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No sword on hand, and about to be slashed? No problem! Reach out and Clap Your Hands If You Believe... you can stop a blade barehanded, presumably by applying friction to the sides, since Blocking Stops All Damage. At the extreme end are characters capable of stopping a blade between two fingers or — if Made of Iron — simply bouncing the blade off their finger or arm, though this trope is typically based on technique rather than invulnerability (which would render any defense superfluous).
A common trope in Manga and Anime, it is known in Japan as Shinken Shirahadorinote catching a moving blade, which is part of Martial Arts training. The Real Life technique, however, does not actually involve blocking the sword with a bare hand, but preventing the opponent from drawing his sword. Well, nobody in Japan probably was stupid enough to catch a sharp blade in his hands, especially as swords in Japan were forged with the purpose of making a clean strike to an enemy.
As the MythBustersmade clear, this is impossible to do, as the best-case scenario would end up with a large chunk of a hand sliced off, assuming one had enough speed and force to stop the blade coming down. Most likely one would get a sword in the head anyway. However, a trained martial artist using hand protection like the metal grips used to help climb walls could pull this off with (depending on size) the appearance of doing it barehanded.
In the end, though, the best option would be dodging the blade. Especially if the user is fast enough both mentally and physically to pull this off right. Or even better, just run like hell if your enemy had a blade while you were bare-handed.
If done almost right, and the user retains their hand, don't be surprised by a Bloody Handprint to emphasize the injury. Characters may need to enter a Meditation Powerup to be able to catch the blade. An offensive counterpart would be Razor-Sharp Hand.
Bullet Catch and Punch Catch are counterparts for gun and Good Old Fisticuffs respectively, as this trope is roughly "Sword Catch". Also compare Point That Somewhere Else and Finger in a Barrel.
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Anime & Manga
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Lord Yupa does this to prevent a slaughter aboard a ship, taking a sword point in the forearm, through his armor. Despite Yupa's calm, unflinching demeanor, Nausicaa is the only one who notices the blood dripping from the hilt, and the shudder of pain in Yupa's body, showing the extent Yupa will go to to keep the peace.
Mazinger Z: Kouji was forced to pull this maneouver sometimes. A specially awesome example happened in episode 52: he is fighting a Mechanical Beastarmed with scythes can easily slice and dice his Humongous Mecha. During the fight the Beast tries to cleave Mazinger in half... and Mazinger blocks the scythe with both hands and splits it. And then he grans his enemy's broken weapon, slice its remainder scythe off, and stab the Robeast with its own weapon! Justified Trope since Kouji does this using his Humongous Mecha, so he does not need get worried about losing a chunk of his hands.
Great Mazinger: Tetsuya introduced the Heroes Prefer Swords in Super Robot anime. Sometimes he did this as dueling with War Beast, but during its duel with Ankoku Daishogun he used a very unorthodox version: he stopped a sword blow with Great Mazinger's forearm.
New Mazinger: In one of the first scenes, a mecha enemy attacks M Azinger with a laser blade. Mazinger easily grabs the mecha's wrist and then he slices it in two with a single stroke.
Shin Mazinger: In one scene Aphrodite grabs a Beast's weapon and breaks it in half.
The title character of Hayate the Combat Butler does this almost offhandedly with two fingers during his "duel" with Wataru and tosses the sword aside. He's just that good. In a manga chapter, Hayate also manages to grasp a sword wielded by Athena with one hand, although he bleeds from it.
When he is fighting with Hinagiku, he does manage to catch her blade barehanded. It isn't a bladed sword, but it still cuts extremely well.
Fate/Zero does this with Berserker catching Saber´s invisible sword barehanded. It's a hint to his identity, as it shows that he knows the exact shape and length of the blade despite it being invisible.
The original Fate/stay night had Caster's Master do this, again to Saber's invisible sword. He caught the blade between his elbow and knee (it was a horizontal slash). Even more impressive considering he was an ordinary human, just with insane martial arts skills.
Ogami Itto from Lone Wolf and Cub does this. A ninja sent against him does a double subversion — he deliberately aims the sword into his own skull, so that his partner would have a chance to kill Ogami while the sword was stuck.
Also a magnificent Crowning Moment of Awesome for both the protagonist and the villain. Having killed every single ninja in Japan, hero Itto Ogami faces down his enemy Retsudo Yagyu, armed with only a broken sword against Retsudo's spear and sword. Ogami blocks the spear and breaks it in half, then blocks Retsudo's sword and disarms him, taking a mortal wound in the process. Retsudo then blocks Ogami's final strike, tells him that the heavens desire Ogami's death more than his own, and gently lets go of the blade. Ogami dies on his feet, sword in hand.
Also, Itto usually doesn't just catch the blade. He also tends to flip up and yank away the blade (or just snap it) and throw it into whoever struck at him. In the last fight, this doesn't work since Yagyu is good enough to flip with him and thus not lose the blade.
In Love Hina, Keitarō manages to do this against Motoko, which has her worrying that her abilities are slipping. She starts to completely lose it, though, when Tama-chan (the turtle) manages the same feat.
For extra effect, he once pulled it off with his stockinged feet (which also had the expected effect on Mendou).
And in another story he pulled it off against a swordfish. Then he gloated he had honed his technique thanks to his frequent quarrels with Mendo.
A signature move of Jubei-chan, it's a very relevant plot point in the second to last episode of the second season.
This is taken to an extreme. It's not only bare-handed, the blade is stopped with bare-fingers (thumb and index finger) with only one hand. With absolutely no effort regardless of how much force was being put into the slash.
