Locks and Restraints

When discussing Locks and Restraints, many people immediately associate this with Jiu Jitsu. This is not surprising since most Jiu Jitsu styles emphasize the importance of being able to neutralize an opponent without causing permanent damage. Controlling techniques can be successfully used to achieve this.

Most systems contain a limited number of fixed locks and restraints. It is not uncommon that someone with 1 Dan will be able to perform 20 locks. In this chapter we have illustrated more than a hundred locks and restraints to get you started. Our ambition however, is that you will be able to composite as many different locks as you like. Using different positioning of the opponent and the basic techniques below.

Basic theories

Basically there are five ways to control your opponent. They are:

Restraint               
You disable your opponent without applying pressure to a joint. With this kind of technique you generally won’t be able to make your opponent surrender. You can however keep him pinned down.

Straight lock         
This is applied by extending a joint in the wrong direction. Take the thumb for instance and force it towards your forearm.

Bent lock               
This is applied by bending a body part in the opposite direction compared to a straight lock. In the case of the thumb it would mean that you force it towards the palm of your hand.

Twisting lock       
This is applied by twisting the joint either clock-wise or counter clock-wise. To apply it to the thumb you simply grab it and twist it in either direction. These locks are usually the most dangerous of the three mentioned.

Choke                    
Disable your opponent by cutting off his air supply. There is an immense amount of variations of things to use when you apply a choke hold.

The techniques described above can then be applied to a body part of choice. We have chosen to divide the body into the following main parts:

Arms                       
The arms consist of three major joints at the shoulder, elbow and wrist. The hand itself has three additional joints for each finger.

Legs                        
The legs can, just as the arms, be divided into three major joints at the hip, the knee and the ankle. Similar to the fingers the toes consist of additional joints.

Head                      
The head can be considered to have one major joint at the neck and this is the most vulnerable joint on the body. Locks applied here can result in instant death. Be careful when practicing locks and never try them without an instructor present.

Starting from these theories you will be able to construct almost an infinite number of techniques. We will mention a few examples here:

  • Straight arm lock
  • Bent leg lock
  • Twisting head lock
  • Restraint of the head
  • Twisting wrist lock

The choke is an exception from the others and can only be applied to the neck.

Restraints

A restraint is a technique where you immobilize your opponent without the use of a lock. With this kind of technique you generally won’t be able to make your opponent surrender. You can however keep him pinned down for a longer period of time.

In order for a restraint to be effective you should be in a position where you are not required to match your opponent’s strength and effort to keep him under control.

To illustrate this, place yourself sitting on top of your opponent and hook your legs slightly around his back. This way you will restrain him effectively when he tries to break free. He is likely to try to push you away with his arms or to roll in either direction. If he tries to push you away, his arms will be competing with your legs, which hopefully are stronger and if they are not, you may use your arms as support. If he tries to roll, you will keep your legs around his body and support your position by putting your hand against the ground in the direction he is moving.

Restraints with clothes

If you learn to make use of the opponent’s clothes you will become increasingly flexible and find that there are several ways to gain an advantage. For instance pull his jacket over his head and notice how much easier it gets to keep him under control. A belt can be used effectively to restrain both his arms with only one of your hands. If he has an open jacket you can wrap his arm inside of it and lie down on top of him and thus reducing his ability to move while you still have both hands free.

Strangulations

Disable your opponent by cutting of his air supply. It can be done either by applying pressure to his neck with a choke-hold or by covering his mouth and nose making him suffocate.

 

Choke

Hands

Direct pressure can be applied by using your fingers. Your thumbs can be used in an attack straight to the front of the throat or from both sides at once. The fingers can be applied to the lowest part of the throat just between the collar bones. The entire hand can grab around the throat pulling it towards you to achieve a most unpleasant technique.

Forearms

Next there is the use of your forearms. Both the front and rear side of your forearm contains surface bones. Used correctly they can be lethal weapons. When standing behind your opponent, you can reach around his neck and use your front side of the forearm to choke him. Apply pressure just below the larynx. Pull towards yourself in a rising motion. If you experience trouble try to move your arms sideways in either direction and if you need increased power use your other hand as support on your wrist. This technique can just as well be applied from the side.

