Follow TV Tropes


The Grappler

Go To

A grappler is a character that fights mostly by grappling and throwing their opponents.

Usually, they will have poor long-range capability, but are extremely powerful point-blank, so their matches turn into contests of whether the enemy can stay out of their "Instant Death" Radius long enough to kill them. To preserve this dynamic, the Grappler is made a Mighty Glacier, making it harder for them to get in but more able to withstand the beating they have to take along the way. As a result of this, grapplers can often be Skill Gate Characters, becoming much easier to handle once a player knows how to deal damage while staying out of their range. However, faster grapplers exist too.

This character type is most common in Fighting Games, where they specialize in grapple moves. Most "grappler" characters have at least one "Command Throw"; a throw which requires a special (usually more difficult) input than the throws which are universal to the entire cast. The benefits of Command Throws depend on the game: in some, they are difficult (or even impossible) to break once landed. In others, they may be breakable, but do extra damage or have unique properties such as dealing a lot of Knockback for a Ring Out or placing the opponent at a disadvantage. Another variant is the "Hit-Throw", which is an attack that leads into a throw if it connects to the opponent.

Some characters use a wide variety of grabs, and use them more commonly and/or in more situations than any other abilities in their moveset. For others, their grapple(s) are intended to make the opponent afraid. They are usually the user's most powerful or threatening attacks, and are so troublesome that they force the enemy to choose between taking risks that can be punished for heavy damage, or to take risks trying to avoid the grapple. In some game systems, grabs are fairly uncommon but the characters who have them can use them to help utilize their other devastating abilities. And finally, there are those characters whose grapples have the primary purpose of making the opponent always feel confused and disoriented or disadvantaged. Even if they aren't particularly powerful or varied, throwing with these types of characters is a tool for that's meant to be an annoyance which locks the opponent in a never-ending state of unbalance.

Most grapplers tend to be either (pro) wrestlers or judokas. They also tend to use pro wrestling moves even if their type of wrestling is not explicitly (or explicitly not) pro wrestling.

Subtrope of Close-Range Combatant. Compare Wrestler in All of Us. Not to be confused with characters who use a Grappling-Hook Pistol.


    open/close all folders 
    Anime and Manga 
  • Attack on Titan:
    • While Eren's Attack Titan form can match the Armored Titan in terms of raw physical strength, it's a Glass Cannon unable to bypass the Armored Titan's defensive capabilities (that is, the hardened plates covering the Titan's body giving it it's moniker), and summarily gets struck to the ground each with each hit from the Armored Titan. Eren only manages to start turning the fight in his favor when he catches the Armored Titan off-guard by using an outside sweep takedown and armbars, both of which involve grapples and throws.
    • In their second fight, it's the Armored Titan that actually grapples Eren this time, having learned from their previous fight, and itself adapting to Eren's Hardening ability, which greatly increased Eren offensive capability to the point that he can smash through Reiner's armor.
  • Baki the Grappler: The manga's hero is called Baki, and he's a grappler. However grappling is only his forte in the beginning, and as as he grows stronger his fighting style switches to favor his inhuman speed. Later parts of the series drop the "grappler" part from the title alltogether, opting to use just "Baki".
  • In Berserk (1997), The Protagonist Guts and Griffith engage in a second duel and lose their swords. Guts initially has the upper hand, but Griffith shows he's not incompetent without a weapon and uses some medieval style wrestling to dislocate his arm.
  • Booty Royale: Never Go Down Without a Fight!: Maria Louisa Riviera is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner who specializes in grappling and holds and is able to fluidly adjust her center of gravity to pin far larger opponents.
  • Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple:
    • Akisame Koetsuji is the Ryozanpaku's jujutsu master. He specializes in turning his opponents' strength against hem with devastating holds, locks, and flips to throw them off balance or twist them into a human pretzel.
    • Mikumo Kushinada is the jujutsu master of Yami's One Shadow, Nine Fists. Compared to her contemporary in the Ryozanpaku, Mikumo does not use strength at all, overpowering her foes completely through her own skill, once killing eleven other jujutsu masters with a single move. Her control of her own center of gravity is so profound that she can Walk on Water.
  • As Kinnikuman is a wrestling manga, nearly every character counts, but there are a few standout examples:
    • Prince Kamehame has two series of grappling attacks: the 48 Killer Techniques, a series of powerful throws and slams, and the 52 Submission Holds, which are submission holds. He teaches all of them to the titular protagonist over the course of the series.
    • Ricardo from Nisei was trained to be a master of submission techniques.
  • In Mission: Yozakura Family, Futaba spends much of her battles beating her foes black and blue with her ribbons as a Dance Battler. But when she has her opponent in her clutches, she doesn't hesitate to twist them into an immobile ball.
  • In My Hero Academia, Uraraka spends her one-week work study with the hero Gunhead to learn some close combat techniques. She picks it up quickly enough that grappling and disarming maneuvers are now her go-to attack, using them to cuff Thirteen, disarm Toga, and defeat several members of 1-B throughout her various battles.


