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How to Use Krav Maga for Self-Defense Against a Shirt Grab!

Would you know what to do if an attacker grabbed your shirt in a bar, at an ATM or on the street? Krav maga expert Alain Cohen shows you a simple yet fiercely effective krav maga counterattack for exactly this situation in this excerpt from his six-DVD krav maga set, Krav Maga Personal Protection: The Israeli Method of Close-Quarters Combat!

This simple yet effective krav maga counterattack to shirt grabs involves a joint lock and gross-motor pressure-point manipulation to take down an attacker quickly and decisively in a one-two movement!

The key to this krav maga technique is in making the attacker’s body part of yours. As Alain Cohen explains, “When he’s grabbing me, I have to make his fist a part of my body. And if my body will turn, all his arm will turn.” The one-two movement is described as a press-down on the attacker’s grabbing hand with a slight forward press with the shoulder, followed by the abrupt turn of the whole body to effectively force the attacker into a submissive position, taking him down to a more manageable place for strikes, joint locks such as elbow locks, wrist locks or other vital-target counterattacks.

A slight variant of this technique involves just the body turn, which disrupts the attacker’s alignment and opens him up for the forward press with your shoulder. This acts as a blunt pressing force against his wrist, his arm and his shoulder in their weakened positions and brings the attacker to the ground.

KRAV MAGA VIDEO | Alain Cohen Shows You How to Use Krav Maga for Self-Defense Against a Shirt Grab!


In his six-DVD krav maga set, Krav Maga Personal Protection: The Israeli Method of Close-Quarters Combat, Alain Cohen provides self-defense instruction spanning six belt levels (from yellow to black), from krav maga basics to advanced techniques.

Topics on this krav maga DVD set include:

  • punches | strikes
  • kicks from the guard
  • 360-degree defense tactics
  • gun defenses | knife defenses
  • improvised weapons
  • falls | rolls
  • grab counters
  • sweeps | throws | chokes
  • working in the guard
  • joint locks | kicks
  • third-party protection
  • grenade disarms
  • the Z lock
  • tai sabaki (body movement)
  • police locks
  • vital-point attacks
  • real-world scenario simulations

Alain Cohen is an official krav maga and Thai boxing instructor authorized by the Israeli Sports Ministry and a former member of the Israeli Defense Forces. Alain Cohen also teaches tactical krav maga to security for air marshals, pilots and crews.

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Posted in Close Quarters Combat, Joint Locks, Krav Maga, Krav Maga Videos, Martial Arts Multimedia, Modern Martial Arts, Self-Defense Videos.

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7 Responses

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  1. Nick says

    Why not just through a fee straight punches or palm strikes until the attacker let’s go? Doing a technique like this is dangerous because you haven’t addressed the threat (the attacker). All a wrist lock/release accomplishes is making the attacker angrier and more aggressive.

    The only solution from a Krav Maga standpoint is to attack the attacker violently and aggressively to deal with follow up threats such as the impending punch, headbutt, or introduction of a gun or knife that can come off of a lapel/shirt grab.

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  2. Carl says

    Why do “styles” have to list everything as as thiers? I learned these techniques as a beginner in Shito Ryu over 33 years ago. They were never taught as “Shito Ryu techiques”, only as self defense tehniques. No claim to style, system or person.

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  3. Frank says

    I also learned these (with slight variations) as a Shito-ryu Karate beginner. I think this is probably just a taste of what Krav Maga offers, provided for the general martial arts public. Would like to see someone explain those unique aspects that Krav Maga may offer.

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  4. Ben says

    Having trained in Wado Karate for 23 years, i recently attended 2 Krav Maga seminars and they really opened my eyes! street applicable violence! straight forward and to the point and if you can mix it up with Tony Blauers SPEAR stuff it is even better. Tony Blauer is very under rated and his PDR and SPEAR program is awesome!

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  5. chris says

    @nick: the question is if hitting him in the face is appropriate in the specific situation – the video does not explain that. If some guy in the bar is loosely grabbing your shirt, the you probably should not devestate him if you’re not sure it’s appropriate.

    nevertheless the dangerous part on a short grab is that the attacker can pull and give you a headbutt. thus the primary goal is to bring your ellbow between you and his face before you do a wrist manipulation or whatever. without the ellbow, it’s just luck if you get the possible headbutt or not (if he didn’t do it or was slower than you).

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  6. Nick says

    @chris: this is a “Krav Maga” video. Whether or not attacking the attacker is appropriate is dependent upon the threat level of the scenario and the defenders capability in effectively diffusing the situation, if possible. Neither of which we can discern as no context is given for the use of this particular technique. As such, since it is a KM video, we are left to assume that this is a KM technique. KM is designed to be used against the worst case scenario and to apply violence in the context of extreme aggression against the defender. Krav Maga is not for dealing with a mildly irritating, drunk guy at the bar. It’s for dealing with attacks. If I’m teaching Krav Maga and I’m teaching how to deal with an attack in which a shirt or lapel is grabbed, we will not waste time or effort on wrist locks. The only appropriate reaction is to attack.

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Continuing the Discussion

  1. How to Use Krav Maga for Self-Defense Against a Shirt Grab … | Martial Arts Organization linked to this post on June 29, 2011

    [...] original here: How to Use Krav Maga for Self-Defense Against a Shirt Grab … ← Different Types Of Martial Arts » Tai Chi Shopping – your one step [...]

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