Part 2- Choke Or Grabs From The Front
By Ronald van de Sandt
Editor's Note: Part
2 of this three part series discusses several common
attacks from the front against someone seated in a
wheelchair. The first
article discussed self-defense responses
to a push from behind. Part
3 will discuss several defenses against
attacks from the side.
A while back I was confined to a wheelchair and quickly
gained from this experience a deeper understanding
of the ancient martial arts, as well as an appreciation
for those who are handicapped. I realized also that
while some "attacks" are unique to those
in wheelchairs, others are similar to those experienced
by anyone sitting in a chair, on a bench, on a train
or subway, or on the floor. This is especially true
for attacks from the front.
I also learned some of the principles of movement
I used also reflected those of aikido, and that many
of the movements came right out of many of the karate
kata I had practiced for so long.
Choke Or Grabs From The Front
The dynamics of the wheelchair dictate that a person
trying to grab you from the front has to bend and
get close in order to reach you. The same applies
if you are sitting in a chair or on a bench.
The taller they are, the more they bend, and the
less balance they have. You can add a punch to the
groin or knee, whichever is closest, or a pinch to
the inner thigh, near the groin at this point to distract
the opponent, and cause him to bend over even further.
Defense Technique 1: An opponent chokes you
from the front. In defense, place one hand, palm open,
on the opponent's chin, the other hand grabs the back
of his head or hair. Push up on the chin, pull down
on the back of the head and pull him toward you at
the same time. Done quickly enough, this can result
in a broken neck for the opponent.
If done more slowly this technique turns the attacker,
and lays him face up and off balance on your lap.
If you choose to do this technique this way, slide
the chin hand to grab your opposite arm and slide
the other hand to the other arm, creating a vise-like
choke. Squeeze the throat or carotid arteries until
he goes unconscious.
Practice starting this technique with either hand.
This technique sequence is derived out of both Seisan
and Naihanchi katas.
This technique also works well for those confronting
you by stopping your wheelchair with their hands on
each of your arm rests. One added advantage of the
wheelchair is that if your wheels are not locked,
the laws of motion will dictate that when you pull
on the opponent, the wheelchair will be pulled in
the opposite direction as well. This means that your
foot rests will bang into his ankles as you are turning
him. His actions to avoid the footrests will actually
work against him and assist you in taking him off
Defense Technique 2: A simpler technique comes
out of the first opening move of many kata. When the
attacker grabs your throat or shirt collars from the
front, the defender raises both arms between the attackers
arms. The defender then rotates the arms inward and
down against the attacker's arms. This releases the
Now the defender follows up with double palm-heel
thrusts or eye-gouges to finish up. Remember that
anytime you strike while in a wheelchair, if the wheels
are not locked the laws of motion take over.
This means as your strike connects, your chair may
move backwards. This can be overcome by striking quickly,
then pulling back the strike just as quick. I tell
my students to pretend you are striking flypaper.
Retrieve the punch as quick as you deliver it. This
passes energy into your opponent, without it returning
to you. With practice, you can then strike without
the chair moving in the opposite direction.
Defense Technique 3: Assume that your wheels
are not locked, and opponent does a double lapel grab
from the front. With your right hand reach over the
top of both of his arms and grab his right hand, and
from beneath grab his left hand with your left.
Pull your right to the right and left to the left
very quickly. Simultaneously, pull opponent toward
you. This will result in the chair going toward him.
The chairs foot rests will crack him at the shin/ankle
locations, and if you pulled quick enough, he'll spin,
landing in your lap facing away from you.
If he does not spin, he still will fall forward into
your lap, and will still get his shins cracked, only
now the back of his neck/head is exposed to you.
Either way, from there, he's at your mercy for a
number techniques such as cupping your hands and slapping
his ears, choke holds, sleeper holds, temple hammer-fists,
On a side note, when grabbing your opponent place
your hands so your four fingers wrap the fatty side
of his hands just below his pinky fingers, and your
thumbs on the back of his hands between the bones
of his fore and middle fingers. This creates greater
pressure on the wrists, and can be quite painful to
the opponent, which will make him release his hold
quicker. It also gives you better leverage.
Defense Technique 4: A simpler version of
technique 3, is again using the right hand, reach
above opponent's arms, grabbing the fatty portion
of his left hand, putting pressure between the knuckles
with your thumb. Rotate his left hand, augment your
grip on his now inverted hand with your left and rotate
both of your hands forward and down--imagine his hands
as the hilt of a sword and do a downward slicing motion.
His left wrist will break if you perform the technique
Defense Technique 5: Another collar grab release:
In order for an opponent to grab a seated person's
lapels, the opponent has to be real close. Just go
for an Isshin-ryu style inverted-fist uppercut? Another
interesting alternative is the Isshinryu o-uchi, or
"big punch", really a two-handed hooking
punch to the temples, jaw hinge or other convenient
About The Author:
Ron van de Sandt has been in the martial arts since
1972 and has studied American Kempo, Shorin Kempo
and Sholin Karate - a blend of Shorinji Ryu and
Shorin Ryu Karate. Mr. van de Sandt currently holds
a Dan rank in Sholin Karate, and runs the Sholin
Karate Club, at the Fairborn YMCA, Fairborn, Ohio.
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