Grappling and Joint Locks

By: James Liu

A joint lock is when you use your arm or legs to pull the joint of your opponent into a position that causes pain or discomfort. The lock can also hold your opponent in place until he or she submits or stops struggling. Grappling or Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a martial art where joint locks are common. The idea to get close to your opponent and to grab him in a hold is the centerpiece to grappling concept. Once the opponent is on the ground the fighter can maneuver to get a better grip or to change the hold so that the opponent will submit faster.

In competition or when sparring, some joint locks are not permitted. If the area of the joint is anywhere around the knees and ankles which are easily torn or the spine which could cause paralysis or worse, then the use of these locks is prohibited. The ankles and knees are especially vulnerable to these types of locks because the ligament could be torn or a knee cap could get knocked out of place. Reconstructive surgery is expensive and the recovery time is long. It is not advisable for anyone to attempt a joint lock on another person unless the fight was real and you are in danger.

Competition does allow for joint locks in the wrist. By using your hand and body weight against a persons wrist, you can cause the person you are fighting to reverse their movement of attack or submit in pain if the hold is good. There is more flexibility in the wrist area and injury is not as common. Another area is the elbow. By putting pressure on the opposite hinge of the elbow will cause the opponent to submit from either pain or their inability to break the hold. Too much pressure in this grappling technique and the elbow can hyperextend and serious injury can occur.

A grappler not only wants to hold down the fighter but they are also trained in inflicting pain. They are taught pressure points where pain can be inflicted and submission will commence. Pressure points are areas of the body that has a large concentration of nerve endings. When pressure is applied to this area intense pain is felt and the natural reaction is to go in the opposite direction of the pressure or to jerk away quickly. Using pressure points in grappling can allow the fighter to maneuver the opponent in the direction of their choosing by picking the appropriate spot to apply pressure.

Remember you level of training when trying joint locks or pushing pressure points. At lower level you are too inexperienced and you might cause serious injury to your sparring partner. At the upper levels of competition remember that the person you are fighting is trained as you are and any attempt to use joint locks or pressure points will be met with matching resistance. Remember though the idea is to win your match, using a joint lock or pressure point may be using too much force in a friendly sparring match. Use your head before you use your body and fewer injuries will occur.

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