"Rock Tomb Climb" (Rock Tomb Tomb in the original Japanese version) is a battle maneuver developed by Ash Ketchum during his time in Kalos to defeat the Cyllage City Gym Leader Grant. It is used for both evasion and offense, and is a method of using an opponent's move against them.
The gist of Rock Tomb Climb is that it requires a Pokemon's speed and evasiveness to "climb" any move that is raining down upon it, such as Rock Tomb or Draco Meteor, in a way much akin to climbing a rock wall. Once the evading Pokemon is above the opponent, it launches a move of its own (preferably one with a Type advantage) on the opponent's Pokemon, the desired result being instead of Rock Tomb (or whatever other move) raining down upon one's Pokemon, they would have a move rain down upon the opponent's Pokemon instead.
When Ash and his friends arrived at the Battle Chateau, they were witness to a battle between Viola and Grant. During the battle, Ash noticed Viola's Surskit use its familiar Ice Field strategy against Grant's Onix, which Grant easily countered using Rock Tomb - for which the maneuver was later named - followed by Flash Cannon. After Grant and Viola's battle was over, Ash decided he had to come up with a way to defeat Rock Tomb lest he lose to Grant too.
To achieve this end, Ash sought for each of his Pokemon to learn a move that would enable it to dodge Onix's falling rocks. For Pikachu, this would be Quick Attack while Froakie and Fletchling both knew Double Team, which while not providing the speed of Quick Attack, would provide evasiveness in the form of illusory doubles.
When used by Ash against Grant, Rock Tomb Climb served two purposes:
- To prevent moves such as Rock Tomb from hitting his Pokemon. This required his Pokemon to have a particular level of speed in the case of Pikachu and Froakie. (This was a moot case for Fletchling, who as a Flying-Type would presumably just fly out of the way.) The Pokemon would "climb" the opponent's move, using the stones as stepping stones to reach higher altitudes. Once the Pokemon was above the opposing Pokemon, they would use a move of their own (Bubble, etc.) to rain down upon Grant's Pokemon instead.
- To seal (meaning render useless or unusable) Grant's move. The idea here was that if Rock Tomb repeatedly failed in hitting its target, Grant would realize its ineffectiveness and stop using it. In the original Japanese version, this is where the second "Tomb" part of "Rock Tomb Tomb" comes from.
Unlike Counter Shield which was named by Fantina, Ash christened this maneuver himself. He named it "Rock Tomb Climb" on the grounds that his Pokemon would evade being hit by Rock Tomb and would return fire on Grant's Pokemon in a "Tomb" of their own. The maneuver receives the first part of its name from the move it was specifically created to counter: Rock Tomb. The second "Tomb" part of the name comes from the move used by Grant's Pokemon being made useless: By constantly evading the move and striking back, there would be no point to continue using the move, ergo Grant would have to stop using it. A better way of explaining the name is that it is a "Tomb" for both the opponent's move being used as well as for the opponent's Pokemon who is using it.
Appearances in Battle
Pokemon The Series: XY
Froakie vs. Onix
Grant ordered Onix to use Rock Tomb. As the rocks emerged around Onix ready to be fired down upon Froakie, Ash ordered Froakie to "watch the rocks closely, then jump." As Rock Tomb was launched, Froakie jumped and climbed each rock, eventually emerging above Onix, defeating the latter with Water Pulse.
Froakie vs. Tyrunt
Ash had Froakie start with Double Team. Grant had Tyrunt use Rock Tomb. As the rocks appeared, Ash ordered Froakie to use Rock Tomb Tomb. As Froakie and its duplicates climbed the move, Ash ordered it to use Bubble, which landed a direct hit. However, Grant had Tyrunt jump and finish off Froakie with Draco Meteor.
Pikachu vs. Tyrunt
As Tyrunt's Draco Meteor rained down upon Pikachu, Ash ordered him to jump. Pikachu used Iron Tail to swat the meteors aside. While not Rock Tomb Tomb per se, it was very similar.
Pikachu vs Lucario
As Lucario's Aura Sphere rained down upon Pikachu, Ash ordered him to jump. Pikachu used Iron Tail to swat the spheres aside. While not Rock Tomb Tomb per se, it was very similar.
In Ash and Grant's battle, Rock Tomb Climb acquired two variants. The first was "Draco Meteor Climb" which was the same maneuver applied to Draco Meteor instead of Rock Tomb. Later during the battle when Grant chose to end it using his favorite move, he ordered his Tyrunt to use Rock Tomb one last time. Ash had Pikachu repel the attack with Iron Tail, causing one of the rocks to land in Tyrunt's mouth, effectively preventing it from using its Crunch move, or any other attacks requiring its mouth to launch: Clemont referred to this as "a Tomb for Crunch."
- Like the Counter Shield before it, Rock Tomb Climb was created with the purpose of defeating a specific Gym Leader and a specific strategy. The difference between the two maneuvers is that Counter Shield was created to deal with two or more issues at once while Rock Tomb Climb was created to combat a specific move (though it can be used for any move used in a similar manner as Rock Tomb).
- Unlike Counter Shield, Rock Tomb Climb was unable to be deployed against Ash.
- Regarding both these two maneuvers, there is an interesting connection between them. In Black and White: Rival Destinies, Dawn's Piplup used Counter Shield against Cilan's Pansage, the move of which the latter was using was Rock Tomb.