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One-Handed Zweihänder

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"He's swinging that two-handed sword around with only one arm. I don't even want to get near him."

A zweihänder is a two-handed sword. It's right there in the name ("zwei" meaning "two" in German and "händer"...well). However some characters don't want to read the manual...

Say a character has a large sword. It may be anything from a regular two-handed sword, or it may be something utterly ludicrous in size. Clearly this thing requires both hands for any normal person to swing it. So anyone who swings around something so huge using only one hand is obviously not normal, and not someone to be trifled with. Often they'll be able to wield this huge weapon as effectively as a 'regular' single handed weapon. In fact, it will often seem as if the enormous slab of metal weighs next to nothing, allowing the character to pull off ridiculous(-ly awesome) feats that make even expert swordsmen look like amateurs. And if a guy is swinging a sword the size of a Buick around one-handed, what would happen if he used both hands?


The character is typically The Big Guy, The Brute, or The Berserker. Quite often they're the protagonist. Anyone doing this usually possesses some degree of Super Strength or Charles Atlas Superpower.

Very common in video games and manga/anime. Does not have to involve a BFS (though it often does), or even be a sword. Any normally two-handed melee weapon qualifies, though swords are by far the most common usage of this trope.

In real life, trying to use a two handed sword with one hand is generally a bad idea, though not for the reasons you might think. While in fiction two-handed blades often look difficult to even lift much less use in combat, real-life two-handed swords are impressively light and well-balanced for their size (Renaissance two-handed swords that weren't ceremonial fell within 5-8 poundsnote ) Swords like Zweihänders or the Japanese nodachi have very long hilts to acts as levers, with the hand closest to the guard (usually the right one) acting as a fulcrum. With one hand you lose this mechanical advantage; it's still possible for a person of average strength to use the sword, it's just a lot less effective.


It is not this trope if the sword or other weapon could be reasonably used one handed by a normal person.

Of course, some of the weapons used by practitioners of this trope are so huge that not even using both hands would do them any good, even if the weapon was made lighter by using an aluminum alloy instead of solid steel.

