Martial Arts Dojo
Martial Arts Dojo

Martial Arts Dojo
– Unbroken Bonds

Date Reviewed:
May 14, 2019

Ratings Summary:
Standard: 3.93
Expanded: 3.80
Limited: 4.90

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.

Reviews Below:


When looking at the artwork of Martial Arts Dojo, this room is identical to Saffron City’s Gym, or what it would’ve been were it not for Sabrina’s Psychic Gym next door annihilating them. Now it’s just a facility with five trainers, one of them called the Karate King. If you defeat him, he gives you either Hitmonlee or Hitmonchan, but not both. Overall, it was an incentive to get a gift Pokemon that I would otherwise not be able to find elsewhere in their respective games. And this may factor Hitmontop existing in past games, mainly Pokémon Red & Blue and Let’s Go series.

Anyhow, this Stadium card is somewhat simple – despite the built in restrictions – but will have a major impact of the game. Two unfortunate parts to this card is that it excludes Ultra Beasts and only Basic Fighting energy will trigger the effect. There are some good Ultra Beast attackers that would’ve abuse the heck out of this stadium like Buzzwole-GX, Sledgehammer Buzzwole, and Buzzwole & Pheromosa-GX had the Stadium allowed them. And requiring Basic Fighting energy means you can’t simply slap a Rainbow Energy and call it a day, hoping to trigger the damage boost. So that’s two things keeping Martial Arts Dojo in check, or else this card will see play almost everywhere.

Once you get past that obstacle, then any non Ultra Beast with any Basic Fighting energy attached to it gets to deal 10 more damage before applying Weakness and Resistance. However, if you have more prizes than your opponent, then you get to deal 40 more damage instead of 10. This is a flexible Stadium card as it requires a basic energy, not the Pokémon type, so almost any Pokémon can make great use of it if you can make room for a Fighting energies (unlike other cards like Devoured Field or Reverse Valley working for certain Pokémon types regardless of energy). Most attacks are Colorless friendly so that you don’t accidentally have an excess of energy cards just to fulfill the requirement of this Stadium card. Damage boost tends to matter if it can change from a 3HKOs into 2HKOs or 2HKOs into OHKOs. Otherwise, they’re great to have for the rest of the game, maybe except when you’re facing Rage style decks that tend to punish you if you heavily damage a certain Pokémon. Tauros-GX and Charizard & Reshiram-GX comes to mind when building up damage taken just to deal just as big of a hit back to you.

Overall, Martial Arts Dojo is a wonderful card in Standard and comfortably sits on the fourth best card of Sun & Moon Unbroken Bonds expansion. It is also a good card for Expanded use, though there are so many Stadiums competing against others for other purposes that may seem better than boosting damage depending on the situation. There is nothing that screams “best Stadium card ever” in any format, and your claims may be ridiculed by others with their reasoning. How can you possibly defend that Martial Arts Dojo is better than Hypnotoxic Laser or even Tropical Beach? That’s some debate that never ends. It does chiefly replace Fighting Stadium from XY Furious Fists since it’s using an outdated mechanic that still exists in the format, but you will see less and less as more and more expansions are coming. It is also a must run in Limited since all you need is a couple copies and some Fighting energies to continuously reap the benefits of boosting damage.


  • Standard: 4.3/5
  • Expanded: 3.4/5
  • Limited: 4.9/5


Note: My full review for Lucario & Melmetal-GX has been posted.  If you think I missed any other semi-recent reviews, you might want to check and see if the review simply went up late.  I have both a good and a bad track record, in that sense.

As we countdown our top picks from the latest expansion, our fourth-place finisher is Martial Arts Dojo (SM – Unbroken Bonds 179/214). This new Trainer-Stadium boosts the damage done by Pokémon with basic [F] Energy attached to them unless the Pokémon in question is an Ultra Beast. How much of a boost depends on who has more Prizes remaining; +10 if you are tied or have fewer Prizes remaining than your opponent, +40 if you have more Prizes remaining than your opponent. This isn’t exactly a simple effect, so let us start unpacking what it all means. Trainer cards – the overarching card type – are getting easier to work with: Bill’s Analysis and Jirachi (SM – Team Up 99/181; SM – Black Star Promos SM161) have been joined by Green’s Exploration (SM – Unbroken Bonds 275/214, 209/214) and Molayne (SM – Unbroken Bonds 181/214, 212/214). Anti-Trainer (as opposed to Anti-Item, Anti-Stadium, etc.) effects are out there but tend to be very deck-specific or simply not very effective. The Expanded Format merely adds to both categories.

