The "en garde" combat stance which is adopted by hand-to-hand fighters in combat, just before opening cans of whoop-ass upon their oh-so-very-dead opponent. Ideally, the stance used should not merely be functional; it must visually convey the message "Your butt, kicked by me."
A common variant is, rather than a combat stance, to smile threateningly as if to say "I'm about to kill you. Very much." A second variant is, faced with a display of force, to simply play The Stoic and exude an aura of "You guys are so toast." Can include cracking knuckles, or cracking the cartilage in one's neck. When kicking someone's ass, it's important to be limber!
See also Bring It — a challenging gesture daring the opponent to attack. Supertrope of "Super Sentai" Stance.
Contrast Victory Pose. Usually in animation, the pose is rendered in more detailed artwork.
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Anime & Manga
Masane Amaha from Witchblade, after transforming for the first time, does the "come hither for your ass kicking" version, namely the defiant stance coupled with index finger motioning for the asshole to step forward for their aforementioned asskicking.
Naruto has Rock Lee, whose combat stance involves a mid-to-low center of gravity, left hand held behind the back (potentially to grab kunai and such), and right hand ''held forward in the classic "come and get me" gesture.'' Definitely a sign of rampant badassery, whether or not it ends up working.
In just about every episode of Fist of the North Star, before kicking some ass Ken's shirt would explode off and he would crack his knuckles.
Parodied in the Azumanga Daioh Supplementary Materials. Tomo asks Chiyo what a cool pose would be. She responds with an exaggerated Ass Kicking Pose, prompting Kagura to ask, "What's with the cool pose?"
Played completely straight in Episode 25 of StrikerS. Nanoha stomps the ground "to brace herself." In the DVD adaptation, the stomp cracks the ground underneath her feet. Immediately thereafter, the Crowning Moment Of Awesome for the entire series happened.
Jack Rakan, one of the strongest people introduced in the manga, in his tournament final fight against Negi, struck a totally serious combat pose. This man blew up a mountain on accident and one of his first attacks in the series was mistaken for a terrorist bombing. and he even held back on that one to keep from turning the opponents to dust. When the smile gets wiped off his face and he gets serious...It's scary.
InuYasha often cracked his knuckles before a fight. One handed. Open in a claw hand, not clinched into a fist.
In the Lucky Star OVA, 3/4 of the main characters and their teacher are playing a MMORPG, and discuss finishing poses. What they wind up with is the end of the Hare Hare Yukai dance, with a random passerby filling the needed position. They quickly agree that it doesn't work.
Parodied in Mahoujin Guru Guru. The "Cool Pose" is an actual ability that can only be used by The Hero. Nike strikes a pose while a sphere of yellow light surrounds him. Though it's noted the ability has no actual function besides making everyone stare at him in awe.
Rurouni Kenshin has a couple. Kensin's Battousai glare is one, notable for scaring the bejeezus out of Kurogasa and several small-time villains. There's also his battou-jutsu stance, which looks so ridiculously cool that it has reached the level of being powered by its awesomeness.
The Straw Hats use these poses a lot. Luffy typically cracks his knuckles or stretches before a fight. Zoro usually puts his sword in his mouth before fighting, but the real Ass Kicking Pose comes when he takes the bandanna off his arm and puts it on his head. Robin most often crosses her arms in front of her and closes her eyes when she's using her powers. Chopper's arms-folded-in-front-of-him Death Glare is not even slightly ruined by the tiny blue knapsack and pink hat that he always wears.
Franky and his "SUPER!" pose.
Sanji lights a cigarette before his ass kicking.
In the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga, Yami no Yugi would usually point at people before giving them a punishment game and driving them fucking insane.
Code Geass had quite a few for a lot of different people. One example is the pose that the new Guren SEITEN Eight Elements is in during the Second Battle of Tokyo. After fighting its way to Lelouch's position (and slicing through dozens of other Britannian Knightmares) Kallen floats her way down in front of Lelouch. After she stops, her energy wings swing out and a pink circle starts pulsing out from the Guren for no reason other than to look awesome. During her "fight" with Suzaku's for-once inferior Lancelot, she almost never leaves this position. Said pose can be seen here.◊
AlexLouisArmstrong; nearly everything he does when sparkling, during a fight or not, is his Asskicking Pose.
Ling Yao and his guards tend to make these poses a lot
The Shinobi Five, a freelance ninja squad from Gintama.
Subverted/parodied in Bleach with a lesser shinigami flailing his sword impressively only to get knocked out with a single punch from Chad.
