25 Self-Defense Techniques (NEW)

what is goshin jutsu?
(self-defense techniques)

Generally, we refer to Goshin Jutsu when your opponent takes hold of you.

In reality, you may get a punch, kick, push... so you have to see the classification of Goshin Jutsu through Karate glasses.

After all, we deal with kicks and punches for standard. 

Goshin Jutsu or Self-Defense Techniques are more towards Jujutsu skills.

Here's the introduction to Goshin Jutsu from my seminar — fundamental exercise included.

The 25 self-defense techniques shared on this page are classified based on where you're grabbed.

And finally, there's analysis of Atemi that allows you to setup your movement.

So with that said, let's move on to the self-defense techniques ⬇️

self-defense techniques for junte dori

Junte Dori is perhaps not the most common attack, but it's the first you'll learn. Why? That's a good question. And we need to keep asking ourselves why.

Like Yokoyama Kancho said: "You don't want to be a slave of tradition". 

So is it tradition? Or is there a clear reason?


As part of any curriculum, the step by step teachings have to start fundamentally. 

  • strong vs weak
  • body instead of arm
  • control by sensitivity

This is why we teach Junte Dori first.

Mune Dori for example, lacks sensitivity because you're Karategi is grabbed instead of your wrist. The strong and weak line in Mune Dori lie outside your body and this relies less on feeling and sensitivity.

Finally, in Junte Dori you use your body directly as you hand needs to break free. That is opposite to Mune Dori, where you have to break his hand free.

1. junte dori to hiji kudaki

Junte Dori

Allow your opponent to grab your wrist. This form is called Junte Dori.

Oyayubi Osae

Move your body slightly to the right to the outside of the opponent as you raise your hand. Note that your elbow should point down: It's  naturally stronger.

Grab his wrist at the same time and make sure to manipulate your opponents posture. It will be more difficult for your opponent to attack and easier for you to continue.

HIji Kudaki

Apply a wrist lock with your left hand as you grab his wrist with your right hand at the same time as you step in.

Hiji Kudaki

Lock his wrist and elbow completely.

Note my stance: Bent knees to drop my hips, leaning with my upper body to allow for maximum control, pressure and use of my own body weight.

You know you got it right when you ask your opponent to try to get out (do that gently though - you don't want unnecessary injuries).

2. ishikawa sensei seminar (for self-defense only)

I first learned this technique in 2007 when I went to Romania together with Ishikawa Sensei.

3. junte dori — the most fundamental version

Here's my favorite Junte Dori. You'll learn what is Tehodoki, how to do it and position yourself accordingly. 

Fundamentally speaking for self-defense, you don't want to learn this technique. You want to learn how to break free and feel how to do it. So that any time your opponent grabs you, you can break free.

And ideally: he can't grab your properly.

Junte dori
Yoko Empi

4. junte dori to kote gaeshi

The instant you grab the opponent he naturally starts to resist. This makes it very difficult to apply Kote Gaeshi. There are various ways to counter or avoid resistance from your opponent. 

This is true for any technique.

But: for self-defense techniques in particular because the opponent takes hold of you.

Two ways to deal with resistance are applied in one Kumite in the video.

Junte Dori
Tate Uraken
Ashi Barai
Kote Gaeshi

5. junte dori to ude garami

Junte Dori
Setup Ude Garami
Ude Garami with Kubi Dori
Ude Garami Nage

6. junte dori to shiho nage

You can argue about the fine line between Bunkai and Ohyo - but to me it's Ohyo. (Bunkai can be Ohyo but Ohyo is not necessarily Bunkai).

Either way, this technique is excellent for self-defense.

This application from Pinan Sandan focuses on Tenshin — the main principle from Pinan Sandan. This movement is different from the Kata though, as you focus mainly on axis rotation and move directly to the outside of the opponent.

Junte Dori Shiho Nage

If you're just a second off, your oponnent has a chance to escape. 

