Written by Reddit user u/Samurott1
Hitmonlee boasts the second-highest Attack stat of Fighting-type Pokémon in Kanto and a Special Defense stat that rivals that of Hypno. Unfortunately, the Kicking Pokémon shows up at a point where Fighting-types aren’t too useful, and it lacks the Defense to stand up to strong physical attackers that it can’t OHKO. Its best Fighting-type STAB comes in the form of the incredibly risky and unreliable High Jump Kick. On the other hand, Hitmonlee has access to Bulk Up, which can patch up its poor Defense and raise its Attack to sky-high levels. The Kicking Pokémon has an amazing Attack stat, but its lack of physical bulk means that you must be very careful with it.
Hitmonlee: Fighting Dojo (gift)
Hitmonlee’s Match-ups in Important Battles
Hitmonlee versus Koga in Fuchsia City: Hitmonlee can’t do much in this battle as each of Koga’s Pokémon is resistant to Fighting-type moves. Hitmonlee cannot tank a Selfdestruct, so don’t even think about using it against Koffing unless you’re purposely sacrificing it. Hitmonlee needs to be at +2 with Bulk Up to stand a chance against Weezing, who has Smokescreen and can OHKO with a critical hit Sludge. Stay away from Weezing, too. Muk is dangerous for similar reasons. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 37; Brick Break, Rock Slide, Strength/Mega Kick, Bulk Up.
Hitmonlee versus Rival in Silph Co.: Pidgeot’s Wing Attack is much too strong to consider using Hitmonlee against it. A critical hit will kill the Kicking Pokémon, and it 2HKOs normally. This is compounded by the fact that Hitmonlee is slower and can’t OHKO with Rock Slide (unless it lands critically). Ironically, the Kicking Pokémon has a better match-up against your Rival’s Psychic-types than it has against any other Pokémon on your Rival’s team. Alakazam isn’t threatening as its only attacking move is Future Sight, which doesn’t even take type match-ups into account in generation three. It’ll hit hard after a few Calm Mind boosts though, so Alakazam must be defeated as quickly as possible. Mega Kick or Strength will take care of it, but Reflect can be annoying. If Alakazam uses Reflect, Hitmonlee can negate it with Brick Break. Exeggcute’s Confusion is a 3-4HKO while Mega Kick will 2HKO. Strength is a likely 3HKO and Hitmonlee is faster, so that will get the job done too. Watch Hitmonlee’s health though; a critical Confusion can OHKO a Hitmonlee who doesn’t have at least two-thirds of its maximum HP. Gyarados’ Dragon Rage is dangerous for Hitmonlee as the Kicking Pokémon has a paltry base 50 HP stat. Hitmonlee can only do more damage with Rock Slide if Gyarados’ Intimidate is negated, so use a more appropriate counter or bring healing items. Hitmonlee is faster than Growlithe and can 2HKO with Rock Slide after Intimidate, but Take Down will hurt. Growlithe can also use Roar to phaze out any Hitmonlee that somehow found an opportunity to get a Bulk Up boost. Venusaur is dangerous to a Hitmonlee that is not at full health; otherwise, Hitmonlee can get a Bulk Up boost and defeat Venusaur. However, Razor Leaf is dangerous if it lands critically (and it has a high critical hit ratio), so keep Hitmonlee’s health high throughout or just let another Pokémon handle Venusaur. Blastoise can’t hit Hitmonlee hard, so abuse it for a pair of Bulk Up boosts and 2HKO with Brick Break. Charizard carries Wing Attack, so stay as far away as possible. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 38; Brick Break, Rock Slide, Strength/Mega Kick, Bulk Up.
Hitmonlee versus Giovanni in Silph Co.: Abuse Nidorino for a pair of Bulk Up boosts and destroy it with Strength. At +2, Brick Break will OHKO Rhyhorn and Kangaskhan (who is likely slower than Hitmonlee). Nidoqueen is dangerous, but Hitmonlee can manage it if its Defense is still at +2. However, Nidoqueen’s Body Slam will come dangerously close to OHKOing Hitmonlee from full health if it lands critically. Strength or Mega Kick should do the job, but you should switch out or heal if things get hairy. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 38; Brick Break, Rock Slide, Strength/Mega Kick, Bulk Up.