In Soul Eater, Death the Kid has his "Sin" and "Punishment" stances. Cue beat down.
Like Sailor Moon, every main heroine in the Pretty Cure series does this. It leads to one hilarious moment in Pretty Cure All Stars DX 2 when the five teams (classic/Max Heart, Splash Star, Yes! 5 Go Go, Fresh and the rookie Heartcatch) strike a asskicking pose... then Cure Blossom and Cure Marine start wondering what they just did.
In Karas, the eponymous fighter performs these so often it can veer a little into Narm territory. Although all the other awesome going on generally balances it out pretty well.
While Batman's combat stances tend to be more practical than showy, he does like to use his cape — along with his imposing physical stature — to devastating psychological effect.
Superman has his Ass-Kicking Pose, which is unique, as it is largely him floating silently with his hands across his chest. This being Superman, this works. When he really wants to scare someone, or if he's really pissed off, expect the Glowing Eyes of Doom. If the mook in front of him is holding a gun and tries Shooting Superman, Supes likes to melt it down with his heat vision as a warning shot.
Spider-Man has his characteristic contortionist/three-point-crouch thing going on.
Brave mook:Come on... we've got guns and we've got him outnumbered four to one. We can take him. Other mooks: *stare in disbelief* DD: *smiles* All mooks: *run down the street*
Films — Animation
In The Incredibles, when the family must fight as a team for the first time, they all adopt a simultaneous Ass Kicking Pose.
Also from that film: one scene features Mr. Incredible flashing an Ass-Kicking Smile.
It's also mocked earlier in the film when Elastigirl catches Mr. Incredible sneaking in to the house. She startles him, and he adopts an Ass-Kicking Pose, which is largely undone because his mouth is full of chocolate cake which is dribbling down his chin.
More than a few incredibly awesome examples of these appeared in Kung Fu Panda, especially on the part of Tai Lung and the Furious Five. Notable ones occurred during the snow leopard's prison escape sequence and the fight on the suspension bridge. Noticeably averted during the showdown between Tai Lung and Shifu, however; despite being a major Badass, the snow leopard was also a Determinator and so didn't waste time doing fancy poses when he had a master to defeat and a scroll to claim. Also hilariously averted with Po, who attempted such poses only to be an Epic Failure nine times out of ten.
Hilariously parodied by Deadpool in the Wolverine section of the Hulk vs animated movie. After Wolverine escapes, the Weapon X team is ready to hunt him down and kill him, and Deadpool shouts ''strike a pose!" Immediately after the shot changes to them standing in said pose.
Films — Live-Action
Trope name comes from Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, where the term was used in a decidedly derisive tone. Both Charlie's Angels movies were rife with their eponymous poses, commonly struck in choreographic unison.
Darth Vader had a sort of anti-pose. It wasn't flashing, it was him just standing there holding his lightsaber with two hands. But it was that cool calmness combined with his massive frame, imposing costume and steady breathing that just made kids watching go "Oh crap!"
Better yet, we have his pose from the climax of The Empire Strikes Back, where he doesn't even break his pose to ignite his lightsaber, one-handed.
Pick a martial arts movie. Any martial arts movie.
The Karate Kid introduced into the pantheon of Ass Kicking Poses the "Crane Stance". Note that according to That Other Wiki, "Crane Stance" refers to just about any stance where only one foot touches the ground, regardless of the arms' position (and the other foot usually rests on the ground leg's knee).
Though, in real life, the Crane Stance would tell you exactly what move Daniel-san is about to use, and should tell you how to beat him. Fortunately for Daniel, Rule of Cool doesn't care about real life.
Just watch the extras instead of the leads. At least in the first one, the no-names tend to actually have some idea what they're doing...
Bruce Lee was the master of the Ass Kicking Pose. Just watch Enter the Dragon and stand in awe.
Oh, and he LOVED the Crane Stance. Specifically, when his opponent used it. One push, falling crane.
Totally averted by Fighter In The Wind. Choi's favoured stance is a simple boxing guard. The few opponents stupid enough to try elaborate stances get unpleasant things done to them. Then subverted; at the end Choi and Kato are so evenly matched that they take a moment's time out to limber up and get into their preferred stances again.
The film version of Undercover Brother parodies this trope by using awkward-looking stances.
Of course, The Matrix. Of particular note is Neo's continual use of the "Bring It" hand gesture throughout the series.
The Gun Kata style of Equilibrium relies extensively on these to position the body just so while gunning down enemies.
