Escaping a Bear Hug Using Simple Self-Defense

The bear hug technique is extremely dangerous simply because it’s so widely used by attackers everywhere.


It assumes they grab you from behind when you least expect it, with minimal chance of you seeing them. This gives your attacker the element of surprise.

Now… you’ve probably seen plenty of “bear hugs” in grade school when you would fight with your classmates, remember?

I don’t care whether back then you were giving bear hugs… or you were getting them. What I do care about is that you know exactly what to do when someone uses the bear hug technique to attack you.

The biggest problem with bear hugs is that you probably won’t be able to reach for your weapon if you have one. You first have to find means of escaping the bear hug.

There are several ways to deal with this… quite a few, actually.

Method #1 is Called “The Shoulder Throw”

and it works like this:

Step #1 Lower yourself toward the ground and at the same time, spread your legs a little bit. This will give you better balance.

Step #2 Thrust your elbows up to release some of the pressure of the bear hug.

Step #3 Grab one of your attacker’s hands with your opposite hand.

Step #4 Drag your opponent onto your back and throw him over.

That’s it! Now you’re free to run away or even attack him to make sure he doesn’t just get up and follow you.

Method #2: The Stomp

Step #1 Grab your opponent’s forearms with both your hands.

Step #2 Drop your weight down making sure you keep your feet together.

Step #3 Step one one of his feet. Do not try to mix steps 2 and 3 together as you will quickly lose balance.

Method #3: Side-Stepping

This method is a little bit more complicated but not terribly difficult.

Step #1 is to raise his hands with yours. Keep your elbows bent at a 90 degree angle (see second video from below) with your palms straight up. This won’t break you free, of course, but it will allow you some freedom of movement.

Step #2 is to pull one of your feet up and step to the side until your foot is actually behind his opposing foot.

Step #3 is to grab his pants or jeans with the same hand corresponding to the leg you’ve pulled back.

Step #4 Lift the same leg off the ground and bend it so that your knee hits him in his knee and you both fall to the ground. Both your weight and the fact that you’re pulling him with one of your arms is going to make him fall rather easily.

Step #5 Once you’re down, you can start hitting him with your elbow until he releases you and you can start running.

Here’s a detailed video of this move, just skip over to minute 1′ 35″:

Self Defense: Bear Hug Escape

And here’s another one just to see the same move performed by someone else: Sample Technique - Standing Rear Bear Hug Escape

Do these methods work with any sized attacker? Yes, they do. In fact, they work even with someone who’s way taller than you because in order for them to grab you from behind, they need to lower themselves until their shoulders and yours are at the same level.

Does the Rear Head Butt Work?

That’s a good question. The “rear head butt” is nothing more than hitting your opponent right in the nose or his eye with your head.

When someone gives you a bear hug, the first impulse is to give him a nice blow in the nose with the back of your head. However, that doesn’t always work and if you don’t hit him with full force, the damage might not be enough for him to let you go. Even if you do hit him hard, there’s still a chance he’ll keep you locked in.

You’re better off learning the methods above rather than relying solely on this one.

What If Nothing Works and He’s Trying to Move You Away?

If he’s trying to move you to another location (such as a darker place in the alley, your car, etc.), you need to make it as hard as possible for him to move you around. Any of the following will work:

  • continously squatting so that you lower your center of gravity and make it harder for him to move you
  • wiggle your shoulders in any direction (be as unpredictable as you can)
  • the rear head butt (which we just talked about – could work if all else fails)
  • the shin kick (you just kick your opponent with one of your heels in the shin; can be very damaging if you’re woman wearing high-heels)
  • the backward knee hit (just try to hit his knee repeatedly with one of your feet)
  • kicking him in the groin with your heel
  • and all the other methods and the kicks previously discussed. Try them randomly. You never know which of them works

Let me put it like this, if a tiny dog or a cat can escape the hands of a human by using its paws or biting, you too can escape if you’re motivated enough to fight for your life. The one thing you don’t want to do is to try to break free by getting his hands to open up – that just won’t work and you’ll only be wasting a lot of energy trying.

That’s a lot of different ways to deal with a bear hug, right? All you need to do now is practice them with a partner so you don’t panic and/or freeze when this happens in real life. Good luck!

1 thought on “Escaping a Bear Hug Using Simple Self-Defense”

  1. The one thing to start with is using the back of your head and hit them in the face. if you get the nose it is pane full. then do the drop to the ground but reach through your legs and grab their leg and pull. this will send them to the ground and with you on your feet can put some distance between yourself and attacker.—-Grampa

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