wrist lock resisters

If you have been into martial arts, combatives, or fighting for any length of time, then you know that there are definitely two opposing sides of the wrist-locks argument: some believe that joint locks work in a real fight or self-defense situation, and then there are those who belief that actually effecting a practical wrist lock is pure fantasy.

Which camp do you side with?

Obviously, as the author of Wrist Locks: From Protecting Yourself to Becoming an Expert, I believe wrist locks are practical and VERY effective … if you know how to make them work. And that’s the key …

Of course, my belief is more than just dojo founded. Locks have worked for me for years and years. They have proved their worth.


[headline_tahoma_medium_left color=”#000000″]Wrist Locks Don’t Work[/headline_tahoma_medium_left]

When someone shares with me their opinion that joint locks are just this side of worthless, I don’t immediately label him or her in my mind as a silly boy or silly girl. These naysayers obviously have had some experience where a lock failed them … or failed someone else, while they were attacking.

So, while we play, I look for a good spot in our sharing of martial knowledge to make my point. And once again, my point is that locking will help us to defend ourselves better. And at some point, I may convince my colleague of the same.

Try to snap on a lock the midst of a self-defense scenario is challenging. You have to defend yourself, and then take a lock when the opportunity presents itself. Since there are so many variables in these situations, you need a variety of locks, and you need to know how to get into the right position while someone is hitting and kicking you.

It takes practice.


[headline_tahoma_medium_left color=”#000000″]An Easy Wrist Lock[/headline_tahoma_medium_left]

Sometimes these wrist-lock critics make, what I call, a stupid error, and it does cause me to chuckle on the inside. I’m laughing at the irony of my critic making the lock easier for me….

The last time a self-proclaimed martial-arts expert got in my face with the statement, “Dude, wrist locks don’t work,” he forced an internal giggle to course through my head; my brain was squealing in delight, like a kid in a candy store.


Because this guy challenged me by offering me a hand, wrist, and forearm. He stuck out his right hand and said, “Go ahead; try and lock me, if you think you can!”

When he said that, I did think to myself … “Oh, silly, boy!”

Because he was allowing me to start my lock from a grab. He wasn’t resisting from a distance; he allowed me to get to a “starting position.”

[features_box_light_green width=”75%” + border=”2px”]Note: I don’t care if he’s grabbing me, or I am grabbing him; wrist locks feel easy to me, when I can start from such a fixed position.[/features_box_light_green]

How courteous of him, and how convenient for me.

Not only was he proffering a hand, he was allowing me to choose which lock I wanted. And let me tell you, snapping on a lock when you are being grabbed is a lot easier than having to get to that position in the middle of a scuffle.

Not only that, I chose a lock based on predicting how he’d resist. So, I was ready for him.

I got into position, and said, “Go!”

He resisted … and I had a choice: overpower the resistance, or go with the flow … into my planned secondary lock. Right into my trap.

Oh, and I set him up, so that he couldn’t reach me with his other hand or foot from the starting position.

Silly … challenging … boy … young man.


If you need to learn to snap on a variety of wrist locks from a grab, check out Chapter 5 of Wrist Locks: From Protecting Yourself to Becoming an Expert. If you want to get into a lock in the middle of a fight, look to Chapter 8 and 12. And if you have problems against wrist-lock resisters, then practice the tips on pages 156 – 162 (middle of Chapter 7).

Stop Counterattack with Wrist Lock Tweak

[headline_georgia_large_left color=”#000000″]Stopping Your Opponent’s Counterattack with a Wrist-Lock Adjustment[/headline_georgia_large_left]

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

At some point in the fight, while you have been hitting and kicking, you find yourself snapping on a wrist lock. Maybe you took a grabbing hand, and pivoted it into a control position. Or maybe you slowed down a punch, got control of your enemy’s arm, and then locked.

Note: If you don’t know how to make a wrist lock practical, see Wrist Locks: From Protecting Yourself to Becoming an Expert. Make sure you get the soft cover edition.

You have the wrist lock effected, but for some reason, your opponent still has a free limb for a counterattack. You haven’t yet caused enough pain and achieved the appropriate angle to stop this guy (or gal) from trying to punch you.

What I’d like to suggest is that you don’t wait until the lock is firmly in place before you start dealing with the attempted counter. Go in for a hit or kick of your own, when you feel the beginnings of a counter.

