Punching The Wrist-Lock Gridlock

If you train for practical application with your wrist locks, then eventually, you’re going to find yourself stuck in this “almost funny” situation.

Even though it can be humorous in a training situation, this both-punching-at-the-same-time problem is all too serious in a real fight. In the next few minutes, I’d like to describe both the response of the wrist locker and the responder. Then I’ll show you how this presents a serious problem in a real fight. And finally, I’ll give you a suggestion for solving the gridlock, potential double knockout problem.

Sound like a plan?


[headline_arial_small_left color=”#000000″]You Wrist Lock in the Middle of a Fight[/headline_arial_small_left]

Whether from a grab, as an attack in the middle of a fight, or an attempt to control someone attacking you, at some point you decide to effect a wrist lock or joint lock of some type.

As you snap on the joint lock, your opponent resists. He tenses his muscles and prevents you from causing pain at a joint. In other words, he tries to out-muscle you, as you attempt to control with a lock.

Are you with me, so far? What would you do at this point?

If you have followed my martial suggestions for any length of time, then you know that one option is for  you to hit the instant you feel resistance. Lock … feel resistance … punch with your free hand … AND REAPPLY THE LOCK. 😉

So, you’re going to punch upon feeling the tensing of your enemy’s muscles in the wrist and forearm.  Meanwhile …

[headline_arial_small_left color=”#000000″]A Practical Wrist-Lock Response[/headline_arial_small_left]

Another suggestion that you might have read in one of my books, ebooks, or blog posts … is to lash out with a quick punch, the minute you feel someone trying to joint lock you.

Imagine you’re the wrist locker from above. You’re wrist locking someone … you feel resistance, so you punch … EXCEPT … he is taught to punch as a response to your lock.

You might accidentally create a scenario where you both punch at the same time. And I’m sure you’ve seen the video clip where two MMA guys connect with punches at the same time, and knock each other out.

[features_box_green width=”75%” + border=”2px”]Note: I guess every wrist lock should come with a warning … you might end up on Youtube, both knocking and being knocked out at the same time. Shudder the thought.[/features_box_green]

The wrist lock seems to be the focal point, causing a martial gridlock. Agreed?

So, what do you do?

[headline_arial_small_left color=”#000000″]Wrist-Lock Punches Solutions[/headline_arial_small_left]

My first suggestion is to change angles. You still have ahold of his wrist. This means there is probably a way for you to pivot or take a small step that would position you away from his free hand.

As a side benefit, often this pivot will take you away from his punch and put yours closer to his head. It also might put you in a better position to reapply the lock.

My second suggestion is if you’re on the receiving end: Don’t tense and then punch. Try to leave the wrist loose as you counter. In other words, don’t cue your enemy in to the fact that you are counterattacking during the lock.

My third suggestion doesn’t involve a punch … but it does require the martial-arts response found … in the next wrist-lock blog post …




Unrealistic Arm Behind Back

[headline_georgia_medium_centered color=”#000000″]Arm Lock Behind the Back[/headline_georgia_medium_centered]

by Keith Pascal

Have you ever seen someone in an action movie twist another character’s arm behind his back?

This technique is usually performed as a restraining move. A law-enforcement official grabs the “perp” by the wrist, wrenches the arm behind the back, and then holds it there. Or the bad guy grabs the innocent schmuck who was sucked into the plot, and twists this poor shmo’s arm back.

Do you know the move that I’m referring to?


[headline_georgia_small_left color=”#000000″]Movie Trivia Question[/headline_georgia_small_left]

No, I’m not going to ask you who starred in Barry Gordy’s The Last Dragon or the name of the official who asked Bruce Lee to go to Han’s Island in Enter the Dragon. My movie trivia question has to do with that arm lock behind the back:

How is it that everyone, except young females, seems to be able to escape this lock in the movies?

Is restraining the arm in such a fashion a bad technique? Is it ineffective?


[headline_georgia_small_left color=”#000000″]Improving This Arm Lock[/headline_georgia_small_left]

First, realize that in a movie, often the goal is to prolong the action. This is why a lot of JKD (Bruce Lee’s style) moves are avoided in action  flicks. Besides being plain looking in their directness, they’d end the fight sequence too quickly.