It's also relevant earlier in the second season when Jiyu performs this in her civilian form, showing that her Ninja Girl skills are not limited to when she uses the Lovely Eyepatch.
Happens a lot in Bleach. Ulquiorra, for instance, has a habit of blocking blades (and energy beams, and people drawing swords) with just one hand, and looking really cool while doing so. It reaches the point that that the protagonist's Kung Fu is shown to have become stronger when Ulqiorra can't even block the attack with both hands. Long before Ulquiorra, though, the series' current Big Bad demostrated just how much of a Badass he was when he blocked the protagonist's sword's powered-up form with a single finger, also cutting his Theme Music Power-Up off in the process.
Justified in the case of Ulquiorra; he, and all other Arrancar, are specifically stated to have "Iron Skin" as one of their abilities and Soul Reapers can achieve a similar effect with reiatsu. Consequently, they tend to do a lot of catching swords with their bare hands, since their bare hands are basically armor.
In their final battle, the protagonist shows that the tables have turned, by blocking the Big Bad's sword with his bare hand.
A less dramatic example occurs after the time skip. A thug has just pulled a knife on Ichigo, and Ichigo manages to catch the blade between his fingers.
During their climactic fight where Ichigo revealed his Bankai for the first time, Byakuya caught Ichigo's sword. His hand got really bloody, but he at least saved himself from getting impaled.
Kanbei does this to the robotic Kikuchiyo in Samurai 7.
An entire episode of Voltes V was devoted to The Hero of the Five-Man Band learning this when the eponymous Super Robot was fighting against an enlarged swordsman. He doesn't take very well to the training for the technique, so he decides to modify the process by doing a bullet catch using a pair of rocks.
A subversion happens in Kotetsu Jeeg. The titular Humongous Mecha blocks a downward, vertical swing... by crossing its forearms above his head. Of course, given that it is a robot, hence it is not made of flesh, it is not worried about the weapon slicing it, and the blade shatters upon impact.
Nanoha pulls this off during the White Devil training incident in Nanoha StrikerS, stopping a powered punch with one hand and a magical blade with the other. She grips the blade, which draws blood, and uses magic to halt its wielder's momentum. Considering her talents, she had plenty of alternatives, but would they have freaked out her opponents as much?
Jail Scaglietti also does this to Fate during an incredibly impressive scene-especially considering the sheer size of Bardiche's energy blade and the way Scaglietti is driven partially into the floor, which shatters from the force, whilst still standing upright. His claw-hand may have helped with this. The block didn't help in the long run though, which just goes to show You Can't Fight Fate.
While Kenshin performs this move against Aoshi in an episode of Rurouni Kenshin (and does, indeed, cut his hands), the person most known for this is Yahiko who is known as the "man who has caught 1,000 blades". He uses the blade block because his sword style, the Kamiya Kasshin-Ryu is conceived for non-lethal self-defense. During Yahiko No Sakabatou Yahiko breaks a blade one handed, which is the Kamiya Kasshin-Ryu's ultimate technique taught to him by Kaoru (thus making her a practitioner of this trope as well). Unlike the traditional blade block pictured above, the technique is done by crossing your arms and catching the blade with the back of your hands while still grasping your sword so that you remain armed even after disarming the opponent.
Aoshi also breaks a blade with one hand at the end of the manga's Jinchu Arc. Into multiple pieces.
Make sure you never ever use your sword techniques on Shishio more than once. Once Shishio knows how an attack works it's almost always guaranteed to be blade blocked with just three fingers.
With only a few exceptions, this is interestingly one of the more realistic depictions of this trope. Characters who catch incoming blades are often seen getting cut by the blades they have caught. This is evidenced by the technique Kenshin uses against Aoshi, which looks the closest to the most common form of this trope, where he reveals that the object is actually to allow oneself to be cut but to clamp down on the blade to prevent it from slicing, which is where a slashing sword like a katana does its real damage, and notes that the entire katana isn't as sharp as the cutting-point half-way up. On the other hand you do have people like Shishio and Aoshi, who are badass enough to do it in a less bloody fashion.
In the third InuYashamovie, Swords of an Honorable Ruler, the title character's Aloof Big Brother Sesshoumaru does the trope one better by punching his opponent's blade out of his way.
During the series, InuYasha's Superpowered Evil Side does the same thing to Sesshoumaru's sword. But due to the special properties of the sword, not only his fist but his entire forearm is sliced up in the process.
Lunar's Dad catches Kai's katana between his fingers and then snaps the tip of the blade.
Subverted when slow motion goes into effect as Saru gives a dramatic monologue while preparing to perform a blade block... only to fail to grab the sword in time after his speech, resulting in a colorful spray of blood.
Ginji does this to Pixy Misa in Magical Project S. It's almost plausible, considering that Misa is quite physically weak.
Used once in Real Bout High School, though there it was with Ryoko's wooden sword, making it much more plausible.
In a piece of official artwork, Haruka blocks Miyu's sword arm during a trip to the beach. The Mai-Otome version of Haruka tries this with Shizuru's staff while they're sparring at the academy, but only ends up getting a Cranial Eruption and causing Shizuru's staff to bend on impact.
Zoro of One Piece claims to be able to do this, but never actually manages it due to the interference of his perennial rival, Sanji.
Hachi tried to do this in his duel with Zoro, but utterly failed despite using all six of his hands.
Luffy also does something similar one-handed in his match against Arlong, but it was more with his monstrous strength than any learned skill.
Kuma manages to block Zoro's slash and knock him back. It may help that he's a cyborg.
Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny had the Strike Freedom catch the Destiny Gundam's anti-ship sword in this fashion. It made a little more sense than most examples because 1) the Freedom used its beam shields to slow the impact, and 2) it caught the solid part of the sword rather than the energy blade. However, Fridge Logic kicks in when one remembers that this is an anti-ship sword, packing extra weight to help it cut through the hulls of enemy battleships. Of course, Photoshopped images exist that show a more realistic outcome, with Freedom's hands clapped around air and Destiny's sword half-buried in its head.
Mobile Suit Crossbone Gundam: The Crossbone X-3 can do this to beam sabers because it has I-field generators in its hands. Though those I-fields cannot be turned on all the time due to the heavy power drain they cause.
SD Gundam Force: Captain Gundam manages to parry Commander Sazabi's beam sabers with his (albeit powered-up) bare hands.
Comander Sazabi lampshades this, and Captain apologizes as he squeezes the saber blades hard enough to explode the handles with the feedback.
Gally/Alita does this in Gunnm (OVA 2 and manga) while fighting with a dual-sword-wielding bounty hunter; being an advanced cyborg, she then adds some Applied Phlebotinum to her Barehanded Blade Block and calls down a lightning bolt to fry the baddie.
A gag panel between two chapters of Gunnm: Last Order volume 11 shows Sechs attempting a Barehanded Blade Block — but being too slow. The sword breaks on his cyborg skull.
Samurai Deeper Kyo showcases the entire range of sword catches. But the real kicker (pun intended) is when Yuan of the Taishiro catches Hotaru's sword between his toes!
The implausibility is inverted in an episode of Outlaw Star where Gene fights Suzuka. Gene isn't even using his bare hands but rather a bullet-deflecting force-field focused to a very small space while Suzuka is using a bokuto and he still can't hold her off.
Berserk: Guts does this a lot. However, most of the time he's using his fake metal arm to block, and when he does grab a blade with his right hand, he's wearing metal gauntlets and he does bleed.
An interesting case in one episode (and manga chapter) of Space Adventure Cobra. The title character and his female cyborg sidekick are fighting apparently invincible suits of armor, and Cobra does a Barehanded Blade Block on one sword (not that hard for him considering his superhuman reflexes). He subsequently breaks the sword and the armor crumbles, empty. He discovers later that they are fighting a race of living, telekinetic swords.
It is shown later in a flashback that Cobra once got his left arm cut off by an axe. Right after, he blocks it with his right hand's fingers.
Ranma and Akane regularly pull this off against Kunō in Ranma ˝. On the one hand, it's easier to catch his sword since it's a wooden bokken; on the other, he regularly projects a Razor Wind with it.
Ranma also uses this technique against Mousse, who favors bladed and piercing weapons in his vast arsenal.
Later on, Ranma used this technique with the soles of his feet, facing away from the attacker, to stop his mother's katana. She didn't know it was him at the time, but she was very impressed.
Not only does Ryoma Nagare manage to pull this off in Getter Robo (though with some injury to his hands), he also manages to redirect the blade into another man's skull and then sever another man's arm clean off by throwing it.
Intrepid Reporter Rocky from Area 88 pulls one off in a duel with the chief of the Bedouin Rescue Service that saved him after his helicopter was shot down. The chief thought Rocky might have been a spy for the anti-government forces that had attacked his tribe earlier. Unlike most examples, Rocky winds up cutting his hands badly.
The title character of Midori Days manages to pull this off, of all people. To be fair, it was a fake sword, but she's the size of your hand using her own tiny hands. And she's a 16-year-old girl.
A bystander thought the main character had caught it with just two fingers.
In YuYu Hakusho, Genkai did this to the demon Shishiwakamaru and his demonic blade. In the English dub Kuwabara at least acknowledges the unlikeliness of the feat by shouting "Whoa, that's hardcore!" in response.
Just before the Dark Tournament begins, Hiei decides to see how far Yusuke has come by attacking with his sword. Yusuke effortlessly dodges a barrage of lightning-fast slashes before catching it between his thumb and forefinger.
During the Chapter Black storyline, Yusuke blasts away a couple dozen flying knives with his Shotgun. He misses two, but manages to catch one in each hand by closing the fingers of his spread hands.
During the Dark Tournament, the team realizes they are still really outclassed by Toguro after Toguro catches a battleaxe wielded by a huge demon with one hand with only forty percent of his strength.
A little earlier, Tobi pulled a somewhat different version of this by blocking it with just his forearm. It is implied he used a jutsu to make his arm hard, so justified.
Naruto himself pulls this against Karui, which impresses her a little, although she had flipped the blade around anyway because she was trying to get information from him. And even earlier he breaks one of Pain's blades with his hands, though admittedly he was in his Super Mode at the time.
This trope was first used in the series by Kakashi, who blocks a giant shuriken with one hand. Granted, he wears hand-guards, but still... ow.
Later in the same arc he goes and does it again. This time he skewers his hand on a kunai which was aimed at his Sharingan.
Naruto tries this in a fight against Kabuto, who is wielding a Kunai. His brilliant tactic is intercepting Kabuto's fist, earning the blade cutting the space between his middle and ring finger. Good thing he can heal.
Actually, in the manga he doesn't have those plates on his hands and it cuts to the bone.
His plan was actually to let Kabuto stab his hand in order to grab him long enough for him to use his Rasengan on him. It works, and he more or less beats Kabuto with it. So yes, it was a brilliant tactic, since he wasn't actually employing this trope, and what he did was pretty Bad Ass.
In the Pain attack arc, Kakashi grabs Pain's chakra blade in mid-swing in order to protect Iruka.
Jiraiya blocks Kisame's sword, Samehada, with the palm of his hand when Kisame tries to cut off Naruto's legs.
