Have most gamers either been in the military and or studied Martial arts?

Gamer Life General Discussion

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Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

One think i have noticed with the majority of my gamer friends over the years is that they have either served in the military, and or they have studied a martial art.

Not everyone, but a good majority have.

What have you found with your gamer friends over the years?

Shadow Lodge

Of the gamers I've met, most are not in the military, and I would wager that most have not studied a martial art, either. But I'm pretty strongly civilian... my family has made lousy soldiers for centuries.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

I'd say most gamers have made at least a peripheral study of martial arts, above and beyond just watching military movies and reading novels or watching Ancient Warriors.

but serious martial artists adn military? What kind of gamers do you take us for? We throw dice, not hand grenades and shuriken.


To use a Fark meme:

I'm going to MEPS next week so I'm really getting a kick out of this thread.

No seriously though I am.

I've noticed that there are a lot of people that are in various martial arts or military service that play role playing games. I don't know if this is a rectangle/square thing though and which direction it travels if it is.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

RPG's are also tactical gaming that glorifies martial history. I'm not surprised a lot of those folk are gamers...the wa-hoo! nature of RPG's builds up a lot of enthusiasm for those skills which likely led them into their careers.


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I'm in law enforcement, and I know at least a few other cops who game.

A year or so ago, I was on the cover team for a barricaded armed suspect who had taken a few shots at a family member. From my position behind my wheel wheel that I was using as cover, I said to my sergeant (who is also my DM), "If he comes out shooting, Sarge, I ready an action to shoot him first." He surrendered not long after that.

I've never played with anyone who's been in the military. One who knew some martial art or other (I forgot which).

Like Abraham said, there seem to be a lot of military or former military folks on the boards here. Did they pick up the game in the service? When did they have time to play?

Due in part to this game, I've learned a lot about weapons and medieval history and such I wouldn't have been curious enough to learn about, otherwise.

I have not studied a martail art or was in the milatary personaly. I have played with a few ex-military types in my gaming career. As for the MA....I can think of two....orr only one as one of them 'learned' by watching MA films.

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For me its yes and yes.

One of my early AD&D groups, (playing 1st ed.) was comprised of ( all of these were out of the military by then) a member of the army signal corp, a marine, an air force mechanic, an engineer on a submarine, and a member of the reg navy, who worked for a rear admiral. There were only two of us who weren't ex-military.

Dark Archive

Surprisingly, I have both military and martial arts experience. My wife has a bit of martial arts and plays. And out of the two brothers that play one was in the army reserves and his brother amatuer wrestles.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber

Well, I've got one of my groups that consists of nothing but us old military buddies [3 Marines, 1 Sailor, and 1 Wife]. One of my other players is a seasoned martial artist, and has served as an instructor in a couple different disciplines over the years [oddly enough, he never plays monks]. I've done both [but not nearly as serious about the martial arts as my ninja friend].

Of course, we have several guys that rotate through groups that have no martial arts or military experience at all, although many of us met and started playing together back in Boy Scouts [which some have called a paramilitary group at times . . dunno why, but whatever].

Some of my favorite memories in Iraq involved getting my subscription to Dragon out there. Never got a game going, though; everyone was playing Halo in their off hours.

I would wager most players are civilians. I, however, am in the military.

Sovereign Court

My gamer friends and I love PBR. Nobody likes Coors but everybody still drinks it.

I've been gaming for 25+ and in all of the gamers I have met and/or gamed with only one was military, and I can only think of one with any interest in the martial arts, and his interest was in ridiculously exaggerated Kung Fu movies, not real martial arts.

Dark Archive

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First off, I'm a Jaded Ol'Fart Gamer.

In my experience allot of people claim to be experts in Martial Arts, but have no real experience other then a few classes at the YMCA or alot of Movies.

