Morrowind Martial Arts
by Kevaar Asurani
Morrowind has three recognized unarmed and unarmored fighting traditions, called the Golden Reed, Marshmerrow, and Salt Rice.
Those seeking to pattern themselves after the Rain-of-Sand of the Khajiiti would find themselves best served by learning from masters of the Marshmerrow tradition. This style's roots can be traced back to one practitioner, Taren Omathan, the Master-Student of Elsweyr. Taren Omathan had the unfortunate occupation of being a sweeping-servant in a Khajiiti monastery for many years. During this time he would watch the techniques of the Khajiit students, waiting until he had the opportunity to prove his worth in a contest of skill, in which he handily defeated all comers. Omathan has since returned to Morrowind to teach his art, where his fighting style mimics the same watch-and-wait philosophy that bore him through many years of outlander oppression. Rumors of this honorable master joining the Dissident Priest movement should have no bearing on our esteem for his martial accomplisments.
The Marshmerrow tradition carries many similarities to its grandmaster. Marshmerrow is a flowing form, weaving willpower and the physical manifestations of the practitioner's spirit together with precise hand, leg, and foot techniques. Many opponents would deem the dance-like movement of Marshmerrow laughable, at least until they ended belly-up on the fighting mat.
Although many styles in Akavir make use of forms based on animals, Marshmerrow is mostly absent of these, perhaps because few of the deformed creatures of Morrowind could be considered graceful or wise enough to emulate. Instead many of the forms are based off of the ancestor spirits, making Marshmerrow a favorite among Indoril priests. In more recent years, as the reputation of the Master-Student fell into disfavor, many of the Imperial elements in Morrowind have taken up the style, particularly the Mages Guild and Imperial Cult. These practitioners consider Marshmerrow to be a useful addition to their offensive repetoire, claiming that the forms that "invigorate the spirit", in Omathan's terms, in actuality also help them replenish their Magicka.
Despite its vaunted roots, however, Marshmerrow is not the first unarmed tradition to have developed in Morrowind. Golden Reed takes that distinction, and is commonly understood to be a conglomerate of familial traditions from the Redoran, Dres and Ashlander warrior castes. Golden Reed is considered a well-rounded tradition, with a mix of heavily rooted and agile evasive stances. Special attention is paid to those techniques that can be used against armed and armored opponents.
For this reason Golden Reed is particularly popular amongst the Temple, where Ordinators will often spend a year or two studying the art before graduating to learning how to fight with pike and sword. That the style has passed from the traditionally antagonistic Ashlanders to the Temple speaks to this style's long history and association with the most honorable sects of Dunmer society.
Of final note is the style of Salt Rice, a discipline first developed by the Morag Tong to prepare their assassins for the more up-close-and-personal aspects of their job. Like its creators, Salt Rice is considered the most brutal and competitive of the traditions, in which throws, disarming and grappling techniques, and even a variety of cheap shots are common. Salt Rice also contains a number of stances involving stepping out heel-to-toe, believed to teach its practitioners how to move silently even while in battle.
In more recent years, Salt Rice has filtered out to other elements of the criminal underworld. Although many of the Morag Tong scoff at these connections, classic forms such as Ducking the Guar and the Removal of the Jewels have remarkably similar counterparts in Camonna Tong street fights. Nor do the Morag Tong seem overly concerned with fighting knowledge passing back in the opposite direction; Salt Rice continues to evolve as it absorbs bits and pieces of many other styles, primarily brought to Morrowind by traveling pirates or the more combative victims of Morag Tong justice.