In a later episode of Sola, Matsuri attempts this when fighting Takeshi. Justified in that she's immortal and has the power to instantly decay any object she touches (she's quickly rusted metal scaffolding and induced mild necrosis in Takeshi's arm earlier). It still draws blood since Takeshi's sword turns out to be immune to Yaka powers.
In the first volume of the manga, Edward does a blade block with his "arm". Justified in that it's made of automail.
After getting new automail made from carbon-fiber, Ed takes a cue from Greed and transmutes the arm to diamond in order to up its blade-blocking abilities. It even works against Pride's shadow blades (which have been shown effortlessly piercing steel).
Megatron does this to Vector Prime in the first episode of Transformers Cybertron. It helps the fact that he's made of metal.
In the original novel/anime of Vampire Hunter D, Count Lee is able to block a sword strike with his two bare hands. Justified because he's a vampire with superhuman speed and strength, and that he was taught the technique by Dracula.
WORKING!! has a particularly egregious example - the store's general manager manages to pull this off with no wounds, despite the fact that Yachiyo had just finished sharpening her katanna (though she might not have gotten around to sharpening the part he grabbed).
Seen in the opening sequence for the second half of season 2 of Gunslinger Girl. Then seen again in the finale of said season, where Triela catches Pinocchio off-guard by breaking his knife with her bare hands, then stabbing him in the arm with his own blade.
Sword of the Stranger does this twice, by the same guy. Luo Lang, big blond Blood Knight that he is. When he does it in the final fight you're pretty much expecting it because he already did it once. Which is the REALLY unlikely one, since he performed the Blade Block IN THE RAIN and metal gets really, really slippery when wet.
Hild from Ah! My Goddess does this a couple times, once in the Fighting Wings arc/OVA and again in chapter 248, both times against Lind.
Ichika pulls this off against Houki's wooden katana in Infinite Stratos. It's played more for laughs, than for awesome.
Goemon has done this against rival swordsmen at least once in the Lupin III movies.
Subverted when Saiji attempts this with Itsuwa during a sparring session. Unfortunately for him, Itsuwa retried it several times to avoid embarrassing him and when it was suggested that the bamboo blade may be throwing their timing off, switched to a metal imitation blade, then finally a real sword. Whether or not Saiji succeeded with the last one isn't yet known.
Haru's sword is in a form that uses magic to create explosions while he's attacking Sieg. Sieg is an expert sorcerer who just happens to cast spells by making various gestures with his index and middle finger. He casts a spell to stop the sword at his fingertips. It's averted not to long after when Haru switches his sword to a form without magic and Sieg ends up getting hurt.
Demon Lord Berial catches Haru's sword in his teeth in their first battle. Later in the series, Haru shows just how much stronger he has become since then when he kills Berial with one swing of his sword without missing a beat.
In Rain, Rain does this in chapter 10. Made even more impressive because he does this to a demonic blade wielded by a powerful demon king. After suffering a near mortal wound earlier in the fight.
In the classic G.I. Joe comic issue 21, Snake-Eyes does this in response to a blade thrown at Scarlett.
In Dead Man's Hand crossover, Daredevil managed this on a knife-wielding Punisher. The Punisher, an experienced knife-fighter, then whipped the knife out with a slight twist, leaving DD with two handfuls of blood.
Spider-Man once blocked a katana between the foreheads of two ninja that he had rolled up into a carpet.
In the Ranma ˝Elsewhere FicBoy Scouts ˝, one of the characters, Hughes, is shown to be able to do this when he is attacked by an Amazon warrior named Perfume. Since he had not previously been shown to have any particular skills in such areas, it is unclear if he is just darn lucky, she is just that bad, or both.
In Animus Rover's story "Ichigo's Rival," from Bleach Fan Works, Culth Seborn blocks Ichigo's sword with one hand before shattering it. This, combined with Culth using an attack that kills four million hollows in one hit, causes Dark Kuroda to realize that Culth is a God-Mode Sue.
In Uninvited Guests, Komamura and Hitsugaya manage to pull this on Aizen. Aizen gets annoyed and complains that it's only cool when he does it.
Films — Animation
In one of the episodes of The Animatrix, during a climactic sword fight, the protagonist grabs the katana on its descent, then snaps it off and thrusts it through the villain. Justified because it takes place in the Matrix and by the Rule of Cool.
Master Shifu manages this trick by catching a thrown sword, spinning it around his body, and then burying the blade in the floor.
Neo stops a sword with the side of his hand in The Matrix Reloaded, his Made Of DiamondNigh-Invulnerability leaving him only with a small cut to the hand. The Merovingian is quite surprised by Neo's durability before drawing his mook's attention to the cut and how The One can still be hurt.
Merovingian: You see. He is just a man.
Done by Ash in Army of Darkness, though he is using his recently-acquired medieval robot hand.
Treated fairly realistically in Rob Roy. Before Archibald Cunningham can thrust his sword into Rob's neck, Rob grabs the tip of the blade with his bare hand, tying it up just long enough to counter, but - even though it's a fairly light rapier and isn't moving as he grabs it - cutting up his hand really badly. Ironically, early in the film, Rob deliberately cut his hand on an opponent's sword to avoid a fight.
Also Archibald isn't thrusting the sword at the time, but holding the blade under Rob's chin prior to killing him. He ends up paying for drawing out the moment of the kill with his life.
Treated with extra realism in The Duellists, as trying to grab a Rapier/Smallsword with your hand is going to result in nothing but your palms divorcing your hand. Those things are almost completely unrelated to the fencing foils that Hollywood thinks such weapons are.
