You have all been there before, you are walking through the darkness and someone hugs you from behind. Well, maybe not everyone but it’s still a realistic self-defense situation that deserves to be talked about in depth. Let’s talk about bear hugs. This short and FREE video course will teach you how to escape more than just a bear hug- we are talking handcuff and zip tie escapes right here!
Me and my buddy Erik (who used to be a professional mma fighter ) made some videos about this position earlier this month so I’ll take this opportunity to go a bit more in depth into this evil position so that you will know how to defend yourself if the situation ever requires it.
So someone grabs you from behind? So what? What’s the worst that could happen? Well actually there are heaps of bad things that could happen from this position. First of all the perpetrator could switch his arm positon and try to choke you out. Being choked out unconscious is an obvious self-defense faux pas.
If you are fighting an opponent that has some actual martial arts experience or even worse, one that has been watching a lot of WWE he could actually perform a whole plethora of throws on you, the most dangerous one being a German Suplex.
If there was more than one attacker then one person could hold you like this while the other one attacks you in another way so it’s essential to learn to escape this position.
When some does get you in the bear hug it’s important to take care of your own positioning first in order to put pressure on his lock and to block as many of his options as possible.
First thing you need to do is to lower your base. As physics will teach you, the lower your center of gravity is the more stable you are so if you squat down a few inches you will be much harder to throw. You’ll want to keep good posture though because you don’t want to be pushed over either. At the same time you will slightly push with your hips forward to put some pressure on his hand and to be able to create some space when you pull your hips back at some point.
You’ll want to start out with both of your hands on his hands and or wrist because this will allow you to put pressure on the lock, which will make it much harder for him to hold you for a prolonged time. Another benefit of this is that it allows you to follow his hands or at least stay aware of where they are so that you can defend yourself in a timely manner if he wanted to choke you or even prevent him from reaching for it all together by holding the wrist.
More important than all of this could be to learn to defend yourself with a selfie stick.
Our first counter attack will be a kimura. For those of you that don’t know, the kimura is a shoulder lock that offers many follow up attacks. Shoulder locks are very painful but they can be applied without injuring someone (police locks anyone?) which makes them excellent for controlling somebody until help arrives. Because it opens up the elbow it’s also a great tool to keep somebody in their place because pinning someone’s shoulder demobilizes them to a significant degree
This video gives a pretty good overview of what you can do with someone’s open elbow.
So for this technique we will follow a couple of steps:Squat down, to lower you center of gravity, become more stable and exert pressure on the grip.
- Push down on one wrist with your opposite hand while you circle your same side hand underneath his hand to grab your own hand.
- Turn your whole body towards the trapped shoulder explosively to open up the lock around your waist and to start attacking his shoulder straight away.
- Now that you have released yourself from the grip you are somewhat safe, the next step is to step towards the attacker and to throw him on the ground by reaping away the leg (osoto –gari).
- Now that he has fallen down you can jump to the other side to secure the pin, while maintaining the kimura grip so you also have the option of attacking the shoulder.
- To attack the shoulder lock, lift him up to get him on his side, step the leg closed to his head over to the other side of the body, pull in his elbow towards your chest and finish by moving his hand towards his hand.
At point four you have other options as well actually, you could force their hand towards their head to attack the shoulder while standing or force them to the ground or against a wall. Another option would be to transition into a single or a double leg to throw them in another manner. You could also choose to let go at this point and start running.
We explained earlier why it’s so beneficial to have our attacker in a bear hug, so this time we will focus on taking over the bear hug to give him a taste of his own medicine!
- Squat down, to lower you center of gravity, become more stable and exert pressure on the grip.
- Push down on one wrist with your opposite hand while you sneak your same side hand in between your body and his arm.
- Explosively turn towards him to break the grip and make an angle from where you can attack.
- Immediately step forward with your far away leg and drag his arm past your body (use your whole body for this so he gets unbalanced).
- Now that you are behind him turn around and grab him in the same way as he was grabbing you.
- If you are drilling with a partner he can start from step 1 at this point.
The positions common in self-defense situation are often much more simple than in competitive grappling sports, luckily these sports have become very proficient at dealing with these kinds of situations which gives them at least some value in a self defense situation.