Often comes with Implausible Fencing Powers. When this is due to the wielder being physically very large, see Giant's Knife; Human's Greatsword. Sometimes taken to ridiculous levels when Dual Wielding is involved. For the Gun Counterpart, see Firing One-Handed. Related to BFS. Subtrope of Improbable Use of a Weapon.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Sword Art Online: Kirito wields a huge black iron sword with one hand in ALO. The reasoning for this is that he is used to heavy swords from SAO.
  • Berserk: Guts is quite capable of wielding his freakishly large BFS, the Dragonslayer, using just one hand. He needs to be, because his non-dominant left hand is actually an iron prosthetic, since he lost the original one during the Eclipse; it has a powerful magnet inside of it so that he can assist his right hand with a two-handed grip, but he still can only one-hand it with his right. Even before he got the Dragonslayer, his weapons of choice were oversized great swords that he would often practice with one-handed to build his strength. The reason being that he started training with an adult-sized long sword when he was six years old, and got used to wielding way-too-big swords, so he just kept upgrading the size as he grew older and stronger.
  • Bleach:
    • Kenpachi Zaraki wields a very large sword, similar in design to a nodachi, in one hand, and uses a very reckless fighting style to boot. In the Hueco Mundo Arc, he encounters an enemy so powerful that he resorts to holding his sword properly, which has a marked effect on his power. Amusingly, he had to actually be taught that this works better when the head captain forced him to take formal swordsmanship lessons. He normally refuses to use the techniques he was taught, because he doesn't want his battles to be too easy. The true form of Kenpachi's zanpakuto, Nozarashi, which he only recently unlocked upon learning his sword's name, is a gigantic axe-like blade that's bigger than he is...and he's a very big man (202cm tall). He still wields it one-handed.
    • Nnoitra Gilga (the very guy who Kenpachi had to resort to holding his sword properly for) uses several big-ass scythes in his One-Winged Angel form, all of them with one hand (he has six of them).
    • Protagonist Ichigo remarkably averts this: his Zangetsu in any pre-Bankai form is definitely a BFS (it's generally about as long as his wingspan — and he's both tall (174cm-181cm) and somewhat long in the arm — and quite broad, its primary form resembling a giant khyber knife for most of the series) but he typically wields it two-handed. Though it's shown a couple of times that he can one-hand it. Played straight in the final story arc, when Zangetsu has to be reforged and the resulting weapon is two swords, one of which is similar to the original "giant chopping knife" and the second being the size of short sword or very large knife. Naturally, Ichigo dual wields them.
    • Justified: It's stated that a zanpakuto is part of the soul of the shinigami or the arrancar wielding it. Therefore, to that person, even the most massive and absurd-looking weapon is as light as a feather.
  • The eponymous half-demon swordswomen of Claymore do this, often being able to Spam Attack with their huge swords. A few even dual-wield them. It's lampshaded in the first chapter and explained as a specific effect of their being made part-Yoma. The thin handles of the claymore swords also are a hint that the swords are made of Thunderbolt Iron. Which is why they can survive being used against Awakened Ones and do not break even when subjected to or used for Implausible Fencing Powers.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi gives us
    • Jack Rakan, a man able to throw swords as tall as he is one-handed, or swing a sword the size of a building. Given that he can break the laws of magic and physics by thinking about it, this isn't too impressive for him.
    • Asuna's Pactio artifact, both of Setsuna's swords — her regular nodachi and her second Pactio artifact (which can grow to enormous size), Yue's Ariadne sword, and (briefly) Fate's stone sword, all of which are positively BFSes and are usually wielded one-handed.
  • In the Kyoto Arc of Rurouni Kenshin when Shishio's assault on Kyoto brings the heroes face-to-face with Fuji; not only is Fuji (as in Mt. Fuji) a veritable giant of a man, but his sword, resembling an oversized Japanese hunting knife, is almost as long as he is tall, able to carve through houses like a hot knife cutting through butter. And all of this is with one hand; his special technique is simply using both hands to swing the whole damn thing. Unfortunately for Fuji, the good guys get a Big Damn Heroes moment in the form of Hiko Seijuro, Kenshin's master and the strongest swordsman in the series (in fact, Nobuhiro Watsuki states that the fight was devised as the only way to work around Hiko's status as being "just too powerful" without him coming directly between Kenshin's duel with Shishio himself, thus easily solving Kenshin's problems). On a positive note, Hiko is the first person to see Fuji as something other than a monster and spares his life upon defeat. On the other hand, Fuji's sword, while humongous for any human being, is overall proportionate to his own size, making this a Downplayed Trope.
  • In Ranma ½, Ryoga's umbrella turns out to be so incredibly heavy that Akane, who is a highly trained martial artist and in excellent shape, can barely lift it. Yet, as she observes, Ryoga wields it in one hand like a normal person with a normal umbrella, tipping her off to his monstrous natural strength. Ranma can do the same.
  • In Naruto, Zabuza Momochi and Kisame Hoshigaki both wield their massive swords (Decapitating Carving Knife and Samehada, respectively) one-handed; both are very heavily built. At later points in the series, Suigetsu and Kakashi both use Zabuza's sword; Suigetsu alternates between both arms and one (sometimes using ninjutsu to make it larger and stronger) but Kakashi has only been shown using it one-handed.
  • Bui from YuYu Hakusho wields an axe so large and heavy that it causes his footsteps to crack solid stone floors, and with a single hand he can swing it faster than most humans can percieve. The axe is by far his weakest form of attack.
  • In Gamaran the most (and perhaps only) blatant example can be found in Kibe Ryuho, the Silver Demon: his gargantuan iron club "Black Claw Comb" (Which is 8 and half feet long and weights around 40 kg/90 pounds) is made to be used with both hands. However, thanks to the ludicrous Super Strength obtained with the Juugan drug he eventually manages to swing the whole damned thing with a single hand when going all out with his Deadly Upgrade (And he's not even that big or brawny either). Much later in the story, we see that both Zenmaru and Kai have reached the peak of their skills by using their Sadanaga (a large nodachi meant for sheer offensive power) to perform one-handed swings with incredible speed.
  • Ikaruga in Senran Kagura is able to handle her nodachi with only one hand.
  • In episode 8 of Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? Bell steals a minotaur's sword and proceeds to utterly wreck the beast while using it in tandem with the Hestia Knife.
  • Hishigi from Samurai Deeper Kyo has a BFS named Hakuya. The length of the hilt and size of the blade (it's about as tall as he is, and he's canonically 180cm) suggest it's a two-hander, but Hishigi's left hand never touches it. He can swing it so fast it creates shockwaves capable of one-shotting the main character, and it was made for him because his strength shattered normal swords — naturally, Hakuya is too heavy and powerful for anyone else to handle.
  • Karura from Utawarerumono kept breaking the swords she was using, until they finally crafted her a "sword" that was essentially a steel beam on a hilt, and more of a bludgeon than a cutting instrument. Naturally, she carries it around one handed.
  • Thorkell from Vinland Saga is so physically large that he is able to wield polearms the way smaller men wield single-handed weapons. His weapons of choice are a pair of dane axes, 4-feet long poleaxes commonly used to break shieldwalls and kill horses.
  • In Black Clover Asta's Demon-Slayer Sword has a blade that's almost as long as he is and is nearly two feet wide; due to roughly a decade of physical training he's the only one who can swing it. Not that anyone would be able to since it drains the mana of anyone that touches it, with Asta having none to begin with.

    Comic Books 
  • These days, most depictions of Illyana Rasputin's Soulsword, make it as wider than her and almost as tall. She easily uses it with one hand, though it's not because she's strong. Instead it's because the weapon is a piece of her soul.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Butcher Bird, Bosque Herman wields Amakatta in one hand easily, especially when in his hybrid Zoan form. There's also Vinci's Companions, some of whom wield a tower shield in one hand and a halberd with a gun mounted on it in the other.
  • One of the weapons of Asuka in Thousand Shinji is an absolutely massive bronze battle-axe. It's large enough to easily cleave through a man and leave a gouge mark in the concrete wall behind him. And due to her increased strength and muscle mass, she can handle it with a single hand.
  • In Robb Returns, Robert Baratheon is capable of wielding Stormbreaker with one hand while using a shield with the other. This is taken from details in the books that mention how Robert, in his youth, was capable of one-handed wielding a heavy warhammer that Ned Stark (who is no slouch, being able to use Ice) could just carry with two hands.
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: From "Vampire Weaknesses", Ami does so:
    With a thought, she summoned her two-hander, easily wielding the massive blade in her single good hand