Now, here’s the key … as you start to interrupt your opponent’s counterattack, maintain your hold on the lock. In fact, apply even more pressure to the lock, as you strike with one of your weapons — other hand for a punch, foot for a kick, an elbow strike, or even a head-butt, if the distance is right.

You can begin practicing for this with a practice partner. Effect a lock, but leave it a little loose. Allow your partner a little wiggle room.

First, practice tightening the slack in the lock as you change the distance between you and your partner. In other words, step in, while applying more pressure to the wrist lock, joint lock, or arm bar.

Next, practice, stepping in while tightening the lock AND hitting. If you have a hand free, then lock with one hand and punch with the other. If you are instead effecting a lock that requires both hands, then kick to a low-line target as you close the range.

So, does this give you any practice ideas?

Does it raise any more questions?

learn wrist locks

There have been bodyguards, bouncers, security guards, and law-enforcement officials who have asked me about learning wrist locks and joint controls. They wanted to know which style I preferred that emphasized locks. Did I recommend chin na, ju jitsu, aikido, kali, or some other style?

Which Wrist Locks Style Is The Best?

Good question. After all, you want to learn the best, right?

Well, the answer isn’t a pat, one-style response. You see, all styles that offer locks do have some merit … for teaching wrist locks. After all, that is their bailiwick.

Still, there is an answer to that question.

Before I answer which style is best for learning locks, let me tell you something a little humorous about the different styles that feature joint controls….

Funny Wrist Locks Fact

When I first wrote Wrist Locks: From Protecting Yourself to Becoming an Expert, I tried to avoid being style specific. In fact, it was a main objective.

I wanted to appeal to joint-lockers of all styles. I did write a bit about the names of various locks with my suggestions for communicating with someone from a different style. But I pretty much avoided names from other styles, and instead invented my own.

So, what’s so funny about all of this?

Well, over the years, I have received hundreds, if not thousands of compliments … where I am thanked for writing a book specific to “their” style. In other words, the aikido folks liked that Wrist Locks was an aikido book. The ju jitsu crowd felt the same, except that the book was particular to their style.

And on it went. JKD folks appreciated the Bruce Lee flavor.

Here I was desperately trying to avoid linking to one style … and ironically, each one thought that I was showing an affinity toward their style.

Funny, don’t you think?

Quick Guide For Choosing a Martial Arts Style Featuring Locks

Rather than identifying the best martial arts style for joint controls, let’s instead get a few guidelines to help you choose a class or school offering locks:

1) Avoid schools that try to take a punch straight into a lock. This is dangerous; they need something to slow down the punch or deal with it “realistically” before locking.

2) Find a class that keeps using the same locks over and over. You want to spiral back to the same joint locks, so that you really perfect them.

3) Avoid schools that “always” have the students in cooperative mode. Eventually, you have to learn to snap a lock on a resister.

4) Find a teacher who will show you how to reverse and counter locks. The lock effected on you doesn’t have to be an end-all. You have options, including …

5) hitting. Avoid teachers who don’t teach you to escape some locking situations by hitting or kicking.

Last Piece of Advice
If I may be so bold … whether you buy my soft cover book on Wrist Locks or decide to stick with my free offerings, may I suggest that you get a flavor of realism in locking. Read my “stuff” for a while. Avoid techniques that seem like fantasy … and really perfect some of my suggestions.

Wrist Locks work for me. They work for my students. And I want them to work for you.

Bruce Lee’s Principle Lives On

Bruce Lee May Be Dead, But This Principle Lives On


by Keith Pascal


Even when I meet another instructor who does similar locks, there can still be a difference of opinion of one or two moves, principles, or strategies.
As mentioned, I recently attended a wrist-locking seminar. I thought that 95% of what they were doing fit into the “cool” category; still, I had a problem or two with a couple of parts of the training.




Well, some of what I saw went against a Bruce Lee principle — a principle that Bruce Lee, himself, occasionally ignored “in his films.”
You all know the scene that I am referring to….
You’ll find it toward the beginning of “Enter the Dragon.” He’s working with his pupil.


Thwap … hit to the top of the head.


Okay, in your best imitation of Bruce-Lee’s voice, say, “Never take your eyes off your opponent … even when bowing.”
Good rule, eh?
Well, we have already discussed, ad nauseam, how this principle can be applied against those who do spinning kicks and spinning back-fist punches. Let’s not argue the spins here; you either follow the principle and avoid spinning, or you don’t.


But what about wrist locks and joint locks?




