What it is

A grappler, in the context of fighting games, is a character whose primary specialty is throws.


The definition is vague, so who is a grappler may be recognized differently by different players, but it is generally agreed that there needs to be at least two kinds of command throws (i.e., at special move level or higher). Nearly all grapplers will have at least one throw for a super special move.

The first character recognized as a grappler is Zangief from Street Fighter II (and he conforms to this classification). In most cases, grapplers will be thick-boned and/or muscular men. This stereotype justifies their high offensive output and defensive ability, as well as their low speed, jump ability, and and offensive throughput, around which their play strategies must center. Naturally, more recent games have made stark contrasts to these characteristics (best [counter-]example? Kira, a swimsuit-clad 11-year-old. Not my cup of tea in the least.).

Also, they grapplers are generally bad at far distance; it is necessary to approach in order to get near enough to throw, so it is important to check the opponent’s actions with zoning and such. The easier-to-use grapplers tend to be so because their normal moves have good properties, allowing one to aim for throws using those alone.

If one does not or cannot approach, the true value of grapplers are not immediately apparent, so they are essentially for advanced players in a sense, but some games do make things easier on beginners (e.g. The King of Fighters has quick jumps, allows throw attempts from an emergency evasion, and allows one to grab an opponent’s emergency evasion).


Because there is a healthy number of grapplers, and because new games come out every once in a while, it is my regret to inform you that not all grappling characters neither can nor will be be listed here.

  • Street Fighter series
    • Zangief
    • Thunder Hawk
    • Birdie
    • Sodom
    • Rainbow Mika
    • Alex
    • Hugo
    • Abel
    • El Fuerte
  • Darkstalkers series
    • Sasquatch
    • Viktor von Gerdenheim
  • Rival Schools games
    • Isurugi Gan
  • Sengoku Basara X
    • Toyotomi Hideyoshi
  • Fatal Fury series
    • Raiden / Big Bear
    • Yamada Jūbee
    • Geese Howard (only in RBFF2)
    • Wolfgang Krauser (only in RBFFSP)
    • Sendō Tsugumi
    • Griffon Mask
  • Art of Fighting trilogy
    • Temjin
    • Jack Turner (only in AoF2)
  • Samurai Shodown series
    • Hattori Hanzō
    • Kafūin Gaira (but only his rasetsu mode until SS6)
    • Yōkai Kusaregedō
  • The King of Fighters
    • Daimon Gorō
    • Clark Still
    • Vice
    • Shermie
    • Kawaita Daichi no Yashiro
    • Shijō Hinako
    • Ramon
  • Last Blade games
    • Kanzaki Jūzō
    • Naoe Shigen
  • World Heroes series
    • Muscle Power
    • Izumo Ryōko
  • Fighter’s History series
    • Kanō Ryōko
    • Marstorius
  • Double Dragon / Rage of the Dragons
    • Abobo
    • Abubo
  • Guilty Gear games
    • Potemkin
  • Hokuto no Ken
    • Heart-sama
  • Melty Blood games
    • Yumidzuka Satsuki
    • Kishima Kōma
  • Arcana Heart
    • Daidōji Kira
  • Akatsuki Blitzkampf
    • Kanae
  • Blazblue
    • Iron Tager
  • Virtua Fighter series
    • Wolf Hawkfield
    • Jeffry McWild
    • Lion Rafale
    • Umenokōji Aoi
    • Takaarashi
    • Hinogami Gō
    • El Blaze
  • Tekken series
    • King / Armor King
    • Nina & Anna Williams
  • Dead or Alive series
    • Tina & Bass Armstrong
    • Bayman
    • Leon

Further reading

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Based off the article on the wiki, edited on or before 5 January 2009.
Unofficial translation published by BRPXQZME / Alfie Parthum 1 February 2009. No unauthorized redistribution permitted.