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Wrist Grabs--More Common And More dangerous than you may think!

Wrist Grabs--More Common And More dangerous than you may think!


When an attacker grabs you, it creates a situation that is dangerous on so many levels.  Grabs can quickly escalate to a fight, including the use of weapons.  Once grabbed, the victim is severely and instantly limited in their ability to escape or defend.  

All grabs are dangerous due to all the unknowns that may follow, meaning what might come next in the form of a follow-up attack. During any grabbing assault, such as common wrist grabs, your ability to control your  distance and position is taken away from you by your attacker. 

In healthcare,  personal space is routinely sacrificed to the patient's need for privacy and treatment. To make matters worse, safe spaces are at a premium in the healthcare environment. Typically, hallways and waiting rooms are crowded, and treatment rooms are small and cluttered.

As always, it's best to avoid an assault. Before they grab you, assailants will often display basic threat indicators (e.g.,  compromising distance, positioning, tone of voice, word choice, hand placement, and eye focus) and/ or gateway behaviors (e.g., shouting, name-calling, swearing, and threatening). Therefore, it is very important that we look and listen for signs that violence may be imminent and get the right support for our safety, before continuing treatment, 

The purpose of the Escape from Rear Wrist Grabs tactic is to avoid injury and escape from the attack. When you are grabbed, you are generally only two feet away or less. You could be seated, standing, or in almost any position when the attack occurs. It can come from the front, the side, or the rear..

When providing treatment, the best operational position for you to be in is the Prepared Stance, as someone who grabs you can also push you, pull you, or turn/twist you around. So if you are able to stand, you should. 

  1. Assume and maintain a Prepared Stance, during the initial contact.  

  2. As soon as you are grabbed, quickly step forward, flex your wrist/s, rotating your thumb/s to the 12:00 o'clock position. 

  3. Drop and bring your forward elbow close to your chest. Clap and join your hands at eye level so that you are looking under your hands. This is the Apex Defense Position

  4. Then, quickly spin to get behind the assailant. Spin opposite of their free hand if they are only grabbing one of your hands/wrists. In other words, if they grab you with the right hand you are spinning to your right, away from their left hand. 

If they grab your right or left hand with both of their hands or they grab both of your hands, you apply the Apex Defense Position, and turn/spin in whichever direction you feel comfortable to escape to. While spinning, Sound Alert | Create Alarm and then exit the area.

Watch this video to see Escape from Rear Wrist Grabs in action:

HubSpot Video



Dave Young

Dave Young / About Author

Dave served as law enforcement officer in Florida and in the Marines as a gate sentry, patrol officer, watch commander, investigator, Special Reaction Team (SRT) member, leader and commander. He now serves as a defensive tactics consultant for numerous police and correctional agencies. Dave also is an industry leader in testing public safety equipment and non-lethal weaponry. He applied all of this expertise as host of “Crash Test Human,” a TV series for National Geographic in which he tested emergency scenarios such as being trapped inside a water-submerged car.