Escaping Arm Grabs. Before It’s Too Late

Escaping Arm Grabs. Before It’s Too Late

We are almost done with our 21 class challenge and I hope you all are on the way. I am preparing the surprise for you all and I know you will enjoy it. For those who missed out, we’ll be doing it again next month, with an additional challenge for those who won this month. 

I was riding my bike in Central Park and saw police officers riding horses pass on another path. It made me remember my own time when I was in uniform, one of the most stressful and demanding portions of my life. I’ve spoken a lot about the Spirit of the IDF. In today’s environment, it has become more important now for those who wear uniforms to hold themselves to the highest standards. That’s why I’m so honored to teach Krav Maga, both civilian and professional. I am grateful for the chance to help all people live up to a higher standard and make a safer world. 

One way to start to go back to basics, which is why I’m expanding on these videos. These are foundational skills, and important for everyone to know. 

Arm grabs are a great way to begin this new series. An arm grab is the first attack we begin to discuss in detail, because it’s one of the most common attacks. Dealing with arm grabs requires good judgment because not all arm grabs are life-threatening, and we need to choose the appropriate response. After all, if a co-worker grabs your arm because they just are excited to show you something, Human Resources will not approve of you breaking their nose. However, you should not also allow someone to violate your boundaries and touch you without permission. Measure out a response that asserts your ground, but also allows you to keep your job. 

    I also think arm grabs are a great way to begin because arm grabs are a lot like life. When a problem grabs us, we have the option to release immediately or to use the momentum of the grabber against them. Right now, life is grabbing us by the arm and we need to realize we have the tools to respond. 

    This was one of my favorite videos to create because I got to work with the reputable opera singer, Isabel Leonard, a woman who really shows the power of using the voice to achieve great things. 

    In the video, we can see two situations of an arm grab. One situation is when you can’t de-escalate, and one is where you can.    

    In the first example, Isabel has to strike. This is someone who is much stronger and either you can’t release or you feel under an immediate life threat. They may grab you with one or both hands on your wrist, and roughly pull you.

    When discussing an arm grab, a good way of thinking about it are bear hugs and chokes. A choke feels like a more immediate threat, as you have a few seconds before you pass out. A bear hug is more dangerous for what comes next. 

    For Example 1, where you can’t de-escalate. There are a lot of ways this scenarios can happen. You are jogging in the park or walking alone when a stranger comes from behind you and grabs you. A very common scenario is that the attacker is someone the defender knows, such as date rape or domestic violence. 

There are a few reasons why they are trying to do so. 

  1. They are trying to take you somewhere against your will. One rule is, we never ever go to a second location. It will only make things worse. 
  2. The arm grab is used to try and control or intimidate you. 
  3. The arm grab is part of a larger attack, and it’s meant to hold you still while they hurt you in other ways. It can be a take-down to the ground, or holding one arm and striking you with the other, to limit your defenses. 

    In all three cases, you need to strike to the weak points of the face. If they are holding your wrist with both hands, it may be a very strong pull but they have no defense. That is your opportunity to strike. It can be as simple as 

While it is natural to try to yank your arm away, you should not try to fight power with power. Most likely, the person grabbing you will be bigger and stronger, and in that tug of war, you are likely going to lose. Instead, you need to first brace yourself and establish a good base so you are less likely to fall to the ground. Then you can go with the attacker and use their power against them. As you move forward, your strikes are a lot more powerful, especially when targeting the weak points. 

    For Example 2, Isabel is able to release the arm grab, without escalating to striking. She uses her voice and creates space to protect herself. That’s the ideal situation. 

Here are three examples of how this can happen. 

  1. The arm grab is someone who is drunk and behaving a bit aggressively, but they don’t actually mean harm. 
  2. The arm grab is someone who is pulling you because they want to show you something. While they aren’t posing a threat to you, no one has the right to touch you without your permission. 
  3. The arm grab is someone who is smaller than you and you can release without the need to strike. 

In all those cases, it’s not appropriate to hurt them. You can release your arm, move to a safe distance, and then use your voice to make it clear, you are defending your boundaries. Using your body language and your voice is enough in these situations to de-escalate while maintaining your safety. Hopefully, your assertiveness will be enough. If they are still coming at you, use example 1 as your new plan. 

In order to benefit the most from this video, use this week in class to focus on: 

  1. Establishing a good and stable fight stance. Even those of us who have many hours of experience can always take the time to improve. Make sure your weight is evenly distributed, you have good mobility and balance, and you are able to efficiently strike. 
  2. Accurate strikes. When hitting the weak points, accuracy matters more than power. Take the time to slow down and really look at your striking. Even when you aim in the air, try to imagine the opponent in front of you and strike to their weak points. 

Next week, we’ll be covering what some have called the signature move of Krav Maga, the groin kick, and the defense for it. Make sure to warm up your legs! 

Kida, 

Raz