What about the locking techniques where you turn your back on your opponent? What about all of those controls that have you “rolling” and “tumbling” into position on the mat?

To be completely open and up front about this, there were a few moves (okay, at least one), where I felt there was no time to punch or kick the ‘dude’ locking you. It “felt” like a safe lock, without weak spots.


On the other hand …


most of the tumbles into the lock position felt that they had some “slack points” in the sequence of the lock. As the lock was effected, I felt a few points where I could have punched my partner in the back of the neck or kidneys.
There were also a couple of spots, where if I shifted my weight just a little, I could have dropped a knee into his (or her) calf (lower leg).
These locks, in my opinion, had problems. They had definite weak points. And the problems stemmed from taking one’s eyes off the enemy.


At this point, you have a few options. You can:

1. disagree with me and continue taking your eyes off your opponent during your locks.


2. loudly proclaim to the world that you don’t do “no stinkin’ locks,” and especially “no crummy somersault-type moves.”


3. avoid that variety of joint control in the future. Really try to keep your eyes on your opponent, at all times. (Yes, Yoda, “there is no try. Do or do not.”)


4. examine the locks where you do lose visual contact. Look for those “slack spots” mentioned. Change the flow of the lock, so there “is” constant pressure all the way to the position of control. Tweak the lock, so you do keep your eyes on your opponent.

lockflow beginners

If you don’t understand the concept of lockflow or flowing from one lock to the next, then read on….

Lockflow In Its Simplest Form

In its simplest form, lockflow is the smooth progression from one joint lock or wrist lock to another. The idea behind a correct flow is to keep some sort of pressure on the joint or limb throughout the entire transition.

Sloppy low-flow practitioners release pressure during their “segue” from one move to the next. Often they try to fill this space with a hit or a kick….

Adding in Kicks and Hits to Your Lockflowing

Whether your sequence is composed of two locks or seven, it can be very useful (and beneficial) to add in punches, strikes, and kicks. After all, in a real self-defense situation, you might have to get rough in order to protect yourself (or your loved ones).

Lockflowing is especially conducive to hitting and kicking, because your enemy’s movement is restricted. This limitation gives you a distinct advantage.

While I do approve of this strike and kick advantage, especially when dealing with multiple attackers, you can guess that I don’t like to use hits to fill the space between poorly-executed moves.

Learn to lock well.

Lockflow From Both Sides

Most martial artists think of lockflow as having one practitioner in command through the whole “exercise.”

I encourage you to take this drill to the next level and EXCHANGE locks.

You effect a joint lock, and your practice partner counters or reverses your lock, by “flowing” into another joint control.

And yes, you can still insert kicks and punches into your exercise.

Lock Flow Beginners Resource

If you have no clue how to flow from one lock to the next I recommend that you read the chapter featuring two patterns in Wrist Locks: From Protecting Yourself To Becoming an Expert.

Start with the locks and sequences in the patterns, and then as soon as your are fluid in your flowing (pardon the play on words), add in some of the other locks and reversals from the book.

This will give you all the start that you need.

tv martial artists faking it

When you see TV martial artists doing wrist locks, do you think they are real, or do you think they are faking it?

Non martial artists have asked me my opinion of various celebrities who do martial arts on the small screen. They want to know if the moves in the cop shows are a bunch of hooey, or if there is any weight to the joint locks being performed.

My answer is that … of course … it depends.

Believe it or not, a lot of the locks that I saw on the early episodes of Bones were very accurate. (I haven’t checked lately.)

On the other hand, most of the locks on the reruns from the 70s that I have seen on Hulu.com were a load of crap.

I could go on and on about this CSI show or that Law and Order incarnation, but I think it’s a much better wrist locks exercise for you to analyze TV joint locks.

Learn to see which positions and torques would stress a joint, and which are … just for show.

And you know which book I recommend to learn practical wrist locks, right?

Wrist Locks Tip Dealing With Resisters

From time to time, I pick up a new tip to add to my arsenal of wrist locking knowledge. And the following tip has to do with, pardon the play on words, picking something up … or possibly, throwing something down….

On another blog, I recently posted an article on Joint Locks in Law Enforcement.

In that wrist-locks article, I share a new tactic: Author Loren Christensen once had to subdue a perpetrator with a mattress. He toppled the mattress on the resister, and then grabbed a hand for a wrist lock.

Don’t you think that’s a great idea?

Can you brainstorm a way to expand on the principle?

