Thursday, 5 July 2012

Self Defense - Single Lapel Grab

Our smiling defender uses a simple palm heel strike

eople who attack you with a front lapel grab usually want to overpower and overwhelm you. They want to bridge that gap between their space and your space, their body and your own.

A lapel grab can be accompanied by a threatening look. The attacker can shock you by pushing you up against a wall, a door, the side of a car…

He can try to lift you off your feet in order to make a point. He can push your shirt, blouse, jacket up into your throat while threatening - or actually hitting you - with his other hand.

Everything he does is meant to shut you down, to silence you, to blanket all resistance.

It is one of the most obscene gestures of immediate power one human being can direct against another. As a child, I was subjected to it by bullies - on school property and on the way home. And I learned to hate it.

That’s why I like the way the various fists of Mantis Kung Fu, Monkey, Choy Li Fut, etc. tend to immediately “spit” into the attacker’s face - repeatedly and overwhelmingly.

The split second the attacker touches you, fight back!

I recall how one of my Kung Fu brothers, who was involved in some undercover work, was grabbed by an individual in this manner. His Wing Chun chain punches put a sudden end to the attack.

If a man attacks a woman with a lapel grab, he’s always looking for control. And he often wants to take it to the next step - the woman’s compliance.

Teach him that no man has the right to invade a woman’s space or touch her body without her consent no matter how legally she may be bound to him. Let him threaten all he wants. Kung Fu has a nice expression for a woman’s  very apt response to his aggression - “gong sau”…talking hands. It’s time for the woman’s hands to talk!

From now on, I’d like to divide the self defense techniques I’m discussing into 2 levels - the beginning (simple and direct) and the somewhat more complex (for seasoned martial artists).

Let’s start with some simple answers to a basic one hand lapel grab -

Swing your elbows across from side to side


These should work no matter how close the attacker is or whether he is pushing you up against a wall, etc.

FACE:  Rapid and repeated claws across the face; thumbs into the eyes; hair grab and twist; palm strikes to the ears (single and combined); palm heel strikes under the nose; rapid and repeated elbow strikes from one side to the other; palm heel strike to the side of his nose (breaking his nose); elbow strikes up under his chin.the

THROAT: claw, grasp and twist the esophagus; strikes to the carotid artery at the side of the neck; fingers into the hollow of the throat; hard, short and “stubby” punches into the throat.

GROIN: knee kick; front kick (up under the testicles); palm heel strike, grasp, twist and pull.

KNEE: kicks to his knees.

Combine all of the above. Strike the 4 main target areas repeatedly!

Kote Mawashi - a more advanced technique


The one I’ve picked today is kote mawashi, known also as the wrist lock, wrist turn and/or  Z-lock. This technique is found in many martial arts. This is only one variation out of many -

1.  Once you’ve loosened the attacker’s grip with your strikes, grasp his left hand with your left hand. Place the palm of your left hand on the back of his left hand. Insert your left thumb in between his left thumb and index finger.

His fingers point up to the sky. Begin pushing the back of his hand into the direction of his elbow.

2.  At the same time, grasp his left forearm with your right hand.

A view from the opposite side - notice where the thumb is inserted

 3.  Twist his left forearm toward you with your right hand - while twisting his left hand away from you and toward him. As you twist his hand, continue pushing the same hand toward his elbow.

The attacker's hand will rotate up and back toward him

I like to perform this lock close to my torso. Doing so enables me to draw the opponent into my centre of gravity where I can use all the muscles of my torso, my hips and my legs to drive his hand and wrist toward him - and down into the ground.

Of course, there's always a kick to the groin!

Obviously a technique like the kote mawashi takes lots of practise!

In future posts, I’ll discuss a host of other variations of this very powerful self defense technique.

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