It is clear that long hair can be a hazard to a defender in a 'streetfight' scenario where combat breaks out and you need to defend yourself suddenly and unexpectedly. Hair can get in your eyes and, much more severe, it can be pulled and used as a weapon against you. In sparring that simulates streetfighting it is clear that having hair long enough to grab can be a significant vulnerability.

What can one do to minimize harm from having long hair? ...aside from cutting it during times of peace, that is. Protecting it, as you would protect your face and head in general, is one obvious answer. Is there anything else that can be done, in advance or during combat, to keep it from being used against you?

Note that this is not a duplicate of What are good solutions for MMA training with half long hair? because that question focused on MMA training and matches whereas this question focuses on general self-defense in unideal, unplanned conditions.

  • Hmmm ... after looking at the answers below, ans seeingthem in practice in my dojo, I'd suggest "Hea katto no jutsu" (Japanese: ヘアカット の じゅつ) is the only surefire way of minimizing harm from having long hair in combat.
    – pojo-guy
    Apr 13, 2017 at 4:36
  • @pojo-guy what does "Hea katto no jutsu" mean?
    – cr0
    Mar 30, 2018 at 21:01
  • Martial arts joke - the fighting art of cutting hair
    – pojo-guy
    Mar 30, 2018 at 22:39

6 Answers 6


My dojo teaches a few techniques against hair grabs. First if your hair is being pulled put your hand over theirs and clamp it down. Then, twist your body stepping away from the thumb. This should turn the hand over. Finally push the arm away keeping the twist.

If we are talking about shoulder or longer length hair and it is being grabbed far from the scalp this is different. Most cloathing grab techniques and many judo moves can be adapted to deal with this though.


I have seen it braided and then folded up on the head or wrapped around the head and pinned down. This keeps the flopping and easy grabbing out of the way. If someone fingers the head to grab, it's going to happen anyway regardless. I have seen the above and a fitting hat, but I'm not sure the hat did anything more than strapping it down.

Ultimately I think the best solution is to practice avoidance of hair pulls. If you practice and train in a way that keeps the hair away while doing the martial art then it will be much harder in a street fight as you will naturally keep it away with movements. How best to do that I'm not sure, but I think there has to be some ways to practice that. If not try the strapping down part at a minimum. I have seen "going with the pulls" and striking in the movement...that may be the best path as it keeps the momentum flowing with the pull and then breaks the hold.

Youtube has some stuff, try browsing some of that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9aw1bQjG9v4 If your going to have hair you got to defend it like everything else on your person.

You can also braid spikes into your hair. This will deter most hair grabs...although I'm not sure that it would be advisable in most places due to appearing as having an active weapon and not being allowed in certain places...

  • Last paragraph: The little I know about the law points to that advise being utterly stupid behaviour which will make you go to jail without passing Go… Apr 4, 2017 at 7:56
  • I would think it likely as well, not to mention I figure the person would stab themselves many times before they ran into a situation where it would be a good defense...I have seen wooden chopstick like things though that would look more decoration, but still not fun to grab...not sure what those are exactly though...
    – mutt
    Apr 4, 2017 at 14:12

Aikido has a fair few techniques based of grabbing the hair. Most involve supinating, pronating, and hyper-flexing wrist locks while pinning the attacker hand. In additions, there are quiet a few collar grabs that can be easily modified to work with hair grabs.

Hair grab 1 Hair grab 2

The above shows a little of what I am driving at. In the first photo, there is a grab to the front of the hair. In the second, uke pins the attacker's hand and applies a pronating wrist lock with their head to the attacker's hand.

Links with a (⚠) suffix contain very graphic content!

However, in modern combat, the enemy has no interest whatsoever in your hair: They will shoot you (⚠), snipe you, and blow you up. Street fighters will seek to kill you (⚠) either with explosives, guns, knives, or run you over with a vehicle. Even historically, the Roman cut legionnaire's hair for hygiene and group bounding, not tactical advantage. Spartans on the other hand, all had long and flowing hair.


If you are concentrating on my hair and I am concentrating on your throat, I will tend to win.

Long hair sounds like a great misdirection technique against the poorly educated.


In self-defense, there are some tecnhiques against all kind of grabs, even hair grabs.

Specially for women (for long hair men too), they may be practiced if you want to defend against that.

  • Make the head completely bald and disguise it by wearing a wig. No need to practice martial art. Apr 3, 2017 at 22:14
  • 2
    What techniques? Apr 3, 2017 at 22:40
  • You may find on youtube videos, but I suggest you to find a dojo/gym.
    – Shura16
    Apr 4, 2017 at 12:20

Seriouly think about the question In combat or street i dont think you want to waste time protecting your hair. When you need to be protecting vital organs. the worst thing you can do is have your hair work against you in these situations.

Just cut the hair
Its a cruel world out there stay safe

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