This question is similar to this one but looks at a more specific scenario. This question also refers to an everyday/street situation, not a controlled bout, and assumes the opponent is bigger/heavier.

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Firstly, this is an example of a shoulder charge, it's called the same in soccer and a "shoulder check" in hockey (except you're on skates of course). Essentially running towards an opponent but instead of tackling/doing a take down you put your weight into your shoulder and charge through them hoping to knock them over with your superior momentum.

The two main ways I would imagine this can come about is (a) someone takes a berserker running start at you from across the room, or (b) it is done from face to face or a few steps away, as more of a "shoulder shove".

Looking forward to suggestions.

  • 1
    maybe step the side? and then maybe try to front kick him in the balls and run away? mix of Muay Thai and Krav Maga
    – mattsmith5
    Dec 26, 2021 at 9:24

4 Answers 4


Shoulder charging someone is a very basic way to attack. The attacker is committing their weight forward, and simply not being there is probably sufficient for them to put themselves on the ground. Move your feet and get out of the way.

  • The main difficulty is timing and speed. You need to move late enough that the charger is not able to readjust, but not so late that they hit you.
  • You probably don't have the time to grab anything with your hands but can push or wrap with your arms.
  • You should prefer to stay on your feet because it gives you more flexibility for what may happen next.
  • I don't think it really matters whether you evade to the front or rear because the charger is already committed; you won't be getting the second punch from a combination by moving to the front.
  • You can add a trip. In judo this would be a sasae tsurikomi ashi, but it won't look like most examples because judo players don't normally unbalance themselves for you. Normally you would have to get grips and unbalance them yourself.

Going to attempt an answer to try to get this one moving. Happy to get thoughts on any of these strategies:

  1. First would be to try to evade towards the opponents back and then use their forward momentum to throw or trip them to the ground. Because the lead arm tends to be tucked in close to the body during a shoulder charge I don't imagine grabbing it into a lock or hold would be realistic in the short amount of time available.
  2. Similar to above except half rolling backwards into a Judo Hikikome Gaeshi, this would need very precise timing though.
  3. Lastly, which you would need more reaction time for, is to lower your body sideways and employ something similar to a soccer sliding tackle (except without the sliding) to sweep the opponents feet while positioning yourself out of the way.

A shoulder charge generally leaves the charger's groin incredibly vulnerable and ripe for exploitation.

A quick step to your attackers exposed side, followed by a hook punch or knee to the groin can an effective counter-attack.

If a counter-attack is not desired, a side step followed by an ankle trip will often land them on the ground, which may give you an opportunity to evade.


From the perspective of my current style, Capoeira, this is typically either an entrance into tesoura, or an attempt to push you back to get the distance for one of the straight kicks (with the added benefit that the reflex for a lot of people when pushed back is to surge back forwards, which throws them into your kick). The preliminary defense is to not be there, typically by stepping to the outside and shoving their shoulder away from you. If you can't evade, the next best movement is usually to try to get above the charge so that your weight is bearing down on them, forcing them to work harder, and to try to "float" over the push so that you're not off-balance when you land.

If you can't do that, and you're knocked off balance, the general idea is to fall on your own terms as much as you can, and it's largely the usual advice of making sure you don't try to catch yourself on your fingers, no straight arms, and the like. Because of how Capoeira is "scored" (we don't have unified sporting rules across the style, but people will judge you), you'll want to avoid letting your torso, buttocks, or knees touch the ground, and if you are able to land gracefully and immediately transition into movement, people might not even consider you as having been taken down. For many people, being able to redirect the falling movement into a cartwheel or other floreio is even better than being forced to a ground position, which might further limit your movement, and has a stronger feeling that you've been knocked down.

As to how this applies to self-defense (sorry, kind of got down in the weeds), the key takeaways is that you want to evade, probably to the outside, and redirect the movement. If you can't evade, try to keep control and avoid getting knocked to the ground. If you can't avoid getting knocked to the ground, control your fall and try to immediately transition into movement. You'll probably want something that gets you to your feet quickly in case your attacker has some buddies around, or decides to start dropping chairs on you. Turtling on the ground works alright works alright with a single attacker who's committed to getting in close to you, but can leave you vulnerable with multiple attackers, or with someone willing to hit from a distance.

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