Up Against The Wall
by Christopher Caile
It's not an enviable position - to be pushed from the back into a wall,
or up against a car or other object. Shocked by the suddenness of the
attack, and back turned to the assailant, most people are totally defenseless.
In bars I've seen people pushed forward into tables and posts, or against
the bar, and then struck down from behind. But the backward push is
also commonly used in robberies -- pushing a woman, for example, against
her car in order to rip away her handbag. This was working so well in
Buffalo a few years back that I was part of a team that was asked to
give several self-defense seminars to federal and state employees.
Escaping a push isn't really that difficult if you practice some simple
basics. First thing to remember is not to get "squished,"
that is, not to let yourself get pushed totally flat into something
(as seen in the photo above).
As a push comes, it is only natural to react by extending your arms
forward to brace yourself as you also step forward with one leg.
Allow your arms to absorb some of the energy that is propelling you
forward. This also keeps the body some distance away from the wall or
other object so there is some room to maneuver. Then relax the left
arm, allowing the left side to pivot inward (still keeping my right
hand against the wall to maintain some distance) toward the wall around
the right leg. As your left shoulder passes the wall, lower your right
arm and move it with your body. The arm in this way will knock the assailant's
pushing arm to the inside.
The key here is not to resist the attack, but to move with it, pivoting
to let the assailant's own energy propel him into the wall, while you
have turned outward to his outside. Your right hand ends up at about
his groin level. From this position many things are possible.
One choice is just to flee. But there are many other options.
You could simply punch to the side of the head (not shown). If
you just want to control the attacker, you can activate an arm
bar and take him or her down. As in the photo above, you might
add a left palm heel strike to the back of the attacker's skull
to stun him or her first (this same technique is also used below).
You may also use your turning movement to do a left elbow strike
to the same target (not shown).
Another option also stems from the same left palm heel strike
to the back of the attacker's skull. In this move you do not rotate
your body quite as far, so you can move your right hand in front
of your opponent to slap or hit upward into the groin. Then
grab the pants near the groin (or reach deeply between the legs
to grab the belt from the back). Then you can lift with your right
arm and push with your left forearm against the front of the opponent's
head -- propelling him or her backward to the ground. This type
of throw usually results in the attacker landing on his side.
the dump into the ground can stun most attackers (especially if there
is head contact, so be very careful if you practice this move), but
if you desire you may also apply a finishing strike to the side of the
attacker's head or jaw. Use your right bent knee against the opponent's
hips to keep him or her from turning towards you. Your left arm can
also hold the opponent's arm so his or her elbow is locked against your
left leg momentarily to help lock your opponent in place.
There is also a happy ending to this article. Remember, we taught this
simple turn and escape (and other self-defense techniques) to federal
and state employees in Buffalo. Not long afterward we were informed
of the results. In the month preceding our seminar five female employees
had been assaulted and robbed outside the Federal Building by assailants
who had first pushed their victims against their cars in order to tear
away their purses. In the month afterwards, we were told, there were
four similar attacks, but none were successful. I think it goes without
saying that we were invited back for more seminars.
(1) The Seminar team included an aikido teacher
Mike Hawley, a judo teacher and fellow aikido-ka, Eric Joseph and myself
as a karate teacher and aikido-ka. We taught technique. A volunteer
Buffalo police lieutenant also lectured on awareness and how to avoid
getting attacked. As a group we taught similar seminars to many corporations
and groups in Buffalo and the greater Erie County. In the seminars this
technique was taught by Hawley Sensei (Wadokai Aikido) and it comes
from aikido. The technique was so impressive and effective that I incorporated
it into my own vocabulary of self-defense.
About The Author:
Christopher Caile is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of FightingArts.com.
He has been a student of the martial arts for over 40 years and holds
a 6th degree black belt in Seido Karate and has experience in judo,
aikido, diato-ryu, boxing, Itto-Ryu Kenjutsu and several Chinese fighting
arts. He is also a long-term student of one branch of Traditional
Chinese Medicine, Qigong. He is a personal disciple of the qi gong
master and teacher of acupuncture Dr. Zaiwen Shen (M.D., Ph.D.) and
is Vice-President of the DS International Chi Medicine Association.