Skills

Optional skills fall into three categories:

• Skills that only some masters regard as "basic." If the GM rules that an optional skill works this way, it goes on the main skill list for that school and adds a point to style cost.

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• Skills that all students of the style are encouraged to study in order to gain a fuller understanding of the style. These are never necessary for the skilled practice of the style.

• Skills reserved for advanced students. These play a similar role to techniques, Style Perks, and cinematic skills: they're never required, but martial artists who wish to learn them must first buy Style Familiarity and put a point into each of the style's basic skills.

The GM decides which niche each optional skill occupies.

Style vs. Style

A source of perpetual debate in the martial-arts world is the question "Which styles are better than what others?" The reality - which GURPS tries to model - is that almost any martial art can make a capable fighter out of somebody with suitable physical, mental, and emotional potential . . . but some styles do so more readily than others.

Not all styles are created equal - some truly are superior for certain purposes. Styles created for combat turn out apt fighters but rarely graceful kata performers or tournament winners. Dedicated sports styles produce contenders who perform better under controlled conditions than in a "street fight." And styles optimized for fitness and relaxation rarely train warriors or champs, but are more likely than other styles to have a positive effect on the average person's health.

There is no "best" or "ultimate" style, though. Styles are good for what they're designed for. Judo, Tae Kwon Do, and Karate were designed as sports. Their practitioners focus on competition - although some become tough fighters. On the other hand, a Jeet Kune Do, MCMAP, or Krav Maga stylist learns to fight. He'd probably lose badly in a kata competition or a light-contact match scored on proper form, but pit him against an assailant in a dark alley and the result would be quite different. Mixed martial arts (p. 189) attempt to bridge this gap, training martial artists for full-contact matches but sharply limiting the use of techniques that are effective but likely to inflict crippling injury.

In a cinematic game, all bets are off. A realistic combat style might churn out capable warriors . . . but these would face easy defeat at the hands of disciples of more artistic styles with working chi powers. Sports styles might be every bit as effective in a deadly fight as in the ring. And the most "peaceful" arts might teach techniques capable of defeating any foe!

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