So, it makes sense that someone in an arm lock needs to escape … it keeps the fight going.

Next, let’s talk realism: If you completely twist and torque the arm behind the back, then you’ll cause a lot of pain. Maybe too much.


If you put too much torque on that twist behind the back, then your opponent will find a way to escape. Call it the “chewing-through-your-own-foot-in-a-trap syndrome.”

You need to control WITH the pain, not add so much that they’ll escape.

Also, you need control at a joint … and the elbow is NOT always the logical choice.


Do you get more control at the elbow or at the wrist?

The Basic Lock can do wonders for adding control to any torquing of the arm behind the back. And if you combine controls at both joints, simultaneously, then you have a … very controlling lock combination.


Wrist Locks Reader Response

One subscriber responded to the most recent wrist locks blog post. You might find his insights helpful:


Hey Keith,

Really enjoyed this article on wrist locks and the video clips as well. I really really hope that everyone will pay close attention and apply the different keys that you pointed out.


Daily stretching is a must if one wants to have healthy and able wrists to have a higher success rate in applying wrist locks. Also I have found that applying wrist locks, like you said, has always been a very sneaky stunt to pull when I am sparring against a wrestler or Jiujitsu practitioner.


I find it interesting how many of those who do Brazilian Jiujitsu seem to not know how to counter a wrist lock. I think it very well may have to do with the fact that they are more in for the sport of it. The whole time they will be focus on forcing an armbar, triangle choke, omoplata,… but the entire time they are already grabbing each other!


[features_box_light_green width=”75%” + border=”2px”]Editor’s Note: I know a few of them who have bought Wrist Locks (revised) and incorporated some of the reversals and counters.[/features_box_light_green]
If that ain’t the perfect opportunity for a wrist lock I don’t know what is. And of course, like you say, we ought always to be open minded to strike vulnerable target areas, whether it be to assist applying a wrist lock, or even simply to end the fight all together. Lol, like I need to be telling you that.


[three_columns_1]I think one more thing that I would want others to be aware of in their own training in wrist locks (or any technique for that matter esp. control techniques) is that it’s easy (especially for young martial artists in a controlled environment) to have in our minds that a wrist lock seems to magically give us complete control over our attacker’s body.[/three_columns_1] [three_columns_2]The important thing to always remember, aside the proper body mechanics of the technique, is while the wrist lock gives me an advantage of dominance and superiority I must actually take that position and actually “take control”. We must always keep in mind that our attacker isn’t all too interested in being the loser and will be fighting just to prove it. There is a point in applying a lock when our opponent’s body will start to react with a spinal reflex.[/three_columns_2] [three_columns_3] 

No matter how strong or stubborn the human mind may be, at this point, his body will begin to act like an injured body, if it isn’t already, and without choice his reaction will be to help protect his own body rather than attack yours. It is at this point that you really have the control of the fight as you take away his ability to continue on. We have to remember that we have to actually “take control” and the wrist lock, or whatever you are applying, offers us the position to do that.
I remember getting so frustrated with myself when I first began studying Chin Na….



It wasn’t until this finally sunk in that I saw a dramatic change in my success rate as a martial artist. I think if Bruce Lee were here today he would say something like, “It isn’t enough to be given an ability, but to do something with that which was given, otherwise, all becomes meaningless.” (Note: I didn’t take a direct quote from him but it sure sounds like something he would say.)


Anyway, it just seems to be something that I see often in martial artists today is a lack of purpose and intent, yet it is this very thing that ought to make us who we are.


Nobody becomes great by accident.


Once again, thanks Keith for writing this article. You’re the best.


Just another martial artist,


Jason Ohler


9 Wrist Locks Tips

[text_bar_1_left background=”#444444″ + width=”100%”]9 Tips to Anticipate to Help Your Wrist Locks[/text_bar_1_left]

[headline_georgia_small_left color=”#000000″]by Keith Pascal[/headline_georgia_small_left]

1. Last week, we talked about increasing the distance of locking someone reaching in to you for a grab. Make sure to make it a realistic grab. For example, nobody would really start to grab you from five feet away; they’d get closer, first. Right? Then they’d grab for you. Keep it real.

