Thursday, 16 February 2012

Joint locking – how useful is it really?


Learning how to lock up joints seems to be an integral part of many martial arts, both for self-defence training and in grappling sports. In my kobudo class we learn how to apply joint locks with weapons. I can apply wrist, arm, shoulder and ankle locks with a pair of nunchuku or lock you up with a pair of tonfa. It’s quite fun, though not so fun when I’m the one being locked up with a jo or tanbo – ouch!

In karate we also train with locking techniques, in fact we have a couple of lock flow drills that we learn. These are quite useful in helping us to remember how to apply a range of different locks. We start with thumb and finger locks, then wrist locks, arm locks, shoulder locks and eventually moving onto the floor with cross body arm locks and head locks.

After a bit of practice and an understanding of the mechanics of how locks work they are relatively easy to apply to a compliant partner (except for the few people for whom locks don’t seem to work on at all). However, if your partner is determined to resist being locked up then it is almost impossible to apply. Of course, neither total compliance nor total resistance is a very realistic scenario. In a real situation there will be neither compliance nor total resistance from an attacker. Instead there will be striking, constant movement, grappling, shouting, spitting…….how do you apply a lock to someone who’s playing out their own game plan and not complying with yours?

What’s the purpose of applying locks anyway? I can think of three reasons why people say locks are useful:

*To restrain and control

*To control and reposition the opponent to a more advantageous position to strike/ throw them

*To disable the opponent by injuring/breaking a joint

Restraint and control – I see restraint and control as the domain of specific groups e.g. the police, prison officers, mental health nurses, security guards, bouncers etc. I’m aware that there are techniques called ‘painless restraint’ techniques that can be used to control someone and prevent them from hurting themselves or others. However, I don’t see that this is of any value to me – why would I want to restrain an attacker? Even if I achieved it, which I doubt, what would I do with him then? Surely my aim should be to escape….

Control and reposition – This is based on the assumption of ‘pain compliance’; that the opponent, once locked, will be in so much pain that he will become putty in your hands and allow you to pull him into a position that is advantageous to you so that you can strike or throw him to end the confrontation and make good your escape. Though I can see some merit in trying to do this, I think the problems in actually doing it are twofold:  1. In the melee of a fight it may be extremely difficult to get the lock on in the first place and 2. Even if you are successful in applying the lock it may not cause pain in your adrenaline fuelled attacker.

Disable/injure/break joint – In principle this may be a good strategy in a self-defence situation but again it depends on the possibility of getting the lock on in the first place.

Theoretically, using joint locks as part of your self-defence arsenal seems a good idea. From a mechanical point of view they undoubtedly work. However, in practice, in the frenzy of a fight, I have my doubts as to their usefulness.  You could argue that you need to strike the opponent first to weaken them and then apply the lock – that may work if your aim is to restrain, but if I’m able to strike hard enough to weaken my attacker to the point that I could apply a lock unopposed then surely my work is done and all I need to do is escape?

It seems likely that bigger people can more easily apply locks to smaller, weaker people. This is clearly a big disadvantage to women as their attacker is most likely to be a bigger, stronger man. It seems more likely to me that my attacker will be the one applying locks on me to control and restrain me while he drags me off to some secluded place to continue the attack.

Wouldn’t it be more useful to learn how to counter a lock rather than apply it? At least for women.  Are there such techniques? If so, perhaps they should be taught in tandem with how to apply the lock…..

What do you think? Am I missing the point somewhere along the line? How useful do you think locks are for self-defence?

Now see 'Joint locking - a follow up'

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22 comments:

Charles James said...

Hi, Sue:

In general for women, speaking from a male view and a total lack of experience, on the street the most likely scenario they encounter is a predatory attack that is totally and completely a surprise overcoming them by subverting the flow of the OODA loop. A predator isn't going to bother with applying any type of joint lock to control you. They tend to control the mind by the type of attack, the blitz, the overcoming with a flurry of damaging blows, etc. I would suggest if I were a professional or expert that women learn first and foremost avoidance. If you fail and are blitzed then train for that blitz to overcome your mind's freeze mode so you can do the most basic, no frills, uncomplicated force necessary to escape and run. Then again, that is just me.

In my view outside the professional groups locks and submissions are fun and great for competition and the social type fights or attacks if you fail to avoid them. In a predatory attack on the street stick to the fundamentally survival instinct oriented techniques that mimic or are derived from to escape and find safety with minimal damage.

As to your questions, "Wouldn’t it be more useful to learn how to counter a lock rather than apply it?" In my limited use of these techniques in my system/branch I feel you have to learn them first then learn to counter them. Having them applied and then working out the counters seems to be the better and holistic way to learn. First atomistic, i.e. break it down int application and then break it down to the counter applications then blend them in a drill or set of drills to form a holistic form.