30+ years ago, I had a green belt in Iron Fist Judo before that I think it was an Orange Belt in Kempo. after more then 3 decades of not practicing. I would have to honestly say count me as a studied once upon a time ago. next to useless now

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32

I've studied a tiny bit of Aikido and Judo, and got up to a blue belt during 5 years of studying Shotokan Karate. But I don't have an impressive physical stature and have gone out of shape since then. So really, the most use I've gained out of it is realizing how defenseless I actually am against a drunken 200-pound chav. I hope this alone will make my life safer :)

Liberty's Edge

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I look around the average con, and I am going to guess that most gamer's military experience consists of setting up WH40K armies and the only martial art they ever learned was crueller-fu.

I am ex-military, btw, but started gaming ten years prior to joining.

my entire group is in the military. were in the air force. and one of us knows martial arts. ive also noticed that the more my ranks goes up the more im willing to lead in the game and at work.

Scarab Sages

Im my groups (12 players) 4 served in the military (required for all young men in germany until last year, with the possibility to do civilian service after providing a written statement), one of them also was a succesful martial artist until he was severly injured at a tournament.
So most of 'my' players have neither been to the military nor have training in martial arts.

Silver Crusade

It varies, I guess.

I'm retired military. I studied the martials arts a little bit in the past. I've been studying history much more actively, now that I'm back in college, and part of my hobbyist (rather than academic) interest in history has included reading up on ancient military tactics, techniques, procedures, equipment, logistics, etc.

The people I've gamed with-- it's been a very mixed bag... although, among other fond gaming memories, one of my off-duty activities on a Balkans deployment was playing D&D with a few other people.

No military experience here, nor have I studied a martial art. Two of my current gaming group have martial arts training, one of whom is still practicing. Beyond that, one other was a fencer, and I think that's about it. We might study military history (I remember reading up on WW II as a child, once I knew my dad was a vet from that war), but we're not cut out for those arenas. If nothing else, I loathe taking orders and having discipline enforced from the outside, which makes me very unsuited for such fields.

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I think this is a bit difficult to judge: both martial arts and the military are examples of very close knit communities, which results in a lot more trust and communication between members of the community than happens in every day life.

For instance, I am horrible with names as a general rule, and yet I know the names of almost every member of my dojo. And I know the names of most of their children, even if I've never met the kid. Conversely, at the office I work at, I am always thankful that people have name tags attached to their cubicles, because otherwise I'd have no idea who to give a particular pile of mail to. Do they have a family? Probably, since it says "Mrs." in front of their last name, but I don't know for certain. To be sure I don't have a clue what is going on with their kids: They just aren't important enough to me, because we all know that I'm not intending to work as a courier at the firm forever.

Most of the people I game with either have, or actively are, training in the martial arts. None of them feel any hesitation about talking about the game around other members of the martial arts community, even if those members don't game, and are someone they desire the respect of. When they're at a tournament and no one has an event, a pick-up one-off game is not uncommon, even if they're at the tournament with different schools and might be in direct competition with the people they're currently talking to.

At the same token, take them outside that comfort zone, and put them in a cafeteria or restaurant with just one or two other members of the group, and many of them will become quite unwilling to discuss the topic. Which tells me that, at least to their mind, the rest of society will still stigmatize them for being a gamer. They know their martial arts groups well enough to acknowledge that it either won't happen, or that the person doing it will change their mind after a match, but they don't know that about the rest of society, and so they prefer to keep it quiet.

Simultaneously, I think there's pressure in the other direction as well; Much like a person might worry about admitting being a gamer to a random person causing derision, so too do we worry about admitting what we do. Admitting you're an IRS auditor, a janitor, or a priest to a stranger, on the internet or in person? Be prepared to be lectured about how poor a job choice that is. But admitting you're a member of the military is something that people rarely have any difficulty with, even to strangers. For the military personnel, it's a lot easier to understand why this is the case; Most people will respect the fact that you have served, even if they didn't or weren't willing to, if you yourself are proud of having done so.

