Self Defense

How To Escape A Shirt Grab

We have a video explaining this self defense move, of how to get out of a single handed, standard shirt grab:

With a single handed shirt grab, the intent is to display dominance. It can also be to control and restrict the movements of the victim. It is imperative to know how to escape this situation with the correct martial arts movements.

I've broken this down into 3 steps:
1. Create the Opening
2. Back Foot Thru, Turn Around, Butt Out, Head Out
3. The Crank

After you understand the basic steps, try connecting them in a fluid manner, but slowly. Once you become more comfortable with that, take it a little faster.

This movement has more of its philosophy roots in Jiu Jitsu, where the purpose and objective is to blend with the attacker's energy, and utilizing leverage and timing as a way to neutralize and counter the attack. 

But it is the forward intent of Kung-Fu that you need to commit fully to the move, and make it flow seamlessly, literally turning 3 steps into 1. 

See the video here:

Myths About Women's Self Defense Tactics

When it comes to women's self defense tactics and strategies, here are the common ones you tend to hear about:

1. Kick him in the groin!

2. Poke him in the eyes!

3. Scratch him!

4. Bite him!

5. Punch him in the throat!

Well, these MIGHT work. But really, it's not likely. What is more likely is that it will make the attacker more angry, and want him to further impose his will on her. What is more likely is that she will miss, or not generate enough power to do damage, thus further aggravating the attacker.

Instead, the following concepts are far more reliable:

1. Manage the distance to manage the damage. Either be all the way out of striking range (2 arms length distance away), or all the way in, clinching (like a hug), because strikes have very little effectiveness there.

2. Use leverage-based submissions to subdue them. This means techniques such as breaking the arm or shoulder (e.g. armbars, figure four locks, shoulder cranks) or chokes (e.g. rear naked choke, guillotine choke, & triangle choke). These submissions don't really look like they are attacks, but they wind up severely damaging the opponent. Breaking the arm/shoulder and chokes are universal ideas that apply to all human bodies. In other words, a punch or a kick's effectiveness depends on how much power is behind it and how much force the opponent can absorb. An arm break or choke will happen, regardless of how much punishment the attacker can take -  a break is a break and no oxygen to the brain is no oxygen to the brain!

These ideas are much more accessible to practice. The more you practice this in a simulated experience, the more natural these movements become. Here is an example of one of these practice sessions. Keep in mind, she has been training with private lessons for several months:

Women's Self Defense Video

A Little About Combat Strategy

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.