due to the effects of the SSS, it would be only a fraction of the time it would take for others. As to where Taskmaster can just simply do it after he seen it once.

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