In Spies Like Us the military commander is asked what you're supposed to do when faced with ninjas. Handing over his clipboard to an assistant he then proceeds to kick ninja butt, at one point stopping a sword in this manner. Mind you he was wearing leather gloves, for what it's worth.
Eric used this technique to catch a knife thrown at his head in The Crow, after dodging one such knife and deflecting a second.
John Candy catches a thrown knife by the blade in the movie Delirious.
Blade does this in Blade II. At quite some length. He is, however, half-vampire.
In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy has a knife thrown at her by Merrick. She picks it out of mid-air and looks incredulously at him, saying, "You threw a knife at my head!", to which he matter-of-factly replies, "And you caught it."
Yoshio in Sukiyaki Western Django performs the standard two-hands-over-head blade block. A Genji Mook who then tries to emulate him, however, fails and ends up with a katana in his head.
Deconstructed brutally in God of Cookery, Turkey's left hand is lacerated severely from grabbing a machete but she's just too angry to let that stop her, leading to an Oh, Crap moment on behalf of the wielder.
Drillbit Taylor did this. Somewhat subverted because while he did technically stop the sword he lost his pinky.
Psycho II: Norman grabs a butcher knife that Mary Loomis is stabbing him with. She yanks it through his hands, with wince-inducing results.
A slightly more mild case in Fearless: Huo Yuanjia stops Qin Lei's sword by grabbing its blunt edge.
Subverted/deconstructed during the final fight of kung fu movie Duel to the Death. Hashimoto tries to kill Ching Wan with a thrust of his katana. Ching Wan, out of desperation and due to being caught by surprise, grabs the blade with one hand. Hashimoto responds by calmly rotating the blade, severing all of Ching Wan's fingers on that hand.
In the climactic fight scene of Five Fingers of Death, the hero does this to the katana of the leader of the ronins employed by the Big Bad, going on to break off the blade, leading them to fight hand-to-hand.
A variation occurs in the German movie "Das Experiment" based on the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment. The main character stops a knife blade by... gripping it with his hand! It sounds as painful as it actually looks, and the attacker is as perplexed as the defender by the unexpected move. It's made even worth because he apparently can't just open his hand again, so he has to pull the knife out from his closed fist, effectively slicing his palm and fingers even more.
Captain America in The Avengers was shown to have caught the blade of a Chitauri polearm/rifle-bayonet while defending Manhattan.
In Passchendael , a Canadian soldier grabs a German's bayonet with his bare hands, though more out of desperation than badassitude. It also ends realistically, with him having a deep stab wound in his palm.
In I Robot, when a rogue robot attacks Spooner with a metal pipe, he instinctively tries to defend himself by blocking the blow with his forearm. This is where we find out Spooner's left arm is actually a superstrong metal prothesis.
Prisoner KSC2-303 does this in the final battle of Versus.
In Machete Kills, Machete catches Luther Voz's katana with his left hand, which bleeds.
In the second book of the Way of the Tiger series, Avenger defeats an opposing ninja this way, catching his blade in both hands and then kicking him in the throat.
The books' introduction section is that Avenger's ninja costume has thin strips of iron sewn into it to facilitate deflecting or binding blades, to make up for his lack of training with any non-projectile weapon.
In the first Fighting Fantasy gamebook, The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, the vampire demonstrates its being Nigh Invulnerable (sort of, it just has high combat stats) by grabbing the player's sword when the combat begins.
In the Discworld novel Maskerade, Granny Weatherwax manages to do this against the main villain at the end of the book. The trick here is, she's using a spell that delays the wound until later, when she's ready to treat it. Which puts a whole new spin on the old Predator quote "I ain't got time to bleed!"
Weatherwax also criticizes the trope while playing it straight. While everyone's amazed at her catching a sword with her bare hands, she basically calls them gullible saps for believing such a ridiculous fantasy trope, stating she could have had a bit of metal hidden in her palm or something along those lines (she didn't, but just wanted to be contrary and call everyone out anyway, because she's just that type of character).
Anytime Granny dismisses something as a trick and explains a mundane way of faking it, she will do it by the end of the novel, under circumstances that make it impossible for her earlier explanation to account for. But that's not the point.
Victarion Greyjoy does it in A Song of Ice and Fire while wearing metal gauntlets, though he still cuts his hand — the wound becomes infected and nearly kills him. Quorin Halfhand earned his famous feature by blocking a wildling's axe barehanded. Catelyn Stark stops the blade of the assassin sent to kill her son. She can't use her hands for a long time afterwards.
Dragaera: Vlad Taltos claimed to have lost his finger attempting this trick, though he gives a conflicting account later on. A later book reveals the real reason.
This is tried by one of the targets of Samurai Cat's vengeance. He then smiles up to Tomokato. And then dies due to the razor-sharp katana buried in his skull — he failed the manoeuvre.
In Peter David's Star Trek New Frontier, Mackenzie Calhoun deliberately takes a blade in his shoulder, where it sticks, thus disarming his attacker.
Averted somewhat in The King of Attolia, in which the king does this one-handed (necessary because that's all he's got) and disarms an assassin. Later, he does it again in practice with a wooden sword. His opponents protest that he's cheating because you can't do that with a real sword, so he shows them the scars on his hand from the aforementioned catch.
This Immortal includes a brief mention of Badass Hasan "using his hand to parry a sword cut by striking the flat of the blade in an old samurai maneuver I had thought lost to the world forever." Granted, he's slapping it off course rather than blocking it, but....
In The Mage-Born Traitor by Melanie RawnJosselin does this to prevent Taigan from killing someone. It's notable in that she does really hurt his hands, and she's completely inexperienced and using a sword that knows her intention.
Done several times in The Emberverse although admittedly with supernatural help.
