Kenpo Budokan Karate: White Belt: Lessons: 6 – Rear Choke (Circling Wings)

English: Rear Naked Choke as demonstrated by t...
Rear Naked Choke (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Rear Choke (Circling Wings)

Whereas Parting Wings was designed to be reaction before the attacker had their hands all the way around the throat (as they were reaching), circling wings (while still designed to be reactionary), it is designed to occur after getting yourself stuck in a choke hold. In the ideal world, you’ll never have an attacker behind you, and if you do, you’ll have a lot of foresight to prevent you from getting into a situation where someone is behind you choking you.

With all the self defense techniques we teach here, the key is reaction. The faster you can react, the better off you will be in the situation. As soon as you feel the attacker starting to grab you, you should start reacting. The issue at point here is that as the attacker continues their hold on you two things start to happen – in a choke situation, the blood flow starts to lessen, and therefore your abilities start to drastically reduce – the second thing is that as the attacker continues to hold, they will adjust their grip to lock in the hold, increasing the difficulty for you to get out of the situation.

A drill to work on to see this difference is have your partner come up behind you and start the choking motion. Instead of squeezing or choking, have them just rest their hands on your shoulders. Step forward to do the circling wings and notice that their hand just come off, no need to do anything else. Next, have your partner grab you and start squeezing, make sure they have a solid grip on you and have them try locking their fingers together as well. Do the same motion, stepping forward, and notice that they are still holding onto you. Go through the motion and notice that it is much harder to trap their arms during the initial circle then the first scenario.

In a self defense situation, the attacker who is holding onto you is going to take some time to get into a finalized hold, and it is during this small initial window, that you need to react and get out of the situation.


  1. Step forward with your left foot, to around 1:30
  2. With your right arm perform an elbow to the person’s face as you come around trapping their arms under your arm.
  3. Execute a left handed spear to the eyes or palm to the face.
  4. Using your left hand, check their arms down as you drive your right elbow upwards (to their jaw or their solar plexus – wherever you have an easy target).
  5. Shift backwards away from the attacker and drive a hammer fist with your right hand to their groin
  6. Cover out


Just like parting wings, this all comes down to distance. Depending on your size and the size of your attacker, the targets you are looking to strike against are different. The end result is that you want to get their hands from around your neck and you move to escape to safety. By and large, the attacker should be close enough for you to drive a spear hand or palm to their face, if not, attack their lower body with a punch. The rising elbow is going to be the most dynamic one, as you will need to adjust your targets based on your sizing against your attacker. If they are much taller than you, drive the elbow upwards to their solar plexus, don’t try and jump/reach their face if it’s not comfortable. One of the key points of kenpo is that you want to attack the best targets of opportunities. If you go through the movement, and they start defending against it, your motions will have to be adjusted to compensate. Just because you can’t hit them with the elbow, don’t stop, waver around, and try to hit them with a useless elbow, move into the next movement, the motion of raising the elbow upwards, should at least cause them to flinch upwards, allowing you better exposure to their groin or bladder.

The trick with this movement is your act of turning your body is usually sufficient to get yourself out of the grip, but you need to be careful with the movement as you may wind up with the attacker transitioning into a front choke. This is why you are using your right arm to elbow trap their arms and prevent them from executing this transition.

Some considerations

Groin shots are one of the most common self-defense efforts that are taught across styles. The problem is that most people, especially men, are highly aware of their nether regions and are highly susceptible to flinching and over compensating to block strikes in that general direction. In order to be successful you will need to either use the concept of alternating zones, or understanding the beautiful parts of the human anatomy that allow you to strike in general areas that gives the same sort of shock and reaction as a direct shot to the groin. There is a very large nerve running up the inner leg, so any strike happening to the inner thigh will have the same painful reaction as getting struck directly in the groin. Additionally, getting hit in the bladder is also quite painful as the muscles of the lower abdomen are much thinner and therefore, the vibrations on the bladder that much more potent.

The other thing to pay attention with this move is the circular movements that are used. Whereas parting wings is very linear, circling wings (hence the name), follows a flowing circle pattern. When doing the movement focus just on the right arm. It comes up and around to capture the attacker’s arms, then bounces up into an elbow strike, following through it and around to drop down driving home the hammer fist to the opponent’s groin area. If are thinking ahead, what do you think the next motion of the extended self defense movement be (thinking of this circular pattern)?

Things to Work On

As with all techniques you should be focusing on performing the technique in various modes. By yourself, with a partner, slow tension, and the opposite side. Try switching things up, get some more dynamic motion into your drills, instead of just standing there and having the attacker grab you, try having the attacker push and pull you. Make sure your partner does not just let go because it’s expected, but let go because they are forced to do so, see if they can try and hold on and turn the rear choke into a front choke.

Once you feel comfortable enough with the movements, try practicing blindfolded – having the attacker grab you in various techniques, so you will need to work on both defense, reaction, and ability to pull out the moves from your tool bag.

Concluding Thoughts

Two moves down, 46 to go! Continue working on the movements until you feel very comfortable with them, and can easily perform them with your partner. Remember, you need to be practicing these movements with a partner in order to get the most out of your training sessions. Yes they techniques need to be practiced solo first, but you should start working with a partner ASAP so you can start to feel and see what works vs. what does not work.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.