Each week MASTERCLASS gives you brief but key information on how to optimise a simple Krav Maga strike or technique.

This MASTERCLASS covers the defence against CLOTHING GRAB FROM BEHIND where the assailant is using one or two hands to grab the clothing (to control, push, pull or turn you to deliver a hand strike to the body or head).

The technique also applies to all movement scenarios involved in the above; if you’re pushed forward (first arrest the momentum by placing a leg firmly onto the ground first to regain balance after making short steps), not moved at all or pulled backwards (again, move with smaller steps to stay as balanced as possible and execute technique as quickly as you can, using the momentum in your favour).

The aggressiveness of the response will be determined by the situation you’re in. For example, a more innocent (yet, silly) grab and pull at a social event by a drunk friend or family member will not necessitate the response delivered when grabbed by an attacker from behind on a dark night or in-fight against violent multiple attackers. Your response must always be necessary and proportionate.


As soon as possible (for example after your brain prioritising rebalancing if pulled or pushed), lift one arm straight up squeezing the shoulder hard towards the ear. The forearm can either be elevated high, on an angle or resting across the top of the head.

This squeeze against the ear is trained to trap the hands (delivering pain where fingers are subsequently violent bent) if the grab is a choke (against the neck).

The other arm should be simultaneously moved up and across your body so the open palm is at face height and on the same side as the other elevated arm but on the outside of your body frame.

This hand is positioned like this to protect your face should the grab be intended to turn you for a hand strike against your face.

As the second arm move take place, start to turn (180°), to look at the person grabbing to ascertain quickly their intent in the context you’re in (friend or foe?), then turning either around your back foot, or if a more natural step, with your back foot, eventually aiming to land into the front of the assailant.

As you’re turning around the elevated arm stays connected to the ear, squeezing and bending the fingers of the assailant. Note: if the arm is not straight, you risk stopping the turning as your upper arm lands onto the forearm of the assailant, as well as not putting any pain onto assailant’s hand - and it allows them to potentially reposition their choke and move. The open palm in front of the face is aimed to protecting the face in the case of one-handed clothing grabs, preceding a pull and a punch as you turn backwards.

As you turn to face the assailant, after squeezing the fingers of the assailant’s hand, lower the elevated arm into a slightly bent but solidly locked frame at the elbow and aim this rigid striking frame to connect with the neck or the side of the face of the assailant. It doesn’t matter if you connect with your forearm (outer, bony side) or your elbow, or even upper arm.

Send the shoulder into the strike to add more power to what’s already generated from the momentum of your turning around.  Strike as you land with the far foot, now your front foot after your 180° turn for optimal body mass power. Seek to land INTO your assailant, not to the side of them, for optimal striking impact.

After this update initial turn and strike - which will release the choke or grab - continue with further strikes.

These could involve;

  • knee or kick to the groin (search home page article using key word ‘GROIN’ to find relevant Masterclasses. Or;

  • Straight open palm strike to the ear with the other hand after you land with your first strike to the side of your assailant (as above, search ‘OPEN PALM’). Or;

  • Further forearm strikes to the neck, or elbow strikes. Search ‘FOREARM’ or ‘ELBOW’ for more Masterclasses.

Other strikes are also available, or a continuation of the above ones.

Note: A choke from behind is a potentially lethal attack as its aim is to restrict breathing (ultimately leading to death) so the response could and should be very aggressive. In this case, that means more strikes to vulnerable areas such as face, neck and groin.

Continue the attacks without stopping and hesitation until you can escape the situation safely or the assailant is unconscious or incapable of fighting back.

Pictures: Krav Maga Master Gheorghe Husar filming with The Krav Maga Educator Orjan Pettersen for online tutorials.

Further strikes are then available if needed. See our MASTERCLASSES and MASTERCLASS PRO for options.

Find all our MASTERCLASS articles by clicking on the theme selection on the website home page. Chose MASTERCLASS PRO for combinations of strikes and techniques.

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