  • The early UFC events were dominated by Royce Gracie, scion of a famous family with its own brand of jiujitsu that emphasized submission holds. Martial artists from boxing, karate, and other striking-oriented disciplines had no answer for it. Even wrestlers who were not trained in submission holds (which are generally illegal in amateur wrestling) could not beat him. Over the next twenty years, martial artists would emerge with stronger grappling backgrounds (including jiujitsu, sambo, and catch wrestling) who were also trained in striking styles like muay Thai and boxing, and Mixed Martial Arts would no longer be dominated by pure grapplers. Still, it is a truism in the sport that a fighter cannot succeed at the highest levels without a strong grappling base.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition:
    • The Monk can be built to be a grappler, getting Improved Grapple as potential bonus feat (the other option being , but his poor Base Attack Bonus and Grappling with Grappling Rules makes him the worst core class at grapples (even the Squishy Wizard, Sorcerer and Druid can transform into or summon something good with grapples, while the cleric can self-buff and change their own size).
    • The Swordsage in Tome of Battle, which is widely viewed as a replacement for the Low-Tier Letdown Monk, has access to the Setting Sun school of maneuvers, many of which are grappling-based. Unlike the monk, it works.
    • The Reaping Mauler Prestige Class is specifically meant to be a grappler, but due to the same fundamental problems as the monk, still rather sucks at it. He gets some special abilities that allow it to put foes to sleep or even kill them outright, but their saves are fairly easy to pass without Min-Maxing.
  • Pathfinder: Due to various Balance Buffs introduced when the game was spun off of D&D 3.5E, including unifying nearly all non-damaging attacks as "Combat Maneuvers", monks are significantly more effective as grapplers. Several potential feat trees are available to capitalize on the improvements.