  • Star Wars:
    • Lightsabers are usually wielded by Jedi and Sith alike in the two-handed fashion in order to maintain control over their completely weightless blades. However there are two characters whose fighting style is predominantly one-handed:
      • Count Dooku wields his lightsaber one-handed in a fighting style that specializes in dueling.
      • Rey's fighting style, especially in The Last Jedi and Rise of Skywalker is primarily one-handed. At the end of the latter film, she averts the trope by constructing a lightsaber with a one-handed grip.
    • Darth Vader starts out wielding his in one hand against Luke to demonstrate his superior strength as an intimidation tactic. The younger Anakin periodically uses his lightsaber one-handed, as well. However in both cases these were situational, and most of the time he wields his lightsaber two-handed.
    • Kylo Ren's lightsaber is visually similar to an actual zweihander or longsword, with a longer handle and blade, and a prominent crosshilt. He tends to mix up one and two-handed use, as it being a lightsaber does mean the question of swinging a heavy blade one handed isn't really an issue.
  • The Mask of Zorro: Downplayed. Cavalry sabres are swung one-handed on horseback, but on foot are far more effective when used with both hands. This doesn't stop Captain Harrison Love from not only wielding his sabre one-handed, but attempting to fence with it, against an opponent armed with a rapier, mirroring Zorro's stance despite having a far heavier and more awkward blade. While Love can hold his own at first, he's clearly overmatched, and when Zorro gains the upper hand, Love abandons this impractical fighting style and starts swinging his sabre with both hands.

  • In "The Scarlet Citadel," Conan the Barbarian is described as wielding a 5-foot broadsword one-handed. On horseback, yet.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Gregor Clegane, known as "the Mountain That Rides," is closer to eight feet tall than seven and freakishly strong even for his size. He's so large that his massive destrier looks like a pony and he wields a greatsword in one hand.
  • In With Sword and Fire, Longinus Podbipięta uses a massive bastard sword called Zerwikaptur (Hood-Ripper), often one-handed, while the other characters have difficulty even holding it up.
  • In Codex Alera, the superhumanly strong Knights Terra use greatswords and giant mauls in one hand to devastating effect.
  • The Belgariad: Garion's sword in question is powered by a Cosmic Keystone that explicitly makes the sword lighter than it would normally be. When the stone is removed, Garion - who's comfortably over six feet tall and well built - can barely lift or carry the sword at all, much less in one hand. He once removed the stone while forgetting the sword is slung in the scabbard at his back. It brought him to his knees. Torak, by contrast, is a god, and would not be expected to have difficulty handling any sword.
  • Shardblades in The Stormlight Archive are upwards of six-seven feet in length, yet light enough to wield one-handed. However, most styles involving their use still require the wielder to use two hands for control, especially in duels between men in Shardplate. It is also very difficult for someone who isn't wearing Shardplate to wield one in a single hand simply due to their sheer size. Justified in Words of Radiance by the fact that Shards aren't made of matter as we know it, but are the physical manifestations of the creatures of pure magic known as spren.
  • Stated of the length of root that Cord uses as an improvised weapon in Exiles of ColSec. This is meant to emphasize Cord's Charles Atlas Superpower.
  • In Small Favor, Michael briefly dual-wields holy swords Fidelaccius (a katana) and Amoraccius (a 5-foot greatsword). Granted, he is a really big man and skilled swordsman, and possibly buffed by the Swords themselves - they tend to do little things to balance out fights. Usually he fights with Amoraccius two-handed. He also did this in the earlier book Death Masks— that time atop a moving train.
  • The Traveler's Gate: All of the Dragon's Fangs, the swords that Valinhall Travelers use, are at least five feet long. They weigh so much they need Super Strength just to pick them up, but with that they typically swing them around as if they're as light as a feather.
  • The War Gods: Bahzell's sword is five feet long, and while the hilt's long enough that he can use it two-handed he often uses it one-handed. When Vaijon manages to get into a judicial duel with Bahzell early in The War God's Own, he rapidly goes from "any weapon that size has to be clumsy" to "how is he swinging it so fast?" to "ow ow ow". Justified in that Bahzell is over seven and a half feet tall, and heavily muscled even by hradani standards.
  • A justified example in The Return of the Condor Heroes as the protagonist Yang Guo loses his right arm third quarter into the story. Still, he is able to wield the appropriately named Heavy Sword proficiently to become a certified Handicapped Badass.
  • Romance of the Three Kingdoms: Cao Cao's bodyguard Dian Wei proves his worth by brandishing two ji in battle, each weighting 34 pounds.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Second and third editions allow a "large" character (such as an ogre) to wield a two-handed weapon with one hand. However, a "small" character (such as a halfling) inverts the trope and must wield a one-handed weapon with two hands.
    • Third edition also has a feat called Monkey Grip that allows a medium character to use a two-handed weapon (or a small character use a one-handed weapon) one-handed, with a small penalty to hit. As the system is one of the bigger cases of Shields Are Useless, and there is an inherent damage boost to using weapons two-handed, it's not a very popular feat from a power perspective.
    • In Third edition a "bastard sword" is a blade between a (one-handed) longsword and a (two-handed) greatsword, it can be used two-handed as a martial weapon but requires a specific exotic weapon proficiency feat to use one-handed. Fifth edition instead gives longswords the damage of bastard swords when wielded two-handed.
    • It is possible to enchant greatswords/claymores to be wielded like shortswords, so even the squishy thief can swing around a blade longer than her arm span.
    • In second edition, a magical sword known as the "sun blade" is classed as a bastard sword with regards to appearance, damage dealt, and overall size, but is regarded as a short sword in terms of encumbrance and weight, and can be wielded by people with proficiency in using either a bastard or a short sword.
  • Pathfinder:
    • The Barbarian archetype Titan Mauler, which has the class feature of wielding swords meant for two-handed fighting with one hand.
    • There is also the "Thunder and Fang" fighting style, which focuses on wielding an earthbreaker (a massive two-handed hammer) in one hand and a klar (a bladed shield crafted from/in the shape of a giant reptile's skull) in the other.
  • In Exalted, the standard Exalted weapon, the daiklave, is larger than a normal greatsword, but by attuning to them, an Exalt can wield them one-handed (magic makes them lighter, but only to the user). Grand daiklaves, which are swords the size of surfboards, can be wielded one-handed if you have three times the minimum strength to wield them the normal way. This is somewhat uncommon, since it's hard to have a strength score higher than five dots within a human lifetime without artifacts or charms to provide bonuses. Exalts and others with the necessary essence pools can wield them one-handed. Solars and Lunars can also learn Charms to allow one-hand wielding of grand daiklaves and other giant weapons which are normally too big for this even for them. Lunars take it a few steps further and can eventually wield weapons meant for warstriders.
  • Warhammer's Elves fight more swiftly and skillfully with double-handed great weapons than humans are capable of with single-handed ones (thanks, in game terms, to all elves having the Always Strikes First rule and a very high Initiative characteristic). The Swordmasters of Hoeth in particular specialise in extreme swordsmanship skills with their seven or eight foot blades. Most elf great weapon wielders tend to use both hands, but many of the champion models are depicted swinging their gigantic swords and axes with one. The White Lion hero Korhil even uses the magical Great Axe Chayal in one hand and a regular hand-axe in the other. Elven great weapons tend to be much lighter and less cumbersome than other races' equivalents however - the power of the strikes coming from sharpness and perfect balance more than brute force and weight.
  • Pretty much every sword in Warhammer 40,000 is used one-handed regardless of its size (usually justified via Powered Armor, Super Strength engineering, etc.), but special mention must be made of Abaddon the Despoiler, whose one-hand-wielded sword is an actual Zweihander.
  • Legend of the Five Rings:
    • In Fourth Edition, Moto Bushi have the ability to wield ANY two handed weapon in one hand (except for bows). This includes large swords (such as nodachi) as well as other oversized weapons like naginata and tetsubos.
    • In the pre-Ivory Edition CCG, Kensai could wield two weapons of any sort. This led to absurd situations where a kensai could somehow wield a set of weapons that made no sense - such as a monk somehow swinging two oversized bisento. In the Ivory Edition core set, this was partially fixed by designating weapons as one- or two-handed, where kensai could only wield two one-handed weapons. That said, it only fixes weapons printed in Ivory Edition core and forward until the errata team can catch up; even in the Ivory-legal sets printed in the Emperor era, unrealistic weapons exist without those designations (and in legacy formats, plenty of other weapons exist that could lead to this trope occurring).
  • In GURPS, a two-handed weapon can be used one-handed if the user has at least 1,5 times the required strength, but becomes unreadied (basically, the character next turn will be spent "readying" the weapon instead of attacking) after each strike. Users who have twice the required strength (that is, near superhuman strength for most weapons) can swing them with one hand at no penalty.

