Hinges, Points of Control and Locks

Studying a video of a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu wristlock, I suddenly realized the difference between a BJJ wristlock and the standard wristlock done in most martial arts. In the BJJ wristlock, and pretty much all of their locks that I know of, at least two hinges of the body are controlled and there are at least three points of control used on the body of the person applying the lock. Standard locks in many arts often apply the lock with just one or two points of control to a single hinge/joint. Considering the success of BJJ in many no-holds barred full contact bouts and the absence of traditional wristlocks in such bouts, it seems the BJJ method of locking someone up is more effective. Although, even logic tells you that this is so, and if you’ve ever attempted a standard wristlock while sparring, you could most likely attest to the fact that most people easily slip out of them.

The video above shows a BJJ wristlock from the closed guard. Notice one hand is on the “appliers” body and he used both of his own hands on the other guy’s elbow to apply the lock. He is controlling the wrist and elbow and controlling the whole thing with his body, both hands and, in fact, his forearm. Multiple points of control are used and two joints are controlled.

Here Glenn applies a wrist lock to check Jamie’s movement and strikes, which also works as a check.

 Consider the two standard “old school” wristlocks above. The only joint controlled is the one at the wrist. One hand controls the wrist, the other is attacking something else; so two points of control at the most. This might be the saving grace of the technique, because in the first one the strike to the face might be enough of a check to keep the guy from slipping out of the wristlock and you maybe could apply a throw. On the second one, it is a disarm, and so application of pressure to the stick that is being stripped from the attacker is a kind of leverage. However, one could see various things happening to stop either one of these locks; in the second pictured example, the other hand could come in to provide leverage for the person having the lock applied to him. He might twist his way out of it. The only thing controlling him is one hand at his wrist. The first pictured example, at least, involves a strike, which is more likely to control someone than just grabbing their wrist with one hand. The combination of the one handed wristlock and a heel palm strike to the face basically provides control on the wrist and the head; notice you’ve penetrated the depth zone of the person you are applying the lock to; however, without the addition of this strike, the lock itself is relatively simple to slip out of without some other point of control.

So, what do we do about a standard lock being ineffective; the answer clearly lies with applying more points of control and more hinges to control. On a standard standing armbar, for instance, you could apply your body to the elbow while holding the wrist with both hands; this provides three points of control (both of your hands and your body) and you are also controlling two joints on the body of the person you are applying the lock on (his wrist and elbow).

In conclusion, it should be stated that to control someone you must control hinges and the head, either or both, and more the better. A lock to a joint or multiple joints and control of the head, or some variation of these controls would seem ideal in controlling an opponent.

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