Why Do They Still Teach Wrist Grab Defense?

A common question I hear is why do traditional martial arts schools teach wrist grab defenses?

Is there some epidemic of bad guys running up and grabbing people by the wrist?

Is there any value at all in modern self defense to learning wrist grabs?

The answer is a resounding YES. Here’s why: if I’m attacked and attempt to deploy a defensive tool (knife, gun, flashlight), what is the very first thing my attacker is going to do?


It may be a same-side wrist grab, a cross-grab, two-on-one…. It’s going to be something to attempt to stop my deployment of the tool.

Where students go wrong is on ALWAYS practicing them the way that they are taught in traditional schools. They are taught with two students facing each other from a ready stance and they follow a pre-set pattern where one side grabs, then the other defends.

Learning that way has VALUE. It’s a standardized way to learn the mechanics of a technique, and develop muscle memory. Once you have enough repetitions in that way (at least 100… Yes… 100), then you can move to more realistic training.

Both partners should start from a realistic stance, such as a bladed defensive posture. There should be no forewarning, just a sudden grab of the wrist and an IMMEDIATE defense, without worrying about stances. Yes, hip and shoulder twist matter, but stance doesn’t in the real world.

Once you’ve practiced it empty handed, move on to a training knife or a training gun, practicing to execute wrist grab defenses while retaining an object in the seized hand. Go ahead and do a few reps using your tactical flashlight.

Obviously, in this training, any wrist grab defense that involves a hold with the seized hand can’t be used, but throws and holds using the free hand can.

This will get you to appreciate that there is indeed a real world value to wrist grab defenses, and hopefully better prepare you to face evil in the real world.


Published by JD

I am the author of the Tactical Wisdom Series. I am a personal protection specialist and a veteran of the US Marine Corps. I conduct preparedness and self-defense training.

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