How to Escape From a Rear Bear Hug
In this video, I wanted to cover some of the reasons a bear hug is dangerous. First of all, these can come from all different angles and different heights. If you happen to be grabbed low around your waist then it is obvious the person wishes to lift you. If you are grabbed high around the chest the person can either lift and sweep your feet, or, hold you as their friends do what they want. I personally compartmentalize this type of attack as a “means to an end” attack. Meaning, the end goal of the person is not to just give you a big hug. They grab you tightly to move you, lift you, hold you still, etc. It is a means by which they try to control you to accomplish their actual goal.
In the video, we chose to demonstrate we approached from behind, and the bear hug wrapped around the chest. In this situation, the first thing you want to do is simultaneously drop your center of gravity making you harder to move and trap their hands/forearms in place. The dropping of your center of gravity needs to be trained into instinct. Anytime something blitzes like that the first thing you want to do is get heavy. Otherwise, you fall, or you get lifted. You trap their arms in place by hooking them and dropping your elbows almost like you’re doing a chin up. The reason for this is because as you start to move, or they start to move you their arms can slide up over your shoulders into a rear naked choke which is a far worse problem than a bear hug. So we are going to try and prevent that ASAP.
Once you have trapped the arms and dropped your center of gravity it is important to not get tunnel vision and fixate on the one holding you as another person can be moving in to strike or stab you as you’re being held. If you see someone you can use your free legs to kick with. The kick won’t afford you all the time in the world to move through the defense. So have it squared away in your mind that you throw the kick and roll out quickly. Do not throw the kick and wait to see if it worked according to the way you wanted it to. Just kick hard, make sure you connect, which gets you a window of opportunity and roll out.
How do you “roll out?” You want to roll toward your opponent UNDER their armpit. So for the sake of this blog let’s assume we are rolling to our left shoulder which takes us under their right armpit. The steps would look like this:
- Drop & trap arms.
- Kick (optional)
- Small step forward with your right foot, lift and step your left foot diagonally backward past their right leg.
To Sum it Up
There are nuances in class that we discuss extra. But that is the gist of the steps. I grew up with friends who would use bear hugs to create a “shock and awe” effect. They would crash into you, trip you up and then end in a ground and pound. The point is there are many ways to use a bear hug. Just note it is a means to an end and not the end itself. So if there are only two things you can learn from them here they are:
- Get your feet secured under you.
- Counter attack to the head and groin.