Grappling is NOT Self Defense

Defending oneself needs to be practiced.

Real Practice. Real Success.


I really hate it when big guys try to tell me, a 5 foot 5 inch woman, that joint manipulation and arm bars are self defense.

Maybe for you. But not for me.

Joint locks are fun to learn. They teach incredible body knowledge; exposing strong and weak ways to link wrists, arms and shoulders. But, please, for the safety of our children and our women, stop calling it self defense!

At best, when a guy grabs my arm, and I try some fancy fine motor nonsense, he will laugh at me. At worst, I’m dead. Ok, I am a bad example. I have trained in hand to hand combat for 20 years. My paradigm is that he will be dead, and I will walk away (I am not a very fast runner), but I have choices.

The average woman, who is either new to martial arts, or is attending a 3 hour women’s self defense class, should be learning how to “Stun and Run.”

Poke them in the eyes. Knee strike the groin. Stomp on the foot. Elbow to the throat or jaw. Palm heel strike to the nose. Those are self defense moves.

Hit hard. Yell Loud. Run Fast.

That’s what we tell our radKIDS, and it is good, simple advice.

Fight or flight. Lizard brain. Instinctual response. Adrenaline dump.

Whatever you want to call it; if a person is in a life or death situation and they are untrained then choices are limited. Attempting to access the proper technique for a cross-wrist grab will not be possible. For a highly trained martial artist? They might pull it off.

But if I am going to teach a woman to defend herself I don’t want to teach her something that might work; IF the guy is her size, IF she can figure out where her thumb is in relationship to his grip, and IF she is not in a frozen panic.

Legally and realistically, I want the guy to keep holding on.

I want him to commit his dominant hand and arm to holding onto me. If he grabs my left arm with his right arm, is that good or bad for me? Keep holding on, thinking you are in control, while I use every available weapon I have to disrupt your ability to stand upright.

Once he let’s go, I could be seen as the aggressor if I choose not to run, so I say (only half-joking) keep holding on Earle.

Stop Choreographing Everything!

One of my least favorite, yet very common, things in the arts is the over abundance of choreographed moves. Choreography is middle ground.

In order to be good at making the right choice in a stressful situation, we must PRACTICE making choices in stressful situations.

Being alive after an attack. That is the high ground.

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