  • The Nerf N-Force foam melee weapons toyline has the Maurader sword, a fairly big foam sword. In this rare case the blade is actually light enough for most people to wield one-handed without being weighted down.

    Video Games 
  • The Holy Moonlight Sword in Bloodborne, in it's un-transformed state is a pretty huge claymore that the hunter none the less swings around with one hand. When it's transformed into it's Moonlight form however, it get's even bigger and does require two hands. The advantages being that its normal form leaves your off-hand open for carrying a gun for parrying or a torch for light, while its transformed state can launch powerful magical attacks. Like all the weapons in the game, the trick is knowing which situations to use which form.
  • The image for this trope used to be War, from Darksiders. His BFS, Chaoseater, is at least eight feet long and two feet wide. War swings it around in his right hand like it weighs next to nothing. His other hand is a Power Fist. Even a de-powered Horseman of the Apocalypse gives Cloud a run for his money.
  • Used within the League of Legends. Garen, Riven and Tryndamere are examples of this trope... especially Tryndamere, whose joke emote is "My right arm is a lot stronger than my left arm!" Well, there's another reason for that joke too.
  • Soulcalibur: Nightmare usually wields Soul Edge, which takes the form of a Zweihander, with one hand. It is notable that he does not normally use the freakishly outsized claw that is his right arm to do so. Soul Edge itself is an evil sentient weapon, and presumably gives its servant the power to wield it no matter what form it takes. No such Hand Wave exists for Siegfried (the guy who used to be Nightmare), though, who also uses one arm to wield his BFS in certain stances.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy VII:
      • Cloud prefers to use two hands to wield his signature weapon, but he can hold it in just one, as seen in his victory animation when he spins it around with absolute ease. The Remake has Cloud holding the sword in two hands in Operator mode, but using one hand in Punisher mode. Amazingly, while Cloud moves much slower in Punisher mode, he attacks much faster.
      • Sephiroth uses his absolute monster of a katana, Masamune, with one hand exclusively. Which is impressive, since it's longer than he is tall.
      • Crisis Core: Angeal and Zack, the first and second wielders of the Buster Sword, are also capable of using it one handed.
      • Dirge of Cerberus: After losing his trademark gunblades in the second-to-last chapter, Weiss fights Vincent with a nodachi in each hand.
    • Final Fantasy Tactics:
      • You can learn the ability to do this—called "Monkey Grip" in some games—so you can equip a shield on your free hand. The inverse ability, Two-Handed, forgoes a shield to inflict major damage instead.
      • Knight swords, the Infinity Plus One Swords of the original Tactics, are by far the largest weapons in the game if both their inventory and combat sprites are anything to go by, almost as large as the character models. Despite this, every single one is still classified as a one-handed weapon.
      • In the Tactics games as well as some other Final Fantasy games you can invert this by using the opposite ability—Doublehand—to wield one handed weapons with both arms for extra power.
    • Final Fantasy X: Auron uses large, Western swords (which are labeled as katanas). Although he can clearly lift and use them with no effort, most of his attacks (Overdrives included) actually have him use both hands. In Kingdom Hearts II, however, he keeps his left hand tucked away under his robes, playing this trope straight.
    • Final Fantasy XIII:
      • Lightning usually wields light, one-handed gunblades, and her normal battle stance reflects this. However, in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII her swords range in size from small, light rapiers to great swords, a category that includes the Buster Sword and Caius's sword. While she wields the larger weapons with two hands when attacking with them, her battle stance is always the same one-handed one.
      • None of this takes into account how she wields Odin's Zantetsuken, as massive Bifurcated Weapon. While Odin wields them as a single double-bladed weapon, Lightning, by far the smaller of the two, dual wields the massive blades. While riding Odin like a horse.
      • Caius himself has a tendency to swing Chaos' Revenge single-handed in a Reverse Grip in order to show off the Eye of Bahamut eidolith in the hilt.
    • Dissidia Final Fantasy has an unusual example with the Warrior of Light. His Braveheart sword, by proportions, qualifies as a zweihander, yet he wields it one-handed with a Lustrous Shield in his other hand. However, this is easy to miss, because the same game features the likes of Cloud, Sephiroth, Jecht, and Garland, who all have outright BFSes.
  • Dynasty Warriors:
    • Lu Bu does this with a halberd.
    • Pang De and DW7!Zhang Liao dual-wield two large Pole axes.
    • The daughter of Lu Bu, Lu Lingqi, wields a crossed pike — twin double-headed halberds conjoined at the centerlarger than she is, single-handed. This doubles as a call back to DW6 where this was wielded by Lu Bu himself.
  • In Samurai Warriors, Keiji Maeda and Sakon Shima do this with a pike and a humongous falchion/cleaver, respectively.
  • Warriors Orochi:
    • Orochi wields his massive scythe with a single hand.
    • In the sequel Kiyomori Taira wields an absurdly large set of rosary beads with one hand.
  • In Ultima VII, there is a character, Dupre, that comes with a Two-Handed Sword (which is one of the best weapons in the game, magical or not) in just ONE hand, and a shield in the other. It's a bug, since moving the sword to his backpack and then back to his hand makes him to use in both hands, but is awesome nevertheless.