2. Remember how I said that I like to watch any hand reaching in and pretend I am locking it, (in my mind)? You can watch anyone, anywhere, and try to predict the path of their arm. Notice weight shifts, too. If you were “over there” with the “subject,” then how would change your imagined joint-lock attempt to match what your “imagined opponent” is doing?

3. Take your mental video screen to the next step … watch some fighting match, like UFC, on TV. Pick one of the contenders and imagine being in his (or her) place. Now, each time that a hand reaches in, say for a grab to a grapple, imagine your lock response.

4. React with speed to the TV technique. Respond in “real time.” This means that you might have to hit your opponent, in your mind, to slow down the technique enough to lock.

5. Don’t try to take a punch straight into a lock. You need either a slow-down move, or a way to control the limb, before you try locking the joint.

6. “Some” aikido schools make the mistake of going along with the locker.  These aren’t real grabs. Everyone is being polite, to the detriment of any realism taking place. It’s a whole different kettle of fish to lock a cooperative person reaching in versus someone with full-attack energy trying to “getcha.”

7. Start playing a game of, “How close do I have to be before he or she reaches in for a grab?” Will someone typically take two steps to get to you before grabbing? Will they wait “until” they are within two steps of reaching you? Figure it all out.

8. What does an interruption kick do to the wrist-locking “game?” I mean you’re doing the locking and kicking, not your opponent. If you are locking, feel resistance, and try to kick, then what does that kick do to the lock that you are trying to effect “up top?” Does it help or hurt the process?

9. If you want to insert a kick into your wrist locks sequence, then take a look at this two-minute video (the first one on the page):


Specifically, check out the part where I look at “the other side of the coin.” That’s the part where you get to initiate the lock AND kick.




Enlarging Your Wrist-Locks Body-Bubble

[headline_tahoma_medium_left color=”#000000″]Enlarging Your Wrist-Locks Body-Bubble[/headline_tahoma_medium_left]


by Keith Pascal

I have a lot of friends who wrist lock … for fun and profit  🙂

One phenomenon that I have noticed is that a fair percentage of them wait until the opponent grabs them or their clothing, before locking. In other words, they hit and kick for their “bread and butter” martial arts, and only use wrist locks when someone grabs them.

I think these guys could expand their wrist-locking body bubble. Let me tell you a fun exercise that I invented. The best part, you can practice without wrist locking anyone:


[headline_tahoma_small_left color=”#000000″]Quick Wrist Locks Story[/headline_tahoma_small_left]

A few years ago, I was teaching a martial-arts class out of my downstairs entertainment room. On this particular day, only two students showed up for class.

One of the two was a “wrist locks freak.” He loved anything that caused a lot of pain, controlled the enemy, and took very little effort.

For the last half hour of the class, we practiced the two wrist locks mentioned above — the Handshake and the reverse, Live Long and Prosper. At first, we practiced each from a grab, either latching on with fingers pointing up (or horizontal), or pointing down.

The instant we felt the grab, we’d go straight into a lock based on the finger orientation.

[headline_tahoma_small_left color=”#000000″]Now, this is where it gets good….[/headline_tahoma_small_left]

We decided to practice the locks, just as contact was being made. That was a lot of fun, and upped the ante … for about five to ten minutes. So, we practiced effecting the wrist locks, before contact was made.

We kept increasing the distance. (Next week, we’ll talk more about this.)

This took a bit of “tracking,” but eventually, we were able to start our grab, as someone was reaching in from about a foot away.

No matter how they reached for us, we’d respond with one of those two locks.


[features_box_red width=”75%” + border=”2px”]Note: We did NOT try to take a punch directly into a wrist lock. This was a response to someone reaching for us. The distinction is important.[/features_box_red]


[headline_tahoma_small_left color=”#000000″]And now, the icing on the cake … this is the best….[/headline_tahoma_small_left]

Something strange and good happened after that practice session. For about a week, any time someone’s hand got close to me, for any reason, I imagined grabbing it into one of those two locks … again, depending on the finger (or palm) orientation.

