Salick's Karate & Martial Arts    (262) 646-3563



© Roger Salick All Rights Reserved

"What if someone grabs you from behind?"

Part One

This classic "What if?"came up at our recent Women's Self-Defense Night. We've practiced this scenario in previous Self-Defense Nights, but I'm glad it came up again.

Being suddenly grabbed from behind by a determined attacker is one of a woman's GREATEST FEARS. Knowing what to do in this situation is so important that it's worth revisiting for anyone who might have missed it.

Let's break it down:

Odds are good that this attack will begin with a BEAR HUG. Men learn to bear hug when they're kids, and they never forget it. They like it because it's sneaky -- they're able to grab you from behind without having to face punches and knees and most kicks-- and they get to instantly pin their victim's arms.

A woman who gets caught in a bear hug has to MOVE FAST. If the attacker is strong, he can rip you right off your feet and throw you just about anywhere he wants. 

This is a dangerous hold. If you're caught in it, you're in BIG TROUBLE.

But not helpless.

Danger #1: Getting the WIND knocked out of you when the grab first closes. A man's arms connecting in front of you at the solar plexus can hit you with the force of a decent punch. Many women have been incapacitated in just this first split second of an attack.

Response #1: The INSTANT you feel contact at your back, bend your legs, lean slightly forward and put the palms of your hands on your thighs. This forms a PROTECTIVE TRIANGLE between limbs and body that will guard your solar plexus and give you some space to work in. It takes practice to do this fast enough to make it work.


Part Two

The Problem, and The Plan

Danger #2: The first problem with a bear hug --there are several-- is that he’s either going to try to crush you with sheer strength or throw you into something. A good toss --into a wall, the floor, furniture, down a flight of stairs-- might injure you so you can’t resist further.

Response #2: The Plan is to unload on him...IMMEDIATELY.  You’re going to attack him with so much ferocity that he can’t throw you, and holding you becomes a liability. You’re going to be as dangerous to handle as a nest of angry hornets. Here’s how...

  1. Within the space hopefully created by the triangle (see Response #1, Part One), slam the edges of your fists into his groin. Move your hips back and forth like a snow skier running a slalom course to add power.
  2. Crash your head back into his face.
  3. Stomp hard on the arch of his foot. You’re trying to break it.
  4. If he tries to lift you, jack your heel up into his groin as forcefully as you can. Your heel will almost have to touch your own buttocks. If you connect, you’ll be amazed how quickly you’ll come back to earth. 
  5. You keep this all of this up as if your life depends on it until he lets you go.

Don’t worry about the order. If you can’t do one thing, do something else. Just keep smashing him.

The instant his hands release, you have to act fast. Your goal is to run to safety. But unless he’s fallen to the ground or is obviously incapacitated, You may have only a microsecond before he recovers enough to chase you down and finish what he started. And now he’ll be really angry.


Part Three

RECAP: An attacker has you in a powerful bear hug. You’ve used your self-defense training to prevent him from knocking the wind out of you and throwing you to the ground. You used some simple but effective attack skills to hurt him enough to break his grip.

Now is the time, if you can, to RUN like crazy, shouting “FIRE!” at the top of your lungs.

Why “FIRE!” and not “HELP!”?

Because “FIRE!” draws people and attention. FIRE conjures up images in your attacker’s mind of big men with axes. This is all good for you, and bad for your attacker.

Shouting “HELP!”, on the other hand, makes a lot of people hide behind their doors. It invokes their avoidance mechanisms. They’re frightened. They don’t want to get involved. Sad, but true.

BUT…if the attacker RE-GRABS you before you can get away, you’ve got to do at least one of three things RIGHT NOW!

  1. Kick him in a knee hard enough to buckle it.
  2. Jab him in the eyes with your fingers or a thumb…hard.
  3. Kick or kneehim in the groin so hard you fold him.

And then RUN, shouting FIRE!”

Do NOT stick around to beat up further on your attacker.

Do NOT start yelling at him and making speeches.

RUN, get to safety, get on a phone, and call the police.

Then, continue your self-defense training at a place like Salick’s, where you learn real stuff.

Those realistic skills might have just saved your life.Tell your friends about Salick’s Karate’s Women’s Self-Defense Nights!  Every woman in America should know this stuff.

Next: Defending Yourself When Your Hands are Full

Until then, 

Stay focused, stay safe,

Roger Salick

Any self-defense or martial arts questions you'd like answered? Are there situations you'd like to see covered in future Women's Self-Defense Nights?


Like us on Facebook!