  • In some of the One Piece video games, the resident badass Master Swordsman Mihawk will swing his gigantic sword with one hand. Recently, the New Fishman pirate Dosun is shown using a colossal maul with only one hand.
  • BlazBlue:
    • Ragna the Bloodedge does this with a sword described as "a massive slab of metal." He also tends to use it in Reverse Grip, making it even more implausible.
    • Also played straight by Kagura Mutsuki, who wields a cricket bat-shaped sword that is even bigger than Ragna's in one hand, and also uses it in Reverse Grip. Averted surprisingly by Hakumen, who wields his Nodachi the correct way, with both hands.
    • Bloodedge, the famous hero who sacrificed himself to stop the Black Beast and who Ragna takes his name after, used his giant sword with one arm. Justified because his right arm didn't work at all. Also, because he's Ragna.
  • In Mount & Blade, a character on horseback will always wield their weapons one-handed (reasonably enough, as using both hands would be unbalanced and very impractical) and yes, this goes all the way up to six-foot greatswords and longaxes. Any two-handed weapon (except polearms) used this way suffers a 25% damage and skill penalty, though.
  • Diablo:
    • Diablo II: Barbarians can wield two-handed swords like this, allowing for either a shield or another weapon (even another two-handed weapon) to be used in the other hand, though they take a damage penalty for one-handed use. For barbarians using a Frenzy build, however, nothing tops it.
    • Diablo III: Crusaders using the Heavenly Strength passive skill can also wield two-handed weapons — even polearms — in one hand. Unlike the Barbarian from the previous game, however, the Crusader cannot dual-wield, and primarily uses this in tandem with a big heavy shield.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • Fury Warriors achieve this with the Titan's Grip talent, which also allowed the warrior to Dual Wield normally two-handed weapons.
    • The infamous Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker, which is particularly notable for being a one-handed sword that is, in fact, bigger than some two-handed swords.
    • Felguards, the front line troops of the Burning Legion, always wield a axe or zweihander-type sword one-handed. A glyph usable by warlocks gives Felguards under their control the ability to wield any two handed weapon in the warlock's inventory.
    • A more specific example of the trope would be the Death Knight Thassarian, a recurring character allied at first with the Knights of the Ebon Blade during Wrath of the Lich King and the Alliance in Cataclysm onward. He Dual Wields two-handed swords.
  • Guild Wars: Your character will always have to wield swords with a shield or an off-hand no matter their size, despite of them being really huge. The trope is completely averted in Guild Wars 2.
  • In Sengoku Basara there's Yukimura (twin spears), Tadakatsu (giant drill), Shingen (battleaxe), Keiji (BFS), Motochika (anchor), Motonari (ring blade), Nagamasa (longsword), and Mitsuhide (two giant scythes).
  • In Bujingai, one of Lao's swords is large and has a two-handed grip, but he still uses it with one hand.
  • Dragon Age:
    • Dragon Age: Origins:
      • One-handed swords were a little large for humans but start to look more like two-handed swords for elves and dwarves, as a one-handed sword is about as long as the distance between the ground and an elf's chin. Enter the Rogue talent that lets you dual-wield one-handed weapons instead of requiring a dagger in your off-hand...
      • A Warrior power, Killing Blow always uses the same attack animation, a one-handed forward thrust, but can be used with either one or two-handed weapons. Doesn't matter if you're wielding a dagger or a two-handed hammer with a head that's bigger than your torso.
    • Dragon Age II: The Qunari Arishok wields a claymore and a two-handed battle axe in each hand, which is not surprising considering his enormous body height and clearly Super Strength. On a related note, the in-game model of Arishok belongs to the Rogue class (rather than the burly Warrior you'd expect) and his weapons are technically daggers, since the game's engine limits dual-wielding to this class and weapon exclusively.
  • Fire Emblem:
  • Devil May Cry:
  • Fate/stay night:
    • Berserker one-hands a giant sword that is more a seven foot slab of rock, so fast that even his missed attacks cause a Razor Wind. On the other hand, Berserker's humongous size makes said sword look small by comparison.
    • Played straight when Shirou traces Berserker's sword and fights with it. He can't even wrap his hand around the hilt.
  • Dark Souls:
    • Dark Souls:
      • In the first Dark Souls as well as its predecessor Demon's Souls, a player with the right stats can carry any weapon in a single hand, whether it be a 6 foot katana, a zweihänder, a battleaxe intended for a giant or a solid-stone dragon tooth larger than the person wielding it. The NPCs Havel the Rock and Black Iron Tarkus go as far as to wield a giant weapon in their right hand and a tower shield on their left. The player is even capable of Dual Wielding two-handed weapons, though doing so granted no practical advantage until Dark Souls II introduced the ability to attack with both weapons at once, but only if you have 1.5 times the Strength and Dexterity two compatible weapons need to simply be used one hand.
      • Artorias of the Abyss, who is based off of Guts of Berserk, the developers having admitted to being huge Berserk fans, and will destroy you. Even more frightening once you think of the size difference between Artorias and the Player. The player's height (male) is assumed to be around 6 feet tall, Dragonslayer Ornstein is around the same height as the Black Knights (appear around 7 to 8 feet tall). Artorias makes both of them look small in comparison. This means Artorias' sword is at the minimum ten feet long or bigger. Even more frightening when you realize the reason he's fighting one-handed in the first place is because his left arm (which is also implied to be his stronger arm) is broken and limp. If he puts up that much of a fight in his wrecked state, imagine how powerful he must have been in his prime...
