Basically, holding the grip of a dagger
, a sword
, a katana
so that the blade points the direction opposite to the thumb. Usually only done with single-edged blades.
The reasons for using a reverse grip vary, depending on the character and work. The grip might be a tactical choice to facilitate blocking, slicing, downward stabbing motions or any combination thereof. It might be used in conjunction with Dual Wielding
to provide a more diverse range of strikes. It might be the most convenient grip to use on a weapon that is drawn quickly. Of course, it also simply looks cool
and might be used to indicate that the user is a hardened or experienced killer.
See also Gangsta Style
, for an alternative grip with guns.
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Anime and Manga
- Many ninja in Naruto hold kunai in this position, generally for melee combat.
- Asuma Sarutobi's and later Shikamaru Nara's trench knife-style "chakra blades" are designed to be used this way.
- Kensei Muguruma of Bleach does this, most prominently in the chapters where Ichigo is battling his inner Hollow. Appropriately, the shikai form of Kensei's zanpakuto is a bowie knife.
- Alita/Falis from Murder Princess does the katana+wakizashi variety and switches from saber-grip to reverse-grip and back all the damn time with ease.
- In Gekiganger 3 they used the Gekigan Sword this way against a ninja-like robot once.
- Kadaj of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children does this with a double bladed (as in the blades are side-by-side) katana, despite the fact that this would be incredibly difficult in Real Life. He gets away with it, though, thanks to the Rule Of Cool.
- Kaku occasionally uses Reverse Grip Dual Wielding on a pair of katana in One Piece. Also "Bohemian Knight" Doma who reverse-grips a saber in each hand. His fighting style seems to center around defeating opponents from behind him.
- Caldina from Magic Knight Rayearth favors this style when she's not just manipulating her foes into offing themselves.
- Leomon wields his sword reverse grip.
- Integra Hellsing reveals just how badass she can be by facing an army of vampires holding her saber in a reverse grip. On a side note, Alexander Anderson who appears soon thereafter switches from reverse grip to normal and back with ease all the time.
- Aoshi Shinomori from Rurouni Kenshin normally grips his kodachi the standard way, but will switch to a reverse grip for his Finishing Move.
- Enishi Yukishiro reverse-grips his Chinese sword for his Finishing Move.
- Kallen Kozuki and Li Xingke from Code Geass actually have their Humongous Mecha hold their blades this way.
- This is the usual grip for Lupin III's Ishikawa Goemon.
- Old Man Fuu, Ling Yao's manservant from Fullmetal Alchemist, wields his sword this way. He is, after all, a ninja-like character, despite being from a nation that's an Expy of China rather than Japan.
- Take a look at the standard cover for Princess Mononoke. Either dude has the strongest wrists in the world, or things will become very unfortunate, very quickly.
- Rival player Yuujirou Kai in The Prince of Tennis plays normal-grip right-handed at first, but reveals he is actually Reverse Grip LEFT-handed during his match with Kikumaru.
- Shiki of Kara no Kyoukai often switches her grip several times over the course of a fight, and at one point even throws her knife from a reverse grip.
- Kureha from Tokko usually wields her twin daggers with a reverse grip.
- Death the Kid from Soul Eater wields his dual pistols reversed. Yes, he pulls the trigger with his pinky.
- In the Fate/stay night movie, Shirou switches to double reverse grip during his fight with Archer. It boosts his attacking speed and gets him under Archer's guard, then in a few moments he flips his right sword upright, then his left, until he finishes the fight. Truly, he is a combat genius.
- Akira of Togainu No Chi holds his knife like this whenever he's fighting.
- Fumio Kirisaki does this, as the series' title indicates, with a chainsaw.
- Gundam characters will on occasion use this style, and it's usually a mark of extreme skill on the part of the pilot, since the MS's are usually designed to wield their swords normally. Users include Anavel Gato during his mid-show duel with Kou, and the Gundam AGE-1 Spallow, which does this by default. Mu la Flaga (in the Perfect Strike) is also shown using this method during the Eyecatch.
- Cutter in ElfQuest uses his short curved sword New Moon in a reverse grip to slash his opponents. Panel 5 of this page from #15 of the original series (WARNING: violent battle scene) is the first time we see him use this technique.
- Note that the manga Kamui No Ken (Dagger of Kamui) was a major influence on the artist, Cutter gets his technique straight from Kamui (which makes him some sort of elf-ninja).
- The ninjas from Empowered also do it this way.
- This grip is favored by Zatoichi, which makes sense since it saves him the trouble of changing his grip on his walking stick.
- John Preston absolutely owns everyone when he switches his katana(s) to Reverse Grip in Equilibrium. Word Of God says that this was a Shout Out to Zatoichi.