    Video Games 
  • Kasumi Todoh fills this spot in Art of Fighting, having lower, mid, and upper body counters similar to Geese. Worth noting that she's also the Plucky Comic Relief character, which explains why hers aren't as effective.
  • BlazBlue:
    • Tager is a Mighty Glacier who uses grappling moves such as Tager Buster (throwing the opponent into the air, jumping after them and slamming them into the ground), Atomic Collider (which grabs airborne opponents), Genesic Emerald Tager Buster (an upgraded Tager Buster), and King of Tager (a Finishing Move that further enhances the Tager Buster by jumping all the way to space for a One-Hit Kill). Although he is a Mighty Glacier, he can also use Magnetism Manipulation abilities via his Voltic Battler Drive to pull enemies into the range of his powerful grabs.
    • Bullet is a more mobile version who uses fire Ars Magus and her equipment to snatch folks out of the air and throw them around like ragdolls.
  • Bloody Roar:
    • Stun appears to be either a homage or possible answer to Tekken's King, given that he can chain grapple to form lethal combinations.
    • Ganesha joins the roster in Primal Fury and also has the ability to perform brutal combos by linking various grappling manuvers.
    • Shina has an impressive arsenal of throws as well, including several that make use of her legs. Among these are a flying leg scissor and an aerial takedown.
  • Capcom vs. series:
    • The Capcom characters Zangief and Haggar retain their movesets from Street Fighter and Final Fight respectively.
    • Hulk, Nemesis, Juggernaut, Colossus, Sentinel and Omega Red all have at least one extremely powerful grapple ability to supplement their slow but powerful attacks.
    • She-Hulk's primary fighting game involves three variations of the same grapple: the basic grab, a long-range version with slow startup, and an aerial version. If it lands, it stuns the opponent long enough to follow up with combos for big damage. Thanks to having off-the-ground attacks, even her aerial throws can also be used to start combos.
    • Thor has an extremely powerful command grab which is one of the main tools of his moveset, and can be done in both the air and the ground. One interaction with Mike Haggar even has Haggar praise Thor's grappling power and "mic skills" and say he'd gladly get Thor in touch with his agent.
  • Dead or Alive:
    • The father/daughter combo of Bass and Tina Armstrong, a pair of pro wrestlers with devasting throws and chain grapples. Bonus points for when they team up, as they gain special WWE style tag team manuevers.
    • Special mention goes to Lei Fang, who has special counters that position the opponent and her own set of chain grapples as well.
    • Ryu Hayabusa is one of the staple "ninja" characters, meaning he's very quick and nimble...but amongst the ninjas, he excels the most in throws and grapples. Notably, he has multiple setups and variations on the Izuna Drop.
    • As her gimmick, Nyotengu can use her wings to fly, but she also can use many different types of power throws, including being able to grab her enemies while flying.
    • Leon and Bayman are moveset clones that utilize a military-inspired skillsets of CQC and Sambo, respectively. As such, they use a lot of grapples, holds and takedowns in their repertoire.
    • La Mariposa (who is actually Tina's friend Lisa) is a Masked Luchador that utilizes speed, flips and Capoeira-inspired attacks. She also has a host of high-flying throws and hurricaranas.
    • Mira is an MMA-inspired fighter that can shift from using stand-up striking and boxing, to using take downs and ground-and-pound attacks. She even has the ability to takedown her opponent while she herself is on the ground.
  • Dragon Ball Fighter Z: As a fast-paced, combo-heavy game, there are not many characters who rely on grappling. However, some notable exceptions are Android 16, Broly and "Super" Broly, who are big strong fighters that use command throws to deal major damage. Android 16, in fact, has a super attack that is guaranteed death for any character caught by it.
  • Dungeon Fighter Online: The Grappler is a Subclass that both male and female Fighters can Advance into once reaching a certain level and completing the required tasks. Their playstyle involves quickly moving in and out of the front lines, grabbing enemies to attack, and dealing large amounts of damage while also at the same time evading damage from enemies.
  • Fatal Fury:
    • Raiden/Big Bear. As a pro wrestler, he was the series's first traditional example.
    • Geese Howard is notorious for this, due his upper, mid, and lower body counters which all have insane priority; especially when the computer's using him.
    • Jubei Yamada, a judoka introduced in Fatal Fury 2, is a unique example in that he is not a very large person as typical, he is in fact a frail, short old man. That won't stop him from throwing people across the room.
    • Introduced in Fatal Fury 3, Blue Mary creatively uses combat sambo to strike a nice balance between Big Bear and Jubei's offensive throws and Geese's counter throws.