You ask, "At least for women.  Are there such techniques?" In my humble opinion you and anyone else learning these techniques should be learning both sides of that coin or your always going to be missing critical parts of the whole. It may be that the instructors are allowing you to learn all the applications of joint locks first and then the counters later but my view is to learn one, both sides, then learn the next. I find that learning only the applications tends to get a bit convoluted when you start to learn the counters. A personal preference in teaching is all this is as both do work.

You ask, "perhaps they should be taught in tandem with how to apply the lock….." Exactly, this is my preferred teaching method. The crazy thing is that in a lot of cases, not necessarily yours or your instructors so ask first, the instructors actually don't know how to apply or teach counters they tend to learn only how to apply them. If your going into a professional work where this is a good system to know then you had better learn both thoroughly and completely and use the key to application and counter-applications - practice, practice, practice.

You asked, "Am I missing the point somewhere along the line? How useful do you think locks are for self-defence?" First, I think you have the point. Second, I think they are useful as I describe in the last paragraph if learned in tandem. Ask Rory Miller about it as a pro since I get the impression he has perfected take downs and joint locks, etc. in his life as a professional herding and subduing prisoners, etc.

Wonderful posting Sue, thanks!

Felicia said...

Hmmm...I've often wondered about the same things - specifically: in the heat of battle will joint locks/manipulation work? I do not want to find out they don't when I'm being attacked, that's for sure...

But I think the bigger issue is about how women are attacked. I've said it before, but it bares repeating: statistically, most women are assaulted by people they know, not Chester the Molester or Manny the Mugger jumping out from behind the bushes or on "the street." If facing the known or the unknown attacker, the best defense is not being there to get hit/harmed to begin with, which is where awareness comes in. Not only being aware of your surroundings but trusting your gut when something just doesn't feel right. Sadly, women are socialized to ignore that red flag (because it's impolite or un-lady-like) and too often, we do. But you can't avoid a situation until you know that the potential for a not-so-great outcome is there.

But I toally hear you. Most of our joint manipulation/lock drills and practice in karate and jujitsu classes involve a compliant uke who is not thrashing about/fighting every step of the way or trying to drag us away. In other words, the drills and practice on them are done too statically, which sucks - but who wants to REALLY hurt a training partner? And the few counters I've learned were introduced/drilled/practiced the same way. Not sure what to do about that, though...

Openhand said...

In the system I teach (RyuTe), we have a great number of “joint-lock”(type) techniques. The system is pretty-much “known” for them (besides the over-hyped “Kyusho” stuff, LOL).
I read your 3 reasons that you gave above, and I have to take exception to the 2nd one “Control and reposition”. The “header” I might agree with, the description ? (none of it).
#1 If ANY of your techniques are based upon “pain compliance”,..abandon them (their not worth practicing and/or applying). This would also make the rest of these similar points “moot”.
#2 The ability to apply a technique during a confrontation is not that difficult. Applicable situations occur in almost every confrontation that I've ever seen. The “trick” is to recognize their occurrence and be able to take advantage of it when it does occur. The alternative that I utilize, is that I “create” the situation for it to occur (why wait for an act of stupidity, when you can cause to happen).
You give the impression that they just don't occur during a confrontation, again, one needs to be assertive (create the situation). When you are able to effectively apply a lock upon an aggressor, the fight is over. I no longer have to be concerned with exchanging any body fluids with an aggressor. Any technique used should have the ability to be escalated (to higher levels of damage being done). You assume too much credit to adrenaline (it can't counteract the effects of dislocation, and/or simple nerve/muscular isolation and/or “deadening/damage”).
The majority of situations would not allow or even suggest that placing an aggressor in a position of compliance would be a wise choice. That doesn't mean that training to do so is not a good idea though. The degree's of difficulty are inversely proportional to their result. I can easily cause significant injury to someone having placed them in a compliance position, which has a much higher learning curve than just hitting them. If I'm “trading punches”, and “hoping” that I land one that will effect that particular individual, then I'm gambling on my opponent being lesser skilled and/or resistive to impacts than I am.
The assessment made about the “Larger Applicator” (of the technique) having an advantage is a common misconception. Size and Strength (of either tori, or uke) should make NO difference to the application of ANY technique (if it does, then it's time to get different techniques).
Your assessment of learning the “countering” of a technique should be obvious. You would learn the weaknesses (if any exist) during the practice of that technique. You don't learn a technique (only) by doing it, you must have it done upon you. repeatedly. Tori and uke are a team, each should point out weaknesses (in both application and escape/counter possibilities). Practice is not “just” to learn how to apply a technique.
“Felicia” made some valid points in her comment. The note about “compliant uke's” could use some clarification though. It's important to be “compliant” when first learning the motions of the technique. Resistance can be added (up to a point) as both (tori and uke) become comfortable with the individual technique. I know for the techniques that we teach, “Full” Resistance and/or Application, would result in (possibly permanent) serious injury to the uke. We practice our techniques SLOW and precise. Having utilized them numerous times in “actual” situations, I can attest that even sloppy, half-heartedly applied technique (that's still done correctly) results in screaming, injured recipients. My co-instructor, as well as many of our students (male and female) are L.E. Officers and can attest to the techniques validity when done correctly.
I think your concerns are valid, but I think you should be confronting your instructor (or even your training partner's) on making those techniques applicable when, where and how you want them to be.

