Kakapo42 wrote:Thus, as I see it, there are two potential ways to approach Ancient Fire Tribe martial arts. The first would be as a largely defensive practice intended to facilitate further ranged combat. In this case most techniques would revolve around getting the enemy away or pushing them back far enough to shoot them with an arrow (or later on a gun), and would likely use the bow and arrow as a central part with an emphasis on quick close range archery. A Fire Tribe warrior fighting in close combat this way would probably look something like Legolas in the climax of The Fellowship of The Ring (this scene); hand-to-hand fighting yes, but largely as a means to push away an opponent back to arms length and still secondary to close-range archery/shooting. Further support for this school of thought can also be seen in Dawn of War: Dark Crusade and its sister game Dawn of War: Soulstorm, where the close combat animations of Tau Fire Warriors suggest that 'push the enemy back to arms' length so you can shoot them in the face' is exactly what they try to do in close combat situations.
The alternative idea is to consider the Fire Tribe Tau's roots as hunters. Much of the Fire Tribe (and by extension the Fire Caste) art of war and combat is derived from hunting, and it's likely that any traditional martial arts practised by them would be no exception. Therefore it's likely that at least a few traditional Fire Tribe martial arts would be based on techniques used to subdue or take down large dangerous animals, and were likely first used for that before being re-purposed on enemy warriors. If you wish to pursue this path look to techniques for capturing wild boar or cattle for inspiration. Such martial arts would also likely include more non-lethal techniques, making them useful for capturing prisoners and high-value targets that need to be taken alive.
This is a really well thought out discussion as to their proficiency. Looking at it from this more historical perspective you could utilise a few things from the more stationary ranged English army of the 100 years war. More specifically the longbowers. Now these archers were typically not exclusive soldiers, many of them would have used their bows to hunt so the hunter culture to warrior change is largely similar. They went out their way to avoid close combat, typically with overwhelming fire at range but also when in danger of being charged by stronger opponents (the french cavalry) they would each place a stake in fron of themselves to create a wall of spikes to stop horse getting up close. The other technique would've been to dig pit traps to break chargers legs and trip them just before the lines.
I'd say to improve the combat advantage something along this lines could be undertaken with a 40k twist. The rules for the bretonnian archers was a good example of this in fantasy, a fixed line of stakes that prevented the opponent from getting the charge advantages whilst allowing you to stand and shoot. The 40k twist could be simply the use of drones, in this any unengaged drone unit with (say 6") could perform an emergency intercept move as opposed to overwatching on a charge. This would allow them to move in between the chargers and the tau unit and engage them in combat, effectively stopping the enemies charge (maybe really useful with shield drones etc).
Another thing to consider is the maneuverability of the weapons in close combat. Using the longbower example, the bow was too large to effectively shoot close up (rather like the standard rifles), so would probably be discarded in combat. However a bow could have it's string cut and they seemed to have sharp horn nocks which effectively gave the archers a pointed quarterstaff (which the english country-folk would have probably been proficient at anyway). However what is more interesting is the carbines in close combat. These are much shorter as such can be used to bash and shoot in combat, maybe these could allow additional attacks or the ability to use pulse carbine as a ranged weapon in close combat, representing this push off and fire approach? More like the legolas example.
Just some ponderings as they're the best example of ranged, stationary forces with a hunter origin I can think of. Also I will probably use the example a lot as I do love my longbow archery.