    • Tsugumi Sendo in Wild Ambition brings Japanese wrestling to the table and has an appropriate moveset to match.
    • Finally, there's Tizoc from Garou: Mark of the Wolves, who has some truly visually stunning throws with plenty of ham.
  • Haggar of Final Fight, as would be expected of a wrestler turned mayor who decides to beat up street thugs.
  • Grappler is a class introduced in Fire Emblem: Three Houses. A class that specializes in brawling and hand-to-hand combat, they have very good speed and HP, but lack any good ranged capabilities and have a poor resistance to magic. If not recruited, then Raphael will have this class.
  • Potemkin from Guilty Gear has an anti-air grab and the Potemkin Buster.
  • Joseph Joestar in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Heritage For The Future plays like this, though his range is better than most thanks to Hermit Purple
  • The King of Fighters:
    • Goro Daimon is the series original, being a judo practicioner and serves as the big guy of Team Japan.
    • Playable in '96, Vice is the first female grappler of the series. Although she's smaller and faster than most grapplers, Vice can grab and launch her opponents thanks to the Orochi power.
    • Ralf and Clark both have their fair share of throws, Clark especially roots himself firmly into this archetype when Divergent Character Evolution kicks in.
    • The New Faces Team in '97 has Shermie. However, when they become the Orochi team Yashiro fills this role instead.
    • Geese, Blue Mary, Kasumi, Tizoc, and Raiden reprise their roles as these from their home series.
  • Mortal Kombat: Jax is the closest thing the series has, with a series of special command throws that can be chained together. In fact, his most famous attack is the "Gotcha" Grab, in which he lifts an opponent off the ground and hits them repeatedly.
  • In Phantasy Star Online 2, Wired Lance-wielding Hunters often use their weapons to form Instant Knots around their foes to whip them around the battlefield, doing everything from turning them into a living projectile to picking them up and piledriving them into the ground or another unsuspecting foe.
  • Pokémon:
    • The Pokemon Pinsir is a Bug-type whose movepool consists of many Fighting-type moves, including moves like Circle Throw, Storm Throw, Vital Throw, Submission, and Seismic Toss. A regular Pinsir is also mentioned to be able to easily lift opponents who are twice its weight using the horns on its head, while Mega Pinsir can lift ones who are ten times its own weight.
    • The Fighting-type Pokemon Throh is based off the judoka technique and learns "throwing" moves like Circle Throw, Vital Throw, and Storm Throw.
  • Skullgirls:
    • Cerebella stands out amongst fighting game grapplers as one with a much less steep learning curve than most thanks to simpler commands for her grab moves. In fact, the simpler commands and her unusually high mobility make her a grappler that's also a Skill Gate Character.
    • Beowulf, a pro wrestler, runs on Beat 'em Up grappling rules, meaning he can move around and perform several actions while grabbing someone instead of just grabbing and throwing.
  • Soulcalibur: While Astaroth has a giant axe, he has a great throw game, which helps counter his poor attacks for close range. Notably, he is the only character in the series for whom grappling is considered a vital part of his gameplay. Other characters, such as Siegfried/Nightmare, Ivy and Xianghua, all have numerous and dangerous command throws or hit-throws, but their core fighting styles don't really need them at all.
  • Street Fighter:
    • Street Fighter II
      • Zangief is the prototypical Grappler character, being one of the first of his kind in the fighting game genre. He is the Trope Namer of the Spinning Piledriver.
      • E-Honda is a sumo wrestler, although he didn't become a grappler until later in the franchise, which added a number of command throws and super throws to his arsenal of attacks.
      • T-Hawk is a more mobile alternative to Zangief. He has equally devastating throws, but also a number of abilities that allow him to dash in quickly.
    • Street Fighter Alpha
      • Although Birdie appeared in the first Street Fighter, in this game, he is retooled as a grappling character who mostly uses chains to toss around his opponents.
      • Rainbow Mika is a Fangirl (and later apprentice) of Zangief, being a female professional wrestler. She uses the Japanese "purasu" style of pro-wrestling, which involves a lot of high-flying acrobatics, rope attacks and giant swings.
    • Street Fighter III
      • Hugo is a wrestler that filled the same niche as Zangief and T-Hawk, as both of them were absent in the SFIII series..
      • Alex is an Expy of Hulk Hogan that possesses a number of throwing abilities, although he is slightly smaller and more mobile than your typical grappler.
    • Street Fighter IV:
      • Abel is a somewhat smaller grappler character with only one signature grappling attack (and one super grapple) but it is the main tool in his arsenal of abilities.