Attempted twice in Empire in Black and Gold, the first book of Shadows of the Apt, in the slightly more realistic "deflect blade by hitting the flat side" version. Even so, the first guy to try it gets cut open for his trouble, whereas the second is a particularly Badass member of a particularly quick and skillful Proud Warrior Race.
This technique was used by the Jedi apprentice Scout against a lightsaber, but justified because the lightsabers were on training settings for a tournament. They wouldn't cut, but they would leave painful burns wherever they hit. Lampshaded by Scout's opponent, who complained that such a tactic would not work in a real fight.
Lampshaded in Gaunts Ghosts. When attacked by an assassin, Gaunt remembers the advice given to him by Colm Corbec; namely that it's better to cut the hell out of your hands and fingers than to let an opponent get an open slash at you. Luckly, Gaunt is badass enough to disarm his attacker without resorting to such a dramatic measure.
Referenced in The Baroque Cycle. It's noted that fencers typically carry daggers with sharp points and dull edges, causing a recent fashion for grabbing onto your opponent's dagger with your off hand. Johannes carries a dagger with unusually sharp edges to prevent this from happening to him.
Bob Lee Swagger tricks a villain into slicing him in his artificial hip so he could stab the man during a sword fight.
A fairly common tactic used by the Redwall series' Badger Lords when they're in full-on Bloodwrath. More than one villain has found their weapon grabbed (and often snapped in half) mid-fight. It always injures the catcher's paws, but the Bloodwrath makes it so they generally don't care until after the fight's over.
Dalinar does this to stop a Shardblade in Words Of Radiance. Later in the book, a swordmaster who learns of this feat mentions that this is a desperation move that usually doesn't work. However, it's still justified—Shardblades tend to be wider than normal (giving enough room to clap your hands against the flat of the blade), and since they're Absurdly Sharp Blades, people don't swing them as hard as they would a normal sword.
In the first season, Catelyn holds an assassin's knife away from her throat with her hands. She lives, but her hands pay a bit of a price.
Brienne of Tarth disarms Sandor Clegane and holds him at swordpoint, asking him to yield. He grabs the Valyrian Steel sword with his bare hands, and despite the blood pouring from them forces it out of her grip. Their duel renews more brutally than before.
In the Buffy episode "Becoming, Part 2", Buffy stops Angelus's sword this way, although the attack that she blocks is a stab rather than a swing. Also, she has Super Strength and enhanced Slayer reflexes.
Several years later, Glory pulls the same stunt; justified because she is an actual god.
In Season 5's "Spiral," Spike stops a Knight of Byzantium's sword from stabbing through the roof of their Winnebago and impaling Buffy through the skull, managing to hold it in place long enough for Buffy to get out through the roof hatch and take the fight to the Knights. It's played realistically: his hands are gashed and bandaged for the remainder of the episode.
Played straight in "Hogday Afternoon part 2". Hydro Hog blocks the Shogun Megazord's fire saber easily. He is not, however, able to block the Shogun Megafalconzord's Beam Spam.
This is a plot point in Power Rangers Wild Force, where Alyssa's father figures out she's the White Ranger by seeing her use the technique he taught her, catching Samurai Org's blade, then snapping it with her elbow.
VR Troopers. What do you do if using trial-and-error with a dimension portal device lands you in the Big Bad's lair instead of letting you follow your lost teammate, and now you're face-to-face with The Dragon? Well, if you're Kaitlin, you catch his sword between your bare hands... without bothering to morph first.
Toku shows like Super Sentai would always invoke this as a cultural nod of sorts.
Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger: The Dekaranger Robo stops an incoming missile with both hands, but the Rangers refer to this move by the official Japanese terminology for Barehanded Blade Block.
The same series has a Monster of the Weektry to do this, miss, and get a sword slash to the face for his trouble. "Man, was my timing off!" he said. (He's also very hard to hurt, with a rubber-like body that means few attacks do real damage.)
Mahou Sentai Magiranger: In the first episode, Kai performs one against Wolzard to protect his older siblings, earning him the right to become MagiRed.
Engine Sentai Go-onger: One-time character Bukkorin, apparently a pampered debutante, proved herself to be worthy of her father's Yakuza status by doing this to stop him from splitting Ren's head.
As noted above, busted by the Mythbusters. Even with superhuman strength, there is no way to catch the sword without taking massive damage to the hands.
On the other hand, one-handed blade block is perfectly possible if you use a palm protector made for the exact purpose, and block the strike before it gains too much momentum. Blocking the blade with two hands on either side of the blade is still quite impossible.
Averted in the Smallville Season 9 finale, where Clark wraps his arm in his jacket to parry his opponent's kryptonite dagger.
Played ludicrously straight everywhere else, though. Blades that make contact with Clark are not only blocked, they shatter. Justified because invulnerability is one of Clark's superpowers. Except for the "shattering" part, because the wielders would have to have superhuman strength themselves for that to make any sense at all.
Done in The Gates by a vampire. While normally the whole vampire thing might justify it, she was fighting another vampire who presumably had a comparable level of enhanced speed and strength.
In a Night Man episode, Raleigh is forced to fight in a prison ring. Night Man helps him for most of the fight. When the criminal throws a shiv, it is Raleigh who catches it with his palms.
Chuck does this when proving to Ellie he is the Intersect in the 4th season.
In Once Upon a Time Rumplestiltskin does the two-fingered variant while fighting Prince Charming. Justified in that he isthe Dark One, and was for all intents and purposes just doing it for fun and to prove to Charming just how far in over his head he was.
In the Shake It Up! episode Oh Brother It Up! Ce Ce Jones performs the technique flawlessly on a quarter flying through the air tossed by Logan. He even compliments her on her cat-like ninja skills.