Serenity. After River slaughters the entire Reaver horde the doors open to show her in a very simple stance, legs spread apart and and axe and a sword in her hands that pretty perfectly conveys the fact that many, many people just got pasted by a ninety pound girl. When the Alliance troops bust in moments later, she doesn't even shift her stance, instead just very slowly turning her head to face them - the implication being that, even with their heavy body armor and a dozen guns pointed at her, she is going to massacre them too, just as easily.
Fight Club. Brad Pitt's character Tyler Durden does several of these during his final fight with the narrator and another one when the narrator is on the phone with Marla for absolutely no reason except Brad Pitt being bored and wanting to try it out.
Indiana Jones has this as a recurrent joke: in Raiders of the Lost Ark, a swordman offers a good pose and demonstration of skills, and Indy answers by shooting him dead; the pose was useless. In the following movie, several thugs do the Ass-Kicking Pose, Indy reaches for his gun again and... he had lost the gun somewhere. Oops.
A subversion in the 1989 Batman film, when one of the mooks threatens Our Hero with a series of flailing martial arts poses. The technique is about as useless as it appears, since Batman manages to flatten the guy with one punch. On two separate occasions.
Again subverted in The Cannonball Run. During the Big Brawl scene, Roger Moore (essentially playing himself) squares off against one thug, adopts an Ass-Kicking Pose... and promptly gets his lights punched out.
The current reigning champion of this trope appears in the climactic battle of Marvel's The Avengers. Ass Kickers, Assemble!
In Donnie Brasco, Donnie's first "mission" with Lefty is to collect a debt from a guy whose response is to claim to know kung fu and to adopt a movie-style martial arts stance (it is the '70s, after all). Needless to say, Donnie has little trouble dealing with this and they leave with the man's car.
Power Rangers/Super Sentai, both humans and mecha. The concentrated awesomeness of these poses will often cause explosions and bursts of colored smoke.
There's a lot of ceremony behind it: each Ranger has his or her own personal pose, with a little routine of a few moves before snapping into the final pose (with optional smoke clouds.) Some teams have an entire routine where each gives his or her Ranger designation while posing, and then all pose together after the team's In the Name of the Moon phrase — this is known to fans (well, some fans) as the "roll call". When Rangers return for a Reunion Show years or even a decade after their most recent appearance, the poses are always done just as they were before. Z of Power Rangers SPD had a habit of quickly taking on her final pose without suiting up just before running in to take on Mooks, though the full routine was saved for roll call scenes.
Parodied in the TV show Vanishing Son: the hero (seeking the Villain of the Week) kicks down his office door, to reveal a gigantic man behind a desk. Said man jumps up, puts his hands in front of him, shouts "I'm a temp!" and runs past the hero.
Kamen Rider, one word: "Henshin!" Parodied in Kamen Rider G. After the title Rider finishes his pose, the building behind him has half of its windows blown out to form his logo. Hope he has Hero Insurance.
In addition, the pose of Hongo Takeshi(A.K.A. Kamen Rider 1) is practically iconic in Japanese media.
In the Doctor Who episode "A Good Man Goes To War" Rory Williams, aka 'The Last Centurion' adopts a double wielding stance with sword in one hand and gun in the other and a matter-of-fact 'come on then' expression on his face.
The backbox art for Mac Attack shows the Captain with teeth clenched as he grips a pair of gun controls, while behind him are his two crew members, each with a raised fist and a large gun ready to fire.
WWE wrestler Rob Van Dam has a tendency to get knocked down, then pop right back up into an Ass Kicking Pose.
Pretty common in Professional Wrestling anyway - usually after a series of very quick reversals and chain wrestling, with both guys doing a "kip up", as it's termed, into the pose before relaxing so the crowd can show their appreciation.
Mei Feng in Malifaux has this as an actual game ability: "Badass Pose" gives her a buff after performing her "jackhammer kick" maneuver.
When the boss Elvis tries an elaborate one of these in God Hand, Gene mocks it: "You can 'wax on wax off' all you like, I'm still kicking your ass." Gene himself has a much simpler set of poses used before major battles.
Almost every robot master/Maverick from Mega Man and Mega Man X does one of these, right after making their grand entrance.
Starting with X4, X and Zero do this as they enter a stage. Also, X's armor warps into place.
When X is confronted as a boss, X's armor-warp gesture serves as this. Zero simply shakes his fist, if he bothers to gesture at all.
Many Super Smash Bros. taunts are of the Ass Kicking Pose variety. Lucario and his Aura poses, Captain Falcon's "Show me ya moves" and Wario laughing at his opponents for example.
The recent Power Rangers game Super Legends does this as well, giving the rampant posing in the TV show a significantly better use.