Charles James said...

OpenHand mentioned "pain" in his comment which brings up a good point as to pain and joint manipulations ..... pain is often non-existent when adrenaline is involved.

Even in training many times I have suffered painful injuries that I did not feel till long after the adrenaline left the building.

Very good point that pain is not to be relied on in a fight.

Sarah said...

I see joint locks as useful in situations where a woman is being groped in public, where a date has stepped over a boundary but hasn't escalated to assault, or where a girl is being harassed by school mates. In these situations a woman might want to avoid a full fight for many reasons and it may be that a joint lock is enough of a message to the aggressor that "no i wasn't kidding, back the hell off" that it may be enough to end the encounter without escalating to trading blows. Certainly if the aggressor is looking for a fight from the beginning, this is probably not going to prevent one, but if he's just looking to push some boundaries a joint look may be enough to dissuade him.

Journeyman said...

Sue,

Another thought provoking post. I must also compliment your readers for their excellent comments.

Some thoughts:

Restraint and Control –

Although the focus of specific groups such as the ones you mentioned should and do have a different focus and may use restraint and control techniques, they are not without value for others. There may be circumstances where having at least a cursory knowledge would be helpful, such as when dealing with a child who has gone berserk and is a danger to themselves, or a loved one in a state of crisis, or an elderly person suffering from dementia.

Granted, the goal of most of your training should be to get away, but there could be times when retraining someone would be helpful.

Control and Reposition –

I won’t talk too much about pain compliance. I did discuss it in a post here - http://japanesejiujitsu.blogspot.com/2010/09/pain-compliance-techniques-worthwhile.html.

For the purposes of your post, however, the choice of the pain compliance technique is important. I would concentrate on choosing techniques where the pain is brought about by the joint being in jeopardy of breaking or dislocating. This puts you in a position of advantage as you can easily escalate the technique.

Disable/injure/break joint –

I have a few thoughts. In my opinion, joint locks most definitely work.

Firstly, lock flow drills are of limited value. They’re fun and good for energy work and learning some of the mechanics, but that’s about it. Also, compliant partners fail to give a realistic experience. Fully resisting training partners aren’t helpful either. The problem with this type is that they know what is coming so can easily defend against it. Lock flow drills are most valuable when you learn to completely change the direction of the first. This way, if you attempt one in a real situation and the person resists, you can use their own strength and resistance against them.

You mentioned using a strike first to weaken them to apply the lock. The purpose of this initial strike if often misunderstood. The main purpose is to distract your opponent from the limb or joint that you are targeting, not necessarily to overpower them. It is great if you do weaken them sufficiently to make good your escape but it’s been my experience that this doesn’t always happen after an initial strike.

Training Tip -

Just before you apply a lock, slap your training partner unexpectedly in the face. See how much they resist it the joint lock when they are surprised by the slap.

“It seems likely that bigger people can more easily apply locks to smaller, weaker people. This is clearly a big disadvantage to women as their attacker is most likely to be a bigger, stronger man”

This is where we differ in opinion the most. A proper joint lock negates the advantages afforded to larger stronger individual. Just like you can’t flex your throat, you can’t strengthen your joints. Pounds of pressure required to dislocate a joint are largely the same, regardless of individual. It is for this reason that I recommend joint locks and manipulations for smaller individuals, regardless of sex.

Journeyman said...

Part II - (Blogger won't take comments over a certain size)

I must also mention here that Felicia brings up an important point. As a woman, you are less likely to be attacked by a complete stranger. If your attacker is someone known to you, the chance of a full out violent attack occurring spontaneously is fairly rare. Chances are there will be some escalation of unwanted contact. This increases the chances of successfully getting a hold of a joint earlier on, if only to show him you mean business or to extricate yourself quickly from the situation.

You mentioned you were concerned that using joint locks may be ineffective in an adrenaline-fuelled situation, suggesting that strikes may be a better bet. I’ve found the opposite to be true. In my experience, strikes are often ineffective on a ‘jacked up’ individual, especially if alcohol or drugs are involved. Joint locks however, if applied properly, always work to a degree. I draw on my own experience of dealing with a guy drugged up on crystal meth. He shrugged off several bigger guys and strikes didn’t faze him at all. I managed to get him in a shoulder lock, face down on a couch. The pain part didn’t do much, but he was immobilized. If needed, I could have separated his shoulder, reducing his mobility and ability to fight. All that being said, I was not in a position to simply leave the situation, which touches upon your first point.

