Unrealistic Arm Behind Back

Arm Lock Behind the Back

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?


Movie Trivia Question

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?


Improving This Arm Lock

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.


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