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Looking at the wording of Flurry of Blows, I may be overthinking it, but the description of the feature (PHB, p. 78) says:

Immediately after you take the Attack action on your turn, you can spend 1 ki point to make two unarmed strikes as a bonus action.

Does this imply that a 5th-level (or higher) monk must finish the Attack action (initial attack + extra attack) and only afterward can optionally use the Flurry of Blows bonus action immediately?

Or does "take" mean that a monk must start/commit to doing an Attack action, and before finishing the Attack action (or even make any attack rolls), they can initiate Flurry of Blows to make two more unarmed strikes? Can the Flurry of Blows attacks be before (or be interspersed in any order with) the two attacks from the Attack action?

Somewhat relevant is Mike Mearls' October 2014 unofficial tweet that movement can occur in-between/during Flurry of Blows attacks.


My thought is to gain the benefits of the Open Hand monk's knockdown ability tied to Flurry of Blows, and benefit from the prone status on the two attacks from the Attack action.

Example:

  1. First Flurry of Blows attack; target fails Dex save and is knocked prone
  2. First attack from the Attack action - target dies
  3. Move to new target and use second Flurry of Blows attack; target fails Dex save and becomes prone
  4. Second attack from the Attack action

(Alternatively using the Flurry benefits to remove reactions, etc.)

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4 Answers 4

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The rules on bonus actions say:

You choose when to take a bonus action during your turn, unless the bonus action’s timing is specified

Here the timing is specified: "Immediately after you take the Attack action".

You must take the attack action which means, in practice, that you must make an attack using the Attack action (which you can substitute a trip or grapple etc. for) and then you can use your Flurry of Blows. To my mind, based on the ability to move between initial and extra attacks within an Attack action, you should be able to use your flurry anytime after that first attack i.e. before or after any extra attack.

So, you cannot use it the way you describe - you can, of course, substitute a trip for your initial attack if you want.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not convinced that "taking an action" is the same as "finishing an action". \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 24, 2020 at 8:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @user-024673 Nowhere in the description of the 'Flurry of Blows' ability is there a requirement to 'finish' anything. \$\endgroup\$
    – aaron9eee
    Commented Nov 28, 2023 at 23:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @aaron9eee Yes, exactly. FoB says "take an action", not "after you make an attack" \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 6, 2023 at 3:34
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Based on Jeremy Crawford's tweet, going to answer this myself since the other answers aren't quite what he clarified:

  1. start and complete the attack action ( 1 attack for level 1-4, or both from level 5+).
  2. Immediately after the attack action completes, may use bonus action and spend ki point to flurry of blows.

I came back to this answer after reading the clarifying tweet about shield mastery, since now we have a consistent answer for both questions. So ready to resolve this one!

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is correct! I believe you can still move before/between the unarmed strikes that are part of Flurry of Blows, but the Attack action (including any extra attacks) has to be fully completed before you can use Flurry of Blows. Crawford's response here matches up with his revised Shield Master/related rulings, in that "When you take the Attack action" does specify the timing. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Sep 13, 2018 at 23:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ Good point. I thought of adding the movement within FOB and regular attacks, but didn’t want to add complexity. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 14, 2018 at 18:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Note that as of the 2019 Sage Advice Compendium release, Crawford's tweets are no longer official rulings. You may want to edit your answer to support it by citing the rules as well. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented May 2, 2020 at 3:43
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We can compare the official ruling from SAC for a very similar feature.

The Shield Master feat allows, among other options, to shove a creature as a Bonus action once the Attack action has been taken:

If you take the Attack action on your turn, you can use a bonus action to try to shove a creature within 5 feet of you with your shield.

The wording is somewhat different ("if you take the Attack action", "Immediately after you take the Attack action on your turn"), but the Sage Advice Compendium comes to help:

The Shield Master feat lets you shove someone as a bonus action if you take the Attack action. Can you take that bonus action before the Attack action?

No. The bonus action provided by the Shield Master feat has a precondition: that you take the Attack action on your turn. Intending to take that action isn’t sufficient; you must actually take it before you can take the bonus action. During your turn, you do get to decide when to take the bonus action after you’ve taken the Attack action.

