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The character is using a blade as a brake or an anchor to stop his or her movement. This is done by ramming the blade into a wall or the floor, depending on direction of the character's movements.
Bonus points if the movement is not stopped abruptly and long sparkly "skid marks" occur. The weapon may carve a long gash in the surface until its wielder comes to a halt.
A variation is when the character slows his fall by stabbing his blade into a tall banner (or, on a sailing ship, the sail). The "stab the sail" version shows up in a bunch of old pirate movies and was busted by the Myth Busters.
Anime & Manga
- In Shakugan no Shana, Yuji falls through a ragged hole in the floor on top of a building. Shana dives after him, grabs his hand, and halts their fall by thrusting her blade into a steel girder on the way down.
- Deunan does this with a military knife in some Appleseed incarnation to prevent herself from sliding down a very high dome.
- Asuna of Mahou Sensei Negima does this after the wings Haruna gave her expire a tad earlier than she expected. Note that her sword is big enough that she can simply stand on the blade rather than just hang from the hilt.
- Maka, from Soul Eater, loves to do this with Soul. She once tries to do it to prevent the Big Bad escaping from an underground prison. The Absurdly Sharp Blade of Soul's must have gotten pretty battered being dragged through the earth like that.
- A horizontal version in the anime adaptation of Claymore: Clare has gained Super Speed but can't control it, so she slows herself down by stabbing the ground.
- Kanbei does this with his katana early in Samurai 7.
- Lancer of Fate/Stay Night stops himself from dying again in Carnival Phantasm by assissting his dragster brake with stabbing the floor of the car and the ground using Gae Bolg. He still crashes, but survives this time around.
- Chane Laforet of Baccano! uses a pair of daggers to stop her fall off of a moving train.
- Kamina did this in the Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann OVA.
- An interesting variation in the Ranma One Half manga where, in order to save his mother (and himself) from splattering all over the rocks at the foot of a cliff, Ranma tosses the Saotome family katana (scabbard and all) at the cliff-face, driving it forcefully into the rock so it provides a small, but adequate, foothold on his tiptoes.
- Subverted when Zoro does this is the 7th One Piece movie after being dropped off a tower. Turns out his sword is so sharp it cuts straight through the tower and barely slows him down!
- Guts of Berserk does this during The Eclipse, right before Griffith accepts the call to sacrifice and becomes Femto.
- Happens in Highlander the Search For Vengeance where the hero gets thrown off a skyscraper. Doesn't work, mind you, and he still goes pummelling to his would-be-death-if-he-wasn't-an-immortal.
- In Riding Bean, Bean's Cool Car has this type of assisted braking in the wheels.
- Not exactly a weapon, but Elie in Rave Master sticks her arm in the ground after being used as a Fastball Special by a bad guy so as to avoid hitting any of her friends. Of course, she breaks her arm, but it works.
- Inuyasha: When Inuyasha first encounters the Wind Tunnel, he rams Tessaiga into the ground to prevent himself from being sucked into it. In one of many amusing examples of just how alike the two brothers really are, when Sesshoumaru first experiences the power of the Wind Tunnel, he reacts in exactly the same way (and since he's holding Tessaiga at the time, he even uses the same sword).
- Wolverine occasionally does this with his claws as well.
- Runaways used a variant, in that Old Lace used her claws to slow Chase's fall. Amazingly, Molly predicted this.
Films -- Animation
- Used by Cloud in the climactic battle of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.
- Aladdin and the King of Thieves: Aladdin slows a fall down a cliff face using his father's knife. His opponent gives chase using Wolverine Claws.
Films -- Live-Action
- Batman uses his gauntlets for this effect while rescuing Ducard in Batman Begins.
- James Bond uses the stab-the-banner variation in Tomorrow Never Dies.
- The "stab the sail" technique orginated in the 1924 silent movie The Sea Hawk starring Douglas Fairbanks.
- Will turner uses this in Pirates of the Caribbean when the Kraken attacks.
- Also used in The Goonies.
- Star Wars: Jango Fett has retractable blades in his gauntlets, apparently for exactly this purpose (they're too short and oddly-shaped to be much good for anything else).
- Wolverine averts a fall off the Statue of Liberty in the first film by hooking one of the points of the statue's crown, then spinning around it to land on top. The point falls off only after he's done.
- X Men Origins Wolverine has the title hero do this to make a hard turn on a motorcycle. Interestingly it's one of the rare times his claws don't just go clean through.
- Transformers: Dark of the Moon has Sentinel Prime do something like this to descend the side of a building.
- Though he wasn't trying to stop, just slide down to ground-level safely.
- A "stab the flag" variant appears in the French movie Papy fait de la Résistance, where the Super-Résistant moves down a Nazi flag with a dagger. Slightly parodied in that he lands a bit faster than expected and hurts himself.
- In The Last Command, the third in Timothy Zahn's Thrawn Trilogy, Luke Skywalker pulls a trick like this with his lightsaber. Specifically, he uses the saber only to cut a groove in the wall, grips it with his other hand (which he's wrapped in layers to for protection), and cuts a curved path to control his speed.
- In Marlfox, a boat is stopped from going over a waterfall when one of the heroes wedges the Sword of Martin in a crack in a rock.
