The art of Claw-Dances (known as the Rain-of-Sand fighting styles by the other races of Tamriel) refers to the Khajiiti martial arts, which plays a major yet ascetic part in the race's history and philosophy. They are considered synonymous with the unarmored form of defense, or the lack of any armor. There are many different disciplines that can generally be taught in the Temple of Two-Moons Dance, but they are known to be studied in their own monasteries, commonly known throughout the province of Elsweyr as the adeptoriums.
While most see it as a form of combat, it is meant to be lyrical meditation, much different than the other races' forms of meditation, which are quiet and lack motion. The claw-dances comes from the nervous energy that was excreting from the monks at the time and their focus on raw physicality. Considering their predatorial instinct and the movement of their claws, it became a distinct form of martial art that led to claw-strikes and wide leaps.
The claw-dances originated from the late-Merethic Era when the Temple of Two-Moons Dance in Rawl'kha was razed and the hunt-lords seized the opportunity to attain total power across the sixteen kingdoms. The hunt-lord, Takanzin the Striped Death had privately hired outlaws to burn down the temple, causing the clergymen and monks to fight back with a small army. But they were ultimately defeated and Takanzin's armies quickly exiled them out of the Kingdom of Dune. The hunt-lords amassed total power over the kingdoms while the monks went into seclusion, to achieve self-perfection. In that time, they developed the claw-dances, which started as meditation, to a dance-like fighting-style. After centuries of isolation, they returned at the waning years of the hunter-aristocracy and taught the people how to fight back. When war broke out between Helkarn and Meirvale, driving the people to their limit, a series of peasant uprisings had exploded across the kingdoms, from Bruk'ra to Verkarth, thus ending the years of oppression. The people had never forgotten about the power they wielded and the claw-dances were passed on ever since.
The claw-dances became known as the Rain-of-Sand by the other races of Tamriel in the wake of the Third Empire. However, it took several years for them to be accepted by the Imperial culture, as the rigid disciplines and mystical philosophies were considered alien to them. But despite this, other cultures embraced them. The races of the Empire soon started to study the ancient arts. The Dissident Priests took inspiration from the Khajiiti fighting styles and incorporated them into their three societal forms, the Golden Reed, the Marshmerrow, and the Salt Rice. All the while, the Mages Guild and other similar factions utilized the Rain-of-Sand as a form of self-defense.
The Desert Wind (known as the Zhan Khaj in Ta'agra) is a martial arts fighting style that is practiced by the order of monks at the Desert Wind Adeptorium, found in the outskirts of the city of Orcrest. The Order of the Desert Wind are known to be archivists that preserve their ancient techniques in many scrolls, which are kept by the Grand Adept. While very little is known about the discipline itself, it uses dual-swords from the Order of the Rawlith Khaj.
- Great Sage of the Desert Wind
— Mantra of Jun-ri, Master of the Goutfang.
Goutfang (known as Vrin-Thak in Ta'agra) is an arrhythmic style that is known for using the flow of energy through its user. It is a balanced and fast moving martial art with a defense that is reminiscent to the ancient Nordic warriors. It has a versatility that requires coordination and strength, using aspects from other fighting styles, such as grappling, and even sword-wielding. It takes many hours to learn the basic katas before a trainee can wield a blade, and no certain steps can turn a novice into an adept or even a master. Training is based on one's personal path to mastery. It is believed that even a quadrupedal furstock such as the Senche-raht can learn the Goutfang. Those that have mastered the flow of energy via the Goutfang can augment their martial prowess by igniting their kicks and punches.
Rawlith Khaj (meaning Desert Rain (lit. Rain of Sand) in Ta'agra) is a form of sword-style martial arts that is practiced by the eponymous order of monks. While it is mainly used with a sword, there are elements of kicking that require rapid agility. There are many variations of the Rawlith Khaj based on different elements (Rain, Sand, Storm, Sun, the Two-Moons Dance, and Wind).[UOL 1] It is also another name for Claw-Dances, used by the other races of Tamriel.
One of its most well-known practitioners is the warrior from Khenarthia, Pilazjo, who trained on the island since his youth until he was traded away to Ne Quin-al as a sign of friendship between two kingdoms. He left a vast collection of blunt training swords in his home adeptorium as a reminder for the hadaliit he left behind. They have since become cherished heirlooms that have since been locked away in several adeptoriums throughout Elsweyr.
"Shadows consume curiosity, time, and interest"
"distance is greater than any weapon."
"command the space to move through it unseen."
"the claw that passes a whisper is the mark of the master"
— The Five Fingers of the Whispering Claw
The Whispering Claw (known as Ziz Kurah in Ta'agra) also known as the Whispering Fang is a fast-moving and silent fighting style that is meant for taking another life, ideally for an assassin. Masters of the claw-dance are known for their quick reflexes and flight-like acrobatics. By the Fourth Era, some practitioners were known to be monks. The style is considered an antithesis of the Goutfang.
- Do'Krin: A monastery maintained by the Order of the Golden Claw, found in the borderlands of Reaper's March.
- S'rendarr's Cradle: An adeptorium of healers that operate the Anequine aqueducts that flow into the nearby city-state of Rimmen.
- Star Haven: A prestigious adeptorium located in the outskirts of Riverhold, before the land gives way to the Prowl.
- Starlight: A ruined adeptorium located south of Star Haven.
Ahnassi, a student of the Rain-of-Sand style (Morrowind)
Students at the Star Haven Adeptorium (ESO)
Goutfang Adept (Legends)
Rawlith Khaj Master (Legends)
Whispering Claw Strike (Legends)
- Origins of the Khajiiti Martial Tradition by Tendwuayne, Sapiarch of Foreign Customs — The history of the Merethic hunt-lords of Elsweyr and the origins of claw-dancing
- Soul of the Sword A Meditation by Valami, Goutfang Master — A claw-dance master's attempt at figurative writing
- An-Deesei's dialogue in Morrowind
- Ahnassi's dialogue in Morrowind
- Master Zoaraym's Tale — Gi'Nanth
- Abnur Tharn's dialogue in ESO: Elsweyr
- Origins of the Khajiiti Martial Tradition — Tendwuayne, Sapiarch of Foreign Customs
- Zamarak's dialogue in ESO: Elsweyr
- Blade of the Rawlith Khaj item in ESO: Elsweyr
- Nazdar's dialogue in ESO: Elsweyr
- Goutfang Kata Emote description in ESO
- The Prayers of Baranat
- Razum-dar's Journal, Chapter 9 — Razum-dar
- Soul of the Sword — Valami, Goutfang Master
- Goutfang Senche-raht mount description in ESO
- Ri'Atahrashi's abilities in ESO: Elsweyr
- Desert Rain Kata Emotes description in ESO
- Razum-dar's Journal, Chapter 10 — Razum-dar
- Pilazjo's Training Blade antiquity codex entry in ESO: Greymoor
- Whispering Claw Kata Emote description in ESO
- Arnbjorn's dialogue
- Woodworking correspondences in ESO
- Khajiiti Honorifics — Lady Radurra-dra of Torval
Note: the following references are not from official sources. They are included to provide a rounder background to this article, but may not reflect established lore.