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Kurumaisu Jutsu:
Wheelchair Techniques

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 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 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, 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 target.

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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.

To find more articles of interest, search on one of these keywords:

self-defense, wheelchair self-defense, seated self-defense, martial arts, karate

Read more articles by Ronald van de Sandt

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