I was reading the combat maneuvers section and was reading the disarm part.

You can attempt to disarm your opponent in place of a melee attack. If you do not have the Improved Disarm feat, or a similar ability, attempting to disarm a foe provokes an attack of opportunity from the target of your maneuver. Attempting to disarm a foe while unarmed imposes a –4 penalty on the attack.

So for the unarmed -4 penalty, does that include if you have improved unarmed strike?


1 Answer 1


If you have the Improved Unarmed Strike feat, you do not get the -4 penalty.

When the game rules talk about being unarmed, they talk about not wielding a weapon. Improved Unarmed Strike means that you know how to handle yourself in an unarmed fight and in effect are Armed (are wielding a weapon) because you have a weapon on hand (even if it is literally just your hand) even though you aren't holding weapon. People without the feat are assumed to be unable to effectively handle themselves in a fight without a weapon.

Think of it as the difference between a regular person on the street, and a martial artist, or boxer.

Benefit: You are considered to be armed even when unarmed—you do not provoke attacks of opportunity when you attack foes while unarmed. Your unarmed strikes can deal lethal or nonlethal damage, at your choice.

Normal: Without this feat, you are considered unarmed when attacking with an unarmed strike, and you can deal only nonlethal damage with such an attack.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Only the monk is treats their whole body as a weapon, everyone must use their fists. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fering
    Commented Jul 17, 2016 at 23:20
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Fering While "A monk's attacks may be with fist, elbows, knees, and feet. This means that a monk may make unarmed strikes with his hands full," that only precludes nonmonks from doing the same by implication because Pathfinder's antecedent D&D 3.5 omitted the examples from its SRD description of unarmed strike. With that description, non-monks make head-butts and kicks just fine. More to the point, snakes and centipedes, for example, don't even have fists, yet they can make unarmed strikes, too, if they want or must. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 0:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ I just looked up the unarmed strike in the rules and it doesnt say one way or the other about what you can use. I always assumed that the monks description meant only a monk could do that. d20pfsrd.com/gamemastering/combat \$\endgroup\$
    – Fering
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 2:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Fering I know, right? It's a rules gap created by having swaths of Pathfinder actually be an untouched version of the D&D 3.5 SRD. By including much of the 3.5 monk boilerplate text yet not writing new examples of unarmed strikes, unless also familiar with 3.5, a Pathfinder player's left with the impression that monks alone can kick butt and everyone else must, instead, punch butt. It's a frustrating counterexample to The Rules Don't Say I Can't. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 3:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'll amend it so that this issue doesn't confuse the answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mourdos
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 15:07

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