Stadium cards remain in play and so provide an effect that is either ongoing or reusable for as long as that Stadium card is in play. Stadium cards usually provide the same effect(s) to both players; the exceptions I know of are only found in the Unlimited Format. However, that doesn’t mean both players gain the same net benefit as one deck may be better able to utilize a particular Stadium’s effects than the other. A player may only play one Stadium card from hand during their turn, and it has to have a different name than the Stadium already in play. If you play a Stadium card from hand while a different Stadium is already in play, the new Stadium discards the previous one. Yeah, every Stadium acts as a counter to other Stadium cards. There are a decent amount of card effects which apply to Stadium cards, but most of what has proven themselves are counters. Besides those that are more deck-specific, such as Dangerous Drill or the new Honchkrow-GX (SM – Unbroken Bonds 109214, 202/214, 223/214), we have Faba, Field Blower, and the new Marshadow (SM – Unbroken Bonds 81/214).

Was it really necessary to rehash all of that? Maybe not, but even veteran players sometimes forget what it all means. I haven’t even brought up Prism Star Stadium cards. Martial Arts Dojo isn’t one of those, but it is still pertinent to the discussion because Prism Star Stadium cards all have good to great unique effects while also having a shared effect (or perhaps it is just rules text?) which states they are unaffected by Items and Supporters. So everything I just said? That means the only reliable way to get rid of a Prism Star Stadium card once it is already in play is to use your own Stadium card OR something like that new Marshadow. Which affects all other Stadium cards by giving additional reason to run them but also additional reasons to run Marshadow (which also counters them). It also leads us to a big advantage of Martial Arts Dojo’s effect; it is something you may at least try to benefit from during your own turn. Honchkrow-GX’s “Ruler of the Night” Ability can still block you from playing it, but most other Stadium-counters can’t do anything about Martial Arts Dojo until after you’ve had the chance to cash in on its effects.

Yes, NOW we’ll finally get into analyzing those effects. Excluding Ultra Beasts prevents Buzzwole and Buzzwole-GX from utilizing it, which does hurt Martial Arts Dojo; these two aren’t the format-defining powerhouses they once were, but they still feature in proven, competitive decks. [F] Type decks that run (or mostly run) on off-Type Energy or meet their [F] Energy requirements with cards such as Rainbow Energy, Strong Energy, or Unit Energy [F][D][Y] for are almost as out of luck as Ultra Beasts, though perhaps they can slip in a few basic Fighting Energy cards to try and make things work. Doesn’t seem like that would be reliable enough, so this leaves Martial Arts Dojo mostly to attackers of ANY Type in decks that run on basic Fighting Energy. As just helping everything would be silly and broken, as might even working might working with Ultra Beasts, these requirements are a good compromise.

Another reminder we all need, even if we might be sick of it, is that altering damage only matters when it shifts the KO count or triggers a particular effect. +10 damage isn’t a lot, but there will be edge cases where it matters. This bonus applies before Weakness or Resistance; it will really come down to the specific matchup, but both of these are likely to make smaller bonuses matter. Weakness because it turns +10 into +20, but even Resistance as it even a simple +10 bonus reduces how many targets survive a hit via Resistance. For example, Lucario-GX is attacking Zapdos (SM – Team Up 40/181; SM – Black Star Promos SM159) with its “Aura Strike” attack on the turn that Lucario-GX hit the field. That means Aura Strike does 120 damage but Zapdos has 110 HP with [F] Resistance; Zapdos survives with 10 HP. Assuming Lucario-GX has a basic Fighting Energy card attached to itself, Martial Arts Dojo lets it score a OHKO. How about the when you have more Prizes remaining than your opponent? Just plug in +40 damage instead of +10. That Lucario-GX and its Aura Strike now swing for 160. A little short of some key OHKOs, but we still can stack on Choice Band, Diancie {*} and its “Princess’s Cheer” Ability, etc.

