Kenpo Budokan Karate: White Belt: Lessons: 13 Chair Defense Against a Rear Choke

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Chair Defense Against a Rear Choke (十級格闘護身術)

Welcome to the first of many situational self-defense moves. This moves deals with an attacker coming up behind you while you are sitting down. The scenario is not one where you are just sitting at your office or in a classroom (most likely), but rather revolves around sitting in public areas – park bench, restaurant, train or bus, etc…

The first thing about this movement is to refer back to the situational awareness lesson where discuss the need to be aware of your surroundings and not put yourself in a situation where you need to defend yourself. When you go into a restaurant or other area, try and sit with your back against the wall with visibility to any doors (including doors and entryways leading back to the kitchen). If this is not feasible, then try sitting close to a window seat or against the wall so you can at least position yourself to prevent people from sneaking up behind you. In the situation, there will most likely be multiple attackers, the first attacker is grabbing you in the choke hold to immobilize you while the other attackers either are there to beat you up or are trying to steal your possessions. Usually these situations resolve themselves relatively quickly – grab the target, get their goods, and get out.


  1. As the attacker grabs you from the rear, use both hands to grab the attackers arm and turn your chin into their elbow.
  2. Using your body weight and leverage that the chair behind you provides, lean forward and downwards loosening the attacker’s grip.
  3. Using the chair as your physical block step off to the left then cross around to face the attacker, stepping out of the range of attack and moving yourself to safety.


The main key in this movement is reaction – you do not want the attacker to be able to lock their arms or hands together, but need to react quickly so that they are unable to complete this locking mechanism. The second key is tucking your chin into their elbow to prevent them from crushing your windpipe. The third key is getting your arms between your neck and the attacker’s arm to give you maneuverability in the technique. Finally, you will use the obstacle behind you to your advantage by leaning forward and dropping your body weight, thus causing the attacker to overextend their arms and limiting the amount of strength they have against the movement.

You will then cross outward to ensure that you are out of harms way, and since their single arm is in the way, you will use the motion in the opposite direction to escape. This movement is designed to escape the initial attack and allow you to get yourself to safety rather than being a complete movement (as expanded on in the Purple Belt). Because you are not “stopping” the attacker, but rather evading the attack, you may be required to press onward with your defense using other techniques you have learned thus far. The idea with this technique is not focused on destroying the attacker, but focuses on getting you out of the immediate harm’s way. The main emphasis needs to really be on situational awareness so that you don’t place yourself in a situation where this is likely to occur, and if you do, you take the appropriate situational awareness precautions as outlined above.

Things to Work On

Reaction timing and leverage are your two main points to focus on when practicing this movement. Have your partner come up behind you, with your eyes closed, and allow them to attack you. Let them complete the motion and lock their hands in place so you can feel the difference in the grab, as well as allow them to squeeze slightly harder so you feel how your body is going to react if you do not properly perform the movement. Next focus on getting your arms into position and turning your chin into their elbow and see how much more difficult it is for them to fully grab you at this point. In addition, see how the timing of their grab translates into how fast they can lock their arms together – giving you an idea of how fast you will need to react in order to be successfully.

Next, practice the leverage piece, using the chair as an obstacle to allow you to pull yourself out of their grasp by overextending their arms. Have them try to re-grab you or hold on to you while you overextend them and see how the difference in both hand positioning and your motion affects their reaction and ability to lock in the motion. Finally, practice the crossing outward and have your attacker continue to both try and grab you as well as re-grab towards you after you escape the move. After practicing this move enough times, start adding more dynamic levels into the practice by adding additional attackers, having the person go around the obstacle and try choking you (parting wings??), introduce a weapon into the mix, and try and simulate the encounter as realistic as you can. In addition, don’t forget to use your command voice and karate breathing during the movement so that attention can be drawn to your situation and additional help can hopefully be summoned.

Concluding Thoughts

No movement or self-defense technique is 100% effective, however, practice, practice, and more practice will increase the likelihood of you being successful in your self-defense movements. In addition, without the proper feedback and coaching, there is great risk that the movements that you are practicing are incorrect – so make sure to send in your review videos so we can help you along (or better yet go to an in-person lesson). If it hasn’t been emphasized enough – situational awareness is key (in this and all other self-defense techniques), so make sure you are not neglecting this important aspect of defense over rote memorization.

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