The goal in my mind was to bend those fingers back to the wrist. I was mentally snapping on the perfect wrist lock.

I did this all week long.

The next week, when I got together with my students, I felt a difference in my locking ability. This mental practice worked wonders.

I realized that I could watch people’s hands anywhere. As money was passed across a counter from a cash register. As someone reached in to brush off a piece of lint from my coat. As food was passed around the dining-room table.

I could also watch, and imagine locking, hands on TV.

You should try this. Call it your tonic for the week.

And here’s the follow-up wrist-locks blog post.

Getting By on Two Wrist Locks

[headline_arial_medium_left color=”#000000″]Getting By on Two Wrist Locks[/headline_arial_medium_left]


by Keith Pascal

Do I really think you could be a well-rounded martial artist by knowing just two different wrist locks?

Actually, no, I don’t. I think wrist and joint locks fit into a variety of practical self-defense situations. Also, if you happen to be “playing the wrist-locks game” with someone else, then he or she who can flow into the most locks will probably win.

So, then, why the title of this blog post? Why, “Getting By on Two Wrist Locks“?

Because in the next wrist-locks post, we’re going to talk about expanding your wrist-locks-effecting perimeter. You are going to increase your body safety bubble. I think you can increase your wrist-locking range with just two locks. (Thus the title.)

Both locks involve bending the fingers back toward the wrist. The first lock is the handshake lock found in the mini-wrist locks ecourse on this site. Sign up to the right. (Or read more about the ecourse and newsletter, here.)

And the second lock is basically the same lock, “upside down.” You can find it in the revised edition of “Wrist Locks: From Protecting Yourself to Becoming an Expert.” It’s called the “Live Long and Prosper.” (Pages 92-95)


[features_box_green width=”75%” + border=”2px”]Note: No need to buy “Wrist Locks,” if you don’t already own it. Simply take the handshake wrist lock and turn it over, so that the fingers are pointing to the sky, instead of to the ground. The variations have to do with how you grab the fingers. Experiment.[/features_box_green]



Once you have practiced these locks with the differing finger orientations, move on to the next blog post,

Enlarging Your Wrist-Locks Body-Bubble




wrist locks counters video tip

If you like wrist locks and crave free video tips, here’s a quick video that was posted on another web site.

Take a look. It will give you a quick tip or two about lock counters and reversals.



[headline_georgia_medium_centered color=”#000000″]Wrist Locks Video Tip[/headline_georgia_medium_centered]



Let me know what you think,



Keith (Pascal)

fight distance training

Here’s a new tip on training a different (better) fighting distance.

It’s not fancy, but it does get the point across. Maybe you’ll find the martial-arts tip useful …

… or maybe not 😉

Let me know what you think,

Keith Pascal

Hot Chocolate Followup Questions

[headline_arial_small_centered color=”#000000″]Martial-Arts Improvement Followup Questions to the Hot Chocolate Fighting Parable[/headline_arial_small_centered]

Watch the video:


[headline_georgia_small_centered color=”#000000″]Download the ebooklet:[/headline_georgia_small_centered]

Download Questions and Answers, Part 1, here (right click, Save As ..)



[order_box_2 width=”60%” + border=”4px”]Did you miss the original story?

Download Hot Chocolate Fighting, Here (FREE)[/order_box_2]

Fighting Parable Video and Ebook

[headline_tahoma_medium_centered color=”#000000″]Hot Chocolate Fighting Parable[/headline_tahoma_medium_centered]
[headline_tahoma_small_centered color=”#000000″]Free video and ebook[/headline_tahoma_small_centered]

Watch the Fight Story Video:


Download the Martial-Arts eBook:

[headline_tahoma_small_centered color=”#000000″]Download eBook Here (Right click “Save As …”)[/headline_tahoma_small_centered]

[order_box_2 width=”60%” + border=”4px”]Look for the follow-up videos and ebooklets on questions and answers about this parable. Get even more out of the story and become a better martial artist, now.[/order_box_2]