Created By: LordGro on June 30, 2013 Last Edited By: N1KF on March 13, 2016
Nuked

Ambidextrous Badass

True Heroes™ fight equally well with either hand.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Rolling Updates. Alternate title suggestions: Ambidextrous Fighter, Ambidextrous Warrior, Combat Ambidexter
[Murchadh] grasped his two valiant strong swords, that is, a sword in his right, and a sword in his left hand, for he was the last man in Ireland who had equal dexterity in striking with his right and with his left hand. He was the last man in Ireland that had true valour.
-–The War of the Irish with the Foreigners

Ambidexterity is the ability to use either hands equally well for any task. It follows it is a highly prized talent for any activity that requires or rewards the skillful use of both hands, such as various sports or musical instruments, juggling, knitting, and—fighting.

Cue the Ambidextrous Badass, a warrior that fights equally well with either hand. They may even be able to do so at the same time. If this is said about a character, it automatically establishes them as fighters of truly awesome prowess.

To capitalize on their rare talent, Ambidextrous Badasses often choose to Dual Wield or use Guns Akimbo. But not every character that fights with two weapons is ambidextrous; to qualify for this trope, it has to be actually said that the character is equally good at fighting with either hand.

Ambidexterity is said to be an extremely rare natural talent, although it can be acquired by intense training. For example, naturally left-handed people who have been trained (or trained themselves) to use their right hand can achieve ambidexterity. How this talent is acquired is not relevant for the trope.

Ambidexterity is not the same as mixed-handedness, which is when a person prefers different hands for different tasks. However, the distinguishing line between mixed-handedness and ambidexterity is somewhat dependent on the strictness of your criteria, and whether perfect ambidexterity exists at all in real life is dubious. Also, real-life ambidexterity does not include the ability to coordinate both hands simultaneously, which is just as much of a challenge to an ambidexter as it is to the common single-hander.

Contrast The Southpaw, who may draw advantage from use of the left hand, but still has a preferred hand.

Has nothing to do with Ambidextrous Sprite.

Examples:

Anime and Manga

Literature
  • According to Heimskringla, King Olaf Tryggvason of Norway "smote equally well with both hands and shot two spears at a time."
  • According to War of the Irish with the Foreigners, Brian Boru's son Murchadh (a.k.a. Murrough) "was the last man in Ireland who had equal dexterity in striking with his right and with his left hand", which is why he fought with two swords in the Battle of Clontarf.
  • One of J. R. R. Tolkien's posthumously published essays about Middle-earth ("Eldarin Hands, Fingers and Numerals") reveals that Tolkien at least for a time entertained the idea that elves are ambidextrous (although this never actually showed in any of the Middle-earth books).
  • Subverted in Gor: Tarl's master-at-arms wants him to train to cast a spear and otherwise fight with his non-dominant hand, in case he's injured during battle. This is the one combat-related skill Tarl never masters.

Live-Action TV
  • John Reese in Person of Interest is equally accurate shooting either right- or left-handed. On a side note, his actor Jim Caviezel is ambidextrous in real life.

Tabletop Games
  • Ambidexterity is a common perk in Tabletop RPG systems, such as Dungeons & Dragons and GURPS. It allows you to Dual Wield weapons much more efficiently than otherwise, even if you're already trained for it.
  • Warhammer 40,000 roleplaying games like Deathwatch cast Space Marines, genetically enhanced super soldiers and arguably the main heroes of the setting, as equally capable of using any weapons with either hands thanks to their extensive training.

Video Games
  • World of Warcraft: 'Combat' specialization gives Rogue class players a passive ability called 'Ambidexterity' that increases damage done by offhand weapons. Warrior class players with 'Fury' specialization have analogous abilities in form of 'Crazed Berserker' and 'Single-Minded Fury'.
  • Prince of Persia: In the Sands of Time continuity, while he wasn't initially, by the time the prince came to the Island of Time he was able to use both hands alike, to the point of wielding the dagger in his right hand and two-hand sword in his left in the climax of the Two Thrones.

Real Life
  • Self-defense gun instructors insist on practicing firing one-handed with both hands, so that you are at least passable with your non-dominant hand, should your dominant hand/arm be disabled.