As far as studying the martial arts: I notice that one gets thrown about on the internet a lot more than in real life. My strong guess is that it has to do with a concept Neil Stephenson briefly explored in Snow Crash. At some level, we all desire to be a 'bada$$' and the claim to know martial arts is a good first step in establishing that we are. It's an even better claim when we can not be called upon to prove it. Say it in real life and you've got about even chances of being told to "prove it" (which would almost always be illegal and send you to jail), it being ignored, it being ridiculed, or getting respect. When you say it online, the first two of those options become non-issues: it patently can't be proven via a text medium, and unlike a face to face interaction with someone, you won't realize you've been ignored by the people who do ignore it.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Aelryinth wrote:

I'd say most gamers have made at least a peripheral study of martial arts, above and beyond just watching military movies and reading novels or watching Ancient Warriors.


Most gamers I know who have expressed "expert" opinions have generally just gotten them from the movies. I would say out of the hundreds of gamers I've met, only one of them was a martial artist, and a handful more were military.

Most of the original gamers I met during the 80's were of two groups.

Group 1. were engineering and history students. Entirely male

Group 2. literary majors, performers, sci-fi fantasy fans, a couple of damm good writers about even mix gender wise. much smaller group than group 1.

Nowadays group 2 is more in the ascendency as far as numbers go.

Both actually, but I am not a crazy veteran....
I am "retired"

I am pretty sure TOZ is active military still.....

Sovereign Court

Military - Yes, Martial Arts in the form people think - No

But I did study fencing and in did some ARMA which is The Association for Renaissance Martial Arts i.e the methods used to fight with weapons during the renaissance

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

I am a Quaker, so no military for me. :) I've taken a couple self defense lessons (any martial arts I take I would want to be as defensive as possible), and took fencing in college. That's about it for me. Oh, and tae bo for aerobic exercise, but I don't think that counts. ;)

I know 1 guy out of the dozens of gamers I know who entered the military (he is no longer in active service; he did show me how to properly wield a knife once). I know 1 police officer who is a gamer (he'd definitely be my first go-to to ask questions about contemporary weapons and combat).

I know a good deal (maybe 50 percent?) who took martial arts at some point in their lives, but I can think only one gamer who actively stuck with it and still practices (she's working on her black belt).

Ironically, I think she is the gamer I know who least often mouths off about how fighting styles and tactics work or speaks of her "expertise" on combat. Probably because she's trying too hard not to laugh at the rest of us. :)

But I also know a lot of people in general who took martial arts at some point... I belong to the Karate Kid generation, seems like more than half the people I know took some kind of martial art at some point--but sticking with it was a whole other thing. Anyway, I don't think that there were more gamers who took martial arts than other folks I know who did.

Most of what I know about weapons comes from, in the case of guns, gun nut friends or, in the case of archaic weapons, going to museums and looking at the weapons displayed and reading about how they were used. Or talking to people at the Ren Fest who do swordfighting demonstrations (not silly acrobatics, but actual swordfighting demonstrations), that kind of thing.

For the folks who claim themselves to be experts in the Internet, I generally assume about half of them actually know what they're talking about, and the other half are probably shielding a wounded pride and refusing to admit they don't know something.

No military or martial arts for me.

Lantern Lodge

I'm ex-military and I have studied wing chun.

ElyasRavenwood wrote:

One think i have noticed with the majority of my gamer friends over the years is that they have either served in the military, and or they have studied a martial art.

Not everyone, but a good majority have.

What have you found with your gamer friends over the years?

Yeah, actually. I'm a positive on both - and about a third of my group is. Now when I was younger not so much, but it really does seem that way as I grow older.

I knew a guy who was in the army stationed in Berlin in the 80's and said he spent a lot of his time while he was there playing D&D, does that count?

Oh, and I also played Pathfinder and Shadowrun with a guy who had been in the Marines. He kept facepalming over some of the ... interesting ... ideas one of the other players came up with when it comes to weapons based on RPG/videogame logic.

I've gamed with about a hundred people over the years, and it's been my experience that the real-life exploits of most gamers are greatly exaggerated, military experience or martial arts training notwithstanding. Self-aggrandizement tends to be the norm.