Name a fighting game, almost Any fighting game made after 1995, especially if there's a strong Martial Arts theme.
Soul Series: Kilik oddly enough does NOT use a crane stance (see Film example above) as one of his pre-battle poses, despite that his "Crane stance + Staff held at a 45 degree angle" pose is extremely iconic for the series.
In what can only be an affectionate parody or lampshade hanging to Charlie's Angels, the three heroines of Final Fantasy X-2 kick the game off by appearing in an ass-kicking pose stolen directly from the movie (plus the exotic FF weaponry)
In most main-series Final Fantasy games as a whole, players can expect to see poses when the character enters battle, when they just stand around waiting for their turn, and of course the Victory pose when they win.
It can also happen when you bead a stronger monster and time putting the sword away just as it poofs away.
Combine this with the Mortal Draw for some nice showy iaijitsu.
Technically, Link originally did the sword twirl in the Zelda cartoon. However, it was no where near as impressive as in Twilight Princess or any other example here, possibly due to the size of the blade and where the holster was.
Sonic the Hedgehog, whether after clearing a mission, beating the big bad, or just to piss off Dr. Robotnik/Eggman, will likely do a bunch of fancy stuff, but will always end his pose with a thumbs up.
In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, this is proven, as his entrance is to roll/bounce onscreen and flash a smile and thumbs up.
The Fallout 3 DLC Operation Anchorage has a trio of soldiers posing◊ for a Washington Post journalist. After snapping a photo, the journalist remarks that "maybe someone will make this into a statue someday". He had no idea how right he was: the statue◊ of the Anchorage War Memorial has the exact same soldiers with different weapons. What's more, the statue was in the base game as well.
In one fight scene from El Goonish Shive, Elliot berates Nanase for striking what he calls a "Look at me, I just kicked Elliot" pose.
Parodied in 8-Bit Theater when preparing to fight a major villain, Red Mage, ever the role-player, calls for everyone to adopt "battles poses" and to make it look good.
Problem Sleuth from MS Paint Adventures has a panel entitled "Pose as a team CAUSE SHIT JUST GOT REAL!". And then later, "POSE AS A TEAM AGAIN CAUSE SHIT JUST GOT MORE REAL!" In all, there's about four panels, where shit continues to get increasingly real.
Despite the fact that it's actually getting LESS real.
And in the end "Pose as a team. The world is real."
Ron in Kim Possible has a tendency to invoke random, ridiculous poses in futile attempts to mimic Kim's stances. Kim, Shego and assorted ninjas could pull it off, though.
Mocked lightly in an episode of Justice League Unlimited, where MetaBrawl has degenerated into a pathetic, bingo-hall level company, complete with fighters who spend all their time doing Neo's "just bring it" pose and comparatively little time fighting each other.
In Teen Titans, Cyborg prepares for a fight by cracking the cartilage in his neck. Additionally, Robin often struck these in preparation for a fight.
Avatar: The Last Airbender makes frequent use of this, and it can be argued that for most of the characters, Ass-Kicking Poses are essentially their fighting style, since most of the actual combat is done with whatever element they happen to be bending at the time instead of actual hand-to-hand. Toph also has a pretty awesome Ass-Kicking Smile in a few episodes.
Done quite a bit with the Legion of Super Heroes, especially Triplicate Girl in her three selves — justified in that she's one of the only ones who fights hand-to-hand. Bouncing Boy always pulls his goggles down before he smashes into someone or does a particularly daring maneuver on the ship — more of an Ass-Kicking Ritual than pose, but still.
Well this was already mentioned in the film section, but as a former practitioner of Martial Arts, there quite literally is such thing as an "Ass Kicking Pose". It's actually effective and for your own safety. If your stance isn't proper before a fight, most likely your opponent will take advantage of your apparent lack of balance (i.e. don't look clumsy if you're getting ready to defend yourself).
Not to mention that a well-executed pose-sequence can be really intimidating if your opponent isn't a martial artist, himself.
The practical purpose of an Ass Kicking Pose is to make yourself as small a target as possible while maintaining the ability to effectively strike at your opponent.
These oftentimes backfire if the one doing the pose doesn't know what he's doing. Trying out a pose that only works in the movies is typically bad for your mobility, balance, ability to defend and counterattack, and in a real fight, your health as well.
And others would recommend that you have no 'combat pose'. To paraphrase Miyamoto Musashi, your fighting stance should be your everyday stance; your walk should be your everyday walk. If proper fighting form (or terrain, such as marshland) requires you adopt a difference in walk or stance, then that should also be incorporated into your usual stance and pace.