- In Scarecreow, Mother uses a knife in this fashion to stop herself from sliding off a mahogany boardroom table that's hanging out a window on the 39th floor of Canary Wharf whilst fighting a bounty hunter, with a helicopter hovering a few metres directly underneath. It's that kind of book.
- Myth Busters tested the pirate movie version of this, where one uses a blade to slide down a sail. Myth busted. Specifically, too sharp a knife cuts too well to slow a person down, and no matter how sharp the knife was, hitting the seams in the sail caused the knife to jump out of the sail no matter how prepared the holder was. Also, as one of the historians pointed out, the guy who spent weeks making the sail would murder you when he found out.
- In Kamen Rider OOO, Eiji henshins midfall from a skyscrapper and proceeds to embed his Tora Claws in the building to slow his fall.
- MacGyver once got down from a catwalk by sticking his pocket knife through his wallet (as a guard) and then that through a curtain.
- Dungeons and Dragons Monks are implied to do this with their fists (said fists are strong enough to pierce an iron golem's body at that point, though) in their ability to stop any fall with a wall at level 20 (20 being the normal level cap). The first edition said "as long as they are close enough to touch", implying they would grab the wall to slow their fall to non-lethal speeds. The cheapest infinite use magic items in core does this without the need for the wall.
- Stabbing the sail (referred to in-game as "Ride the Sail") is one of the tricks that the Rogers swordsman school teaches in Seventh Sea.
- All Prince of Persia games since Warrior Within have the Prince doing this with a wall hanging.
- Lady does this with a bayonet in Devil May Cry 3. How she managed to then get it out of the wall and get down the rest of the way safely is a mystery. Dante's done it at least once, but he usually doesn't have to thanks to his inherent gravity-defying skills.
- In GunZ, this is an available move for swords and daggers. It's one of the most basic ways to scale a wall or save yourself from falling into a Bottomless Pit if you haven't mastered a more advanced technique.
- Subverted in Tales of Hearts when Shing tries to use his sword to avoid being sucked into the maw of a Cosmic Horror. He then stabs through his foot, which works better.
- Hotsuma in Shinobi doesn't feel like using a parachute to leap off a helicopter, and instead uses his sword like this on a skyscraper to get to ground level.
- Ittosai saves Sayori from the fall off the watchtower by jamming his nodachi into the wall, essentially destroying both sword and wall, in his Good Ending in Yo-Jin-Bo.
- All playable characters can do this in Sonic and The Black Knight, but they can also climb back up the wall and go left and right. Sonic jumps up while his sword's in the wall, then pulls it out and thrusts it back in, Lancelot does the same, Gawain alternates stabbing the wall with his dual swords and Percival just runs.
- Terra from Birth By Sleep attempts to do this with his Keyblade in the secret Final Mix II video as well as in-game, and ends up taking a section of the cliff down. A whole spinning tornado of Keyblades slamming into him kind of knocks him completely off the cliff though.
- In Final Fantasy XIII, Lightning does this to regain her balance after a Behemoth knocks her away, and naturally since she's a Badass, it works.
- In Tales of Monkey Island: Rise of the Pirate God, Guybrush uses his Hook Hand to cut through a ship's sails, while sliding down them.
- Featured in a Lineage 2 trailer-movie where you don't just get the screeching, sparking skid-gash in the rock face, - it's also used to leap back up for an attack. Extra points for dual-wielded Absurdly Sharp Blades
- Used by the Meta in Red vs. Blue: Revelation to make his way back up to the top of an ice sheet after the portion he was standing on got blown apart and started falling into the abyss below. To elaborate: the Meta saw his gun falling in the open air along with him, lunged off the falling ice block to grab the weapon, and stabbed the pointy end into the main ice sheet before falling again. Grif later uses a similar technique (though unseen) when the Meta pulls him over the edge in a Taking You with Me maneuver.
- Done after a cliffhanger in The Dreamland Chronicles.
- Fighter uses this trope to prevent the Light Warriors from dying after a long fall. How? He blocked the ground with his sword.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender
- Azula does "stab the sail" once in "The Southern Raiders", using a hairpin.
- Sokka tries to do this too using his sword, but this demonstrates why an Absurdly Sharp Blade should not be used for such.
- The new version of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe has He-Man doing this. He jumps down a cliff to catch the king who had fallen. "He-Man....you can fly?!" "Uh... no." (The funny thing is he didn't think of the Blade Brake until after he caught the king.)
- Code Lyoko
- In the first episode, "TeddyGozilla", Odd jumps down to catch a falling Aelita, and then slows them both by using his claws on the side of a cliff in the Desert sector.
- Ulrich does a Blade Brake in episode "Bad Connection", by thrusting his katana into a cliff of the Mountain Sector—and then catching Yumi—before they'd fall in the Digital Sea.
- Tahu does this with his sword while falling down a rock wall in Bionicle: the Mask Of Light.
- Kevin does this on a collapsing space station in the Ben 10 Alien Force episode "Vendetta".
- The "stab the sail" version is altered in Duck Dodgers, episode "Shiver Me Dodgers", when the Cadet (Porky Pig) is doing it with a Laser Blade on the metal sail of a space pirate ship.
- Samurai Jack
- Prince Charming does the "stab the sail" variant in Disney's Cinderella III.
- Firemen are taught to use fire axes for this if they're working on a steep roof