Hitmonlee versus Sabrina in Saffron City Gym: Using a Fighting-type in the Psychic-type gym sounds crazy, but Hitmonlee has enough Special Defense to put some work in if need be. A more appropriate counter, such as Shadow Ball Snorlax/Flareon, is definitely more viable, but Hitmonlee can be very useful if you lack an appropriate counter or are doing a special type of Nuzlocke run (such as a mono Fighting-type Nuzlocke). With enough grinding, Hitmonlee can outspeed and OHKO Kadabra with Mega Kick, which is risky, or Strength. Hitmonlee can also 2HKO Mr. Mime with Strength or Mega Kick. Rock Slide will take care of Venomoth. Alakazam can be beaten if you use a pair of X Special Defenses on Hitmonlee while another Pokémon is out. Mega Kick may OHKO and Strength will 2HKO. However, Hitmonlee won’t be able to handle a sweep without healing items, a pair of X Special Defenses, and a whole lot of luck. Use a more appropriate counter, if possible. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 42; Brick Break, Rock Slide, Strength/Mega Kick, Bulk Up.
Hitmonlee versus Blaine in Cinnabar City Gym: Purely in terms of type, Hitmonlee has no disadvantages or advantages here. However, the Growlithe line’s Intimidate and the Ponyta line’s Bounce can make the battle difficult for the Kicking Pokémon. It’s best to just use a Water-type Pokémon. Hitmonlee can put in some work if needed, though. Hitmonlee’s Rock Slide lands the OHKO on Growlithe if Intimidate has been avoided or otherwise negated. Bulk Up may be the best way to do this despite Growlithe’s access to Roar. The Defense boost will also be useful if Growlithe decides to go for its Take Down. Ponyta is slower than Hitmonlee, and Rock Slide nets the OHKO if Hitmonlee has avoided or otherwise negated Growlithe’s Intimidate. Rapidash is manageable and there’s a chance for Hitmonlee to outspeed. The Fire Horse Pokémon is 2HKOed by Rock Slide, but it may go for Bounce. If it uses Bounce, it’s advisable to switch to something that can tank it with ease. A critical hit Bounce spells death for the Kicking Pokémon. However, this is where Hitmonlee’s usefulness ends. Arcanine has Intimidate and would be too strong for Hitmonlee to face if Intimidate wasn’t a factor. There is a slim chance that Hitmonlee is faster, meaning you can try to take Arcanine down with Rock Slide flinches. This strategy is very unreliable and could be a death sentence to Hitmonlee; a critical hit from Arcanine will kill the Kicking Pokémon. Hitmonlee can be useful in this battle for those who want to save their Water-type for Blaine’s ace, but that’s the extent of its usefulness. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 45; Brick Break, Rock Slide, Strength/Mega Kick, Bulk Up.
Hitmonlee versus Giovanni in Viridian City Gym: The Rhyhorn can be dangerous to Hitmonlee this time around; a critical hit Earthquake will kill the Kicking Pokémon. Hitmonlee can 2HKO Rhyhorn with Brick Break. However, Hitmonlee won’t be able to handle both of the Rhyhorn without healing, which is difficult to pull off given Hitmonlee’s frailty. You are unlikely to outspeed Dugtrio, who can finish a weakened Hitmonlee with Earthquake. Nidoking and Nidoqueen are just too bulky and powerful. Overall, Hitmonlee performs poorly in this battle. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 47; Brick Break, Rock Slide, Strength/Mega Kick, Bulk Up.
Hitmonlee versus Rival in Route 22: No to Pidgeot, who is packing a hard-hitting Wing Attack. Brick Break will net the 2HKO on Rhyhorn, who lacks the firepower to defeat Hitmonlee one-on-one. However, it is carrying Horn Drill, so you may want to use a Water- or Grass-type Pokémon that can OHKO the Spikes Pokémon. Exeggcute’s powder moves can be annoying, but it can only hit you with Solar Beam (and lacks sun support). Strength or Mega Kick will get the job done (unless you want to go for the flinch with Rock Slide). After Intimidate, Rock Slide should still do more damage to Gyarados than Gyarados can do in return. Hitmonlee is also faster. However, be wary of critical hits. Hitmonlee can still 2HKO Growlithe with Rock Slide after being Intimidated twice, so it’s only an issue if it gets an unlucky critical hit while Hitmonlee’s health is low. Alakazam is packing an actual attacking move this time around (Psychic) and has retained Calm Mind, making it very scary. As an unboosted Psychic can decimate Hitmonlee, it’s best to keep the Kicking Pokémon out of this. Blastoise had a moveset malfunction for the second battle in a row, so you can take it down with ease provided it doesn’t get an unlucky critical hit while Hitmonlee’s health is low. Charizard’s Wing Attack somehow hits harder than Hitmonlee’s Rock Slide would, and it’s faster. I’ll do the math for you: Hitmonlee + Wing Attack = one dead Fighting-type. Steer clear. Venusaur’s high critical hit ratio move, Razor Leaf, is still potentially dangerous. Hitmonlee can’t hit it too hard, so this is a risky match-up. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 48; Brick Break, Rock Slide, Strength/Mega Kick, Bulk Up.
