How do you defend against a bum-rush attack?

All of the Martial Arts threads this week got me thinking of something I’ve been meaning to ask for awhile.

How do you (or your martial art) deal with a ‘bum-rush’ attack? Y’know, someone bending over and rushing head first into you, fists flailing about. With someone starting a few paces away from you I can see how you’d have many options, including getting out of the way. But if they are only an arm’s length or so and they use it to start a fight - that’s when it gets tricky.

I’ve done a few arts and I can’t remember ever practicing this. But I have had many a drunken friend tackle me like this, and I remember thinking “I can’t hit him, he’s just foolin’” But then afterwards going “Hmmm…How would I hit him?”

I have been practicing (alone) just getting my hands out to do a double palm strike to the head as they come in while trying to center my weight downwards. I think if someone surprised me like that I’d be able to get my hands out and hit them like this in time. I’ve thought that maybe this would help push them down and give me leverage to hop out of the way. You might be able to drive them down on their face like this and hit them a few while they are on their stomach.

Other than that I’ve thought about open-hand slapping their kidneys as they come in, which if I connected hard enough should make them drop. But, that means that they’ve already gotten into me and I’m probably on my way to the ground. Kneeing to the head could work, but man, you’d better be in a semi-stance to get the balance right and be fast enough to react this way.

Judo throws? I can’t think of anyway unless you let them take you down and you rolled backwards with them and carried them over. My knowledge of Aikido is limited, but I suspect someone good would try to side-step and trip the guy as he went by…

I dunno. What would you do?


In wrestling when an opponent tried to shoot in and grab your leg or legs for a take down, we were taught to fall forward so that you picked your feet up behind you and your chest fell down onto the other person’s back. This put your legs out of their reach, put you on top of them and generally left you in a good position to grapple. You could always use a knee to the face or an uppercut if it was more of a street fight type situation though.

Head down? My first instinct would probably be a knee or thigh kick to the face. You can stop 99% of aggressors if you break the beak. That shit hurts.

Yes, it does.

Also, as soon as his head comes into my reach, it becomes my toy and I get to play with it. The pressure points at the mandibular angle, jugular notch and clavicular notch come to mind first, all of which cause excruciating agony.

And a good, old-fashioned slap over the ear with a slightly cupped palm does wonders for teaching good manners to boorish people.

[li]Lay caltrops down[/li][li]Then, have your Swiss Guardsmen brace their pikes against the charge.[/li][li]Fire cannons filled with grapeshot & ball at long range, reloading before they reach your lines if possible.[/li][li]All Musketeers should hold their fire until the last possible moment to break the charge.[/li][li]Then, counterattack with your Dragoons.[/li][/ol]

The bum’s rush shall be broken, & we shall capture Moscow for the Emperor before the winter’s first snow!
Viv’ l’ France!

You ever seen Snatch? Just practice turning to your side and side stepping, and you’ll be able to do it more than fast enough. That kind of side-step works really well, and it leaves all sorts of options. I would push the attacker with a decent, grounded, two hand push to the side that will certainly cause him to lose balance and fall, leaving you with plenty of time to walk or run off. If the attacker is drunk, it will take him even longer, if he gets up at all.

[ol][li]Sprawl. The idea of side-stepping is difficult to bring off, as a good grappler will not shoot in until he is within arm’s reach. []Snap-down. Essentially, push down hard on the back of his neck/head with both hands. []Drop to the guard and work for a triangle choke.A judo throw called tawara-gaeshi, which is rare in competition because it nearly always results in a score against you in contest, but which I have brought off with great success against a double-leg shoot. As he makes contact, you grab him under the armpits from above, and throw him over your head as you roll backwards. I generally lever his nearest leg over with my instep, as in sumi-gaeshi. Roll backward and over him as he goes, come down on top, and then do as you please - you wind up in the mount.[/ol][/li]
Kicking just gets your leg grabbed, and all the ideas about striking tend to go out the window against a person who knows how to shoot. All the available targets are well-covered up. You need to stop the shoot before you can start the ground-and-pound.

90% of my self-defense training was against a flurry of punches to the face, the kick to the groin, or the tackle. These are the most common street attacks, in my experience.



I was thinking sprawl as well, and try for a guillotine or take the guy down chest first. If he goes down, get his back for a rear naked choke. If it’s really, really serious, knee him in the face before the sprawl if you can do it without losing the sprawl.

[list=1][li]Sprawl. The idea of side-stepping is difficult to bring off, as a good grappler will not shoot in until he is within arm’s reach. []Snap-down. Essentially, push down hard on the back of his neck/head with both hands. []Drop to the guard and work for a triangle choke.<snip>[/li][/QUOTE]

Shodan gives a step by step (and a clearer IMO) description of what I was talking about. I tried not to use wrestling terms like shoot, sprawl, guard, etc. but it didn’t come out as clear. When I wrestled my “Move” was to wait for them to shoot in on me then I’d sprawl, stuff the head and one arm upon hitting the ground, swing my legs around to the “stuffed arm” side, and get my hooks in. In a street fight, I would stuff the head, grab one arm and put it in an arm bar. It’s either give up or get your arm broken.

If he hits you high, and if you can keep your feet and have room to back up, I’d go for the knee before the sprawl. You can end a fight quick with one knee. You better have good balance though, or you’ll end up giving him your back. If he hits you too low, just sprawl and go for the choke.

I’d caution you against someone saying “uncle”. Nothing to stop them from continuing the fight after you let go. Best to break the arm (or anything else you can lock) or finish the choke till they’re out. Then you know the fight’s over.

The guillotine choke is a good follow-up as well, as long as you stop the shoot.

What Dante says about saying “uncle” is a good point. It is like practicing semi-contact all your life, and then pulling your strike in a real fight. “He tapped - let go” is so deeply ingrained that I cannot be sure that I wouldn’t do it without thinking about it in a reali fight.


The one time someone (who was good and drunk, hence him thinking coming at me like that was a good idea) tried this on me, I just stepped to the side and watched him run full-force face-first into a parking meter.

I’ve never seen that much blood be that funny in my life.