In the season premier of Spartacus War of the Damned, Crassus is receiving training from a gladiator. His trainer manages to disarm him and closes in for the kill, only for Crassus to use this. It does slice up his hand, but allows him to disarm and fatally stab his trainer.
Both Gannicus and Donar use it later in the series, with similarly bloody if effective results.
And, inevitably, this comes into play in the finale. Spartacus disarms Crassus and closes in for the kill, only for Crassus to do this and then Spartacus does it right back.
In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Professor Elliot Randolph, formerly known as The Berserker, catches Ward's knife with his bare hand and bends it like a paperclip. He's an Asgardian and has superhuman strength and durability.
In Infinity Game Trishia attacks the previous DM with her laser sword after he kills her sister, but he blocks it with his forefinger. Justified as he's technically god and has unlimited power.
One of the common things to do with a stunt in Exalted and often one of the most low-level fighting powers available to most characters.
Dungeons & Dragons: In the first edition supplement Oriental Adventures, the "Locking Block" martial art move could be used to perform a Barehanded Blade Block (but it also covered other weapons and unarmed opponents). Success wasn't guaranteed, however, and against a weapon the user could get wounded.
The "Hand-Clap Parry" in GURPS: Martial Arts is dangerous and leaves you at a disadvantage, if it works at all.
Scion has an epic Stamina knack called Impenetrable Thumbnail which makes a small portion of the Scion's body absolutely unbreakable. With a good stunt, the player can parry sword attacks with their pinky finger
In both the Tekken series and the fairly obscure Squaresoft fighter Ehrgeiz, characters can grab an incoming blade attack and flip the opponent via his sword.
Mikoto in Rune Factory Oceans mentions the fact that certain warriors can stop a blade with bare hands. Then remarks that such a technique is more suited for showmen than for swordsmen.
"Wario Kendo", one of the late-level microgames in WarioWare: Mega Microgames, asks you to do exactly this. On the easiest difficulty level, you have to catch a daikon radish. On its hardest difficulty level, the bokken-wielding samurai accidentally lets his blade slip, and you have to catch the falling sword before it bops Wario in the nose.
One of the "Reaction" abilities of the Samurai class in Final Fantasy Tactics, Blade Grasp (Shirahadori in the retranslation,) allows you to stop any physical attack in this manner. That includes swords, axes, bashing with a blunt object, and bullets. Depending on a character's Brave stat this could have as much as a 97% chance of success, though only for the first swing in an attack round. You can't block two blades barehanded (as in from dual wield), although this would be impressive to say the least.
Considering that magic is really lack-luster in this game (it's fairly easy to become completely immune to it), this ability is absurdly broken. Note that most special abilities are physical (including the magical physical abilities) and yes, Blade Grasp have a near 100% chance to block those too.
Tactics Advance had Strikeback, which allowed you to block a basic attack and counter attack. For some reason, Tactics A2 changes the animation to have the character do a spinning dodge rather than stopping it with their hands.
The Samurai class in Final Fantasy V had a similar ability, called "Blade Grasp" or "Shirahadori" depending on the translation.
The opening cutscene of Mission 20, also in 3. Vergil attempts to deliver a vertical downward slash to Dante using Force Edge. Dante, in retaliation, pulls the same attack with Rebellion, and the twins catch each other's swords with their off hands. Granted, those hands bleed profusely, but these are the sons of Sparda...
Happens to Nero in the 4th game when he first confronts Agnus.
On the note of DMC 4, Gloria executes a Bare THIGH Blade Catch.
In Bayonetta, one of the enemies end up doing this against a fucking Chainsaw.
In the MMORPG Ragnarok OnlineMonks have a skill called Blade Stop that consists basically of this trope. The skill-user and the attacker go into a Blade Lock giving the Monk an opportunity to activate combo chain.
In Kingdom Hearts II, Auron is brainwashed by Hades into a one on one fight to the death with Hercules. At the climax of the fight, Auron swings his BFS and Hercules catches it. Slight subversion in that Hercules probably would not have won the struggle if Sora hadn't subsequently broken Hades's spell on Auron.
Part of the barehanded gameplay of the Samurai Shodown games, at least the first four. Still, few players knew of its existence, and fewer still could use it effectively. Notable example is Nicotine Caffeinne in the second game, who can do it with one hand.
Jin blocks Margulis' sword when he is disarmed during a fight scene in Xenosaga Episode II, cementing his status as a Badass Normal.
In the PS2 version of Soul Calibur II, Heihachi is a Guest Fighter from Tekken, a fighting series in which the characters don't use weapons. (Some characters have them, but don't actually attack with them.) In Soul Calibur, all the characters do have weapons and fight with them. Despite this, Heihachi has the best blocking ability in the game.
Soul Calibur 3 has Nightmare block Siegfried's BFS this way. Justified as he's using his mutated claw hand to do it.
Apart from these instances, Soul Calibur as a whole is generally pretty good at averting this trope - blocking one weapon is done with another, and attacks cannot be grabbed to counterattack.
In Assassin's Creed, Ezio does this all the time while waiting to disarm guards. Although he blocks them with his arms, and seeing as a certain metal plate was added to his hidden blade during the story to make it double as a vambrace, it is sort of reasonable.
Other Assassins in later games can do this as well.
Tatsuya in Persona 2: Eternal Punishment, but his hand bleeds.
Ghirahim in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword does this with three fingers when facing off against Link. Justified, as he's a powerful sorcerer and he literally is a sword himself.
