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Tips for Avoiding the Grab-and-Punch

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Tips for Avoiding the Grab-and-Punch
by Keith Pascal

Imagine — you’re in a parking lot in front of a restaurant. You turn, and some overgrown, steroid-pumping lounge looney decides that picking on you would be a good show for his friends and anyone else heading back to his or her car.

Further, I want you to imagine that you have no advanced notice of this attack: All of a sudden, the guy is on you like gooey maple syrup on a short-stack of pancakes. The attacker has ahold of your shirt — no way simply to turn and run.

Are you following along and thinking, “So, what? I have studied martial arts for just such an occasion.”

As a matter of fact, his grab isn’t immediately followed by a punch; he’s not performing a grab-n-punch, as in a combination move. In this case, he reacts to your response … which happens to be a trusty wrist lock. (You decide to snap on a joint lock.)

Why did you choose to wrist lock? Simple … since the guy grabbed you, and there were lots of witnesses around, you decided that plastering the guy and smashing in his face, might not be the best response … in front onlooking eyes.

So, you decided to take a less brutal approach, as your first response.

As you start to effect the lock, ol’ Genghis Khan stops the control by slamming his fist into you. Bam!

Interesting predicament, eh?


How Should You Respond?

I’m not a fan of hindsight, which means you can’t really go back in time and say, “Well if his next move were a punch, then I wouldn’t try the lock in the first place.”  Unless you have a time machine in your pocket, you can’t undo your first response.

But you certainly could decide to avoid all wrist locks in the future. Some bad-“donkey” grabs you, and you immediately hit or eye jab. You respond instantly; the eye jab is successful; it’s game over.

However, since I love joint-lock controls, even more than a hot fudge sundae, I want to explore other options. There are great times to wrist lock.


Shh: Let me be perfectly frank with you: If my wife and daughter were with me, and some guy grabbed me out of nowhere as a prelude to getting to my ladies … my instant response might be a little more violent than a simple (or a controlled) wrist lock. Still, each situation is different; I can’t legally advise you take the same action.


Instead of a punch or a lock, you could combine the two: start to punch and then control with a joint lock, or start that trusty wrist lock, and make sure it stays “trusty” by adding on a “helping” punch.

A similar, third option might be to start your lock and then kick, instead of punching or eye jabbing. Did I say “instead of”? You have the option of reacting with an “in addition to.” In other words, you start to lock, and as your enemy resists the joint torquing, you both punch and kick.

Are you getting any creative practice ideas?


What If The Punch Comes In Too Quickly?

In all of the above, I am assuming that you are either starting your strikes with your controlling lock, or you are responding to the slightest move by the brute to resist your joint manipulation.

Any resistance by punching, mentioned in the title of this article, or trying to kick you, gets you to respond more aggressively.

But what if the instant you start the lock, your enemy hits? What if the punch comes in too fast for you to begin your secondary response?

My recommendation originates from your martial-arts training sessions: Start to practice the complementary lock to your “regular, grab-response lock.”


Here’s what I mean….

If someone grabs you or your shirt, you almost always have a choice as to which hand you use peel off the aggressor’s hand to effect your control.

Note: There are also locks that don’t start with the finger peel. For example, you could pivot into your attacker’s arm with your shoulder, as in the beginning of an arm bar.


Why am I suggesting a wrist lock starting with the other hand?

Because if you are getting tagged in the face (or stomach) so quickly after attempting a lock, then maybe you are too close to your attacker’s punching hand. If you are that close to your opponent’s meat-cleaver fist, then maybe starting with your other side would position your vulnerable areas a little more out of his reach.

Note: If you don’t know complementary locks, and have problems feeling where to go, then try the soft cover book, “Wrist Locks: From Protecting Yourself to Becoming an Expert” (revised). It will teach you all of the locks you need to escape from a grab. It also deals more completely with making locks practical … when to hit and when to lock, and how.



A longer reach gives you more time. And my advice is to take any extra time you can get.


One Last Wrist Lock Tip, for Now

One Last Wrist Lock Tip, for Now

If you are experiencing any of the above difficulties mentioned, then I’d like to suggest that you “play” with the distance between you and your attacker, while you are effecting the joint lock.

Either step into your aggressor, or step away from him. Experiment; find the timing that works for you. Remember, your goal is to stop your attacker, end the fight, control him (or her), and keep the jerk from striking you as you snap on a wrist control.

If you are interested in developing a finer sense of distance in a fight, and/or if you need ways to shut down this type of attacker, I’d like to suggest the epackage How to End the Fight with One Hit. One of the four ebonuses (“Worth …“) will give you a very important distance drill.

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