Joint Locks

The uses of joint locks are one of the effective methods of countering an attacker’s aggressive intent. It is important to note that when a joint is locked, it has no strength. Bending or twisting any joint in a direction opposite its normal movement, or taking it beyond the normal movement will create this "lock".

The first of the body’s joints we will explore is the wrist. There are a number of ways to lock the wrist because of its capability for multiple planes of movement. Collapse the hand in the direction of the inside of the wrist and twist away from the opponent’s body. This technique is called an "omote gyaku" in Ninjutsu or simply an outside wrist lock. The best way to apply this lock is to grasp your opponent’s hand with your "mirror" hand taking his thumb base with your fingers. This locates your thumb about the center of the "top" of his hand. Use your other hand to grasp the "little finger" side of his hand. Your thumbs will be next to each other on the "top" of his hand. To apply this lock most effectively continue to collapse his hand toward your opponent while twisting it to the outside, or away from his body. One more important point, if you use the turning of your hips for that "twisting to the outside", it will require almost no strength from your arms. This is the same principle mentioned previously of using body mass for power.

A second way of locking the wrist is to grasp the wrist with your thumb on one side and your pointer finger on the other. Your palm will rest on the top of your opponent’s hand. You now drop your weight by bending at the knees and bring your opponents hand upward collapsing the hand inwards as in the last technique but without the twisting movement. You will hang your opponents entire weight on his bent wrist. In Ninjutsu the name of this technique is "take ori" and translates as "breaking the bamboo".

A third way of locking the wrist, or in this instance, more accurately the fingers, is to grasp the fingers and move in a way that straightens them forcing the wrist to lock. Each person is unique and will reach this locked position with varying degrees of bending the fingers. I have met two individuals with the capability to bend the fingers backward to a point that the finger nail was only about an inch from the back of the hand! These persons had very flexible hands but that only meant the fingers had to be moved farther to create the lock.

I would explore with you one more way of locking the wrist. Take the opponents opposite hand with yours, this means your right to his right or left to left, and grasp the little finger side of his hand. Your fingers will curl into his palm and your thumb will rest on the back of his hand. Twist his hand with your body movement to locate that "little finger" side upward and bend the wrist toward your opponent. One way of getting the proper positioning is to point his little finger at his nose. That angle between the hand and arm is what is important. It will pinch a nerve and is very painful. The Japanese name for this inside wrist lock is "ura gyaku".

There is much more to be said about this particular lock and at some time I’ll go back to it. One other quick point, the ankle works on the same principle as the wrist and will be locked in the same manner. Next time we will look at the elbow and shoulder.