The Full Nelson is a grappling move which, while it is effective, has a number of easy counters. It is more ignorance than the power of the technique which makes it dangerous. A bit of research on the net revealed a lot of people who'll sell you videos or teach you for a fee, but little to no freely available information on defeating this hold.

The setup for a Full Nelson is for the attacker to slip their arms underneath the victim's (like in helping hands on Whose Line Is It Anyway?), then left them up and clasp behind the back of the victim's neck. This moves the victim's arms up in the air and restricts their movement. Additionally, with the attacker in so close, countering is fairly difficult.

Notice, howerver, that arm movement is restricted - not prevented. This brings us to the nicest thing you can do to someone in such a case. If a friend or relative does something like this jokingly, you obviously don't want to break them, but you still might want to get out.

Even in this hold, you should still be able to reach back and find their hand. Do so. Locate the thumb, grab it, and extend your arm out, as if you were yawning and stretching.

This should either force them to let go, or break their thumb. The latter also tends to make them let go. However, if this doesn't work, or if it's a more serious attack, you might want to get a bit more nasty.

This time, instead of breaking the hold, we're going to make the attacker break off, ensuring that the festivities will be postponed due to pain. Reach up behind you, and instead of going for their hand, go for their face. Find the eye. Now dig. The thumb is great for this, use it like a drill. Drive it in to their eye and twist. At this point, the attacker is going to have more important things on their mind than keeping a hold on you.

Please note that this sort of attack could easily cause permanent eye damage or blind the attacker. Don't use it on someone who doesn't deserve this. There's another good technique which is somewhat in between these two. It can be a bit harder to pull off, and a bit easier for the attacker to counter, but hopefully you're not being assaulted by an experienced fighter, just a street thug.

This counter uses the legs instead of the arms. It'll probably end with one or both of you on the floor, so this is especially nice for anyone with ground fighting experience. Bend forward while moving one of your legs back and towards the opposite side, snaking it around the attacker's leg on the opposite side. Now straighten your back while bringing your elbows back. The idea here is to move your hips and your center of gravity behind them, so that when you straighten it out, you force them to bend over backwards.

All of these techniques could work right away... but don't bet on it. Find a friend who wants to tie you up, err, I mean, help you out. Practice, but use your common sense.

For the first counter, you should be okay, the thumb won't break unless you do it very quickly or they resist a great deal. For the second, you don't want to poke your friend's eye out, I'd hope, but you can still practice getting your hand up to it. The third is a bit more problematic, but if you have a bit of padding or some mats, it shouldn't be a problem. And, in the end, it's best for you to learn well. Your friends should understand and appreciate this, provided you don't send them to the hospital too often.

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