A real experience:

Well about a year ago I got in fight with a bullying thug in street, and we tackled each other. He was way bigger than I am, though we pushed each other locked-arm swinging around for some time, and soon he got my head in a lock with his arm and tried to pull me around. Despite my resistance, he succeeded and I lost my balance, being pushed to the ground with my feet bent to the ground due to extreme pressure he was putting on me. I tried to catch his legs but he was deliberately standing away, so I could not reach them. He kept punching on the side of my head with hammer fist, I was left helpless, if people were not coming around, I do not know what would happen.

Although the best solution might be not to get in fight in the first place, especially when opponent is stronger, in case it happens how should one release oneself or counteract when put in such a situation locked especially on the head in a lower position?

Well I guess I finally got the technical name for this situation: a front headlock as shown in this YouTube video and picture below. I hope it makes clear the situation I described above. I had a similar situation:
enter image description here

  • 2
    I don't think is possible teach it in a forum.
    – AFetter
    Jun 16, 2016 at 23:21
  • I'm still not clear what position is described here. Jun 17, 2016 at 16:14
  • 1
    My personal favorite is to..."pluck the fruit growing from the fork of the tree" when in that position. Jun 23, 2016 at 18:10
  • @michael do you mean reaching out to squeeze his balls? Jun 23, 2016 at 20:49
  • 1
    More of a grab, twist and pull, than a squeeze; but yeah :) Obviously this is not something to do in a non self-defense situation, but bullying was specifically mentioned so that would be my advice. a swift punch works pretty well too. Jun 25, 2016 at 0:29

4 Answers 4


Basic headlock release:

1) twist your body to get the front of your neck at the gap (if your throat is being closed by the arm this is top priority).

2) With the arm that is closest to the attacker - do a front crawl motion (bring the arm between you and the attacker low to get the arm behind you both).

3) Bring the arm up and between yours and the attackers heads.

4) Push your hand upwards (in a knife hand ideally) into the attackers nose.

NOTE this is a basic technique we teach - mainly to allow children to get out of grabs in a playground setting without hurting the other child to avoid further repercussions.

I would adapt this slightly for a real life situation as described. Below are little additions to help protect you and increase the likelihood of escape.

Guard - id place the other hand infront of my face for a bit of protection.

Movement in a headlock your centre of gravity will be generally lower than theirs. Keep pushing in different directions to keep them adjusting and not able to focus fully on hurting you.

Attack your feet and knees should be free to attack the legs of your attacker. As with the movement above will be a distraction to the attacker helping with the defence. There are many pressure points in the legs which may be used to your advantage (e.g. back of the knees has many)

WARNING The basic technique will work in class. It may be required to add the extras in with a less willing "partner".

  • Thank you for answering. Yet, in the situation I talked about my legs were bent and kept firmly to the ground, so I could not move them at all. So I think I should focus on the hand techniques part or probably moving my turning or swinging my upper body part. Jun 3, 2016 at 18:13
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    Doing the basic release from this position is still effective - depending on the attackers ability to adjust they will either be forced to let go and move back or fall over backwards. This has always been one of my favourite demonstration techniques because it works regardless of the opponents size (and I am fairly small so having much larger partners is common).
    – Collett89
    Jun 6, 2016 at 11:58

A lot depends on the exact circumstances of the situation. How unevenly matched are the combatants in size and strength? What are the stakes (pain, humiliation, injury, death)? What are you prepared to do to remedy the situation?

Some things are pretty straight forward.

Make certain your airway and blood-flow is clear. If they aren't, you can thrash and twist your body while pulling at the restraining arm to loosen the choke and give you room to breath. Once you can find room to, drop your chin to your chest to prevent the assailant from reestablishing the choke.

If you can reach one of your assailant's hands you can peel his grip open and/or use a finger lock (or break) to forcefully disengage their grasp.

If you can reach your assailant's face or neck you can gouge an eye or apply pressure to the suprasternal/jugular notch (these are vulnerable targets no matter how muscular an opponent is). Keep in mind these are targets which could maim or kill someone if too much force is applied. The goal should be preserving your safety through measured application of force, and not causing needless suffering.

If the assailant's mass isn't overwhelmingly more than your own, you can use your heels to hammer at the side of their knees or instep of their feet. You can also drive with your legs toward the assailant's body to unbalance them and/or hook one of their legs with your own to sweep them. Most of the time a falling assailant will disengage to try and break their own fall.

If life and limb are on the line, use every tool at your disposal to defend yourself. This includes your teeth. Most people are not psychologically prepared to be attacked savagely by a human bite, but they are an excellent weapon of last resort. As omnivores, our teeth are pretty good at tearing flesh. If it ever comes to using one's teeth in self-defense it is important that you fully commit to the action. Using one's teeth in this manner is almost certainly going to be considered an escalation in violence, and if an assailant wasn't trying to seriously harm or kill you before they may consider doing so after. If you are going to bite someone in defense then you need to do so effectively. The bite target should be fleshy enough to get ahold of with your canine teeth/cuspids. A restraining forearm is a good example. Don't bite down straight on, but do so with the front corner of the mouth placing a set of cuspids as deeply into the assailant's flesh as possible. While maintaining strong bite pressure, thrash from side to side as hard as possible to try and tear the soft tissues. Doing so will be incredibly painful and psychologically traumatizing to the recipient of the bite. Reapply bite and repeat as necessary until the assailant is subdued and/or you can flee for your own safety.

There are of course many, many other techniques one can use to get out of a choke or headlock, but a lot of them require some degree of specific technical training.


When the opponent does a head lock there is usually a small gap between his arm and your head. If none try to make one. The armpit can be easily hit through this gap. Just make a so called Ippon ken with your fist and hit the armpit nerve center which should make the opponent release his hand. This technique was successfully performed by me in real situation.


Unlucky to be in a situation like that. There are a couple ways to get out of this that have not been mentioned, but are damaging to your opponent.

Based on the "I do not know what would happen" part there is a serious risk to your health/life...

The first one is to use your hand to break his little finger. Isolate the finger using your hand and use your thumb to stop it bending and pull. This should break the hold then you can escape.

The second one - you cannot reach the legs but can you reach the crotch? If you can grab, squeeze and twist. This is to get your assailant to release, but it may make them angrier...

If you are on your knees and cannot reach most of them, you can only attack what you can reach. There are pressure points etc. But not worth trying unless you are going to train up.

When you are out of the hold (based upon them getting you into the position before) they have a chance to get you back into the lock. At this point you need to have learned some stand-up self-defence techniques (but you will be out of the hold as per your question).

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