      • Though not as flashy as Havel, Tarkus, or Artorias, knights of Catarina like Siegmeyer and his daughter Sieglinde also fit this trope with their zweihanders, a weapon described in-game as needing "inhuman strength" to even wield two-handed, much less with a Pierce Shield as both of them have.
    • Dark Souls II:
      • The mighty King Vendrick or what's left of him wields a huge sword as big as he is with one hand. He's a giant, by the way.
      • In the Crown of the Old Iron King DLC, players fight the Fume Knight formerly known as Knight Raime who starts off with this trope by Dual Wielding the tremendously large Fume Ultra Greatsword and a thinner, nondescript sword, though notably only using the Greatsword in huge, slow attacks. Late in the fight, he'll discard the smaller blade and start two handing the Greatsword (for the most part).
      • Players can obtain the Smelter Hammer weapon, fan dubbed "The Giant Chicken wing," this weapon is a mass of steel literally larger than the player. The weapon is intended to be used with two hands, as it's strong attack has the player spin in place before using the sheer weight of the weapon to launch themselves forward, also fittingly named "The KFC Special" by fans. Despite this, nothing stops players from getting the strength to 1-hand this behemoth. Even crazier? With 99 Strength (The cap in DSII) you can DUAL-WIELD THESE MONSTROSITIES!
      • In the Crown of the Ivory King DLC, the titular king wields his Ultra Greatsword in one hand. Notably, despite being seven feet long, the sword is pretty slick in design and doesn't at first look as heavy, especially in the king's hand, but it has a special attack that encrusts it in ice, effectively doubling its length and tripling its girth.
    • Dark Souls III: Artorias's successors, the Abyss Watchers, have a fighting style based around a greatsword in one hand and a dagger in the other. Said fighting style is ridiculously flippy and nimble, meaning that not only are they fighting with a one-handed greatsword, they're fighting very acrobatically with a one-handed greatsword. And the player can get in on it by transposing the Watchers's boss soul into the Farron Greatsword, which literally can't be two-handed; pressing the button that would usually two-hand the weapon causes you to draw the dagger instead. This gives you advantages (you can parry with the dagger, and some of the best options in the moveset use the dagger to spin on), but also makes you more vulnerable to parrying.
  • Silent Hill 2 gives us Pyramid Head, who swings and drags his Great Knife in one hand (though his slow movements suggest it isn't easy). While the player can acquire this weapon, James Sunderland wields it with two hands and swings it even slower.
  • Baldur's Gate:
    • In the first game, Sarevok wields a big sword one-handed. In Shadows of Amn, you can get this sword as an actual item — and only then will you see it was a two-handed sword, by the rules simply impossible for your characters to wield in one hand. (However, in Throne of Bhaal, this rule applies to Sarevok as well.)
    • Shadows of Amn also offers an inversion: The Pixie Prick is a (somewhat odd-looking) dagger and wielded as such, but according to the description its first owner was an actual pixie who wielded it as a two-handed sword.
  • Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II: Dorn the Barbarian can learn a high-level skill (it costs 15 skill points) that allows him to wield two-handed swords, axes and hammers in one hand, and even dual wield them should he wish.
  • RuneScape:
    • An interesting inversion. The Dominion Sword looks for all intents and purposes like a normal, one handed longsword. However, you can only wield it two-handed; as in, you aren't allowed to equip a shield, even though the sword is obviously small enough for you to do so.
    • Played straight with the Slayer master Vannaka, who wields both a steel two-handed sword and Dragon square shield at the same time although not even players with maxed Strength can wield two-handed swords with a shield.
    • In "Beneath Cursed Tides", Vannaka offers to teach you to use his sword one-handed, and thereafter you gain a cosmetic override to make a one-handed weapon look like his sword. It only works for one-handed weapons. You cannot wield Vannaka's zweihander as a zweihander.
  • In Dwarf Fortress, each weapon has a minimum size to be used at all and a minimum size to be used one-handed without penalty; units above the second size won't even try to wield the weapon with two hands available. Because they were meant to let at least some dwarves wield any weapon one-handed, the size standards for this are rather unrealistically small. Even slightly above average humans are big enough to wield things like pikes, two-handed swords, halberds, mauls, and great axes one-handed without issue. For reference, the in-game weight of an iron maul or great axe (the two largest weapons) is over 10 kilograms.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion:
      • Minotaurs and Xivilai, a Giant Mook form of lesser Daedra, wield two-handed weapons in this fashion. Justified in that they are both large enough to do this without issue.
      • The Big Bads of both expansions, Umaril the Unfeathered (Knights of the Nine) and Jyggalag (Shivering Isles), both do this as well. Again, justified, as they take the forms of massive beings.
    • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: Mounted Combat has you one-handing two-handed weapons, much like the Mount and Blade Examples, for all the same reasons.
  • All the types of spears in Titan Quest are used with one hand, no matter how large or heavy they look.
  • In Dungeons, the Zombie King wields a very large sword with one hand.
