When we watch martial arts in movies or TV shows or YouTube clips, we tend to see a lot of kicking and punching. That is kind of the hallmark of the visual representation of martial arts.
In a real self defense situation, while punching and kicking do have their place, and can serve you, it is best and safest to neutralize any type of striking exchange with a clinch. A clinch is basically a hug!
When you have clinched the opponent, you have dramatically decreased their striking arsenal. They cannot effectively punch or kick at you when you are hugged on to them tightly. You have essentially taken their fight away from them. It is an incredible technical concept!
Now, once you have them in the clinch, their behaviors are quite predictable. And with each predictable behavior comes an effective response. Let's go through some, shall we?
1. If they decide to try to punch you while you are clinched onto them, they will have to lean back a little bit. In that lean, you drop your shoulder into their chest and pull their hips in, and that is called a "Body Fold Takedown".
2. If they decide to try to push on you, they have to stabilize their stance, so that means their stance is wider. In that case, hook their leg, dip your shoulder into them, and turn, and that is called the "Leg Hook Takedown".
3. If they decide to bring their hips away in an attempt to escape out of the clinch, walk your hands up to the back of their shoulders, bring both of your feet up next to theirs, then squat, shoot back, and wrap your legs around them, and then one at a time, wrap one arm around the back of their neck, and another on one of their arms. This is called "Pulling Guard".
4. If they decide to try to wrap your head/neck out of desperation, you pop your head up like a turtle, turn around, get to their back, then bring one foot up next to theirs, and straighten the other leg out, while blocking their other foot and pull them down. This is called the "Rear Takedown".
5. If they break out of the clinch somehow, and it is hard to get back into the clinch, drop down, grab and pull behind their knees, put your foot in between theirs, and drive your shoulder into their midsection. This is called the "Double Leg Takedown".
These are all extremely effective strategies. They are not the flashiest moves, but they work very reliably well. These are all concepts that come from Gracie Jiu Jitsu. We teach and practice these concepts at Austin Kung-Fu Academy. In addition to the great training you get in traditional Kung-Fu, we want everyone to have a very reliable self defense strategy that doesn't involve too much of the kicking and punching, but rather work more towards neutralizing, controlling, and exhausting aggressive energy, rather than over-power it.