Easy Wrist Locks

Maybe all wrist locks would be easier, if we could crunch the fight out of our attacker with a heavy object, first. Grab that bookcase. Hand me that piano. Throw that skateboard.

And then effect a wrist lock!

I’m not saying this is the end-all answer to snapping on efficient joint locks AND dealing with resisters. Still, it makes you ponder the possibilities. And it’s a great little concept to add to your martial-arts repertoire. Wouldn’t you agree?

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Benefits

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu From The Outside In

Even though I have been known for years as the “wrist locks guy,” I have absolutely no connection to any Brazilian Jiu Jitsu organization, or any other Jiu Jitsu organization of any type.

Still, I have managed to swap locks, and other martial-arts moves, with several BJJ artists. We had a lot of fun exchanging info., techniques, and strategies, back and forth.

While BJJ isn’t necessarily “my thing,” I think I can point out some interesting benefits. The are some strong points of the style that their practitioners may or may not have considered.


Note: Please don’t take this as a disparaging comment, but I don’t think that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the end-all martial art. There are some strong points to the style, and also some areas that could use a little tweaking, ala the principles of Bruce Lee. Just my humble opinion, of course.


BJJ Strengths

Lots of Grappling Situations: Over the weeks, it seemed that we went through a myriad of grappling variations. If there was a position that you could imagine, we practiced it.

I admire their thoroughness.

Tapping Out: They really do seem to have a goal of ending the scuffle. They have a set of holds that warrant a tap-out.

I have played with other grapplers who seemed to move without a purpose. They slowly looked for something to do, next. The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu guys head directly toward a move or position that they know.

Can Take Punishment: I was able to play with these guys and put a little oomph into my moves. They could take it and dish it out.

I learn a lot more, when I don’t have to pussyfoot around.

No egos involved and a little rough training is fine. And the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioners were a great mix.

Now, I know that not all situations are the same; not all BJJ artists will be nice; not all of them will be able to take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’. Still, after more than one encounter, these are some of the Jiu Jitsu benefits that I noticed.

jiu jitsu for dummies

Jiu Jitsu For Dummies

Knowing that such a book didn’t exist in the published world, I thought this would be a unique title for an article. Little did I know that the word “dummies” would be used to lure martial artists to search-engine listings on Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), Brazilian J.J., and more.

There is even a facebook fan page devoted to Jiu Jitsu For Dummies.

It’s funny that so many would flock to what used to be a derogatory designation. Calling someone a dummy was fightin’ words.

My point in using that title for the article was to help those who were having problems with their jiu-jitsu progress. I have a way to get better, faster …

Martial Arts In A Nutshell, Not Really

You can’t master a martial-arts style in two weeks … or even two months. And if we are talking true mastery, then two years isn’t enough, either.

If you want to master something in a nutshell, then I suggest that you pick the aspect that interests you the most, and focus on it. You won’t get the whole system, but you might learn to throw anyone trying to tackle you (for example).

It’s interesting: For those who do want to perfect and become competent at their entire style, my advice is very similar to those who want the easy, short version….

Jiu Jitsu Black Belts

If you want to get a lot better at jiu jitsu, you should focus on one area of study, at first. Don’t forgo all other facets of the style; do focus on the area that can help you the most, right now.

For most people practicing Chin Na, BJJ, Small Circle, or any jiu jitsu art, I recommend a focus on wrist locks and joint locks.

Note: I know that I am known as the “wrist locks guy,” but I have logical reasoning behind my recommendation.

If you are studying toward eventually earning your black belt, then you will have to perfect wrist locks anyway, right?

They will, pardon the pun, go hand in hand with all your other martial studies. By learning them now, they will help you control the speed of an altercation. You’ll be able to gain control at some point in the scuffle.

You’ll also be able to continue your other martial responses in the middle of, or from, a wrist lock. For example, you can continue hitting while locking, and you can take a joint lock into a judo throw of some type.

The Locking Advantage

If you want a locking advantage while you progress in your martial-arts studies, I suggest that you spend a concentrated amount of time pursuing counters and reversals.

This will give you an edge over your peers, and in some cases, allow you to play with the more advanced practitioners. Just think, they start to lock you, and BAM … in an instant, they find themselves tangled, and in pain, in a joint lock of your doing.

This is manipulation at its finest.

By the way, I made a quick video on counters and reversals. It lasts under three minutes and has a secret tip. If you have a few minutes, and want a counter and reversal tip, then click here:

wrist locks tip on counters and reversals