  • In Kingdom Hearts, Saïx wields an in-name-only "Claymore" in one hand with a Reverse Grip. Terra also wields some of the largest Keyblades in the series one-handed. Actually, this trope is to be expected of ANY Keyblade that reaches BFS levels, since, by default, all Keyblades are designed to be one-handed swords, having only enough room for one hand to wrap the grip with some space; Sora and anyone else using or switching to a two-handed grip merely wrap their off-hand around the main hand, which normally, isn't a very comfortable hold on a sword. Especially prominent when Vanitas wields the χ-blade, which is literally a sword blade attached to two Kingdom Keys attached to some other fancy decorations.
  • In Fable, the Berserk spell allows the player character to do this.
  • In Risen, putting 9 out of 10 points in the Sword fighting skill allows the Player Character to do this, allowing the combined use of a shield with a huge sword that can be swung at the speed of common one handed swords which is arguably one of the most powerful weapon combinations in the game and the best option to spend the majority of your early Learning points on if you choose to align yourself with the Don's Men instead of the Inquisition.
  • The Damocles in E.Y.E.: Divine Cybermancy is a huge 15kg katana, with a handle made of generators to create a warp bubble upon contacting flesh, creating a large explosion. Normally it is held with both hands, but with the Sword and Gun combo (with a fully automatic .45ACP pistol), the user can carry it one-handed with the only adverse effect being a slower swing speed. It probably helps that the player is a heavily augmented and clad in Powered Armor. On the other hand, the Arrancadora De Tripas warp hammer cannot be held one-handed at all.
  • Fantasy Earth Zero features characters with the ability to wield a large sword with one hand.
  • Alvin from Tales of Xillia does this and wields a pistol in his free hand to boot. While the slowest melee fighter in the party as a result, he gets abilities that allow him to take hits without flinching and break the opponent's guard to compensate.
  • J.D. in Granado Espada wields swords, rapiers, blunt weapons, great swords, and even the human-dwarfing crescent one-handed and in the same manner. The way he wields the crescent as if it's made from paper makes its other only wielder, Nar, look like a skinny wimp.
  • Neo in The Matrix: Path of Neo can and does wield the longswords and katana's he picks up one-handed, unless he's charging up a killing blow, where he'll sometimes use two hands.
  • In Dragon Age II, two-handed swords often come across as this. In Dragon Age: Origins, two-handed weapons were slow, clunky things that made your character look like they're about to tip over. However, in the sequel, characters swing two-handers around like they're made of feathers, and usually one-handed (despite still being classed as two-handers).
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • The Leper of Darkest Dungeon wields an executioner's sword. While he carries the sword around with two hands in his neutral animations, most of his attacks has him swinging it with one hand.
  • In Tyranny, a massive Beastwoman, Kills-in-Shadow, treats weapons meant to be wielded by humans with two hands as one-handed weapons, simply because she's that much larger and stronger than any human. She even builds up one-handed weapon skills rather than two-handed.
  • Magnus in Kid Icarus: Uprising, wields a massive sword. He is a man of Herculean strength, and he is considered the mightiest human swordsman in the world, as well as being a skilled mercenary. He also appears as an Assist Trophy in Super Smash Bros. series.
  • The largest weapon in Arx Fatalis, Inut's Giant Magic Sword, is classified as one-handed, can be wielded along with shields and swings pretty fast for it's size. Visually, it resembles a man-sized replica of orcish swords from LotR films, made of pure mithril, which makes it more believable, but not much.
  • Continuing in FromSoftware tradition, the Final Boss of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Isshin, the Sword Saint, starts out just using a normal-sized katana. Then, after losing his first health bar, he pulls a massive spear from out of nowhere and expertly wields it in one hand while continuing to use the katana (plus a pistol) in the other.
  • Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark: The Mercenary class has a passive skill, Sturdy Grip, which lets them wield a two-handed weapon in one hand and a shield in the other.
  • Magara Naokatsu from Nioh 2 is a one-armed giant of a man who can wield a huge oodachi longer than he's tall with one hand and the skill of a Master Swordsman which allows him to overwhelm even a younger Honda Tadakatsu. What's more, using Youkai Realm to grow his left arm ''doesn't change'' his fighting style at all, save for some extra-strong two-handed slashes and occasional DualWielding (really) with a phantom copy.
  • In The Surge and The Surge 2, all of the "one-handed" weapons are big enough that a normal human would need both arms to hold them. Thanks to being fitted with an Exo-Rig, however, both the player and enemies can wield them like they're one-handed weapons. The actual two-handed heavy weapons tend to be giant axes, hammers, or other repurposed industrial tools that are twice the size of a human. Single-rigged weapons are an unusual case, as while they are attached to one arm, the one wielding them effectively uses their entire body as a fulcrum to swing and stab with them.
  • In Heroes of the Storm, Varian Wrynn starts battle carrying his two-handed sword in a one-handed fighting style. After leveling up enough, Varian can choose one of three fighting styles that changes his grip. With Arms, he holds the sword properly in two hands. With Protection, he continues to hold the sword in one hand and picks up a shield with the other. With Fury, Varian magically splits the blade in two and dual wields them.