Hitmonlee versus the Elite 4: Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 60; Brick Break, Rock Slide, Return/Mega Kick, Bulk Up.
Hitmonlee versus Lorelei: Hitmonlee’s Brick Break will make short work of Lorelei’s lead, Dewgong. Cloyster’s Defense stat is monstrous, but it still falls to a pair of Brick Breaks. Either of the previous two Pokémon will be solid set-up bait. However, the Kicking Pokémon has trouble with Slowbro, who is a physical wall and can’t be hit for super-effective damage. Mega Kick or Return will 3HKO (Return may 4HKO depending on Hitmonlee’s nature and level). However, Slowbro hits pretty hard with Surf (3-4HKO and, unlike Mega Kick, has reliable accuracy), so you may want to let a more appropriate counter handle the Hermit Crab Pokémon. Jynx lacks a Psychic-type move and can be OHKOed by Rock Slide. A critical Ice Punch will take about two-thirds of Hitmonlee’s health, so be wary. Hitmonlee can 2HKO Lapras with Brick Break but is threatened by Confuse Ray. Don’t risk using a confused Hitmonlee; the Kicking Pokémon will hit itself very hard. Lapras’ Body Slam also does slightly more damage than Jynx’s Ice Punch, so keep that in mind.
Hitmonlee versus Bruno: Bruno’s first Onix is packing Roar, so you can’t abuse it for Bulk Up boosts. Brick Break will 2HKO the Rock Snake Pokémon. However, a critical Earthquake will take about two-thirds of Hitmonlee’s health, so you may want to let a Grass- or Water-type handle this. Hitmonchan is very dangerous; a critical Sky Uppercut kills the Kicking Pokémon and Hitmonchan carries Counter. The latter is very risky as Hitmonlee cannot OHKO Hitmonchan. Use a special attacker on the Punching Pokémon, preferably a Psychic-type. A mirror match with Bruno’s Hitmonlee is not advised. Your Hitmonlee is likely faster, but can’t OHKO (except with Mega Kick, which is risky). As such, your Kicking Pokémon will likely be left open to the attacks of Bruno’s. The second Onix lacks Roar, but its Earthquake is still dangerous. You can try to abuse it for Bulk Up boosts, but you must be wary of critical hits. Hitmonlee needs to be at +3 with Bulk Up to stand a chance against Bruno’s Machamp, and this is likely impossible to pull off without the use of healing items. Tread lightly.
Hitmonlee versus Agatha: The only move in Hitmonlee’s arsenal that can be useful against a Ghost-type is Rock Slide. However, each of Agatha’s Pokémon has something in its own arsenal that can make Hitmonlee’s life difficult. Agatha’s leading Gengar carries Confuse Ray, which is very dangerous for Hitmonlee. The Kicking Pokémon has a terrible Defense stat and an excellent Attack stat, meaning it can decimate itself before Agatha even touches it. This is compounded by Gengar’s high Speed, which allows it to outspeed Hitmonlee and land a Confuse Ray. It also carries Toxic and Double Team, both of which will limit Hitmonlee’s usefulness. The Kicking Pokémon may outspeed Golbat, but an OHKO is very unlikely and the threat of a critical hit Air Cutter (which has a high critical hit ratio) means that Hitmonlee’s life will be in jeopardy. A pair of Rock Slides will fell Haunter, who can only hurt a sleeping Hitmonlee. Keep that Poké Flute handy; any Pokémon that fall asleep must awaken immediately as Nightmare or Dream Eater will be a threat. Arbok can 2HKO Hitmonlee with its Sludge Bomb, and it has Intimidate to cut the Kicking Pokémon’s Attack stat. Don’t tread on this snake. Agatha’s ace, Gengar, is packing a hard-hitting Sludge Bomb. A critical hit will kill Hitmonlee. The Kicking Pokémon is slower and weaker, so don’t try to fight this Gengar.