That being said, I've found that the best gamers tend to be the ones who have studied tactics in one way or another, either from a wargaming standpoint, or from actual training in the military or ROTC. The one gamer I knew who had any real training (he was a former SEAL) never, ever mentioned his training at the table.

He just did things in the game that reflected it, like studying the land in any encounter--even while the battle was going on--looking for tactical advantage; or preparing things ahead of time, like always having cocked and loaded crossbows sitting within reach of those who were asleep in camp; or preparing one-word messages to be shouted in battle to convey crucial information, such as "there's someone sneaking up on you" or "I'm going left, you go right", etc.; and arranging before the battle that archers would concentrate fire on ranged attacks first, weaker opponents next, and the big bad at the last.

The difference between his approach to the game and the approach of others who brag about their exploits in the military was crystalline; he wasn't "all talk".

In answer to the OP's question, I would say "No. But many of them will say they have."

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

It is just something odd i have noticed, I have been gaming for a long time 25+ years.

Most of my gaming friends, but not all mind you, have a) served in the military at one point in thier lives, or b) like myself studied a martial art at one point in their lives. I studied Tae Kwon Do from the ages of 26-34 in a Dojon. I am no expert, and havn't studied for years

This isn't of course everyone, but it seems to me to be a significant number that and I found it interesting.

I think Dream Atiliear brought up an interesting point, about some of us gamers simply not wishing to be identified as gamers for fear of the stigma that may be attatached.

I remember quite a few times, when with a gaming friend in another situation, we might be asked, "you seem to be good friends, how do you know each other" ( usually by a girl), we would quickly say, something like " oh we met each other through the Martial arts..I study Tae Kwon do, and he studies Kung fu...." or something like that.

Thank you all for posting. I just thought it would be interesting to bring up.


No military experience here. I did study wing chun and tai chi during college and law school though. Now that I live on Texas I do own a firearm and I go shooting every couple of weeks. I also exercise pretty regularly, and while I'm no health nut, I'm in much better shape now than I was a year ago.

Both in my case, though Martial Arts was just while in high school and military was 10 years of the guard/reserve.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

Can't say I relate this observation. Most people I gamed with were neither Military nor too interested in the Martial Arts ... unless you include wrestling in that category.

I've had about 5 groups over the years, probably totaling 20-25 players overall. Only one was in the military, and another one knew martial arts.

I know it's not related, but about half of them were smokers. Not sure why that stands out in my mind.

I practice both Taekwon-do and Aikido, and I've known quite a few military gamers, both RPGs and wargames. Could just be regional though--I've lived in areas near military bases, and also know quite a few gamers that meet neither criteria.

Scarab Sages

As far as I know, none of the guys I currently game with were in the military, nor do I think they study martial arts.

I have not studied martial arts, and while I have never served, I do work for the Navy.

My original group was from highschool. None of us went on to serve. Not sure if any of them studied martial arts.

Shadow Lodge

An interest in tactics is neither a prerequisite nor a required outcome of an interest in RPGs, no matter what the origin of the hobby is.

I'm sure you'll find groups of people who have served and are trained, and they tend to stick together, and groups that have not, and they tend to stick together. So you'll probably either know lots of gamers who have served, or very few, and it's probably highly correlated on whether you yourself have served or trained.

Shadow Lodge

In my previous groups, there were two ex-military types (one army, one RAF), one person with a couple of years' Jujutsu training from years ago, and I've been doing martial arts for getting on 14 years now.

So...kind of, yeah.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

I'm an active duty US Army officer. I've gamed with a few fellow Soldiers over the years. My current group includes two retirees and another prior service Soldier, two of whom are now DoD civilians, and a prior service marine. But I live in an Army town where a lot of retirees settle down. A lot of groups form on deployments, but I've never personally gamed during deployment.

I've dabbled in various martial arts but I wouldn't call myself a martial artist.

I do think that people who appreciate leadership and tactics often find the wargame aspect of PF/D&D appealing.