Community Feedback Replies: 37
  • June 30, 2013
    MrRuano
    Warhammer 40000 roleplaying games like Deathwatch cast Space Marines, genetically enhanced super soldiers and arguably the main heroes of the setting, as equally capable of using any weapons with either hands thanks to their extensive training.
  • June 30, 2013
    Koveras
    Ambidextrous Warrior is not perfect but it's much better than yet another Whatever Badass snowclone.

  • July 1, 2013
    Saendra
  • July 1, 2013
    StarSword
    The Princess Bride is not an example. Both Inigo and Westley are stated to be right-hand dominant and initially duel left-handed in the hope of getting a challenging fight out of it.

    Agree with avoiding another Badass snowclone.

    TV:
    • John Reese in Person Of Interest is equally accurate shooting either right- or left-handed. On a side note, his actor Jim Caviezel is ambidextrous in real life.
  • July 1, 2013
    robinjohnson
    • Inverted in Terry Pratchett's Small Gods: Brutha is said to be "ambi-sinister".
  • July 1, 2013
    Larkmarn
    I feel like mention should be made that in video games, animation, art and the like, characters may be depicted as left or right-handed interchangeably solely to help the composition of the shot. This should not be considered this trope.
  • July 1, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ You mean Ambidextrous Sprite?
  • July 1, 2013
    Lumpenprole
    • ^^^^ While Inigo is indeed right-handed, he's so good a swordsman that he still fights better left-handed then all but a few people in the world with their dominant hand. For almost all functional purposes, he's ambidextrous.

    • Real Life example: self-defense gun instructors insist one practice firing one-handed with both hands, so that you are at least passable with your non-dominant hand should your dominant hand/arm be disabled.
  • July 2, 2013
    Saendra
  • July 2, 2013
    LordGro
    But is "Ambidextrous Badass" really a snowclone? The point I wanted to communicate is that these characters are always exceptional good fighters. Ambidextrous Warrior or Ambidextrous Fighter do not make that expressly clear. Ambidextrous Hero is even more open to interpretation. So "badass" seems an appropriate term here. It is a subtrope of Badass, in my view.

    I also considered the more general The Ambidexter, but the question arises whether an ambidextrous character is a trope in itself.

    Edit: As the trope is currently defined, Brutha from Small Gods doesn't count as an inversion, because he is not a fighter to begin with (my knowledge of the work is based on the Wikipedia synopsis, however). I'll consider Inigo Montoya from Princess Bride; I'm inclined to let it count.
  • July 2, 2013
    Larkmarn
    Badass is ridiculously overused. If you can avoid using it, don't use it.

  • July 2, 2013
    Koveras
  • July 2, 2013
    crazysamaritan
    This trope, as currently defined, seems like Brownhaired Badass.

    Just because something is uncommon, doesn't make it a trope.
  • July 2, 2013
    randomsurfer
    Subverted(?) in Gor. Tarl's master-at-arms insists that he learn to cast a spear and otherwise fight using his non-dominant hand, in case he's injured during battle. This is the one combat-related thing Tarl never does get the hang of.
  • July 2, 2013
    LordGro
    ^^ Can't say I follow you. There is a clear logical connection (in fiction, that is) between ambidexterity and being an exceptionally strong fighter, and the description is all about that connection. It's not about two unrelated traits, like having brown hair and being a good fighter. So I don't think that it is People Sit On Chairs, and I don't see how you get the idea.

    How common or uncommon something is is completely unrelated to tropehood. Tropes can be extremely rare or extremely common.
  • July 2, 2013
    Generality
  • July 2, 2013
    StarSword
    ^That actually started in the Wii version of Twilight Princess.
  • July 2, 2013
    crazysamaritan
    ^^^ @Lord Gro: I got the idea that this trope is just the overlap of two traits (one of which is "badass") from your description. You don't present a logical connection between the traits. The Real Life advantage of Dual Wielding (more attacks and parries) is specifically negated, asking for only characters who are "equally good at fighting with either hand".

    There is nothing relating the two traits, and you've defined the two traits separately. You doubt ambidextrous is a trope, but you want me to think that this non-trope, this brown hair, is significant when that character with brown hair is a good fighter? No.

    I mention rarity because your characterization of ambidexterity emphasizes an exclusive nature, and that is the only thing you carry over to your characterization of fighting ability. A more general trope definition would be "A rare skill makes this person an exceptional challenge". In this case, the rare skill is ambidexterity, but could just as easily be left-handed skill, magic, or Flash Step.
  • July 2, 2013
    Koveras
    I'd redefine this YKTTW to be about ambidexterity giving the character an advantage in combat or other dangerous situations.

