Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Self Defense - Wrist Throw Vs. Punch

Sensei Gary Hollman (lt) and Sensei Brad Comeau

ne of the first things that fascinated me in the martial arts was the idea of redirecting an opponent’s attack.

As a kid in high school I had only 2 primary self defense strategies – retreat or fight back, head to head, like a pair of moose locking antlers.

That’s why I found the concept of accepting a person’s attack and then redirecting it so fascinating. It seemed a lot smarter than colliding straight on with an attack and trying to out-power the powerful.

And it looked very “cool” to send a punch – a thing I learned to dread in childhood – spiralling away into nothingness. The experience did wonders for my confidence, especially since I could, with practise, make the technique work over and over again.

Today, with the help of 2 very experienced Black Belts, I’d like to revisit one of the earliest variations on the theme of redirection – the wrist throw vs. a punch.

Gary "goes with" Brad's punch while at the same time gaining control

As I always suggest, please practise the technique slowly at first, with a very cooperative partner. Step from one position to the next working on aspects such as distance, timing, position of the hands, etc.

By doing so, you develop an early sense of confidence based on solid technique. Later on, you can experiment with different speeds and angles.

1.   Face your partner. Ask your partner to throw a slow punch with her right arm, stepping forward with her right leg. (In traditional Karate, this movement is referred to as oi-tsuki, or thrust punch). Ask her to aim for the mid-section of your torso.

Gary twists Brad's arm to the outside - and down to the floor

2.  Swing away to your right with the right side of your body, stepping with the punch with your right leg. At the same time, deflect your partner’s arm with your left hand, placing your hand on top of his right wrist and hand.

3.  Grasp her right wrist and hand by placing your thumb on top and curling the rest of your left hand around the thumb side of her hand.

One of many finishing techniques you can use

4.  Pull his hand close into your mid-section, placing your right thumb beside your left thumb. Both of your hands are now involved.

5.  Step backward and to the left with your left leg. At the same time, twist her hand and wrist toward the left – and down toward the floor.

6.  Finish with a series of kicks or strikes – or a submission technique.

A note about submission techniques: please don’t become entangled with an attacker while attempting a submission hold in the street if you’re under attack by multiple opponents. You’ll be overwhelmed. I teach my students not to “go to ground” during a multiple attack scenario unless they’re forced to – and to break limbs rather than holding onto them for a submission.

Once you’ve practised the basic concept of the wrist throw vs. a punch, try the same idea against a choke, a lapel grab, a wrist grab, a knife…any type of attack that enters your space via a lunging motion.

Later, allow your partner to attack you from various directions. Then ask him to launch a variety of attacks.

He may, for example, begin with a kick followed by a punch. You’ll engage his attack with several blocks and a few strikes of your own – then only do you grasp his arm and proceed into the wrist throw.

Please watch for future posts on the wrist throw!

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