While some might use dodges or blocks to avoid the fist flying toward them, others prefer to simply reach out and catch it like a softball. Since this is almost always a demonstration of strength and superiority, the person catching the punch is rarely hurt by being punched directly in the palm. Instead, it often becomes an opportunity for the catcher to close his fingers around the offending fist and squeeze.
Note that this trope isn't just blocking or deflecting a punch. This trope is when the punch just STOPS, firmly placed in the palm of someone's hand. If they really want to demonstrate superior strength, they will proceed to either crush the hand or twist the arm painfully. If they want to showcase how much weaker the puncher is, they may even punch the original puncher in the face with their own fist to add insult to injury.
Compare Bare-Handed Blade Block for when catching a sword instead of a fist and Punch Parry for when the fist is blocked with another fist.
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Anime & Manga
Trope picture: seen in the first chapter of kiss◊sis, when Keita catches his teacher's punch. It's also a bit of a deconstruction, as the character got hurt badly enough as to spend several chapters with his right hand in a bandage.
Bleach anime episode 166. Ichigo has been beaten up pretty badly during his fight with Grimmjow. Orihime calls out to him, and he's inspired by her words. When Grimmjow strikes at him Ichigo casually catches Grimmjow's fist with his hand. Seen here
Orihime: Please don't die. Don't die, Ichigo! You don't have to win, and you don't have to fight for me. Just don't get hurt. I couldn't bear it.
In Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Batou intentionally lets his idol, a former silver-medalist boxer to knock him out during an investigation. When he later finds out that his idol had betrayed him by spying on the country, he confronts him and challenges him to another boxing match to settle things. He tries to knock Batou out using the same move as before, confident that it worked, but Batou caught the punch with his hand and countered with a right hook, knocking him out.
Kakuzu caught Choji's punch in an episode of Naruto. It should be noted that Choji's fist was currently about half the size of Kakuzu himself.
Particularly excessive when Seiya's Establishing Character Moment is catching Cassius' fist in his palm. "Excessive" because Cassius' fist is almost as wide as Seiya himself is tall.
A variant of this is used by Silver Saint Lacerta Misty and the Marine Shogun Sea Horse Baigan. Both warriors's "impenetrable forcefield" is created by them defending their bodies with their open palms, moving them fast enough their opponent can't even see their hands.
In Ranma Ĺ: The Movie, Big Trouble in Nekonron China, the Lucky God Kirin never touches anything himself, he uses his foot-long steel chopsticks to grasp and manipulate objects. Therefore, his defense consists of him catching punches with said chopsticks at absurd speeds, seemingly creating an impregnable wall in front of him until Ranma notices the marks the chopsticks leave on his hand. When he tried it on Akane, though, she just let her first fist stay caught and punched him across the room with her free one.
In SD Gundam Force, Captain tries to punch Professor Gerbera, only for Gerbera to catch the blow easily.
One of Batman's favorite techniques, since it emphasizes just how immovable and unstoppable he is to the superstitious and cowardly criminals.
In Final Crisis, Alpha Lantern Kraken does this while fighting Green Lantern John Stewart. The mark of his ring left on her palm clues Batman in that she attacked John, and that she's possessed by Darkseid's ally Granny Goodness.
In Preacher by Garth Ennis Jesse Custer does just this to a punch thrown by Cassidy, the Irish vampire. Stops it dead. Course, Jesse breaks every bone in his hand doing this, but Cassidy doesn't know that.
In the Goku vs. Superman fight in Death Battle, Goku does this on Supes when revealing his Super Mode. Superman returned the favor with his power pole.
Films — Animation
During the climax of Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie, Ryu battles M. Bison in order to free Ken of the latter's Psycho-Powered mind control. The duel ends as Bison catches Ryu's fist in his palm, raises it above his head, and starts crushing it while Ryu screams. Cue Ken's heroiccomeback that frees his friend before the villain grinds his fist to powder.
In Justice League: Doom, Superman catches Ace's punch with the most peaceful expression. Ace continues to pound Superman's face, and the latter barely flinches.