  • July 3, 2013
    LordGro
    @crazysamaritan: Let us reason together.

    You say I "don't present a logical connection between the traits", and "there is nothing relating the two traits".

    Now lets look at what I wrote:
    [Ambidexterity] is a highly prized talent for any activity that requires or rewards the skillful use of both hands, such as various sports or musical instruments, juggling, knitting, and--fighting. [line break] Cue the Ambidextrous Badass, a warrior that fights etc. etc.

    This describes, in my humble opinion, a logical connection between the traits "ambidexterity" and "being an exceptional strong fighter" a.k.a. "badass".

    You claim "the Real Life advantage of Dual Wielding is specifically negated, asking for only characters who are equally good at fighting with either hand".

    What I wrote:
    To capitalize on their rare talent, Ambidextrous Badasses often choose to Dual Wield or use Guns Akimbo. But not every character that fights with two weapons is ambidextrous; to qualify for this trope, it has to be actually said that the character is equally good at fighting with either hand.

    Where is the advantage of Dual Wielding "negated"? It says right here that ambidextrous fighters are often also Dual Wielders, because this gives them special advantages. But they don't need to dual wield, for 1) ambidexterity comes in handy in combat even without dual wielding (imagine one of your hands is incapacitated, or the benefits of switching your mainhand in-combat) and 2) not all fighters use melee weapons, or weapons at all. Also, as the description of Dual Wielding is so considerate to point out, dual wielding does not require ambidexterity, and editors who intend to add examples here should not induce that every character seen dual wielding is ambidextrous. This isn't a duplicate of Dual Wielding and isn't supposed to become one. For an in-depth look on the advantages of dual wielding, the reader is expected to go to Dual Wielding.

    You also say "I've defined the traits separately." Well, I started with defining ambidexterity because it is not a common term and I figure at least some readers may appreciate a definition first.

    And yeah, I doubt that "ambidexterity" without context is a trope. But when a fighter's mastership is powered and/or illustrated by his ambidexterity in combat, then I guess that's a trope. And I emphasize the exclusivity of ambidexterity, because it is rare and because this is the trope: That ambidexterity in combat characterizes fighters of rare talent.

    @Koveras: I would agree with you if this wasn't what the YKTTW aims for already.
  • July 3, 2013
    Larkmarn
    I'm with Lord Gro.

    The trope is basically "Only the best warriors are good enough to be ambidextrous fighters," not "These are characters who happen to be ambidextrous and happen to be great fighters." Which is perfectly valid.
  • July 3, 2013
    lakingsif
    ^ Now, is it "only the best warriors are good enough to be ambidextrous" or "only the ambidextrous can be good enough to be the best warriors"? The first would be that talent gives you amvidexterity or being really good makes people assume you must be ambidextrous, the second that the bonus of being ambidextrous allows you to have greater skill. I'd go with the second.

    Not that it's about fighting, but there are great advantages to being ambidextrous when it comes to writing: you can write on both hands so there's more room to record lecture times for the next fortnight, and when one hand gets tired in a controlled assessment you can switch to the other.
  • July 3, 2013
    MissKitten
    Trope seems legit to me. Might want to name this Ambidextrous Warrior though, this site tries to discourage anymore badass snowclones. Anyway have a hat.
  • July 4, 2013
    Koveras
    To me, it's more logical to define this only as "ambidexterity gives a fighter an edge over others", not other way around ("best fighters can become ambidextrous"), because the latter is way too restrictive. And I still think that Ambidexterity Advantage is the best title for that.
  • July 4, 2013
    DAN004
    ^ Maybe there can exist 2 versions of this trope (like how Arm Cannon has 2 close definitions). Though, well, one can be the inversion of the other...
  • July 4, 2013
    crazysamaritan
    @Lord Gro- I love reason!

    First step is to match definitions. I feel this is important, because your last line, "@Koveras: I would agree with you if this wasn't what the YKTTW aims for already.". Colours a very different goal than what I've been reading from you.

    First, the two traits intersecting:
    • Badass - Rule Of Cool and Crowning Moment Of Awesome in character form, often a powerful fighter.
    • Ambidextrous - The ability to use more than one hand. In fiction, this ability often includes the ability to direct simultaneous actions.