- Bride vs Copperhead in Kill Bill, where the Bride uses the reverse grip. And wins.
- Halle Berry in Die Another Day, but only while Dual Wielding, and only with her off-hand.
- Both hero and villain hold their knives this way in the climactic fight of the film Under Siege.
- Conan the Barbarian does this sometimes, usually as part of a combination, but only for an attack or two before he switches back.
- In Dragonheart, Bowen briefly uses Dual Wielding two broadswords, holding one in a reverse grip.
- Twelve Angry Men uses the trope as a point of contention between the jury. Allegedly the accused stabbed downwards into the victim using the reverse grip. However, one of the jurors who is from the slums points out that nobody who has experience in knife fights would ever use that grip with a switch blade as it would be suicide to pause for a second to change to it in a fight
- The Raid: The protagonist, Rama, is an absolute beast with a T-BAR, switching between forward and Reverse Grip as he carves a gory swathe through hordes of goons.
- Avatar: Colonel Quaritch holds a knife not only in reverse grip, but with the blade towards the arm, too. While in a three-meter-tall suit of Powered Armour.
- In The Chronicles of Riddick, this is how the eponomous Anti-Hero holds his blades.
- Per the below example,. Reverse Grip Dual Wielding of lightsabers is actually seen briefly in the background in Attack of the Clones.
- Used in Hero several times, both by the Nameless Hero and Broken Sword.
- In Faster, The Rock's character wields an icepick against a man with a larger knife. Ironically, it's The Rock who flips his weapon into reverse grip.
- This grip was also used by Mitsu in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, with a small dagger. Blink and you'll miss it, but it really helps cement the character.
- The uncle in Bunraku holds one of his sushi knives this way when he fights.
- Conan does this fairly frequently in the 2011 Conan the Barbarian film. At one point he dual-wields longswords, both in reverse grip.
- There is a lightsaber combat style based on Reverse Grip in the Star Wars Expanded Universe called Shien (not to be confused with the Form V variant of the same name). It is seen, for example, in Stackpole's I, Jedi and used by several EU characters, including Adi Gallia, Galen Marek, and Ahsoka Tano. Vader might also be accomplished in this style, considering that he taught the latter two. The style described in I, Jedi is a two-handed variant, with one hand on the grip and the other grasping the pommel, allowing the wielder to lever the blade around by its end using the grip hand as a fulcrum.
- A key point raised by the dissenting juror in the play Twelve Angry Men is that the accused was seen plunging a knife down into the victim's chest. The juror points out that the switchblade found on the accused is not held using that particular grip, but with the blade pointing upwards.
- The knife technique of the Tanith First-And-Only has "the blade descending from the fist and tilted in towards [the] body".
- In The Wheel of Time, the sword form Heron Wading in the Rushes has the sword held reversed over the head, while standing on one leg. According to the main character's teacher, it's good for practicing balance and getting yourself killed. Used (at the end of the book it was introduced in) as sort of a weaponized Taking You with Me or My Death Is Just the Beginning: by exposing himself to lethal damage, Rand gets his opponent to over-commit and thus expose himself to lethal damage.
- In H. Beam Piper's Last Enemy, Verkan Vall picks a knife duel and blinks in astonishment when he notices his opponent using this style. After killing the fellow — "Only eight seconds from the time you closed with him" — Vall, who learned knife-fighting from pirates, remarks that he feels like a murderer of children; evidently Piper didn't think much of the Reverse Grip.
- Abbie Hoffman, in a section of Steal This Book focusing on knives, advocates against using this grip:
"Having seen too many Jim Bowies slash their way through walls of human flesh, they persist in carrying on this inane tradition. Overhead and uppercut slashes are a waste of energy and blade power. The correct method is to hold the knife in a natural, firm grip and jab straight ahead at waist level with the arm extending full length each time. This fencing style allows for the maximum reach of arm and blade. By concentrating the point of the knife directly at the target, you make defense against such an attack difficult."
- Knife Nut Aly from Daughter of the Lioness usually holds one knife in Reverse Grip and the other normally.
- Averted in Discworld, where professional killers think the dramatic, overarm backstabbing gesture favored by newspaper illustrators is much less preferable to the underarmed stab that goes under the ribcage and through the heart.
- The Vorkorsigan Saga never goes into exact detail about the technique involved in "the two swords", a relic of Barrayar's Time of Isolation used for duelling, but it's probably the sword-and-parrying dagger type of Dual Wielding so this trope likely crops up sometimes.
Live Action TV
- Frequently employed by Duncan McLeod in Highlander with his katana. Used at least once with a regular sword.