      • El Fuerte is a Masked Luchador that utilizes a hurricarana-type throw as his main attack. Like Alex, while it is his only major throw (aside from super abilities), it is his main mix-up tool.
      • Hakan is another grappler within a similar vein to Zangief, T. Hawk and Hugo, utilizing the same "360 degree" motion. He also has other throws in his repertoire, along with an "Oil up" mechanic that increases his movement speed, and both the damage and range of his throws.
    • Street Fighter V
      • Abigail (a transplant from Final Fight) takes the crown as the BIGGEST Big Guy in the Street Fighter universe yet, and comes complete with a number of extremely powerful and devastating throwing attacks which he can use while both standing and in his unique running mechanic.
  • Streets of Rage: Bulky professional wrestler Max is the grappling character of the playable caste, utilizing several extremely powerful grapple variations against foes.
  • Super Smash Bros.:
    • Incineroar is the closest thing the game has to one, with the strongest throws in the game and a command throw which is technically three different attacks in one. Luigi also partially qualifies with his incredible grab game, including infinites under the right circumstances.
    • In Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, Donkey Kong and Bowser became this when updates gave them an incredible grab game with brutal combos.
    • And of course no discussion of grab-heavy characters is complete without the Ice Climbers, whose Wobbling in Super Smash Bros. Melee and Super Smash Bros. Brawl was an easy-to-pull-off infinite off of a grab. Getting grabbed was essentially the end of your stock if both Icies were still alive. To this day debates rage about banning the tactic in Melee. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate removed this aspect of the Ice Climbers, as Nana will simply stand there and cheer while Popo throws an enemy.
  • Tekken
    • King and Armor King started out as Moveset Clones with a large variety of throws and pro-wrestling moves, though they began to differentiate their moves in the second game onward. Of note, they've often borrowed moves from other grapplers in Real Life and other works, such as Kinnikuman's Muscle Buster, The Rock's Rock Bottom and People's Elbow, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's Stunner, and many many more. King in particular is the grappler of the series and has a throw game is so devastating that he can potentially win an entire round off of using ONE chain throw that can take an opponent from full to zero health if it isn't broken in time.
    • Ganryu is a sumo wrestler with a number of grappling abilities, mostly involving bear hugs and tosses.
    • While the Jack robots tend to focus more on their devastating punches, they also have always had an excellent grapple game, incorporating piledrivers, backbreakers, chokeslams, and other powerful grappling attacks into their techniques.
    • Craig Marduk is a "Vale Tudo" (an old term for Mixed Martial Arts) fighter that uses a lot of grapples and takedowns. His signature attack is the Mount, which allows him to get on top of an enemy and pound them to death. In 4, the Mount was permanent and didn't end until an opponent guessed correctly, meaning that he could kill them with just that one series of moves.
    • In Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Julia Chang was retooled as "Jaycee", a Masked Luchador that was filling in for her unseen friend. While retaining most of her signature moves, "Jaycee" also gained a number of wrestling and grappling-oriented moves to befit her new fighting style.
  • Them's Fightin' Herds: Texas was the first character to fill this role, using the ropes on his yoke to grab and throw opponents.
  • Virtua Fighter:
    • Wolf Hawkfield is a professional wrestler, and thus his moveset are generally a number of powerful and deadly throws. Of note is the Burning Hammer, an extremely devastating throw which deals the most single-hit damage in the entire game, taking off up to 60% of an enemy's lifebar.
    • Jeffry McWild is another Big Guy who has a number of powerful throws, including a backbreaker.
    • El Blaze is a Masked Luchador who uses a number of extremely mobile and confusing throws.
    • Aoi Umenokouji is an aiki-jujutsu practitioner whose specialty is Reversals, but she also has a number of extremely devastating throws at her disposal. Some of her Reversals, in fact, lead into throws.
    • Vanessa Lewis is trained in Vale Tudo/MMA and has two different stances. One is a Striking/Offensive style which resembles kickboxing and the other is a grappling/defensive style that utilizes reversals, takedowns and grapples.
    • Goh Hinogami is a Judo practitioner whose fighting style utilizes a wide variety of throws. He even has a specific Reversal that only works against other throws. His main gimmick is "Tsukami", a special grab called a "catch throw". note . Tsukami allows him to move his opponent in any direction and then perform a throw if the opponent fails to guess correctly.

    Web Videos