Fighting Back – Escaping Wrist Grabs


From the stance you’ve developed to project assertiveness, your assailant can either leave or attack.  If he chooses to attack he will typically pick on of three attacks from the front.  He may attempt to grab you by the neck in a choke hold (or grab your shoulders, or clothes – very similar for your defense).  He may try to strike you.  Or, he may grab one or both of your wrists.  Since you are standing with your hands in front of you, a wrist grab would be his easiest attack.



The release is easy.  Here’s how.  Have a friend grab your left wrist with their right hand.  You’ll notice that their thumb and forefinger come together to the right of your hand.  That is the weakest point of their grip and your point of attack.  With your left hand, make a large circle counterclockwise.  Your hand should end up in about the same place as if you were hitchhiking with your hand at shoulder level and your thumb pointing out and to your left.  It’s almost impossible for your attacker to maintain their grip.



The principle is the same whether they are holding your left with their right or any other combination.  Simply circle your hand toward their thumb/forefinger weak spot, then up and over in a circle.  You can do this if they grab both of your wrists at the same time.  Simply make two circles, counterclockwise with your left and clockwise with your right and you’re free.  Up until now, your friend has been cooperating with you to learn the technique.  Your assailant won’t so you need to make it a bit more realistic in practice too.


To add that realism, consider why your assailant grabbed your wrist.  He wants to take you somewhere; to isolate you.  Expect him to grab your wrist and try to drag you.  It’s harder to work the release technique when you’re being dragged but it’s certainly not impossible.  As you practice this more realistic approach you’ll need to move your hand by jerking it free rather than tugging it free.  When you tug it free you’ll be using increasingly greater effort.  The problem with that approach is that as you add power to your release technique, he’ll add power to his hold and you may be stuck.  If you jerk it free, you gain the element of surprise and you’ll be free before he realizes it.  If you’re being dragged, time your effort to coincide with your footwork.  You need a solid base to make it work best.  If he has your left wrist, begin your release move as your left foot steps forward.  Plant the foot solidly and then make your move.



Now the only question is, do you turn and run or do you step forward and strike.  That’s up to you and the circumstances.  Practice this easy first, then add realism and don’t forget to try a variety of combinations; your left with his left, your right with his right, and so on.



It will take very little time before you’re comfortable and confident with this technique.  Revisit it a few days later and make certain you remember the motion – that it’s almost instinctive.


If he grabs your wrist with both hands then there’s no doubt he will try to drag you somewhere.  This escape technique is demonstrated in a static position and that’s a good way to begin practice.  Once you have it down, have your partner begin to drag you aggressively as you work the escape technique.  The more realistic you make the practice the greater your confidence on the street and the more likely you’ll be able to make it work when it counts.



This video is provided as one example of how to escape a wrist grab.  There are others but this is one of the easiest.  Use the principles and experiment to see what works best for you.  There are no guarantees.  If you think you’ve got a better way to do it, great.  Drop me a line.


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