- Richard does this quite often in Legend of the Seeker. In the books, he's occasionally mentioned as doing this with his off-hand dagger.
- The Sixth Ranger in Samurai Sentai Shinkenger and Power Rangers Samurai combines this with iaido, the art of sheathing and unsheathing your sword for a fast strike. Awesome, but Impractical, you say? Don't bet on it.
- Masato Kusaka, Kamen Rider Kaixa of Kamen Rider Faiz does it mostly by necessity, since his sword blade extends from the butt of his gun. There are a few times he flips the weapon around and wields the sword in a normal grip (such as an instance where Takumi was incapacitated and Kusaka was preparing to murder him).
- In Supernatural, Sam and Dean often hold electric torches like this, for reasons described in the "Real Life" section of this page.
- In the third episode of Stargate SG-1, Carter fights the Space Mongol chieftain with her combat knife in a reverse grip.
- Eliot from Leverage demonstrates the difference between cooking and combat:
Hold a knife like this (places knife blade-down on cutting board), slice an onion. Hold a knife like this (switches to Reverse Grip
), slice through like, eight Yakuza in four seconds.
- Richard and Roland of Sonic Syndicate occasionally held their microphones in reverse grip.
- In GURPS: Martial Arts holding a weapon this way makes certain attacks more effective and others more difficult. It's most effective with knives and tonfas.
- The Red Mantis Assassins in Pathfinder are noted as Dual Wielding _both_ their serrated sabers in Reverse Grip, in emulation of mantis claws.
- Twelve Angry Men: The murderer used a reverse grip on a switchblade to kill the victim. The defendent's experience with knife-fighting is used as evidence against him. However, one of the jurors is familiar with switchblades and states that street toughs like the defendant never use a reverse grip.
- Vader's apprentice does it in The Force Unleashed and Soul Calibur IV with a lightsaber. While still not wholly practical, this is probably one of the best opportunities to use it since it's uni-directional blade.
- It's worth noting that when the apprentice actually attacks, he switches to a standard grip. Guess the lack of range just doesn't work for him.
- Vyse in Skies Of Arcadia using his Joke Weapon (icepick, with a Giant Tuna in his other hand).
- Vyse always holds his smaller, second sword this way, probably for parrying. His primary sword is held normally.
- Knife Nut Shiki in Tsukihime often does it when the situation gets dire.
- It is usually the first sign that Nanaya is taking over.
- Twin Blades in .hack//GU, as well as the original four games,
always usually hold their blades like this; Sora from .hack//SIGN averts this standard by using a pair of katara.
- Ayame from Tenchu uses her daggers in this fashion. The prequel indicates that she started off using a reverse grip in one hand and a forward grip in the other before switching to a double-reverse grip later on.
- Used in Dragon Quest: Dai No Daibouken, for the 'Avan Slash' attack and other based on it...Dai does this with knives, short swords and BFS alike.
- Grey Fox of Metal Gear Solid holds his katana this way.
- Snakes (as in Solid (Old) and Naked (Big Boss)) hold their CQC blades this way, but that makes sense as it's in their off hand and it's basically dual-wielding, but with a firearm in the strong hand. Big Boss actually talks about it in Metal Gear Solid 3 when he's whittling the grip on his shiny new 1911.
- Baiken in Guilty Gear does this with her katana (which is her main weapon — she doesn't have an offhand weapon because she only has one arm, but she stuffs a lot of weapons in her other sleeve Inspector Gadget style). In her case, however, it's partly out of practicality and partly out of habit - she lost her right arm, which was most likely her dominant arm. Considering the weapons crammed into her right sleeve, a sheath there might get in the way, and so she wears it on the left, usually drawing it in a reverse grip because that would be the easiest way to draw it when the arm and sheath are on the same side. Of course, some of her fancier Rule Of Cool steps in.
- When playing for the Lotus Clan in Battle Realms, Blade Acolytes dual-wield their swords this way.
- The Dragon dagger is the only weapon to be wielded that way in RuneScape, all other daggers are wielded normally.
- Most classes in Project Reality that aren't able to mount a bayonet on their main weapon will usually still carry a knife, and will often wield it this way when using it.
- Krauser in Resident Evil 4 holds his knife this way. Justified as he's clearly had military service (U.S. SOCOM).
- He also defies part of this trope in that, in his knife-fight with Leon (who usually uses a sabre grip), he didn't win. The fight was also something of a showcasing of various knife grips, seeing as they both switched from one grip to another so many times.
- Jill held her knife in a reverse grip in the original 1996 title.
- In Diablo II, all dagger-class weapons are wielded in Reverse Grip, thus distinguishing them from swords.