    Next, why the two traits do not intersect;
    • "[ambidexterity] is a highly prized talent for any activity that requires or rewards the skillful use of both hands" - then a list of traits that require or reward ambidexterity.
      • fighting is not the trait you're using with ambidexterity. Being a Badass Fighter is.
    • You deny the Brutha inversion because he is a bad fighter. He's also clumsy with both hands.
      • He inverts both traits, and you deny the inversion because he does not meet the "Badass Fighter" trait.
    • "defined the traits separately" - Its fine to explain the word ambidexterity (you do a better job at the end of the description than the beginning). But your definition of fighter is left as Badass.
      • Not a fighter who DualWields fine. "Fights equally well with both hands", OK.
        • then you say that the Princess Bride example would count, because they are really skilled, even with their non-dominant hand.

    These are the factors that added together to make me feel you aren't creating a new trope, but making a snow clone of Badass, and limiting it to people who use both hands.

    What Koveras is talking about, and has been since the second comment, is making the trope about characters who use ambidexterity to gain an advantage. Such a definition would have Dual Wield as a sub-trope, and is more about the ability to coordinate both hands simultaneously, than possessing both "Rule Of Cool" fighting ability and no dominant hand.
  • July 4, 2013
    xanderiskander
    I'd go with Amazing Ambidexterity. The wiki discourages having more badass snowclones at the moment, and I think this is more of a skill trope than a character trope. Something like Amazing Ambidexterity would fit better for what this trope is about.

    Western Animation
    • Avatar The Last Airbender: Zuko is trained to dual wield twin scimitars, and uses this skill to fight against benders when he wants to hide his identity, and that he knows fire bending. When explaining what he was taught he says that when using two swords you have to treat them like "they're part of the same body" and move them in sync.
  • February 25, 2015
    Elfkaiser
    Anime and Manga

    • In Nanatsu No Taizai, according the first Databook, Dreyfus who is one of the two main antagonists of the first part is ambidextrous. With the rank of Great Holy Knight, he is incredibly strong, having coming close to nearly killing one of the main protagonists in combat. He typically uses one sword in one hand to blast through at anything that stands in his way, be it opponent or obstruction.
  • February 25, 2015
    Gideoncrawle
    I suggest replacing the description line that begins, "Contrast The Southpaw" with the following:

    "Contrast The Southpaw, who is lefthanded and gains an advantage from that, but is not necessarily adept or even competent with their right hand. Compare I Am Not Left Handed, where a character performs very well with either hand but is nevertheless implied to be better with one than with the other."

    Examples:

    Fan Works

    Literature

    • In The Iliad, the Trojan Asteropaeus throws both his spears at once, "for both his arms were as his right", when he faces off against Achilles.
  • February 26, 2015
    Chabal2
    Judge Dee is mentioneed to be ambidextrous as are all high-level swordsmen.
  • February 26, 2015
    DAN004
    I'd call this Ambidexterity Advantage. I don't think this has to involve fighting, so Warrior or Badass is out of the question.
  • February 26, 2015
    Koveras
    I still think that Ambidexterity Advantage is a good title.
  • February 27, 2015
    Elfkaiser
    Anime and Manga

  • August 29, 2015
    Doodler
    I'll put in a vote for Ambidexterity Advantage. It's often an important part of characterization for people who utilize it in their fighting style, so yeah, this needs to be a trope.
  • August 29, 2015
    KarjamP
    I'll go with Ambidexterity Advantage as well. Even if it wasn't a snowclone, Ambidexterous Badass would most likely attract Zero Context Examples simply due to the fact that the title doesn't explain why he's a badass. Besides, Ambidexterity Advantage is alliterative.
  • September 4, 2015
    LordGro
    Thanks for giving this some new attention, but I was actually planning to revive this as Heroic Ambidexterity. I have started an entirely new draft, as this one had more than one problems. I think Ambidexterity Advantage is too vague; it could be about anything, not just about fighting.

    I'm planning to discard this after I have salvaged the examples, so I recommend to continue the discussion at the new draft.
  • March 13, 2016
    LordGro
    Heroic Ambidexterity has been launched. I'm nuking this.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=f70z0gg7t5xvh9s98nfs2t02