At the climax of Atlantis The Lost Empire, Milo tries to punch Rourke, only for Roarke to catch it and slam Milo's own hand back into his face. This is one example that is done quite believably, as Rourke is a very powerfully built trained soldier fighting a scrawny and untrained scholar.
One of Ada's punches are blocked this way in Resident Evil: Damnation. Played with in that the punch was caught at full extension.
Kung Fu Panda 2. Tigress catches Po headbutting the boat's mast in frustration, so challenges him to throw a punch that she catches in her paw.
Po: YEE-HAHAHA-YEOOOOOOOOW! I think I prefer the mast!
Tigress: Apologies. I used to punch the ironwood trees by the palace to train. Now I feel nothing.
In Back to the Future Part II, Biff's grandson catches Marty's hand when he tries to do the trick that worked in the first movie — saying "Hey, what's that?" and then punching Biff when he turns to look.
Bane does this both fights with The Dark Knight himself in The Dark Knight Rises. A notable contrast is done with both fights. The first he is stopped so dead Bane hits him with his fist, the second Batman gets his hand free and lands his first blow on his mask, changing the tide of the fight.
In The Matrix, at the end, Neo performs an arm catch when Agent Smith is trying to beat him down.
Undercover Brother. When Conspiracy Brother tries to punch Lance in the face, Sistah Girl effortlessly catches and holds his fist.
Batman & Robin. While Robin is fighting Bane he throws a punch at Bane's head. Bane catches his hand and throws him down a flight of stairs.
Angel and his son Connor do this a few times. So does Vampire Hunter Holtz when he first meets Justine — she's not impressed and follows it up by headbutting him.
Juken Sentai Gekiranger - Retsu / Geki Blue's brother Gou reappears after several years as a rabid Wolf Man. While Gou's the same age as before the transformation, he's not happy to learn the kid brother he remembers as a crybaby is now both a fellow martial artist and a superhero. After an argument about whether Retsu can handle it, he tries to prove his point by throwing a punch — and is very surprised when Retsu catches his fist and pushes him back.
Kos-Mos blocks one of T-elos' punches this way in the third Xenosaga game. She's alot stronger than her so she breaks her arm doing it. T-elos does this to Ziggy just before the second fight.
Wesker does this to Chris in Resident Evil 5 proving just how much stronger hes become after being reborn.
Asura from Asura's Wrath dopes this to a Taison in episode 8. Chakravartin does this to Asura twice, once in his creator form. Both times are done with just one finger.
In Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time Sigmund the robot ends up fighting Alistair at the game's climax. He tries punching him with one fist and he catches it. He tries punching him with his other arm and the same thing happens. Then a cucukoo bird pops out of a chest compartment and whacks him in the face a few times before he knocks Sigmund away.
Red vs. Blue Season Ten has Maine do this. He was strong before, but this was to demonstrate his new enhancements after his injuries from Season 9.
In UC, one of the grey possessed high school students easily catches Kelsiís fist, at the beginning of their fight. Kelsi is understandably shocked, as a few comics earlier, she knocked down the same high school student, sans possession, with a single angry punch.
In Teen Titans episode "Apprentice", Robin tries to punch Slade who just catches it with his hand.
Awesome, but Impractical — Not only would it hurt and possibly break your hand, but you would need a huge strength difference to be able to pull it off in the first place. It's far easier and safer to simply dodge or deflect the punch. Of course, the whole point of this trope is to demonstrate immense physical superiority, and look totally badass in the process.
A somewhat more practical method in real life that is less common in fiction is instead to catch the wrist of the punching hand and pulling it out to the side.
One way boxers block a jab is to "catch" it with their same-side hand, basically giving the jab a high-five (illustration◊). The difference is that there's no attempt to grab and keep hold of the punching hand; the hand doing the "catch" is open and relaxed, which dissipates the force of the punch. Rather, the defending fighter will counter with a punch while the opponent retracts the blocked jab.
Done in boxing training by the coach, through gloves with large pads on the end, meant to absorb the hit. While it doesn't catch the fist per say, it sure does look alot like this.