If you are in front of your opponent you may use the rear part of your forearm instead. Put your right hand on the back of his right shoulder and aim for his throat with your forearm. You can enhance the technique by using your left hand as support on the back of his neck and put your right hand on your left forearm. A most effective variant is the use of a scissor-lock as a choke.

Upper arms

When you are behind him, position your opponent’s neck at the inside of your elbow and tightly bend your arm around his neck. As support you may use the other arm and put the hand on the back of his head. The hand of the choking arm grabs your supporting arm to maintain stability in the technique. This technique can be elaborated in many ways, but the most important thing is to keep close contact all around his neck.

The opponent’s arms

If you do not want to use your own arms you may take advantage of the arms of your opponent. Fold one or both of his arms around his neck and pull his hand making him choke himself. You may use your other arm as support to gain more stability in the technique. Another variant could be performed when you place both his and your right arm around his neck. Push your shoulder against his arm towards his neck and support the back of his neck with your forearm.

The opponent’s clothes

The side of your hand can be applied across the throat if you grab his collar with the other hand. Remember not to allow any slack between his neck and his clothes. Furthermore you can use your knuckles when applying pressure to get more power. They can also be used if you grab hold of your opponent’s collar and twist your hands in a digging motion. If he wears a strong jacket you can make great use of this technique without having to worry about pinning him against the floor. Finally you can use his clothes entirely to choke him. The most important thing is to be sure that he has a strong jacket before you perform the technique or it won’t work as intended. Cross the lapels of his jacket eliminating all slack and cutting off his air supply decisively.

Suffocation

Make the opponent suffocate by covering his mouth and nose and thus cutting off his air supply. The easiest way is just putting your hands over his mouth and nose but it requires you to have full control of the rest of his body. Otherwise he will be able to break free. The technique can be performed either from the front of your opponent or from behind with the back of his neck against your chest.

In general any soft body part can be used but they are not all equally airtight. With your belly, you will be able to cover his entire face, while it may be more difficult with your forearm or upper arm. Any body part can however be used to some extent and if it does not immediately cut off his air supply, it will at least keep him distracted while you prepare your next move.

Your own or his clothes can be used effectively, but they are usually not as airtight as a body part. Two conclusions should be drawn from this. First you must not expect an immediate effect or a direct win-situation and second you must understand that there is plenty of time for the opponent to break free before he is out of air. The more he struggles, the more air he will consume and thus reducing the time it takes for you to win.

 

Joint locks

Principles

Basically there are three ways to control your opponent with joint locks. If you learn these principles you will become more flexible than if you would only learn specific techniques. This way you can adapt to any situation and make use of any target area without being limited in your ability. The principles are:

Straight lock

This principle is applied by extending a joint to its maximum. The straight lock works in the wrong direction of the joint. Take the thumb for instance and force it towards the forearm. As for the elbow, the lock will have an effect when the arm is in a stretched position.

Bent lock

This is applied by bending the body part in the opposite direction compared to a straight lock. The joint is thus forced in the right direction, but to an extent that will be painful. To increase the effect, you can place one of your own body parts inside of the joint, thus increasing the load on the joint and applying pressure to the surrounding muscles. This is easiest illustrated in a bent leg lock with the opponent lying face down, where you put your shin in the hollow of his knee and fold his leg around it. In the case of the thumb a bent lock would mean that you force the thumb towards the palm of the hand in a bending motion.

Twisting lock

This is applied by twisting the joint either clock-wise or counter clock-wise. To apply it to the thumb you simply grab it and twist it in either direction. These locks are usually the most dangerous of the three mentioned.

Target areas

The techniques described above can then be applied to a body part of choice. We have chosen to divide the body into the following main parts:

Arms

The arms consist of three major joints at the shoulder, elbow and wrist. The hand itself has three additional joints for each finger.

Legs

The legs can, just as the arms, be divided into three major joints at the hip, the knee and the ankle. Similar to the fingers the toes consist of two additional joints that can be targeted.

