Elbow and Shoulder Escapes

Both the elbow and shoulder joint are vulnerable to locks by manipulating the arm. Many of you who have played either tennis or baseball are familiar with the pain caused by "tennis elbow" or hyper-extension of the elbow joint. If someone was to grab you by your arm, you can create this same type of hyper-extension. Initially turn slightly away from the arm your opponent has grabbed and raise the palm of that same side hand to touch the underside of your opponents elbow. You will actually cradle your opponents elbow in the palm of your hand. The purpose for this is to know exactly the position of your opponent's arm. It is critical to cradle it as softly as possible so that you do not alarm your opponent. A slight turn away from your opponent will straighten his arm. Take your other hand, reach across the top of his arm, while you move in to bring your body to his arm, and place that hand over your other hand. To complete the lock, turn back toward your opponent. His arm will turn over into the hyper-extension of the elbow. This movement actually uses both directions that cause an elbow lock, the backward movement that hyper-extends and the sideways movement that is equally painful. The Japanese name for this elbow lock is musho dori.

The same type of lock is done to the knee by catching the leg and pushing down on the top of the knee. It is amazing how quickly this movement will put a person on the ground. As always in doing these techniques, I caution you to move very slowly and smoothly while practicing with a friend. Any quick or jerky motion will cause severe injury. The reason for the effectiveness of these techniques is the use of human body vulnerabilities.

The next lock is also achieved by manipulating the arm, but has a greater effect on the shoulder. This comes about in the same manner as the elbow lock but instead of initially turning away from your opponent, you turn toward him. In this technique, take the hand of your grabbed arm and lay your palm on the top of your opponents elbow. Your thumb will rest in the "crook" of his bent arm. At this point, just keep your arm as an extension of your body by keeping your own elbow attached to your side, and turn to face the same direction as your opponent. Allow your thumb to slide around your opponents elbow as you turn. This will position his hand in or near your arm pit and put great pressure on the shoulder joint. Keep your arm positioned so as to keep the hard bones of your arm, or the narrow part, in contact with his arm. Putting your hands together in a prayer position will accomplish the proper positioning. The name in Japanese of this lock is musha dori.

The same type of positioning is accomplished on the leg, locking the hip joint. There is a general guide to use; if either the arm or leg is straight you have a potential lock on the elbow or knee. If bent, you have a lever to cause a lock on either the shoulder or hip. In situations of self defense it is always important to remain aware of what your opponent can do while keeping your actions hidden. Do not draw his attention to your action before your technique has progressed beyond his ability to counter. This you can accomplish by contacting very lightly and having your legs lead your arms for whole body motion.

I want to share with all of my readers some, at least to me, wonderful news. In March I went to Japan as I do each year for continuing training with Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi, the only bonafide Grand Master of Ninjutsu. I took with me a copy of my tape "Self Defense for Everyone." Dr. Hatsumi awarded me a gold metal and certificate for producing "the best tape" he had seen. He even stopped his class in the Tokyo Budokan announcing the award and making this statement; "If you only have money for one tape, buy this one."

Next time we will begin exploring simple escapes from common holds.