This came up via discussion in another question. I do remember that Bene Gesserit get self defense training, but, basically I'd like to know any and all sources for the extent of the training, its effectiveness and its lethality.

1 Answer 1


Simply put, there is no single canonical source that lays out the BG martial art(s). Here are my thoughts from being a Dune fan for 30+ years and reading the books multiple times.

Out of universe explanation: Frank Herbert wasn't much of a martial arts expert, so he kept the descriptions as generic as possible, mostly describing the results of the fights, not the individual Katas, throws, etc. This allowed him to get out of relatively petty arguments with real experts over trivia that wasn't core to the plot.

In universe: My feeling is that the BG "martial art" is some rather esoteric blend of every style that has ever existed, modified by the individual's limitations and strengths. Essentially all BG are given extensive (and intensive) physical and mental training. This training almost certainly includes both the history and application of nearly all martial arts. There are many clues laced through out all of the books about this.

Examples: In Heretics of Dune, Miles Teg comments that he learned fighting from the BG. He recognizes that the last ghola Duncan's fighting style is ancient, but every bit as effective as Teg's "modern" training. So I take this to mean BG training constantly evolves.

In Dune itself, RM Mohaim instructs Jessica to ignore the "regular order of training" for Paul's safety. Later the book revealed that Jessica had instructed Paul on the Prana/Bindu techniques very early in life. This tells me that the martial arts emerges out of the regular progress of BG training.

Leto II in Children of Dune has an extended conversation where he comments that all of the BG physical and mental training is mostly in preparation for the Spice Agony. Martial arts can be seen in this light as a form of "body awareness training".

In the same book, Ghanima demonstrates that she basically knows all martial arts that all her ancestors learned, all the way back to ancient Egypt. Jessica fears this ability and warns Stilgar about it. So for Reverend Mothers and pre-born, training isn't so much learning a skill, as it is getting the muscles prepared to use the skill.

  • I think it is a combination of the early prana-bindu training, and later the ability to access other memory and learn through it different martial arts methods.
    – Zottek
    Commented Apr 19, 2012 at 5:12

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.