Head and back

The spine can be considered to have one major joint at the neck and this is the most vulnerable joint on the body. Locks applied here can result in instant death. The back contains powerful muscle groups and is rather protected from locks, but the lower part of the back can be vulnerable when targeted in combination with a leg lock. Be careful when practising locks and never try them without an instructor present.

Combine to create techniques

Starting from these theories you will be able to construct almost an infinite number of techniques. The principles cannot be applied to all target areas but a few examples will be mentioned here:

  • Straight arm lock at the elbow
  • Bent leg lock at the knee
  • Twisting head lock
  • Straight leg lock at the foot (foot lock)
  • Bent arm lock at the wrist
  • Twisting arm lock at the shoulder (shoulder lock)

Scissor-locks

The scissor locks are unlike other locks applied directly to the body parts. The pain is inflicted on either a muscle or a bone and always from two directions at once. Other locks focus on joints and sometimes they are too predictable. The charm of these locks is that they are not very common. The most common one is the leg scissors applied to either the head or around the ribcage. However these locks can be applied by using several different body parts such as the forearms, wrists, shin bones, knees or thighs. Depending on which body parts are used there are different advantages to be considered. The wrists and knees are extremely hard and cause maximum pain infliction. The forearms and shinbones are effective and easy to use, while the thighs are relatively soft and thus not directly pain inflicting. The thighs can be used to achieve control or a choke on the chosen body part.

Principles

The scissor-locks require that you can fix your attack around the targeted body part. You must have a link between the body parts that you use and then apply the pressure decisively. The pressure can either be applied with the body parts close together or a bit apart. If they are close together it is a pure scissor-lock and when they are apart it resembles either a straight or bent lock instead.

Forearms

The forearms are easy to use and you can utilize the strength of your entire hands. Connect your hands in a firm grip and then “cut” off the targeted body part as if your arms were a pair of scissors. It is important to keep the correct arm on top to make the technique work. When sitting on top of your opponent, put your left forearm under his right forearm. Close your hands in a hold and let your right forearm connect with his from above.

Wrists

The wrists offer greater control than the forearms but can only be used on smaller body parts. Use the fingers to keep your hands together and focus on applying pressure with your wrist bones. It is difficult to close your hands entirely and you must rely on having rather strong fingers in order to succeed. As the wrist bones have very small contact area with the opponent, the pain will be significant.

Knees

The knees can target any body part and are the most powerful tool you can use in scissor-locks. The most effective variant is to apply pressure to your opponent’s neck, either from the sides or from the front and back. Your feet are crossed and linked to maximize your power.

Shinbones

The shinbones are applicable to the same areas as the forearms. The principle is the same as for the knees, meaning that your feet are crossed and linked together. A special variation of this technique can be performed standing with one foot on each side of the opponent’s ribcage. Move your feet as close as possible, almost as if they were underneath the opponent. Then use the friction of the floor as a link between your feet and apply pressure to the sides of your opponent’s torso. This way you will, as long as you can maintain your balance, be able to keep control of your opponent without the use of your arms. These can be used for other purposes instead, for instance repeated strikes to the head.

Thighs

Using the thighs is very different from the other techniques. The thighbones are covered with large muscle groups and thus you cannot inflict direct pain on your opponent. The benefit of this is a large contact area and good control. When applied to the neck you will be able to choke your opponent but be prepared that it will take some time. Other areas of application are controlling the opponent’s legs, torso or arms. The purpose of using the thighs is not a quick finish, but instead controlling, restraining or holding off your opponent.

Advantages of using scissor-locks

The main benefit of learning about scissor-locks is to get more flexible as a martial artist and grappler. Knowing them will avoid being restricted to only using other locks and restraints. As a joint lock can be prevented by tensing the muscles, the scissor-locks target the muscles directly or in some cases the bones close to them.

Disadvantages of using scissor-locks

The scissor-locks will not be effective on a person with an extremely high pain-threshold. Neither will it be applicable on a person with hardened muscles or bones. They may further require that the user has a relatively high pain-threshold himself. The scissor-locks can be avoided and resisted if they are practised.