Reverse Arm-Fold

The physical inverse of the Badass Arm-Fold, where the arms are folded behind the back. The hands may be clasped together just behind the waist (more common in the West and pictured at right), or gripping the opposite forearm higher up (more common in the East). This posture generates strong connotations of patience and consideration.

There are four basic character types who use this, for their own reasons:
  1. Martial artists, especially the Old Master, who will hold this pose constantly while his hands are not occupied, unless he's a monk, in which case one hand will hold a prayer position in front of his chest.
  2. Old people of the Asian persuasion in general, who take the same pose but lean forward as if for balance.
  3. The Contemplative Boss. See the picture on that page for an example.
  4. Military personnel, while on duty but not actively engaged in some activity (for instance, in formation but not being inspected, waiting for inspection formation, or waiting to be told to form up for inspection). The stance shown in the picture is known as "At Ease" in The Commonwealth and US armed forces. When done in formation with the implication that the troops should stand still and look forward, the US armed forces call this position "Parade Rest."

Villains are also fond of the pose, as it allows them to lean forward intimidatingly and not look silly as they would if they just let their arms hang loosely. Compare and Contrast Coy, Girlish Flirt Pose.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball franchise:
    • Mercenary Tao and less often Master Roshi.
    • Frieza also has this as one of his trademark poses, normally when he's in his first form.
    • Beerus also does this, such as while talking with Goku in space after their fight.
  • You sometimes see Gendo doing the Western version in Neon Genesis Evangelion.
    • The Eastern version is practically Rei's trademark pose: grasping right forearm with left hand with right arm hanging straight down. No one else in the show does it, just her. It suits her rather closely and heavily emphasizes her femininity if she does it while wearing a plugsuit.
  • Zeno Zoldyck from Hunter × Hunter.

    Comic Books 

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Vetinari, as a Contemplative Boss, is stated to do this whenever he stands in front of his big picture window.
  • In The Way of Kings, the enslaved Kaladin makes a point of assuming parade rest between bouts of having to carry a bridge in order to show his discipline. Eventually the rest of the bridge crew join him.
  • In The Wheel of Time, Rand takes to doing this after losing a hand. The Asha'man do it occasionally as well.
  • In Island in the Sea of Time and its sequels, Marian Alston frequently adopts this pose, because she's a Coast Guard officer.
  • In the first Burke novel, Burke drops in unannounced at the home of snuff-film producer Goldor. When the door opens, Goldor is standing in this position and Burke notes that it's an old bodybuilders trick — squeezing your hands behind your back to pump blood into the upper body, thus making yourself look bigger. Burke finds out too late that the real reason Goldor is standing like this is because he's holding a taser pistol behind his back.
  • In Lieutenant Hornblower the officers on the quarterdeck are described as walking "with their hands clasped behind them as a result of the training they had all received as midshipmen not to put their hands in their pockets." The novel The Commodore has a pointed subversion with Lieutenant Mound, who repeatedly reaches for his pockets before remembering that he's in the presence of a very senior officer. Commodore Hornblower eventually orders him to just do it and quit fidgeting, at which point Mound falls into a comfortable slouch.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Game of Thrones: Ser Loras Tyrell adopts this pose in Season 3 whenever he wishes to appear relaxed; examples include his greeting of Queen Cersei and King Joffrey in "Valar Dohaeris," while he walks away from Sansa Stark in "Dark Wings, Dark Words," and Tyrion Lannister and Sansa's wedding ceremony.
  • In early seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Jadzia Dax walked about with her arms behind her back, to demonstrate the "old man" that was inside her. A later episode, in which Dax's colleagues temporarily embody the symbiont's previous hosts, reveals that she got it from an earlier host, a politician who started doing it when she realized her male colleagues were making fun of her prolific gesticulating, and continues trouncing them all on the debate floor anyway.
  • Spock In Star Trek TOS uses this pose many times in the second season onward.
  • Hornblower:
    • Captain Pellew folds his arms behind his back many times during the first instalment when he commands HMS Indefatigable.
    • Horatio Hornblower holds his arms with joined hands behind his back quite often. He does it especially when he's in command. The first time when he does it makes it look like he's imitating Captain Pellew's quarterdeck stance.
  • If Avon of Blake's 7 is not Leaning on the Furniture, he's doing this.
  • Star Trek: Voyager.
    • Captain Janeway does this in the early episodes, later replaced by her iconic hands-on-hips posture.
    • In "Meld", Tuvok does a Mind Meld with a psychotic murderer, and starts to pick up some of his more unstable traits, including twitching his hands. But when Tuvok goes to visit the murderer in his cell the latter does this trope, showing that he in turn has picked up Tuvok's mental discipline.


    Video Games 
  • Shenmue:
    • Master Chen walks around hunched over like this, but wow, that old guy can dodge a punch.
    • Lan Di, too, by way of Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy.
  • Old Master Wang Jinrei of Tekken gained one of these during his intros circa Tekken 5.
  • Xenogears: Citan Uzuki is frequently shown doing this.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
  • President Max adopts this pose when discussing Matters of State.
  • Dawn of War: Imperial Guardsmen do this when capturing a point.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Thane Krios uses that stance a lot, underlining his calm and composed personality. Shephard imitates him in an interrogation scene, adding to the formality of the set-up.
    • Shepard often adopts this pose when speaking with superior officers or the Council during the first game, or while receiving a briefing from Hackett during an N7 mission in the third.
  • General Zod in Injustice: Gods Among Us does this by default. In Injustice 2, this is also Darkseid's default stance.
  • This is Darkseid's default pose Injustice 2. While it's nothing new for the character, this version does it constantly, even while jumping. 90% of his time is spent with at least one hand behind his back.
  • Characters with the "thoughtful" stance in Star Trek Online will stand like this.
  • Cyrus from Pokémon Diamond and Pearl does this regularly.
  • Serperior in Pokémon Black and White crosses two leaves behind its back in mimicry of this pose, combined with an upturned nose to establish a general air of superiority.
  • Aegislash in Pokémon X and Y mimics this pose with its tassels when in Shield Forme.
  • The Elder Scrolls Online: This is a stock animation that characters will use in dialogue. Most typically, it's some sort of person of nobility or importance. Queen Ayrenn and Meridia are notable examples.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • In the US Military, personnel are forbidden to have their hands in their pockets, as it appears unprofessional. This leaves 3 main stances — hands across the chest, hands across the back, and hands straight down. Hands across the chest is a defensive position and usually avoided (unless it is cold). Hands straight down is strongly associated with the position of Attention, and a lot of yelling, and is discouraged unless a lot of yelling is needed. Hands behind the back tends to be used in a more casual environment, such as when the Old Man is lecturing his troops (no, not like that... well, O.K., maybe sometimes). Often the "at ease" stance is used to signal to the troops that what follows will be a "business as usual" speech (or maybe even a Father to His Men moment).
    • For more formal occassions, usually while in formation, the command of "Parade Rest" is given instead. While some shuffling and looking around is allowed when At Ease, Parade Rest requires standing stock still and looking forward. It does have the advantage of being less likely to cause personnel to pass out either from locking their knees or tensing their leg muscles (both very easy to do at that position, and both being likely to cause a blood pressure drop leading to fainting while standing.)
  • In at least Canadian military drill, the position is known as "At Ease" and consists of laying the back of your right hand against the palm of your left behind your back with your thumbs intertwined, your fingers extended, your shoulders square, your elbows tight to your body, and your feet apart.
  • Some martial arts schools incorporate this as a stance before being called to attention. Since being called to attention commonly involves clapping one's arms to their sides, it avoids having to awkwardly flap when already in the desired pose.