The Conqueror in The Last Remnant blocks Emma Honeywell's sword with three fingers before casually flinging it away. Justified, since the Conqueror is a superhuman Badass.
Nah attempts to learn how to do this in one of her potential support conversations with Morgan, feeling she needs a way to defend herself against a Wyrmslayer sword. Morgan enlightens her on how impractical it is, which culminates in her realizing she'd been wasting her time, as she'd been practicing how to do it in her human form, when it's her dragon form that needs the protection, plus the form's shape makes it impossible to pull off in the first place.
In actual gameplay, when two units are paired up on defense, it doesn't matter what class the support unit is, what weapon they have, or even if they're armed at all—they can block attacks, complete with a metal-on-metal clink that probably shouldn't happen when someone blocks a sword with their bare hands. (It's not limited to melee weapons, either—a unit can use their bare hands to block arrows and spells, too.)
This was the first thing 3D Lee did to President Baugh in Kickassia.
Goliath, in the first episode of Gargoyles, catches a sword in his open hand, upon which it starts to bleed from the sword wound. This simultaneously establishes that the gargoyles are extremely tough... but, as the villain notes, not invincible.
In the Code Lyoko episode "Revelation", Ulrich does this against a polymorphic clone that has taken his appearance and stolen his katana, attacking him Dual Wielding. The Hero then returns the weapon against his Doppelgänger in the same move, killing it.
Ulrich gets disarmed the same way by a XANA-controlled Aelita in "Wrong Exposure".
Danny does it with the Fright Knight in Danny Phantom. Considering how much he struggled with him beforehand, the fact that Danny did it with ease (and won the battle as a result) was unexpected and a Crowning Moment of Awesome.
In the climax of The Animatrix short Program, Cis performed a bare-handed blade block in Bullet Time, then snapped the blade off the sword and stabbed Duo in the neck with it.
In Batman Beyond, Terry manages to do this against Talia or rather Ra's. Possibly justified by the bat-suit, but then again, the sword's strikes were tearing through it like nothing, and it was against a rather nasty leap attack. But it was awesome. For bonus points, having grabbed the blade, he then slams it into some Explosive Instrumentation.
Grougaloragran pulls this off a time or two in Wakfu, catching Nox's blade between two fingers — even when the Xelor is stopping time before attacking. Of course, Grougal is a freaking dragon in human form.
In The Venture Bros. Season 1, Brock Samson throws his knife at Molotov Cocktease, hitting her square in the head— she catches it in her teeth.
Followed up by an epic Call Back in the episode "Orion Pax Part 3" where Optimus is the one who blocks a strike from Megatron, reversing their roles from the above situation. Can also count as a Book Ends since it closes a storyline that spanned seven episodes.
One of the Imakandi manages to catch Jack's blade in Samurai Jack. Bookended later in the episode, when Jack (with a Meditation Powerup) catches an incoming Imakandi arrow.
Many fencing masters in the old manuals suggests grabbing your opponent's sword as a possible albeit risky move to set yourself up for a counterstrike. The sword would be firstly stifled in a bind. Thus, the blade could be more safely (that's more safely, not safely) grabbed by the edge. This includes edgeless "later" rapiers of the beginning of the 17th century espoused by Capo Ferro and similar masters as well as two handed war sword.
Fencers would sometimes wrap their offhand in their cape so that they could block or parry their opponent's sword thrusts without a weapon.
Wearing gloves, needless to say, was also recommended if trying this tactic. It did catch on sufficiently that duelling daggers were made with wave-edged blades - grabbing the blade only stands a chance of working if the cutting edge of your opponent's weapon is straight.
This is why in sport fencing, the off hand is traditionally ungloved, to prevent this sort of nonsense.
Subverted by real life, in that the style known for doing this, the Yagyū Shinkage Ryū, never said you could catch the blade. Their technique, mutō, lets the practitioner take a sword from an enemy, while unarmed. Notice it doesn't say what he grabs (it involves stepping inside the sword's reach — not as impossible as it sounds, especially with the Shinkage Ryū's emphasis on controlling a fight's spacing). The ideal goal, the true mutō or No Sword, was to reach a point where the enemy, knowing you'll take his sword, gets so concerned not to let you do it, that he forgets he can cut you. Knowing how to take swords, and being known for that knowledge, means never having to take a sword.
This short but painful rapier duel illustrates one of the dangers of a failed attempt to grab the opponent's sword.
This probably got inspired by Ninja sometimes doing it, but they were wearing metal hand bands (like these climbing claws◊) so they could do it without getting cut. Since ninja typically fought in the dark, the samurai couldn't see the hand bands, so it really looked like the ninja was catching the blade. Since ninja were happy to encourage any perception that they possessed supernatural or otherwise superhuman abilities, they did nothing to correct this misconception.
Some standard combat techniques in longsword fighting are performed while gripping your own sword's blade in the middle with your off hand, which lets you use your sword like a short spear for more precise thrusts or strike your opponent with the pommel or cross like a mace. It was the favored technique for sword fighting in full plate armor because cuts would be almost useless against an armored opponent, but you can thrust very accurately at the gaps in the plates or bludgeon your enemy on the head very hard from the half-sword. It was also used fairly often in unarmored sword fighting with bare hands. The trick is to pinch the flat of the blade between your fingers and palm and avoid drawing your hand along the edge. Many late medieval longswords were relatively dull or "chisel sharp" in the middle with only the tip honed to razor-sharpness. Less accurate modern sword replicas are often razor-sharp along the entire blade, which makes half-swording without gloves too dangerous.
Some German Zweihanders have about six inches or so of bottom portion of the blade wrapped in leather so that you hold the sword by the blade, effectively shortening its considerable length for fighting in close quarters.