If you’re hot off of playing recent entries in the Fire Emblem series such as Awakening or Fates, your brain is most likely completely calibrated to think about (and probably obsess over) Skills. Skills are great, and are retained in passive form, but in Shadows of Valentia there’s a whole separate system you’ll need to focus on to stay competitive: Combat Arts.
The unique thing about Combat Arts is that they’re derived from weapons and held items. Curved Shot is unlocked by using an Iron Bow long enough, for example, while Wrath Strike (a potent melee move) comes to those well-practiced with Iron Swords. The good thing about Combat Arts is that once a unit learns them, they don’t need to be learned again. The downside, though, is that the held item in question needs to be held for their continued use.
To use a Combat Art, simply select "Combat Arts" from the menu during battle when moving a unit. Some Combat Arts are passive, and do not require specific action.
For a full list of all Combat Arts, click here.