Throws and Grabs (a discussion of terms)

Throughout the history of fighting games, many terms have been created and/or used to describe what happens with the characters on the screen, such as crossup, counter-hit, combo, etc. Well, it got me thinking. In KI (and more than likely, other games as well) there are 2 terms that are used for grappling mechanics - throws and grabs (specifically, command grabs).

As a simple mechanic, every character has 1-3 throws which usually consists of a back throw, a forward throw, and sometimes, an anti-air throw (which can sometimes be done in the air or from the ground, depending on the game and/or character being played).

However, not every character has a command grab which is, aesthetically speaking, very similar to the “normal” throws, because they, like normal throws, involve some form of grappling, but the inputs are generally different, as are the actual game mechanics to them (for example, many command grabs beat normal throws).

So, here’s my question, since this is meant to be a discussion regarding terms, rather than mechanics: Why use the term, throw, to describe the former, and use the term, grab, to describe the latter? If they’re so similar, why not just use 1 term over the other, such as normal throws and command throws or normal grabs and command grabs? Or perhaps a different term altogether, such as using the word, grapple: normal grapple and command grapple? Speaking of which, and even more interestingly, a lot of characters who are really good at throws and grabs, or who have many of them in their moves list, are often referred to as grapplers or grappling characters. Why is that? Why muddy the waters with similar, but different terms, instead of 1 single, unifying term as a whole? Personally if you ask me, that only serves to complicate matters, especially when it comes to learning various aspects of the game, particularly with newer players who are trying to enter the fold (and finding it rather hard to do so).

Even worse, it doesn’t just end with throws and grabs and grappling either. There are other instances of this too, such as crossups and crossovers, which are basically the same thing and are generally used interchangeably. Why have more than 1 for what’s essentially the same thing?

It’s likely impossible, just because of the way the fighting game language/lingo has evolved over the years, but I personally would like to see a complete unification of terms for this genre to help facilitate newcomers and become more user-friendly in the process. While I imagine many old-school players might not like this idea, if implemented (it does kind of bring about a 1984 language-controlling and limiting aspect into it), I don’t think it would be altogether too hard for them to adapt, since it’s something they’ve already been doing over the years (and I believe that it would be easier for them than it is now for any newcomers into the genre).

This leads quite simply into my next question: Is there a definitive, all-encompassing, and universally-accepted guide across (most, if not all) fightings games anywhere for fighting game terms (in other words, a fighting game dictionary, of sorts)? I know there’s a lot of terms explained in @Infilament’s guide over at, but I would hardly call it definitive, since it’s largely geared towards Killer Instinct, and makes numerous references to Street Fighter - many other fighting game fans probably don’t even know of its existence as a result of that alone. If there isn’t 1, I think it would be really cool to have 1. Is anyone up to the task of creating 1? Or perhaps has someone come relatively close to making 1, and that I just don’t already know about its existence?

What’s your take on throws vs. grabs, term-wise, and what do you think of fighting game terms, in general? Do you think terms should be unified and/oror an all-encompassing dictionary for the genre created? I’d like your input on this (and please respect other poster’s viewpoints and keep this discussion friendly, and as a friendly warning and reminder - if you don’t, your posts will be promptly reported).


@moderators, I wasn’t sure whether this topic would be more appropriate in the general discussion section or the off-topic section, but decided on the former because I felt it would get more exposure there as a wonderful, and enlightening, discussion. If you would prefer, you’re welcome to move it to the off-topic sub-forum; if you do, however, please remove everything below the line above (and can do the same after making the decision if you decide to leave it in the general discussion as well - this section of my post is only meant to be temporary until you make that decision). :wink:

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Google “fighting game dictionary” and you’ll get a few reasonably comprehensive versions of what you’re referring to. Some are better than others, but in general you can usually find the term you’re looking for without too much effort.

On the other “why are there multiple terms for the same thing” question, I think you’re just looking at the nature of language. There are precious few “unique” words in any language - just about any word in most any language will have some kind of synonym that could be used in the same context, even in niche arenas. That’s just how language works.

And “grab” does not really denote “command grab”. If you mean “command grab”, you will normally say “command grab” or “command throw” (or SPD for those kinds of moves) - grab and throw can and are both used to describe when someone gets hit with a “traditional” throw.

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imo there is not much difference between throw and grab. The difference is, is it command or standard grab. Command grabs/throws are untechable. eot.

You could make the argument that there were distinct throws (Ken tosses you away) and grabs (Ken knees you in the stomach) in older fighting games, but that’s overly technical.

There are a ton of fighting game actions with multiple names. I’m still not sure whether to call a 623P a shoryuken, a DP or something else entirely. Am I pressing hard punch, heavy punch, high punch or fierce? Some people still can’t even agree on what to call Ryu.

I think it’s all just a part of how seperate communities within the FGC grew, and I wouldn’t advise we try and standardize it. If that were to happen, it would need to happen in the games themselves first, and I think we’re seeing a move towards that. SFV prints CROSS-UP on the screen when it happens, and I’ve played a lot of games that directly tell you “here’s an option select.” That’s the first step towards standardizing the terms, imo.

Maybe I take people’s deductive reasoning and colloquial language usage for granted, bit I’ve always been of the understanding that a “throw” implies a techable universal mechanic, whereas “grab” generally implies a special command grab (unless otherwise noted, as in the phrase “command throw” or through context).

