The Difference of Lariat vs Clothesline

lariat vs clothesline
JBL delivers a clothesline in one of his matches.

A question was recently sent to us via Best Self Defense Weapons Mailbag which asks, “What is the difference between a lariat vs clothesline? Which is more effective in self defense?

There is a never-ending debate concerning the difference of a clothesline vs lariat. While these two moves look very much alike in terms of execution, many professional wrestling enthusiasts and so-called experts put a distinction between each move.

What is a Lariat and Clothesline

For the sake of the uninitiated, the lariat or clothesline are attacks involving the arm. These attacks focus on either the neck or the upper chest of the target. These are popularly used in pro wrestling but these can also be devastating in self defense if delivered with utmost accuracy to the neck plus enough momentum and power.

Often, the terms lariat and clothesline are used interchangeably. Play-by-play announcers in WWE or World Wrestling Entertainment, a popular televised pro wrestling show, never use the term lariat nowadays. Even its current wrestlers or superstars do not use such term. However, traditional pro wrestlers, Japanese wrestling organizations and the indies use both terms with emphasis on their difference.

How Lariat vs Clothesline Differ

Here are the differences of lariat vs clothesline according to Wikipedia, martial arts and pro wrestling forums:


In a lariat, the attacker runs toward his opponent. Then, he wraps his arm around the receiver’s upper chest or neck to force him into the ground. The part between the upper and the lower arm (opposite the elbow) is usually used in this move.


The clothesline uses an outstretched arm to strike an opponent. Unlike the lariat, a clothesline does not bend the arm upon impact. The attacking arm retains its stretched position upon contact to the upper chest or neck. Typically, the middle or lower parts of the arm are used in this move.

Interview with John Layfield (A.K.A. JBL or Bradshaw)

JBL, a WWE superstar who has been known to utilize a signature move dubbed as “Clothesline From Hell”, revealed during an interview with BDA Sun that the lariat is just a clothesline. Thus, this might explain why his wrestling organization generally use clothesline even in a move that resembles what many would consider a lariat.

Lariat vs Clothesline in Self Defense

Personally, I see the lariat as more of a takedown move. Its more effective if you have more strength, size and momentum than your opponent. The clothesline on the other hand is essentially a strike. This can be utilized even by guys with smaller built especially in countering or knocking down a running attacker. You can basically use the momentum of your aggressor against him with this.

So, between a lariat vs clothesline, I see more potential in a clothesline if used by an average-sized guy as a counter against a rushing opponent. But if you are receiving any of the moves during a real-life brawl with Stan Hansen (during his prime) or JBL, the question about the effectiveness of these two would not really matter anymore because you are definitely going to be staring at the lights in the ceiling or the sky if you are lucky to retain your consciousness after a hit.

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Sources: BDA Sun, Wikipedia

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