Kenpo Budokan Karate: White Belt: Lessons: 7 – Single/Double Lapel Grab (Lone / Twin Kimono)

Japanese woman in a wedding kimono.
Japanese woman in a wedding kimono. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Single/Double Lapel Grab (Lone / Twin Kimono)

These two moves are for when someone is grabbing your shirt, usually in a pretty threatening maneuver. Since both techniques are relatively the same, we are lumping them both together here for practical purposes. Just as with the other material, the key here is reaction. If you let your attacker grab and solidify their hold, it becomes much harder to escape. One of the key points of this maneuver is the introduction of the Kenpo Shock and Awe concepts.

The move originally gets its name from the Japanese Kimono. Most karate Gis have lapels which are easily grabbed during practice, but most individuals aren’t walking around on the street with a karate Gi. You might be wearing a jacket, or sports coat, and the attacker comes up to you and grabs with either one or both hands. Again, situational awareness should be emphasized so that you don’t wind up in a situation where someone is randomly coming up to you and grabbing your coat.

Another concept with these grabs, is that it introduces the concept of reciprocity. If I’ve committed to grabbing you, and somehow succeed in grabbing you, I’ve lost a great deal of control over the situation, and the defender has a huge advantage here. As an exercise to illustrate, get with your partner and grab their wrist. Without them trying to get out of the move, have them just walk around. What happens? More than likely you are being pulled around with them – even though you still have a strong hold on them, they are controlling your motions. So in these instances, who is really in control?

Self-Defense Tenet #1: Don’t grab.

When you end up grabbing someone, unless you have them in a joint lock or other controlling position, the “grabbed” shares 50% of the control of the situation. Because you want to be in complete control of the situation, we stress that you should limit your grabs of your attacker as much as possible (and when you do, limit them to a controlling position rather than a simple grab). Any grabs you do, should only be transitory as part of a series of movements, and not considered the ultimate goal.



  1. Step back with your left leg into a horse stance, as you do so use your left hand to grab the attacker’s hand(s), pinning them to your body.
  2. Execute an upward break with the right arm against the attacker’s arm(s) to shock them in order to loosen their grip and send them off balance.
  3. Execute a right outward back fist to the opponent’s stomach or groin (target of opportunity).
  4. Execute a right inward back knuckle rake against the opponent’s face (target of opportunity).
  5. Break downward with the right arm as you knock the attackers hands off of you.
  6. Execute a right outward chop to the attacker’s throat (target of opportunity).
  7. Cover outwards


As discussed in the introduction, this technique introduces you to both the rule of kenpo shock and awe, and reciprocity. When you are stepping back, you are lowering your center of gravity and the complete movement should be enough to pull your attacker off balance. At the same, time you are striking to loosen their grip on you. All of the strikes should be aimed at the target of opportunity that presents itself to you, and are designed stun and shock the attacker in order to allow you to successfully escape. Just as in the circling wings, you shouldn’t try and strike only the “named” targets above, but rather understand that the strikes are there to add an additional level of efficiency and effectiveness to the move. If you can reach the face for the back knuckle rake, then strike the side of the throat, or the chest. While not as effective as a strike to the face, it still serves its purpose of getting the individual’s grip loosened enough that you can break out by striking down on their arms.

The final strike to the throat is designed to stun the attacker, enabling you to prepare for future encounter, or escape fully to safety. At this level, this move is not considered in its terminal form, and as such, the attacker is most likely not incapacitated. This is why the need to cover out and prepare for future attacks, or better yet, get yourself to safety and out of the situation.

Things to Work On

So what happens when you are attacked by the 7’1″ 650lb bodybuilder and can’t get out of the grip? Can you kick them in the groin? Can you spit in their face? Can you bite them? Lots of different things you can do to the attacker at this juncture to get them to loosen their grip and possibly release you so you can get to safety.

Concluding Thoughts

Make sure you are working this with a partner and covering both sides, left, right and both hands so you get a full coverage of the technique. Lone Kimono is considered one of the key techniques within Kenpo, so proper execution and practice really needs to occur. Slow tension is also a good practice to start incorporating into the practice sessions.

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