Let's be real, it's difficult to pull off in reality so you better make sure that it works in the Dojo...

Shiho Nage is a tricky one as you have to control your opponent for quite a long time during movement - something we are not too accustomed to in Karate. 

I'll let you in on the tips and tricks in the video.

mune dori Self-Defense Techniques 

Mune Dori is one of the most generic attacks.

When it comes to your opponent grabbing you, there are only so many options. Although Junte Dori (wrist grab) is often taught first, Mune Dori is more common. 

Within Mune Dori, there's Katate (one hand) and Ryote (both hands) Mune Dori. 

As a self-defense principle: ALWAYS expect the next attack.

Maybe he's just grabbing to intimidate you, but you can't take that guess. 

7. otoshi uke to shuto uchi

Shuto Uchi is a well known Karate technique, but rarely used in the correct manner. Here's an example of using it on short range.

8. kuzushi nage (easy)

Distract the opponent and get in right away to take him down. This way is easy because you don't have to think about complicated leg nor arm movement.

9. kuzushi nage (advanced)

Move to the outside so you can learn three things: continuous arm movement. Leg switching and smart positioning.

10. mune dori ohyo from pinan shodan

Wado Kata Ohyo like these are the best: from Tanren.

11. compression and expansion from pinan shodan

Although you wouldn't make this combination practically, it's good practise to learn how to control and use your body.

12. pinan sandan morote uke ohyo

Here's an example of how to use Wado Taisabaki in the case of Ryote Mune Dori.

Ryote Mune Dori

When your opponent takes hold of you with both hands, react as fast as possible. Adequately. 

Ideally you react even before he takes hold of you - well.. you should not be there in the first place.

Transform Gedan Barai into Tsuki with Noru

Move your body to the left and twist to the right as you execute Soto Uke with your right arm. At the same time, force his arm down and strike his abdomen.

Shuto Uchi

Twist your body to the left as you grab his sleeve or arm and strike with Shuto Uchi is his neck.


Pull with your left hand as you push with your right while stepping behind him to apply Kuzushi (don't use a Judo type of throw).

Kuzushi Nage

Continue the movement and use your Shuto to control your opponent as you force him down to the ground.

13. it's better to be a little more early

Generally, we practise when someone grabbed you already. You get a major advantage however by executing your counter slightly earlier though.

14. tsuki with noru to empi

It's nice to know "Nagasu, Inasu, Noru" but how to apply them? Here's an application of Noru.

15. pinan yondan haishu uke ohyo

What I do at 00:35 doesn't work. Make sure to not make that mistake.

sode dori techniques for self-defense

16. sode dori ipponme

In self-defense you want to leave out fance and complicated movement. At the same time you want your techniques to work as well.

The key lies in the direction of the first movement (and how to).


17. ushiro sode dori

Starting at 1:18...

18. yoko sode dori — uchi zeme

19. yoko sode dori — soto zeme

eri dori

20. ushiro eri dori — soto zeme

21. ushiro eri dori — uchi zeme

22. ushiro eri dori ohyo

kubi dori

Kubi means neck.

So all Kubi Dori refer to neck techniques whether you're grabbed with one or two hands. From the side or from the front.

If you can, Atemi is fast and effective as there's always a spot you can attack. Naturally however, your attention is drawn to your neck and his hand.

If you stay calm, simply kick him in the groin or poke his eyes.

But what if you find yourself too occupied with his grip on your neck? 

Strike the thumb side of his arm with Shotei while you move your body slightly but sharply in the opposite direction (don't twist). 

You can also control his wrist ⬇️

23. mae kubi dori

24. getting out of kubi shime

Sometimes it is better to get out while you still can. During Yakusoku Kumite type of training you are grabbed first - most of the time. 

Then you react. 

In a way the type of training is fine... But. Think about it for a second. Actual techniques are executed before the opponent takes hold of you. 

