Striking vs Grappling: Which is BETTER When Trapped? | HOW to FIGHT

The problem

Imagine you’re in an enclosed space, a lift for example, with somebody and they attack you. The attacker is likely to start either pushing you, punching & kicking you, or wrestling you. Probably a mixture of all three. How would you defend yourself in this close-quarters situation, while trapped?

The solution

What you most certainly don’t want is to now fight with them for an indefinite amount of time, trading punches and burning energy, and increasing your chances of suffering serious injury. You want to finish the fight as soon as possible. This means incapacitating the attacker, knocking them out or ideally choking them out to unconsciousness.



One of the most effective chokes available is the Rear Naked Choke. Most people are familiar with this one; it is done from behind the person with an arm around their neck and can take place either on the ground or from a standing position. In a self-defence scenario, we would always opt for the standing option when it’s available. The choke works by squeezing the major blood vessels in the neck shut which stops oxygen getting to the brain, thus causing the person to fall unconscious.

Now, how do you get behind the attacker?!

Whether the attacker is pushing, punching or grabbing you, you can take advantage of the close-quarters range of the fight to move around him, using some basic ideas from grappling.

Your first option is to ARM DRAG your attacker when they offer an arm forward to grab you. A classic arm-drag involves taking hold of their arm from the inside, and stepping-through to their outside to get to their back.

Your second option is to SLIP UNDER the attacker’s arms as they punch, ensuring you keep your hands up to defend your head, to close the distance and again step-through around to their back.

See both of these techniques demonstrated in our video, below.

The Choke

The Rear Naked Choke is one of the most effective chokes out there, but there are some key points you need to learn to ensure you get it right when it counts.

  1. Run your hand down the neck, from the back to the front. This ensures you’re really cutting underneath the jaw and making contact with the neck itself. Your hand must be flat to do this- not a fist.
  2. Line up the point of your elbow with their windpipe. This will help you apply the submission as a blood choke rather than just a wind-pipe choke. Wrap your arm around the other side of the neck.
  3. Now, the arm you wrapped the neck with will grab onto your other bicep, which in turn must now flex get your other hand to the back of the person’s head. Here, remember to make your palm as flat as possible and “cut in” from the top to the back of their head.
  4. Place your head behind the attacker’s head to hide your hands and prevent him from peeling them off.
  5. FINISH the choke by squeezing your elbows together and up. When the attacker is unconscious, you can now escape.




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