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Melee Disarming

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The Sword Fight, the cross and clash and flare of blades as two characters try to kill each other with sharpened lengths of metal. When master swordsmen (or women) are involved, getting an attack in past your opponent's defenses may well be impossible. Thus, you remove their means of defense. With a flash of blade and twist of the wrist, you send their sword flying from their hands, arcing dramatically through the air. Pointy end landing in optional.

While a staple of swashbuckling movies, there are a wide variety of techniques for using a wide variety of melee weapons (including one's empty hands) to get a wide variety of melee weapons away from your opponent. As such, this trope will most commonly appear in a Sword Fight but can apply whenever two (or more) combatants have non-ranged weapons.

Related to Flynning, since while disarming an opponent can be advantageous, many of the disarms seen in TV and movies are rather flashier than strictly necessary. Related to Wrecked Weapon and/or Breakable Weapons, if one deprives an opponent of their weapon by destroying it instead of just knocking it out of their hands. If The Hero is sufficiently pragmatic (or anti), they may go for a literal disarm instead, which may lead to Fake Arm Disarm. May follow a Bare-Handed Blade Block. May overlap with Extended Disarming, if the opponent is a Walking Arsenal who just keeps pulling out new weapons every time they lose one. Can also lead to a Midfight Weapon Exchange, if both combatants are disarmed but recover each others' weapons. May be a signature move for a Technical Pacifist or Martial Pacifist, as taking away an opponent's weapon severely reduces, if not eliminates, their ability to be a threat.

For a version where guns are involved, see Blasting It Out of Their Hands. However, while that trope more-or-less requires Improbable Aiming Skills (or a whole lot of luck), using a melee weapon (or bare hands) to deprive an opponent of another melee weapon is more likely. Indeed, many Real Life fighting styles feature moves meant to take an opponent's weapon, and many real-life weapons are designed to make such attempts easier or harder. Long, curved qullions on a sword can more easily trap and apply leverage to an opposing blade to wrench it from someone's grasp. A basket hilt that envelops the entire hand ensures that your blade won't fall from your grasp unless your wrist is broken first.


Examples:

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    Films — Live Action 
  • The Empire Strikes Back: Vader rather easily disarms Luke early in their Cloud City duel, the first sign that maybe Luke's in a bit over his head here.
  • Highlander: Connor is disarmed by Fasil in their fight, but manages to recover his sword from under a parked car. Connor then disarms Fasil and takes his head.
  • Indiana Jones will frequently use his whip to deprive an enemy of their weapon. Sometimes he'll even disarm someone while holding his gun on them in his off hand.
    • His Establishing Character Moment, before we even see his face, is using his whip to disarm a revolver from a man set to shoot him in the back.
    • In Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, there's an unusual variation. Mutt uses a rapier to disarm Irina Spalko of not her sword, but the titular Crystal Skull MacGuffin. The move he uses to do so is a classic Flynning disarm that sends the Skull arcing through the air to land in his vehicle (naturally, they were fighting while driving at high speed through the Amazonian jungle on two separate cars).
  • The Princess Bride: During Inigo and The Man In Black's duel, The Man In Black briefly disarms Inigo with an adroit flip of the sword out of Inigo's hand. To end the duel, The Man In Black disarms Inigo again. The actual Disarm isn't Flynning, but what leads up to it is. The Man In Black swirls his sword before Inigo, confusing him as to where it is and will be, whips it beside his head, then just knocks Inigo's sword from his loose fingers while he's distracted.

    Literature 
  • Tedros' introductory scene in The School for Good and Evil has him taking on all the other Ever boys in a mass sword duel, knocking away each of their weapons until he's the last one armed.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Hawkeye (2021): Kate fences Jack to try and coax him into revealing something. Convinced he's holding back and letting her win, she goes for his unprotected face between bouts. He effortlessly disarms her without even looking, proving he was downplaying his skill and lying about it.
  • Highlander: Duncan often ends his duels with other Immortals by disarming them, then deciding whether or not to take their head. Duncan himself sometimes gets disarmed, though this isn't usually a problem for him.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • In 3rd Edition, it's possible to disarm an opponent with a melee attack by declaring you're going to attempt to do so before attacking. Roll the attack as normal, but if you hit instead of dealing damage you and the target make opposed strength checks. If you win, you disarm your target. If they win, they're allowed to make a free disarm check against you. Some weapons gave bonuses to disarm checks, such as flails. On top of that, there was a feat, Improved Disarm, that gave you a bonus on the strength check and meant that enemies couldn't make a retaliatory disarm check against you if you failed.
    • In 5th Edition, the Disarming Strike maneuver from the Battle Master subclass for fighters forces your target to make a Strength saving throw after hitting it with a weapon attack, causing it to drop an item of your choice that it's holding (usually a weapon or, in certain circumstances, a MacGuffin) on a failure.
  • Highlander: Cards are available to attempt to Disarm your opponent. Being Disarmed prevents you from playing blocks or most attacks, meaning it's a whole lot easier for your opponent to land that Head Shot.

    Video Games 
  • Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening: The opening cutscene shows the Battle in the Rain between Dante and Vergil. After an intense fight, Vergil manages to knock Dante's sword Rebellion off him with his katana and finishes the fight by impaling Dante.
    • Dante is disarmed again in the sequel by Nero. This time he counters by slamming his opponent to the ground, catching the sword, and holding it to Nero's throat until he yields.
  • Giten Megami Tensei has the Disarm skill, which deals no damage, but removes the target's melee weapon if it hits.
  • In Samurai Shodown each character has a unique weapon, and any character can disarm any other character. A disarmed character can still fight but is at an extreme disadvantage.
  • Final Fantasy VII Remake: At the end of the Rufus Shrina boss battle, Cloud uses his large Buster Sword to knock Rufus's twin guns out of his hands, ending the battle.
  • The Yakuza series has Heat Actions that will disarm an opponent. In Yakuza 0, Majima has one where he grabs the opponent's sword by catching the blade between his teeth.
  • Assassin's Creed: Revelations: Disarming enemies in melee is an obscure gameplay mechanic that is rarely useful, but becomes a plot point in the flashback of Altair's return to Masyaf, where his rival, having proclaimed himself the new Old Man of the Mountain, sends younger assassins against him. Being an Old Master himself, Altair can kill the younger men with ease, but doing so immediately desynchronizes the player — instead, you are required to pull off a tricky disarm maneuver on every single attacker without taking any damage yourself. In-story, this stunt establishes Altair's complete moral and skill superiority among the assassins and allows him to take over their leadership with relatively little bloodshed.

    Real Life 
  • The weapon commonly referred to as a "sword-breaker" is theorized to have actually been used for this in real life. A duelist could wield it like a main gauche and catch the enemy blade in the "teeth", upon which they could easily yank it out of its opponent's hand. However, the low number of sword-breakers in existence implies that it just wasn't practical compared to parrying with the much more easily made parrying dagger. Even those fell out of fashion as the sport of fencing evolved.
  • Also the Japanese jitte (or jutte), a kind of truncheon with a hook near the hilt, usually used by law enforcers in the Edo era up to the Bakumatsu era. When used for disarming weapons (usually bladed ones) from an opponent, the user would block it with the truncheon part, then capture it with the hook part, and finally yank it off the opponent's hand.

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