This sort of if-then setup appears in many of the game’s rules. The “if” must be satisfied before the “then” comes into play.

The important bit from here is that one has to actually take the Attack action, not just intend to take it. The same happens for Monk's Flurry of Blows: one has to fulfill the prerequisite (i.e., taking the Attack action), not just think to fulfill it.

Action economy: when Flurry of Blows can take place?

The wording of Flurry of blows reports (emphasis mine)

Immediately after you take the Attack action on your turn, [...]

The word Immediately implies that one has to take the bonus action exactly after having taken the Attack action, meaning that one cannot move between the attacks.

The wording, however, is not clear about taking the bonus action between the attacks granted by features such as Extra Attack, even comparison with other game features does not help1. This decision is up to the DM, which has anyway to take into account several aspects.

Indeed, if the DM allows to take the Flurry of Blows between 2 attacks, the player can decide to

  • attack one enemy
  • use the Flurry of Blows, killing them
  • move towards another enemy (outside their reach) and attack them.

On the other hand, if the Monk has to finish the Attack Action, the following could happen

  • attack one enemy with the 2 attacks granted by the Attack Action, killing them
  • they can activate Flurry of Blows, but other enemies are out of reach and the Monk cannot move: they have to wait for the next turn.

1 At least, to the best of my knowledge until now.

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PHB page 192, Attack action:

With this action, you make one melee or ranged attack. See the “Making an attack” section for the rules that govern attacks. Certain features, such as the Extra Attack feature of the fighter, allow you to make more than one attack with this action.

We know that a character can move or use other actions between multiple attacks, so I'd say that you can take the Attack action on the start of your turn, and move or use other actions (such as Flurry of Blows) before the first or any other attack of your Attack action, allowing you to effectively use FoB before the Attack action.

Somewhat relevant and mentioned above, Jeremy Crawford confirmed in the Sage Advice that you can do the Shield Master shield bash before the Attack action. The wording in Shield Master is "if you take the Attack action on your turn (...)", and the explanation of how it's possible can be the same as the one I provided for FoB.

All in all, this seems to me as a bit roundabout way of doing this, and it may not be Rules as Intended, but I'd allow it, since the power boost doesn't seem that big.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The problem with this logic is that Shield Master says "if you take the Attack action on your turn...", but FoB says "immediately after you take the attack action...". Therefore Shield Master lets you bash if you have attacked or even if you plan to attack, but the FoB bonus action is only granted after you take an attack action. \$\endgroup\$
    – Besty
    Commented Apr 28, 2020 at 16:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Besty I was trying to get here at sort of "declaring" your action, but not immediately using it, sort of like how Shield Master locks you into the Attack action. I've since changed my mind, but left this answer for others' reference and as a reminder to myself to double-check my rulings. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark
    Commented Apr 29, 2020 at 20:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ In 2017, Crawford revised his ruling on Shield Master and similar bonus actions conditional on taking a certain action. Here's an (unofficial) 2018 tweet reflecting this change: "Clarification about bonus actions: if a feature says you can do X as a bonus action if you do Y, you must do Y before you can do X. For Shield Master, that means the bonus action must come after the Attack action. You decide when it happens afterward that turn." \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented May 2, 2020 at 3:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ In 2017, he tweeted: "When you take an action, the action happens. There is no abstract "take an action" step that takes place before the action itself." And alongside the revised ruling: "There's a rule that allows you to insert movement between your attacks (PH, 190). There's intentionally no rule that allows you to nest actions/reactions inside each other. They are meant to have integrity as processes, except when we create exceptions meant to disrupt them." \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented May 2, 2020 at 3:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ In other words, per the revised rulings, even the regular bonus action unarmed strike from Martial Arts must happen only after the Attack action is fully resolved. Even before that revision, Flurry of Blows specifically said "immediately after you take the Attack action"; that still holds true as a specification of timing. FoB can only ever happen after the Attack action is taken. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented May 2, 2020 at 3:42

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