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Reading over the Monk I saw that for Martial Arts:

When you use the Attack action with an unarmed strike or a monk weapon on your turn, you can make one unarmed strike as a bonus action.

This implies that non-monk weapons do not count towards being able to make this single unarmed strike. However, when looking over Flurry of Blows:

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.

The requirement doesn't seem to be there anymore, and I didn't see where this discrepancy was covered in this answer to a similar question about the limitations of an unarmed strike. This answer to a duplicate question says that you can use flurry of blows as a bonus action on any form of attack.

So does the limitation really only exist on a single unarmed strike, but you can use whatever attack action you want to trigger Flurry of Blows?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Please answer questions in answers, not comments. Comments are for clarification of the question. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Jan 29 '16 at 23:06
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Yes, it can

Why the cognitive dissonance? Martial Arts is one Monk class feature, Flurry of Blows is a completely different Monk class feature and each has its own independent criteria for allowing their respective bonus actions.

However, if the attack you use to allow the Flurry of Blows is neither unarmed or a monk weapon and you are still holding it when you make your unarmed attack, their damage is 1 + STR bonus rather than monk die + STR/DEX bonus as you do not qualify for the monks unarmed benefits. For your proposed Druid/Monk build this is a real problem as most beasts are always wielding non-monk weapons like claws or bites.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The cognitive dissonance is stemming from a cheesy Monk/Druid build I'm implementing and wanting to make sure I'm absolutely correct before I do it, this step being only half the gouda. \$\endgroup\$ – Dumpcats Jan 28 '16 at 0:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Escoce: Unarmed strikes are Not Necessarily Your Hands. Could be feet, elbows, knees, head butt ... so you don't necessarily have to drop that non monk weapon. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jan 28 '16 at 15:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DaleM It might be worth citing the PHB errata which clarified that unarmed strikes are not weapons. This negates any need for a "free hand" in order to utilize an unarmed strike. As that info is in a comment in the linked answer, it might be best to edit that in here to an answer as that might be part of the cognitive dissonance on the querent's side. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jan 28 '16 at 15:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Escoce OK, I re read that rule more carefully, and I see your point on the pre-requisite for the unarmed strike damage die. Previous comment removed. I think you are right, this point ought to be included in the answer. In the druid/monk case here, it' s not wielding any non monk weapons in beast form, so that may be why Dale didn't address it. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jan 28 '16 at 15:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer is supported by Jeremy Crawford's affirmative response to this tweet: "flurry of blows does not specify monk weapon as a prerequisite. Intentional?" "Yes." \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jan 27 at 22:32
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You don't want to do this. The answer strictly as the question is asked is yes, but it's with significant penalty and therefore my answer is a resounding NO!

You could in theory, but you will only do normal unarmed strike damage of 1 + Strength modifier.

Per PHB pg. 78, under the heading of Martial Arts:

You gain the following benefits while you are unarmed or using monk weapons and your aren't wearing armor or wielding a shield:

  • You can roll a d4 in place of the normal damage of your unarmed strike or monk weapon. This die changes as you gain monk levels...

Additionally, in the same section but a different bullet point:

When you use the Attack action with an unarmed strike or a monk weapon, you can make one unarmed strike as a bonus action.

You therefore need to remain unarmed or be wielding only approved monk weapons to get the benefit of a monk's unarmed strike bonus when using your extra unarmed strike from Martial Arts or Flurry of Blows. Otherwise, you only do 1+Str damage per success attack roll.

Furthermore, if you aren't unarmed or or wielding monk weapons, you will be unable to make any extra attack as your bonus action. So you are losing in two ways.

Assuming 5th level, the greatest number of "effective" attacks will be a max of 2, where as a monk armed with a monk weapon or unarmed will be able to attack "effectively" 3 times without using a ki point, and 4 times if using a ki point.

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