In the story of Fullmetal Alchemist, hero Edward Elric would rather solve his problems through nonviolent means, but he can certainly defend himself. He's gone up against chimeras, soldiers, homunculi and more during his quest.
Edward is a scientist at heart, but he trained thoroughly to handle himself in a fight, giving him some unique talents and abilities during battle. He combines alchemy, martial arts and the power of the Truth itself while fighting, taking his enemies off-guard.
Edwards Combines His Fists, Alchemy And Science
Edward and his brother Alphonse are alchemists but they bypass some of the rules of this arcane art. Unlike most other alchemists, such as Roy Mustang or Alex Armstrong, Edward has no need for transmutation circles at all. Why is this? He and Alphonse were exposed to the Truth when they attempted human transmutation in their youth. Although Ed lost his left leg as payment, he learned much about how alchemy and the world truly work, and can perform alchemy just by putting his palms together and touching a solid material. (He also lost his right arm as payment to bring Alphonse's soul back).
As a result, Ed lacks the weakness that most alchemists suffer: having their alchemy getting shut off by their circles being corrupted or destroyed. All told, Ed would rather have never performed human alchemy than gain this unique advantage, but he is stuck with it. He often uses his alchemy to create barriers in combat, but he can also create cages, swords, spears and even giant stone fists that can emerge from statues and the ground.
In addition, Edward and Al underwent training under Izumi Curtis, who taught them all about martial arts. For years, the brothers learned to dodge, kick and punch, enabling Edward to later fight the likes of Greed the homunculus, and various battle-trained chimeras on equal footing. It also helps that Ed has a small body, taking his opponents by surprise, and he can form a sharp blade at the end of his automail right arm for melee attacks. In a pinch, Ed can use his automail right arm or left leg to block attacks, since those limbs won't bleed and Ed can have them repaired or replaced right after the battle.
Edward is well-versed in all things science, too, as he and Alphonse have eagerly studied it and performed experiments since their boyhood. As a result, Edward knows the molecular composition of most materials that he comes across, from the human body itself to dynamite and various metal alloys. He also knows a great deal about human anatomy, allowing him to heal himself with his own life force (but he only does this as a last resort).
Ed's Alchemy Style In Action
Edward has fought a variety of foes throughout Fullmetal Alchemist, and he has shown the full extent of what he is capable of. In fact, he often wins on his own terms, knocking out his enemies without badly injuring or killing them (something that Kimblee considers naive). For example, Edward was once being chased by two powerful chimeras but didn't want to kill them. So, he found some wet dynamite sticks and, instead of blowing them up, he broke them down via alchemy and released a lot of ammonia gas into the air. This horrible odor overwhelmed the noses of the two chimeras. Later, against different (and hairless chimeras), Ed got their excessive saliva on Alphonse's metal back and threw the chimeras onto it. Due to the frigid environment, the chimeras were frozen onto Al's back, like a tongue on a lamp pole.
Ed demonstrated his advanced martial arts against foes like Greed (himself a martial artist), prince Ling Yao's bodyguards, Scar and the aforementioned chimeras. When facing Greed, in particular, Edward wondered how Greed was making his skin so hard, then remembered Greed's explanation that his body was just like a human's. The human body has a lot of carbon, so Greed was rearranging it on his skin, hardening it like a diamond. So, Ed touched Greed's chest and rearranged the carbon to make it soft, like a pencil's lead.
When the street thief Paninya stole Ed's pocket watch, Ed tried to capture her by creating barriers to cut her off in alleyways. Ed even made giant metal bird cages out of the metal elements in the ground to pull it off. He could have impaled Paninya on spikes to kill her, but he's not that kind of fighter. And when Ed fought Lan Fan, one of prince Ling's bodyguards, he lured her into position with his detached metal arm, then caught her with a human-sized hunting snare that he had fashioned from a metal cable he'd just created via alchemy. Ingenious and quick-thinking, Ed is a one-of-a-kind alchemist.