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Defending Yourself Against a Drunk Attacker

Warning! The concepts shown here are for illustrative purposes only. Seek professional training from a reputable instructor before attempting any techniques discussed or shown in this story.

“Who brought this loser?!” You can hear your friends asking, can’t you? No one wants to be that guy, yet with alcohol involved, anyone can. Someone drinks too much and next thing you know that someone is going to make a scene. Whether at a friend’s wedding, a coworker’s retirement dinner, or your niece’s birthday celebration, you’ve probably watched someone metamorphose into the center of attention — in a bad way.

They have no idea they’re belligerent, breaking things around them, or scaring the kids at little Suzie’s princess party. Time to take them outside.

But how? If you flip the badass switch on this “drunk uncle” (or anyone you know who turns into an intoxicated moron), you become the jerk, sever friendships, and earn the reputation for ruining the fun by sending people to the hospital. So, how do you deal with your drunk uncle in a less violent way and earn that second slice of Disney cake?

We’ll walk you through some basic defensive moves next time that guy shows up. Just try to keep their puke off your shoes.

beer-bottle-weapons eye-gouge

Head On
Before you put your hands on anyone, it’s worth it to try to verbally deescalate a situation. Avoid finger pointing and raising your voice. These actions are triggers, and to onlookers they give off an aggressive stance. Try to relate to them as best as possible; repeating words like “bro,” “dude,” or “buddy,” offer a false promise of another drink elsewhere. Tell them, in a calm voice, what they’re doing.

If this doesn’t work, close the distance between the two of you and size up the drunken uncle. Notice if they’re holding anything that can be swung wildly at you and exploit their predictable behaviors. We all know the touchy drunk and this can be your chance. When they lean up against you or extend a hand in your direction, utilize hand pins when you can by placing your wrist notch over the back of theirs and pin their hand and arm to your chest.

Keep pressure over their hand or forearm and use your whole body to move them. As long as you don’t let go, they’re going to follow. You can also use one of your hands to use your clothing to wrap over their wrist and with the other hand protect your face or signal to others you’re about to move. To onlookers, your pinning technique won’t look aggressive. The party can go on.

Escorting someone who’s inebriated isn’t rocket science and, if it’s done right, doesn’t require much effort. Remember, pain compliance techniques like goosenecks may not work so you may simply need to manhandle them. Grabbing someone at the wrist results in a tug of war. Instead, control the inside of the bicep and wrist. Even if the plastered friend is using a stiff arm against you to prevent you from getting close, that straight arm can be weakened if grabbed from the outside of the tricep.

In the fighting arts, controlling your opponent generally means controlling their head, hands, hips, or heels. The problem for you, if you’re trying to take care of this problem quietly and without anyone noticing, is that you can’t rely on at least two of these control points. Grabbing someone by the head looks like, well, grabbing someone by the head. Unless you’re a barber, when was the last time you put two hands on someone’s head in a nice way? You also can’t resort to dragging someone out of a wedding by their feet. This leaves arms and hips as your handles.

With a good two-on-one (martial-arts speak for two of your hands on one of the opponent’s body parts) you can move someone convincingly. Utilize as much of your body as possible. If your plan to escort the intoxicated friend is to move them laterally, you can jam their arm up toward their face in a forceful manner. This can serve to off balance them or interrupt a grab or strike.

Another escort technique involves using one hand on their belt and the other on their shoulder. If you’re at a formal event and they have a jacket on, don’t be afraid to peel their jacket down past their shoulders and use it like a modified straightjacket.

Like any attack, do so with intent. Just as you cannot backflip slowly, don’t attempt these movements with anything less than your complete effort. They’ll fail you if they’re not done for real.


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