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I'm building a duelist that has Punishing Kick and a rapier as her main weapon. Now do I just add the Punishing Kick to my normal attacks, or do I need to make an unarmed strike in order to use it?

The rules don't appear to state that you need to make an unarmed attack to have it work, but I could be wrong.

The feat does not explicitly say it has to be an unarmed strike, but I strongly suspect that the intention is that it be only usable on unarmed attacks. Alas, other abilities have weird sounding names, considering how you can combine and use them.

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Yes, it is strongly implied that it has to be an unarmed strike. Pathfinder isn't designed to be NP-complete, it relies on reasonable interpretation to work. It's not the letter of the law, but it's the clear intent in my opinion as a Pathfinder GM.

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Punishing Kick

It was clearly intended to work only with unarmed strikes, it looks like possibly as an ability of the Hungry Ghost Monk before they turned it into a bonus feat.

That said, I don't really see any problem with using it as a rider effect on a regular attack. It makes a lot of sense for me for a swashbuckler to hit someone with a rapier and then push them away with a kick as part of a single action. Perfectly Errol Flynnish, and i'd allow it in a game I ran with little difficulty.

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