- In Final Fantasy XI, "katana" (which are actually ninja-to, kunai, and wakazashi) are always held like this. Naturally, the one class that gets skill in these weapons is Ninja, and it quickly gains access to Dual Wielding capability.
- Hawkeye from Seiken Densetsu 3 holds his two daggers this way.
- Kid from Chrono Cross.
- Fiora from Xenoblade. She holds her knives this way, paired with Dual Wielding. Although she changes her Weapon of Choice after she is turned into a Robot Girl.
- Jyuji Kabane from Gungrave: Overdose deserves a special mention as he dual-wields gun-katanas in Reverse Grip, thereby making him an automatic Bad Ass. He also happens to be an undead, blind swordsman with a penchant for fire, but that's....
- Knives in every Call of Duty game starting with Modern Warfare can only be used in this way - it may be interpreted that the reason for this is a quicker draw, since the knife may not be held out alone, unless paired with a pistol for the Tactical Knife attachment in MW2.
- In Super Smash Bros Brawl, Pit can split his bow into two swords. He holds one normally, while the other is held like this in order to speed the reattaching process.
- In Assassin's Creed Altair holds the short blade like this. Appropriately, the short blades are slightly better than long swords when surrounded by multiple enemies, drastically reducing the times needed to parry blows, dodge, and counterattack (the downside being less base damage).
- His descendant Ezio Auditore follows in his footsteps with his own short blades. He actually draws and replaces them from his belt in a standard grip, then flips it over in the transition to his fighting stance.
- In Final Fantasy XII, Judge Magister Gabranth holds the smaller of his two blades, Highway Star, in this manner when he splits his weapon in two. Which is odd, because the artwork (particularly the iconic logo) depicts him wielding both blades in a standard grip.
- In Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep Ven wields his Keyblade like this, while his starting blade is designed with this in mind, with the grip on the side, all of his other blades are standard, straight Keyblades.
- To say nothing of Saïx, who reverse-grips a frickin' claymore!
- And in 358/2 Days's Mission mode, secret character Sora flips to a reverse grip for the last hit of his ground combo when wielding the Dream Sword.
- In Riku's final cutscene prior to the True Final Boss in Kingdom Hearts 3D, he does this to break free from Ansem-SoD, who was sitting on top of him: he "un-summons" his Keyblade, only to re-summon it immediately, only backwards, in order to swing it upwards.
- The Spy from Team Fortress 2 uses standard grip when attacking normally, but switches to Reverse Grip when Back Stabbing.
- Despite the fact that a reversed blade would be harder for actually stabbing someone, the effect is actually designed for player convenience. Since taking a swing with the knife drops the spy's disguise effect, the animation of turning the knife indicates "if you swing now, you'll get your backstab". A handy tool for novice spies not yet used to the exact of their melee weapon yet. Experienced spies learn to fire off the stab within frames of the animation starting.
- Though the Spy does a backstabbing motion without the grip reversal when he performs a Critical Hit, except there are two limitations to this: First, the attack isn't insta-kill; second, the Spy's knives cannot perform a Critical Hit naturally.
- Knife-wielders in the Fire Emblem games, or at least Sothe and Volke, appear to wield their knives this way in combat.
- Though in Path of Radiance it appears to be limited to the Thief class, as Volke switches to a much more relaxed forward grip.
- More Soul Calibur fun. Taki carried two ninjato into battle; her primary seemed to be held conventionally, while her secondary, on the rare occasion it's used, is held this way. In addition, in Soul Calibur 3 you could give the 'Wave Sword' skill set to a generic character; these were twin swords used normally that just curved around the wielder's hands like a basket hilt then continued downwards.
- Samurai Shodown's Nakoruru seems to use this form often. It also applies to Cham Cham; even though it's a giant boomerang, when she holds it in paw and swings it, it's done this way. Starting with the 3rd game, Ukyo Tachibana holds his sword this way for several of his attacks, usually strong normal sword strikes. Sogetsu Kazama also uses it, mainly in his standing strong slash.
- The Bard from The Bard's Tale can learn to dual wield a sword with a dagger, holding the latter backwards.
- The Crowmaster enemies in Prince Of Persia Warrior Within are seen wielding scimitars in a reverse grip.
- Garland wields his sword this way in Dissidia: Final Fantasy. It makes sense considering that said sword probably weighs more than him, armour and all. There's no way even he could wield it the normal way.
- Lancelot (or Shadow) does this in Sonic and the Black Knight, with a freaking sword that's as TALL AS HIMSELF. WITH ONE HAND.
- Tatsumaru from Tenchu 2.