    Web Animation 

  • Marty of Dubious Company combines this with Dual Wielding great axes. Predictably, he spends most of his time trying to keep his balance after each swing, that Tiren is able to bodyslam him out of Walter's way and Elly is able to avoid getting hit just by fretting.

    Western Animation 
  • Alucard in Castlevania (2017) wields a sword that is almost as long as he is tall with the ease of a master fencer. Somewhat downplayed as the blade is rather thin for its length, but still impressive.
  • Code Lyoko:
    • William subverts this. When he tries to use only one hand in "Final Round", he fails miserably because the sword is too heavy.
    • Played straight with his X.A.N.A.-controlled self in Season 4. While he is often seen using his two hands, he has no problem using only one hand.
  • Rex in Generator Rex zig zags the trope as his BFS is larger than him but he's sometimes seen using both hands to hold it. It's justified as it's a construct made of nanites that he can easily collapse.
  • Star Wars Rebels: Darth Maul is shown swinging his new double-bladed lightsaber with one hand while holding the cane he uses to hide the weapon in the other.
  • Deconstructed in Transformers: Prime. When Megatron confronts Optimus with both of them wielding BFS's, the first clash of swords knocks Megatron off balance because he's only using one hand. Optimus, using a two-handed grip on his BFS, gets the (literal) upper hand very quickly afterwards.

    Real Life 
  • During the Punic Wars, Carthage apparently had a Spanish mercenary chief named Larus who wielded a two-headed battle axe, up to then an exclusively two-handed weapon, with a single hand (though translations vary about whether the thing was truly double-headed or just really big). This was significant enough that he was only felled when the Romans managed to cut his axe arm.
  • In Giacomo di Grassi's 1570 fencing manual Ragione di adoprar sicuramente l'Arme, he encourages the use of single-handed thrusts with the spadone or two-handed sword, which are done by releasing the top hand from the grip while the bottom hand holds it at the pommel in order to gain maximum reach, much like a similar technique for spears. Although this is a risky technique since it leaves you vulnerable on the recovery, it can be effective if used judiciously.
  • This Schola Gladiatoria video demonstrates that a lot of the moves done with a two handed sword are at least possible one handed, but also extremely exhausting (and doing them two handed's no mean feat in the first place). It also shows the single handed thrust mentioned in the Giacomo di Grassi manual.
  • Actual Zweihänders could occasionally be wielded one-handed despite being designed exclusively for two, although like the Schola Gladiatoria example above, it's dangerous and exhausting.
  • The Japanese martial art Tendo-ryu Naginatajutsu includes techniques where a naginata is wielded in one hand, and a short sword in the other.


Video Example(s):


One handed grip, deconstructed

Megaton demonstrates that he doesn't need two hands to swing his massive blade, allowing Optimus to demonstrate why he really should be using a two-handed grip regardless.

How well does it match the trope?

4.92 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / OneHandedZweihander

Media sources:

Main / OneHandedZweihander