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Simple Headlock & Full Nelson Escapes

Easily Break Free

There are some very simple ways to get out of headlocks and full nelsons. The key to all of these self-defense techniques is not focusing on the headlock itself. What you really want to do is attack another part of your attacker’s body, which will either make them unstable (like a strike to the back of the knee), forcing them to release you in order to keep their balance, or distract them with so much pain that they are no longer willing to keep you in the hold.

Escaping a Front Headlock

From the front headlock, all you need to do is collapse his leg by striking the soft part on the back of his knee while also striking his groin with a ridge hand. The combination of these two self-defense moves will simultaneously destabilize him and cause a lot of pain to sensitive areas.

Because of the amount of pain being inflicted to these two very vulnerable spots, this combination of self-defense moves will cause the attacker to almost always release you.

The key to success is escalating the violence and becoming the attacker yourself. The average attacker who puts you into a headlock expects you to try to break free. He is not expecting you to ignore the hold and viciously attack him.

Escaping a Rear Headlock

From a rear headlock you still strike the same targets, but with a different technique. Instead of using your hand, you drive your own knee into the back of his. The groin strike is essentially the same, but from a different angle.

Despite breaking the rule about not attacking the hold itself, the knuckle strike is also an effective self-defense move. It is effective because you are striking the pain-rich area between your attacker’s knuckles and not trying to muscle your way out of the hold (which is a big no no).

See for yourself. Take the knuckles of one hand and drive them in between the knuckles of your other hand. As you can see this is a pretty sensitive area even with the small amount of pressure you used on yourself.

How To Pick Locks. (Who Needs Keys?)

You may find this shocking, but picking open a standard "tumbler" lock, (like the one on your front door), is pretty damn easy when you know how it's done.

And in a "meltdown" survival situation, (once the smash-n-grab crowd has stolen everything not tied-down), the food and water and secure shelter will all be behind locked doors, (which explains why Special Forces are often trained in lock picking... and why they carry a set of lock pics with them).

It's a lot of fun learning this skill, (it doesn't take long)... and kinda nice to help out that buddy locked out of his house after the wife discovered what really happened on that "no money down" real estate seminar in Vegas.

>> Check Out "Lock Picking Kit" Here. <<

Escaping a Full Nelson

Lastly, let’s cover defending against a full nelson. This is another very simple technique which follows the rules we established earlier and doesn’t attack the hold itself.

Once you are in the full nelson, simply stomp on the top of your attacker’s foot. This can cause excruciating pain and break the small bones in his feet, especially if you are wearing work boots or other sturdy shoes with a small heel. You can also drive the edge of the heel of your boot in between the bones of his feet, which is incredibly painful.

If for some reason the foot stomping doesn’t work (he may be wearing very sturdy boots also), your next move is to reach back and grab a fist full of his hair and pull your arm forward. He will either lose a lot of hair, or (more likely) release the hold and rotate his body towards your motion. At that point you can take him to the ground.

Wrapping Up

These self-defense techniques are so effective because of their extreme simplicity. They all rely on gross motor skills which are quick to learn, easy to remember, and simple to use. You won’t forget these in the heat of the moment, and unlike complex joint locks, these self-defense moves can become instinctual after only a few hours of practice.

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149 thoughts on “Simple Headlock & Full Nelson Escapes”

  1. Been a priest all my life and never thought this would be ncessary . Now as an elderly citizen Isee it is .we live in disrespectful and increasingly violent world .

  2. I was told once “the bigger they are, the harder the fall” but it depends which way i fall. If i fall away from you no problem but if i fall on top of you hang it up,because i learned to fight on the streets and it taught me to hit and grab anything and everything that i can get my hands on. I wont fight to win i fight to survive. The Corps taught me that.

  3. In combat I knee or uppercut coccyx, stun to snap, as appropriate, and bite skin been ribs and hip using canines only: bite, lock, rip. At same time, grab a finger of hand on arm around neck and snap and pull, then struggle at you own speed with that complex aikido wristlock: just pull it under your outside arm with both hands and snap the elbow against your shoulder or rib cage while turning toward outside arm until he’s down, then grab an ankle with both hands, twisting with your wrists locked to your hips til ankle snaps. ALWAYS remember to check opponent and area for weapons, time permiting, to avoid exit injury.

  4. For the headlocks great moves!!! But for the Full Nelson what if he has no hair… could you show me another movie that Full Nelson if there is no hair?

  5. This may sound funny, but it works. Drive one of your feet onto one of your attacker’s. Yes you’ll be off-balance for a second, however broken toes disable a 300 pounder as fast as a sledge hammer would. I’ve been there, it works. If you’re in a wheelchair, you have a ready made weapon. S/he will have to reach down, a position he doesn’t want to be in because you are the alpha then. Simply have confidence in yourself.

  6. For Juan full nelson kick hard down on top of knee or down the shin (front part of leg below the knee very painful…..

  7. In a full nelson just put your hands straight up and drop down and you slip right out of it. Then elbow to the groin and what ever else you want to do to the guy.

  8. During my LEO training a tall muscular student wanted to teach me a lesson and snatched me up in a full nelson that A) I couldn’t move my hands to “tap out” and B) listed me off the mats! (I was bare foot, so bare that in mind as you determine how effective me escape defense was!)

    I tried getting me arms loose. No luck! My head was bent forward far enough I couldn’t speak to concede!

    As my vision started to narrow and I knew I was headed for a blackout from oxygen deprivation, I was worried he wouldn’t recognize my loss of consciousness and release my head position before permanent damage was done!

    So as a last ditch, defensive move I raise my bare foot and swung it back forcefully, right onto his knee cap!
    He instantly released me and I instantly spun around to meet his enraged charge! He didn’t charge, he held his knee and demanded: “What the Hell?” As the instructors rushed over I was loudly explaining that he’d shut off my blood flow to my head and I had to do something!
    Everything quieted down, but I learned exactly how effective that defenses was and I am sure, so did he! (Yes, hurt my heel like hec too! However, I could still move!)

  9. Thank you so much for these good tips! I really appreciate them. They look like they are easy to do, which is good for if/when you get into this kind of a situation.

  10. Good technique I just hope that I never get put in the position to have to break out either hold but now it is nice to knpw some easy Escape Solutions thank you for the great video

  11. Great techniques. But, I’m in a wheelchair, so it would be rare for anyone to ever get me in a headlock or a full nelson. Being in a wheelchair does have its advantages, lol.

  12. I thought that was quick and clever. Dam Bob head lock out and take down awesome!!!!! Love It. Thank You Again Bob. God Bless You Man!!!!!

  13. some cool stuff, i hold a 2nd dan in kenpo and i always find new techniques interesting towatch and sometimes pick up good stuuf from others forms

  14. Enjoy your training tips. Appreciate very much. Wished would leave them up longer. Like to review them with my daughter going to college. Thanks again.