I've probably gamed with 50+ people over 23 years. If I had to guess, I'd say maybe 10% studied martial arts. Same goes for military service. I have no idea how that relates to the normal population.

I know growing up there were always sailors in the gaming section of the Waldenbooks at the mall. (Back when there were such a thing as Waldenbooks). I always figured for them it was because it was a portable hobby with potentially endless hours of entertainment attached to the expenditure, which would work well for being on a ship for 6 months at a time.

Personally, I've never served, though I have several friends and family members who have. I did study martial arts for several years about a decade ago. An injury followed by time constraints put an end to it, though I keep saying I'd like to find time to go back. At this point what skills I may have acquired have likely rusted to uselessness.

I also took some Medieval Long Sword (which in reality is closer to a D&D bastard sword) classes run by Western martial arts society a few years ago. Those were a lot of fun. Again, another thing I'd love to pursue if I had the time.

Of my players who have served, the only one who still plays that saw combat tends to play goofier (if still dangerous) characters (he's currently on a halfling kick) and generally stays away from the nitty-gritty tactical stuff most of the time.

Weird, I don't know many gamers IRL that are in the military or studied martial arts. The ones I know are mostly Art Students or in the Tech field.

I took martial arts for a little bit when I was younger, but it has nothing to do with my gaming. (In fact, I actually cringe a little bit at Monks and Ninjas in some games.)

I ran into a gamer in Iraq during deployment, him and I got about 5 other people into it.

My take on it as a medic was if we are not busy it is a good thing!

He was actually struggling alot to get them to see how the Role-playing works. I made a character and they all got into it pretty quickly.

PF! Watch out it spreads like a virus!

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I started gaming as a 13-year-old. When I went to college, I dropped the gaming habit in persuit of wine women and song.

When I joined the military I discovered that there is a large subculture of gamers. I was happy to re-acquaint myself with the game scene, since drinking and floozying had lost their thrill.

Contrary to what most non-military folks think, there is quite a lot of 'waiting around' time in the military. Some of my best games were played while on CQ (Charge of Quarters) duty, which was basically a 24-hour security guard shift at the front door of the barracks. I think the wargaming aspect appeals to military folks, and I think it mirrored a lot of the training they got prepping for conflict (which is all the military does when there isnt a conflict occuring). Plus, military folks love playing games. I can't even tell you how many Spades games I played sitting around, or Texas Hold Em. Even board games were popular, and OMG the young guys and their videogames! It's nice being single, 19 and pulling a military paycheck...

I think you find gamers whatever your social circle. I hung out with military folks, ergo, most of my gamer friends are military or ex-military. If I was an student at a college, I would imagine most gamers I interacted with would be college students as well.

Shadow Lodge

I'm currently in the military, and I have some history with various martial arts, though in my personal experience, most gamer martial artists are more along the lines of believing the movies and taking a few self-defence classes (at most), and believing they are more experienced (and knowledgable) with combat than they are.

From an inside the military perspective, I'm guessing that gaming (especially tabletop and RPG) are ot common, but also not seen in the same (looked down upon or questioned) light that is commonly believed.

We tend to have a lot of time to tell stories and jokes to pass the time, so I'm sure that gaming stories come up more often than in civilian society, which might lead more military gamers together, and or open up more opertunities, but I don't think it helps much in the sense of initiating new gamers as much. Just my experience, though.

I can't remember meeting any military gamers. I'm sure there have been one or two, but they're outnumbered by those who won't touch the military with a 10' pole.

But I have met a couple MA gamers, and I'm one myself.

Martial Arts

One of these things is not like the other.

If you said, Military and MMA / Boxing Fighter, I might want to hear about it. It still isn't the same thing though.

Shadow Lodge

cranewings wrote:


Martial Arts

One of these things is not like the other.
If you said, Military and MMA / Boxing Fighter, I might want to hear about it. It still isn't the same thing though.



Definition of MARTIAL
1: of, relating to, or suited for war or a warrior
2: relating to an army or to military life
3: experienced in or inclined to war : warlike

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