Defeating The Headlock
Part 2 - Against A Headlock Already In Place
Many years ago, I discovered the answer within
the karate kata I was practicing. In the version of Seienchin
kata we practice, before we go into the horse stance with the
hand motion that represents this defense move against the headlock,
there is another motion. (2) Before
sinking back into a horse stance, the body is erect with one arm
moving up and the other down. If someone grabs you, this double
arm motion can be used to strike either side of the opponent's
head (there are several variations).
The first technique is a double palm strike, one arm going up (hitting
the side of the nose causes great pain) the other down against the opponent's
head that is tucked in close to yours (hitting to one side of the back
of the head -- shocking the cerebellum and causing disorientation, momentary
stunning and/or unconsciousness). Of course, you will not be fully erect
as in the kata since you have been pulled down, but the movement pattern
is the same. Be very careful when practicing this technique.
In the second example, the attacker had grabbed you securely, but has
not yet sunk his head down to tuck it next to yours. Here again, your
left arm moves upward, the palm striking the under edge of the opponent's
jaw (on the left side), and your right arm moves downward, here the
elbow striking down against the side of the opponent's neck (effecting
the opponent's carotid sinus that helps regulate blood pressure, (3)
the strike causing a momentary black out or stun) -- a devastating and
very dangerous combination, never to be used unless your life is in
Other emergency options include a punch to the groin and/or a strike
with the palm to the opponent's chin or nose. In the example, a nose
strike is combined with a rake of the eyes with the fingers (also a
very dangerous technique not to be used unless your life is in danger).
The opponent's feet are also vulnerable. So a stamp to the
top of the opponent's foot can be very effective and painful.
Stamp with the ball or side of your foot, however, as the front
part of the foot is less effective. Another technique is to
use the heel to press down and then pivot your weight. This
can cause extreme pain if done correctly against the right target
-- one being on the outside of the top of the foot between the
long bones that lead to the small and fourth toe. The pivoting
action spreads the two bones.
The Playful Grab
Some people will also grab you in a headlock in what can best be characterized
as a playful test.
People at work, roommates, family, friends or even someone you are
dating will often ask, "what would you do if I grabbed you like
this?"-- and then they grab you. They aren't serious attackers.
They know you are studying a martial art and want to test you or are
using the grab to find out more about what you are studying. You don't
want to hurt them. At the same time you don't want to seem incapable
of defending yourself.
Here a little pinch often works very well. See,
the article "Ouch!
- The Mighty Little Pinch For Self-defense"
for details. Here I illustrate a pinch to the inner thigh of
someone who has me in a headlock. This might not divert a serious
assault, but a playful attacker or casual tester will most likely
jump away from the sudden pain.
The little pinch looks innocuous, but boy does it hurt!
(2) In our version of Seienchin this move is
done to both sides, but only one represents a defense against a headlock.
The follow up techniques on the second of these two sequences are different,
resulting in an offensive move, rather than a defense to a headlock.
(3) This is a section of the carotid artery
that ascends on both side of the neck. Where it splits below the jaw
line, about one and one-half inches internally under the sternocleidomastoid
muscle (that runs from behind the ear across the side of the neck to
attach to the sternum bone in front) is an area which can expand or
retract according to the pressure of blood running in the artery. Along
with several similar sinuses in the body, nerves in this area are affected
by the stretching or condensing of the sinus and are used by the body
to sense (and thus regulate) blood pressure. A strike to the side of
the neck will put sudden pressure on this sinus (simulating a sudden
surge of blood pressure) and the neurological system will immediately
respond: blood pressure will suddenly drop for a short period, which
can cause momentary unconsciousness or a stunning effect.
About The Author:
Christopher Caile is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of FightingArts.com.
He has been a student of the martial arts for over 40 years and holds
a 6th degree black belt in Seido Karate and has experience in judo,
aikido, diato-ryu, boxing and several Chinese fighting arts. He is
also a long-term student of one branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine,
Qigong. He is a personal disciple of the qi gong master and teacher
of acupuncture Dr. Zaiwen Shen (M.D., Ph.D.) and is Vice-President
of the DS International Chi Medicine Association. In Buffalo, NY,
he founded the Qi gong Healing Institute and The Qi Medicine Association
at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He has also written
on Qi gong and other health topics in a national magazine, the Holistic
Health Journal and had been filmed for a prospective PBS presentation
on Alternative Medicine. Recently he contributed a chapter on the
subject to an award winning book on alternative medicine, "Resources
Guide To Alternative Health."