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 …




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


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.

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?

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