It is like Go No Sen, Sen No Sen and Sen Sen No Sen. It is the same idea. 

Which one do you practise? And which one will prove to be effective in reality? Or is it not as simple as that?

Here's a move I pulled of on a strong aggressive guy round 2 AM when I exited the pub. He actually fell down on the ground because he pulled hard but I wasn't there...


how to make self-defense techniques work on the street

First things first.

  • If you don't practise enough...
  • If your emotion is controlling you instead of you controlling your emotion...
  • If you react too late...
  • Or if you're simply having a bad day or your opponent outranks you: 

No technique will save you. 


If you practise seriously. If techniques start to become subconscious. And if you're brave — you might just make it work.

Apart from emotion and experience, there are 2 technical things often overlooked:

  1. Henka Waza — the ability to instantly change your movement.
  2. Atemi — knowing were, when and how to hit to control the opponent and setup your movement.

I created the online course "The Journey To Henka Waza" which digs deep into Ohyo Kumite and Henka Waza providing you with a complete framework to understand AND make it work.

For this article, let's study Atemi. It's easy and reliable.

Keep reading, where almost there!

what is atemi?

The term Atemi is commonly used in Budo and is written in the following manner:

当身 = Atemi = Strike, blow
当 = Ate = Hit
身 = Mi = Body/Person

Atemi is used to describe punches, strikes and kicks that are used to setup the next movement or to distract the opponent. Another term used is Kariate.

This term refers specifically to the result of the attack used. The word Kariate (仮当) is more difficult to unravel as Atemi, since the combination of the Kanji "Kariate" cannot be found in the dictionary. 

It is a specific Budo word. 

Kari means temporarily and points to the effect of Kariate (or Atemi) which lasts only a short period of time.

how to use atemi to setup your attack

If you attack Ukemi you should do so using Ko Bo Ittai. This means, that you should mind defence as you attack. Controlling Seichusen is of course the golden rule, but it is not the only way.

If you setup your final blow, odds are that you will have more chance to strike your opponent. You could for example make an Atemi on the back of Ukemi's hand as you execute Tsugi Ashi Kingeri.


The key lies in timing.

The Kingeri attack is one of many. I'll show it in this video together with another one of my favorite attacks.

25. ushiro shitate dori

In case Ukemi takes hold of you, you can count on it that another movement will follow. Whatever happens, Ukemi is focussed and will not just let go or loosen up his grip. If you want to break free, you will have to give Ukemi a hand.

By executing Atemi, Ukemi's attention will shift temporarily loosening up his grip. This is the moment that you can escape and break free. Below you will find an example of how Atemi can be used is someone catches you around your waist.


This attack knows two variations, one is over your arms trapping them too, and the other one is around your waist going underneath your arms. I have chosen the latter to show you the same Atemi in a different kind of situation.

This attack is called Ushiro Shitate (if you arms are also caught it is called Ushiro Uwate).

I know this was #25, but I have one more for you👇

want to master atemi?

Effective Atemi in Self-Defense is not always about raw power.

Subtle moves may do the trick too.

The saying "if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail" hits the nail on the head.

Your fist is limited to do only so many things...

Your hand and finger movement must be versatile so you always have the right tool for the job at your disposal.

For example ⬇️

junte dori with kumate

Check this video from the online course "Mastering Shiyobui".

Mastering Shiyobui covers rarely taught details so you can focus on what makes the oldschool forms truly effective (and make them work).

You can understand their versatility on a fundamental level so you always know which weapon is your best choice.

And: there are specific methods to master the oldschool ways to attack — Pairwork included.

make your self-defense work 

Discover "Mastering Shiyobui"

The Kumate video is part of the online course "Mastering Shiyobui", which covers how to turn your hands and feet into weapons, just as you've always imagined when you started Karate.

Just wait until you see the list. Ipponken, Nukite and Hiraken are the normal ones...

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