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Releasing The Arms To Counter A Front Bear Hug

By Prof. Gene Roos

There are many self-defense techniques against a front bear hug. And many include a strike to the attacker’s groin. If this strike is effective the attacker will often opens his arms or release his grip. This allows the defender to follow up with a kick, punch, or throw of the assailant.

The problem is that too often the defender isn’t taught how to free an arm so this strike can be effective.

Too often practice is not realistic -- the attacking partner often just loosely wraps his arms around the front of the defender. The defender is then taught to deliver a front strike with one hand or fist into the attacker’s groin. This only works, however, when the attacker’s grab isn’t tight.

In combat or in real-life assault situations things are usually very different. The attacker’s grab is usually tight and powerful. This grip locks the defender’s elbows against his or her sides. If the arms can be moved at all, any groin or other strike is so restricted that the counter becomes ineffective. Thus, what the student has learned suddenly becomes ineffective at the very moment when it is most needed.

Attacker grabs defender’s chest from the front

Incorrect – Defender attempts a right-hand strike to the attacker’s groin. The defender’s right elbow is locked and her hand cannot strike the attacker’s groin.

Correct – Defender squats and moves her hips to the left rear.

Then the defender shifts her hips and right hand forward. Her hand strikes the attacker’s groin. In this position the defender can forcibly strike (elbow is not locked) the attacker.

There is a simple solution. When faced with a tight front bear hug, the defender can partially release the tight grip and create space for movement by squatting downward (letting the defender’s weight pull on the arms to loosen them). The defender can then shift his or her hips to the side (here, the left). This releases the attacker’s grip on the elbows and creates room for movement. Since the defender’s elbows are no longer locked to his sides, significant power can be generated to attack the attacker’s groin.

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About the Author:

Prof. Gene Roos, 9th dan Ju Jitsu, and 4th dan in judo, is a member of the Board of Directors for the America Ju Jitsu Association. In 1958 was awarded Shodan (Judo) and won the Regional Judo Champion. In 1958 & 1959 was Judo State Champion. His instructors include: Harold Brosious (Ketsugo), Dennis Palumbo (Hakko Ryu Ju Jitsu, 8th Dan), George Kirby, & Shizuya Sato (Ju Jitsu), Wally Jay (Small Circle Ju Jitsu), Dr. Sacharnoski (Hard Style Ju Jitsu & Ki) and Master Mochizuki (a student of Funakoshi, Kano, & Ueshiba). He is also the author of a series of upcoming books on Aiki jujitsu as well as a number of videos including: "Aiki Jujitsu" (a three video tapes series with manuals); "Deadly Attacks" (defense against 30 knife, gun, stick and empty hand attacks); "Deadly Attacks- part II" (defense against an additional 30 knife, gun and empty hand attacks); "Deadly Attacks III" and "Devastating Throws and Other Deadly Attacks " (defense against 30 advanced combat throws, knife attacks, stick, and a rear shotgun attack), For more information see:

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

self defense, jujutsu, ju jitsu, groin strike, martial arts, self protection, counter, street self defense

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