Martial Arts Dojo can act as “insurance” against a slow start OR be used alongside Pokémon MEANT to give up Prizes. Run a [F] deck with Landorus (SM – Unbroken Bonds 103/214) as your early game attacker; it won’t last too long, but it can spread some damage via its “Linear Attack” before it falls. Use Electrode-GX and its “Extra Energy Bomb” Ability to power-up your attackers; even if nothing in the deck is [F] Type, you just have to burn your manual Energy attachment (or some of the extra attachments from the Ability) on basic Fighting Energy. Use the new Mismagius (SM – Unbroken Bonds 78/214) and its “Mysterious Message” Ability to refill your hand… even on your first turn, if you are also running Dusk Stone! Don’t forget the Expanded Format either. [F] decks have been looking for a replacement for Fighting Stadium for quite some time. We’ve got has-beens such as Landorus-EX and near-misses like Medicham (XY – Primal Clash 81/160). The former is a slightly worse version of Buzzwole-GX while the latter has an Ancient Trait (essentially an Ability that isn’t an Ability) which lets it attack twice in a row. Oh… and if you pull this in the Limited Format, run it unless you absolutely can’t work around five Fighting Energy cards into your deck or your deck is exclusively running Ultra Beasts.


Standard: 3.5/5

Expanded: 3.5/5

Limited: 4.8/5

I’m not promising – or warning – you that Martial Arts Dojo will make [F] the dominant Type. I actually expect [R] decks to dominate the metagame, because of how Reshiram & Charizard-GX have already done that in Japan. Having phenomenal support while not having one of the current top decks is nothing new to the [F] Type. This is why Martial Arts Dojo only managed ninth-place on my own list… well, that and the sheer number of amazing cards in this expansion. I’m sure something will come along that shows off Martial Arts Dojo, probably something that becomes one of the top decks. Until then, expect it in many rogue and rogue-like (rogue-lite?) decks, kicking it on the periphery of the competitive metagame.


Did you know Saffron City technically has two gyms? Sure one of them doesn’t give you a badge for beating the leader and the other trainers, but it does give you a useful Fighting Pokemon you can’t get anywhere else in RBY or FRLG…although maybe LGPE lets you get them elsewhere. Not really sure about that one.

Martial Arts Dojo is a Stadium card that surprisingly isn’t just for Fighting Pokemon, though it does benefit those decks the most. If your Pokemon has any Fighting Energy attached to them, their attacks will deal 10 more damage as long as they’re not an Ultra Beast. On top of that, if you’ve got more Prizes remaining than your opponent, the damage is boosted by 40 instead! But be warned – this applies to your opponent as well.

There have been plenty of damage boosting effects in the game – Muscle Band, Choice Band, Strong Energy all come to mind – and they’ve always seen a solid amount of play in the TCG. Ramping up the damage you can deal to your opponent’s Pokemon is the most surefire way of achieving your win condition of taking all your Prizes via KOs, so naturally it’d be hard to say that Martial Arts Dojo wouldn’t see some play. I suppose the part about it excluding Ultra Beast is more so to prevent stuff like Buzzwole-GX from being completely dominant, as it has been up until the last couple of months or so, but since the effect applies to any Pokemon that has Fighting Energy, and Ultra Beast-GX tend to have effects that manipulate Prize cards a LOT, I can understand why they put this restriction here.

I think at the moment, this card will only show up in Fighting decks primarily, possibly in decks running something like Rainbow Energy since that’s going to be Standard-legal for a while longer, but eventually this could become to go-to damage boost that decks will want to tech in that special Fighting Energy in for. That or Rainbow Energy explodes in popularity and becomes a staple Energy, just so people can take advantage of the Dojo without losing out on their regular Energy – needless to say, that’s how good these two cards synergize with each other.

So expect that Dojo to show up in a lot of decks sooner rather than later, cause even an extra 10 damage per move stacks up over time, but an extra 40 is unprecedented!


Standard: 4/5 (definitely a really solid damage-boosting card, with relatively few restrictions)

Expanded: 4.5/5 (obviously Fighting decks benefit the most, but thanks to Special Energies like Rainbow Energy that provide multiple Energy Types, a lot of other decks can use this card)

Limited: 5/5 (if you pull it, you can run it, it’s not even that hard to use)

Arora Notealus: I think Martial Arts Dojo will like find its way into every deck in some way or another, whether that’s the Stadium itself or just the usage of Rainbow Energy to take advantage of it, and I’d be more surprised if this card didn’t see MORE play alongside Choice Band while it’s around…assuming it’s rotating out going by the set rotation and not counting the special Reverse Holo promo available through the 2019 International Championships. Man, card legality is hard sometimes…

Next Time: What could be better than damage boosting? Probably a Champion.

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