- Nero from Devil May Cry 4 uses a RG for his launcher move, compared to Dante's standard grip. Dante also switches to RG when using his Drive shockwave move.
- In Phantasy Star Online and Universe, all daggers are held with a reverse grip.
- Rare ones, at least. The generic photon daggers have the blade come out the top, and actually circle around the knuckles so that they're effectively wielded reverse style.
- In Dynasty Warriors 6, Gan Ning holds his two daggers with a reverse grip.
- The SPARTANs from Halo Reach do this with their assassination knives. ALL the time. Even in midair.
- Edge of Final Fantasy IV does this in the DS remake after you've input a command but before he's done it, as well as his artwork for The After Years
- Fuuma from Sengoku Basara holds his ninja-to like this. The one time Sasuke is shown wielding a katana, he holds both the sword and its sheath this way, so he can effectively dual wield.
- In Dragon Age II, "Reversed Grip" is an advanced Dual Wielding technique (unlike in the first game, dual-wielding is only possible with daggers in part two).
- Titus and Tactical Marines in Warhammer 40000 Space Marine use the reverse grip when wielding the Bolt Pistol and Combat Knife.
- While Yosuke of Persona 4 uses a standard grip with his weapons, he switches to reverse when summoning his persona.
- In Darksiders II, Death dual wields his scythes this way. Scythes already have extremely short range, but then again, he's friggin' Death!
- The Visual Novel for Phantom Of Inferno has Ein train Zwei in using a reverse grip fighting style with combat knives, the logic behind it being that the length of the blade doesn't lend itself to a traditional grip. The style she trains him in revolves around using the the blade to deflect any swipes or stabs from an enemy in order to create an opening to be exploited.
- In ''Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge", Kasumi and Ayane wield their weapons this way. Kasumi with her katana, and Ayane with her two wakizashi.
- Kit from Fey Winds holds one of her swords with a normal grip, and the other reversed.
- Ahsoka Tano from The Clone Wars. Apparently it's better at deflecting blaster bolts. Anakin has been trying to break her of this habit, and she now switched between them. Wookieepedia calls this the "Reverse Shien grip", a variation on Form V lightsaber combat.
- There is a similar distinction in table tennis: the shakehand grip is the "traditional" grip with the racket's "blade" above the thumb, and the penhold grip is the reverse with the racket's grip pointing upwards, as if it were a pen.
- Police and other emergency and security workers are often taught to hold flashlight in this way. Since heavy maglights are often used as an improvised weapon, this leads to the user bashing the victim with the opposite end of the flashlight.
- Some styles of Kung Fu, when using a short knife as a weapon, will teach students to use a backhanded grip. Most techniques from this grip are strikes or jabs with the pommel, rather than blade techniques; it's the defensive techniques that use the blade, and mostly for non-flashy disabling cuts. "Yeah, you're not using that arm without some serious surgery..." The stabbing motion with the backhand grip also uses the same action as the (karate) chop, which lends itself well to open-hand styles.
- Parrying daggers are often used in this way. As the name suggests they're mostly for blocking the other guy's sword. And they often are more useful when held in a Reverse Grip because doing so decreases the strain on wrists (as the parrying weapon is supported with the entire arm this way), thus allowing for a firmer hold on the weapon when blocking. It's worth to mention that NO western fighting manuals from XVI to XVIII century actually teach holding a parrying dagger in RG. But it's common grip only to daggers itself in XV-XV Ic. manuals.
- Both swords and daggers / combat knives operate mainly by punching holes into vital organs and arteries. Slashing and chopping attacks are much less deadly and more suited to axes and axe-like falchions. A sword with at least an arm's length allows one to impale another without being touched in return, so it is used in the forward grip maximizing the reach, while using the pommel and crossguard as a secondary weapon against the head up close. A dagger or knife doesn't work range, and the reverse grip is used to more easily reach the vital spots on the neck and chest in a brawl, as the forward grip results in much less deadly strikes to the gut and legs.
- In kenjutsu and battoujutsu (which are martial arts, rather than sports like kendo), the katana is usually held like this when wielded one-handed, since one has more control. Even then, different motions are called for; the sword is moved in arcs or figure-8s rather than straight cuts, again to keep more control of the blade.
- One defensive stance for a two-handed sword has the blade pointed down with the hands at about face-height; this allows for relatively quick strikes at the legs and due to the weight and balance of the blade allows for more efficient thrusts. (Instead of swinging the sword down to line up your thrust and then stopping the movement, you just relax and let the hilt drop towards you, and shove up and out. If you're going to be wielding a BFS for the duration of a battle, the more work gravity's doing for you the better.)