Hitmonlee versus Lance: Lance’s lead, Gyarados, is very threatening to Hitmonlee. Hyper Beam might not OHKO, but it will still do a lot of damage (and a critical hit will OHKO Hitmonlee every time). Rock Slide can only net a 3HKO after Intimidate. The Dragonair can only be threatening if one of them lands a critical hit Hyper Beam, which is an OHKO. Outrage won’t do that much damage, and Hitmonlee can get a Bulk Up boost or two and OHKO both Dragonair. Aerodactyl and Dragonite are incredibly dangerous as they both carry Wing Attack. Stay as far away as possible.
Hitmonlee versus the Champion: Hitmonlee cannot stand up to Pidgeot. Hitmonlee is still weak to Flying-type moves and has a bad Defense stat. Alakazam is faster than Hitmonlee and can OHKO it with Psychic. Rhydon’s Earthquake is incredibly strong; it deals neutral damage to Hitmonlee and still does as much damage as Alakazam’s Psychic. Exeggutor is manageable with Mega Kick or Return, but Sleep Powder and Giga Drain can be annoying while Egg Bomb is dangerous. Using Hitmonlee here is not advised. Arcanine has Extreme Speed and Intimidate; it is therefore hazardous. Gyarados carries Intimidate, and its Thrash is very threatening (2HKOs barring a critical hit). Hitmonlee must also avoid Charizard, who is packing Aerial Ace. Blastoise can bring the thunder this time around, so it should be avoided. Venusaur’s Sunny Day strategy is dangerous; it can boost with Growth and decimate Hitmonlee with Solar Beam. Overall, Hitmonlee has trouble making great contributions in this battle.
Everything in Between
Mid- to Late-Game: The Kicking Pokémon should be kept away from strong physical attackers and Koffing/Weezing, the latter of which can explode. Its low HP and Defense stat let it get decimated by moves that hit it physically. As such, keep it away from Cycling Road (bar Grimer), which is filled with trainers who are packing a strong Fighting-type or Koffing/Weezing. On the other hand, special attackers can’t do much damage to Hitmonlee, who has a great Special Defense stat to make up for its bad Defense stat. The water routes should be a breeze thanks to Hitmonlee’s titanic Attack stat and its aforementioned high Special Defense. Watch out for Supersonic, though. Hitmonlee’s aforementioned high Attack stat coupled with its very low Defense stat means it will hit itself very hard. Stay away from bird trainers, unless they only have weak Pidgey or Spearow. The Normal- and Fire-types in the Pokémon Mansion and the Magneton in the Power Plant will fall to Hitmonlee with ease.
Checks and Counters
Strong Physical Attackers: Without a Bulk Up boost or two (and even then if an attack lands critically), Hitmonlee takes a ton of damage from even resisted physical attacks. If it can’t OHKO a powerful, physically-based opponent, it is susceptible to be destroyed by a powerful physical move. It’s good to keep a wall like Golem around. In return, Hitmonlee can take the Special Attacks that physical walls usually aren’t so good at tanking.
Flying-types: Even with Rock Slide, Flying-type Pokémon can be dangerous to Hitmonlee. All Flying-type moves will hit Hitmonlee on its weak Defense stat. This makes some match-ups, particularly against Lance’s Dragonite or Blue’s Pidgeot, perilous for the Kicking Pokémon. As such, you may want a Rock- or Electric-type around. Golem is a great option to pair with Hitmonlee. In return, Hitmonlee can take the special attacks that Rock- and, to a lesser extent, Electric-types aren’t good at tanking and break past this Pokémon’s checks.
Overall Grade: B
Hitmonlee is a reasonably fast, powerful Fighting-type Pokémon with a great Special Defense stat. Its physical Defense is poor, but it gets Bulk Up to patch this up. The aforementioned Bulk Up will turn Hitmonlee into a fearsome set-up sweeper. Hitmonlee also has the niche of being one of the only Fighting-types that are capable of standing up to some of Sabrina’s Pokémon. All in all, Hitmonlee is an extremely solid Pokémon that can serve your team well with the correct preparation.
Resources to Utilize
Hitmonlee’s Learnset: https://pokemondb.net/pokedex/hitmonlee/moves/3
Written by Reddit user u/Samurott1. For questions about this guide or for specific advice for your playthrough, send them a message on Reddit.