While many people enjoy long hair, it can present some unique challenges if they are ever forced to defend themselves. A dedicated assailant will quickly move to grab the hair in an attempt to better control the victim. If not addressed quickly and effectively, a hair grab can end up taking a person off their feet and into even more dangerous territory. Escaping from a hair grab is not a simple matter. While the technical side is not complicated, there will be other factors such as fear, anger and adrenaline.

Hair grabs are used for two primary reasons—to get a firm hold on the victim, and to physically move the victim around, dragging them against their will to a more remote spot or possibly into a vehicle. This is most commonly done from behind. Painful and shocking, it can be disorienting to say the least.

Respond with Force!

The shock and surprise that accompanies any assault is tough to tamp down. Fear mixed with adrenaline and disorientation presents a challenge to even the most strong-willed person. What is done after the initial shock is what matters. The proper mindset is essential. You must be 100-percent committed to your defense or run the risk of failing. Your response must be swift and severe. There can be no gradual buildup, only sheer focused energy into your defense. Be confident. You must believe that you can defend yourself regardless of size or stature. Do not underestimate the power and ferocity that you can bring to a fight. An average full-grown female jaguar weighs in at only 100 pounds.  Yet there is no doubting her ferocity and fighting power.  With a focused mind and good technique there are few adversaries that will be able to control you. Your mindset should change from defending to attacking. Get in the fight!

Attacking the Attacker

It is difficult to stop your attacker if they are behind you. You need to get yourself turned toward the assailant so you can bring the fight to them. The first step is to get control of your head. Reach up with both hands and grab the hair near your scalp. Pull your hair back down toward your head and gain your balance. Move your hips back under your head and pivot to face the attacker. You are now in a much better position to turn the tables.

Now that you have swiftly moved to face your attacker, it is time to offer a “kinetic response” to their aggression. First, get them to release your hair. This is done by attacking the assailant’s arm that’s holding on to you. The most effective way to break the grip is by a mix of nerve strikes and blunt-force trauma. The target you are looking for is either side of the large muscle in the forearm; with a hammer-fist, slam down into the target with a penetrating strike. As with all strikes, you should strive to follow through the target. This target causes arm numbness and weakness, allowing you to pull away. If the forearm is not accessible, strike with the same motion down into the middle of the bicep. Strike with the intent of hitting the bone inside the attacker’s arm.

A follow-up strike is highly encouraged as the attacker will need a reason to not pursue you once you are free. With a looping motion, use the same hand you hit the forearm with and now strike down on the bridge of the attacker’s nose. This is a high-reward target as it is painful and can blur the vision of the attacker. You must strike with the intent to stop the attacker; there can be no halfway about it. This translates to a ferocity that most assailants do not want to face. For the most part, they choose what they perceive to be easy prey. When you turn on them and become dangerous, they change their mindset from attack to defend. Follow-up strikes may be required, but if done with sufficient intent, you will not need many to escape.


At the first opportunity you need to escape from the attacker and seek help. Even if they are lying on the ground wailing in pain, you need to get away from the scene and call 911. Do not be tempted to hang around and offer one more “foot of justice” by kicking them after they have gone down. They may be scrambling for a weapon now, and if they grab your foot you could be in serious danger. Run, plain and simple. It is important that you call the police.
Women every day face abuse and assault that goes unreported. There is an encyclopedia of reasons this occurs, but you must realize that you escaped and survived.  Unless the police are involved, the attacker’s next victim may not be so lucky.

Practice Prevention

For ladies who are serious about personal protection, a training class or seminar may be in order. If you choose, you can even begin to study a martial art. Regardless of how deep you get into it, it is important to practice the motion. Get a friend to help you walk through the technique to gain confidence.  But don’t get too carried away during practice; your friends will thank you for going easy on them. Take turns being both the defender and attacker. As the mock attacker you will see firsthand what the technique feels like and, in turn, gain confidence.

Choosing to wear long hair should not be a liability. By understanding how to neutralize an attacker, you empower yourself. It requires no extreme measures-—simply control your hair, turn into the attacker and make them regret they even touched you.

This article was originally published in the SURVIVOR’S EDGE TM Fall 2014 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.

Up Next

Playing Dead Saves Life

Female jogger survives bear mauling!