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
3 will discuss several defenses against attacks from the
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 balance.
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 grab.
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
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
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, etc.).
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 rapidly enough.
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,