Also, no, we should not have a unified term for these things as they are manifestly different. We don’t call every anti-air a DP, do we? To refer to both throws and grabs (or whatever) by the same term would leave out key information that otherwise could inferred (like having to jump or backdash out of a grab attempt instead of teching, various possible forms of invincibility, 2-in-1 tick setups, etc.) and ultimately do more harm than good. Much like Orwellian double-speak.

Would it though? Even with the terms already being different many people still put the words normal in front of the word throw and command in front of the word grab. If they’re already differentiated by the terms throw and grab, why add the additional words? It lacks consistency!

…then again, since when has the English language ever been consistent, am I right? :smirk:

I do think it would. With all due respect (and I feel some is due, you have demonstrated yourself to be reasonable, intelligent, and we’ll spoken), I fail to see how assigning one word to two different concepts is anything other than inefficient at best, dangerous at worst. Just because English is bunko doesn’t mean we should drag our own derivitave vernacular down the same dookie hole.

Just my opinion. You do speak truth in stating that we need an accepted bank of terminology, though. And the problem of a throw/grab is a major contributing factor there.

Best. Sentence. Ever! :stuck_out_tongue:

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See, sometimes I can’t tell if youre being facetious or not. I think you’re actually appreciating “what I did there” and so will award you a smiley face.

Okay, I’m too much of Luddite to figure out emotes, but I tried. It would have been a winking smiley.

I use them interchangeably.

When talking about regular throws, I always use “throw” (never grab), not because it’s incorrect but just because it sounds weird. I probably use command throw and command grab 50% interchangeably.

I’ve also never heard anyone say “crossover” before to refer to a crossup. I’ve heard crossunder to refer to people walking under you during an air reset, but that’s it.

But yeah, as has been described, you’ll never get everyone to agree on a single, unifying word for anything. Dialects exist (and you can think of different FGs as different dialects), people will come up with their own catchphrases or game-specific terms, etc. I use fierce, strong, forward etc to describe the buttons, some people will use MK, HP, etc. Some people call an uppercut-style move an uppercut, a DP, a dragon punch, a shoryuken, 623P, whatever. The best you can do is list all the derivative terms somewhere so people can research when they are confused, but you can never enforce language on people.

Where does the 623P term come from? I’ve never heard of it…

People who play anime games (like Guilty Gear) usually describe the motion for the special move by using numbers. They use the numbers on your keyboard’s numpad to do this. So a QCF is 236, for example. DP motion is 623.

They’ll also use numbers to describe normals. So standing HP is 5HP (because 5 is the middle key, ie, HP with no direction). If you have a forward command normal, like Jago’s fwd+HP, they’ll call that 6HP.

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Command throws are not untechable.

Command throws are just throws that require a command other than the regular throw inputs.

As example Kim Wu has a command throw that is techable and Aganos has a normal throw that is untechable.

Command throws though have some sort of advantage over normal throws like being untechable or let you combo of due to its big frame advantage.

This is (most likely probably) false - it can be teched, but if he grabs you outside your own throw range, then you are (maybe) right. I’ll test it in the lab to make sure.

He’s most likely referring to Aganos’ peacekeeper grab, which is billed as an untechable throw. It is randomly techable sometimes, but generally seems to work as intended.

I don’t think that’s random. I’m positive it’s because it’s the opponent trying to throw Aganos and Aganos is teching their throw. Not Aganos throwing them.

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Yeah this is what’s happening. If both people are trying to throw at around the same time, sometimes it feels like your throw is teched when, really, you ended up teching their throw.

If Aganos does peacemaker forward throw first, it can never be teched.

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I’m pretty sure what I’ve heard it explained as Aganos’s Peacemaker Throw cannot be teched, but Aganos can tech your throws while he has a Pwacemaker. So in theory it should be a matter of who’s input came first.

I think that -on the subject of the actual topic- interchangeable language is inevitable. Like when my dad and I would play Ghost Recon, rather than using terms like “flanked” we’d use terms like “cornholed” or “backdoored”. People will tend to gravitate towards saying things in a way that’s comfortable and/or easy to remember/convey to friends. I think as long as you can explain what it is you’re referring to, there’s no harm in having a varied terminology. (fireball, hadouken, and projectile all tend to get tossed around for the same action, for example)
In the case of throws in particular, I tend to organize things a certain way in my head to keep it simple. I personally stick with the Throw=XA for a simple unblockable thump with any character (though some characters can get much more off of a throw, i.e. Shago/Jago, Hisako, Thunder, Tusk, Glacius, Omen, Aganos, Kan-Ra), while Command Grabs =Motion+Button for Special Effect (i.e. Humungo Range/Damage, Opening Combos, Regaining Health, etc).

Just my scrambled thoughts on the subject(s).

@Fwufikins, I can see what you mean. A good example that illustrates what you said that I can relate to is The Walking Dead. It is a world, unlike ours, where zombies were never even imagined before they reared their ugly heads - for this reason, you’ll never hear the actual word zombie being used. Instead, the main characters refer to them as walkers. Even more interestingly, other groups of survivors they encounter don’t even call them that, because they often have their own names for the vile creatures that range the gamut. Even though we have a unified term for them, they don’t. I always found that interesting.

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