As far as learning counters, yes I think it’s very valuable. In our style, we must eventually learn at least 3 counters to each technique. Understanding the areas of vulnerability serve to increase your skill in applying them. It’s my opinion that you can’t just learn the counters; you must also study the original attack. Your mindset, however, can influence how proficient you become at escaping attempted locks.

The most important point, in my opinion, is to continue to examine not only the techniques but also how you are being taught and how you practice. The process of questioning and exploring your art is key to making it your own. It’s my hope you don’t count out joint locks just yet.

Rick said...

Great article and comments. I came here by way of Journeyman's blog.

As a young man I studied Yoshinkan Aikido for a long time under Kushida Sensei and that training still colors the way I look at martial arts.

I had the privilege of taking ukemi for Kushida Sensei once, when he was demonstrating a write lock, nikajo, to the class.

It didn't hurt at all. Pain was in no way involved. The way he applied it, I simply felt that he placed the weight of the whole building on my arm and there was no way I could hold it up.

That is the correct application of the technique.

Back in the day while I was training in aikido, I also worked in security at a Detroit area hotel on the midnight shift.

There would be weeks of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer adrenaline. In breaking up fights in the bar, parties that got out of hand, etc.; joint locks and pins worked very well for me.

Finally, one of my seniors worked at a local mental hospital. She transported patients to and for. This was a very dangerous occupation and she frequently had to control and not permanently damage unstable people. She got a lot of practice and it was her aikido that came through for her every time.

I'm glad to have found this blog. I will be a frequent visitor.

John Coles said...

Interesting post.

Journeyman's comment is probably the closest to the mark.

Firstly, understand what 'joint-locking' is. It means applying forces such that a joint is moved towards but not necessarily beyond the joint's range of motion. At that point, pain if often experienced.

Various commentors are correct. When emotion is aroused in the heat of battle, there is a physiological response that produces an analgesic effect. It increases pain tolerance. So, 'pain compliance' techniques will not be effective per se. However, you then possess the ability to apply a little more force that moves the joint beyond its range of movement, effectively disabling the use of that limb. It does not matter if you experience pain or not, if that limb is not structurally sound it cannot work. If it cannot work, it cannot attack you or resist your attacks.

The question I have for you, and commentators, is, what is the most common use for kansetsu-waza (joint techniques or joint-locking techniques)? Repositioning is 'close'. Many are used as takedown techniques (e.g. wrist twist) where another kansetsu-waza, a strike, kick, or holding technique is applied. In this case, it is a means to an end, not an end in itself.

By the way, I did a bit of 'bouncing' in my day, and I know other guys from the school who've done likewise. The most favoured technique for controlling unruly patrons was, varient arm entanglement, a kansetsu-waza. Not only for possible pain compliance, but for the mere fact that it mechanically controlled the uncompliant patron.

Another point - 'resistance'. A much used and misapplied concept in martial arts/self defence. If your opponent is resisting your technique, they are applying force to resist the technique and not to hurt you. What is the problem? Training for resistance is not training to protect yourself, despite the popular misconception.

SueC said...

Thanks everybody for your amazing comments. I will need a little time to digest it all but I will come back with a reply by tomorrow....

The Strongest Karate said...

Top quality post, Sue.

I used to train in Combat Hapkido and as part of the curriculum we were instructed to (almost) never go for a lock without having done a distracting strike first - usually to a vulnerable point like the eye, throat, groin, or organs.

As far as not wanting to be tied up when all you want to do is escape, I completely agree. I feel that if all someone is taught are techniques that keep them wrapped up with their aggressor, then they're at a disadvantage. (Not saying that's all you were taught, of course)

The real value comes from being able to stop the aggression by learning techniques that place your opponent on the ground while you stand or crouch above them, holding them in a lock. From here, escape is easier since you'll have a head start over your enemy who must pick himself up off the ground, rub his sore wrist/elbow/shoulder, etc, and then decide whether to chase you.

As for compliant and non-compliant enemies goes...this is where I felt that much of what I learned was valuable *prior* to when you and your enemy are both absolutely committed to fighting: the moment when he grabs you above your elbow, or by your shirt, or tries to bear-hug you from behind.

After this moment, though, the best techniques are the simple ones.

Craig Ma'har said...

Sue has hit the nail on the head on that it is more difficult for smaller people to apply techniques. Less leverage and mass are major contributors and for those that want to argue technically, please argue against physics with the universe; it's not my fault. Yes, you can position a partner so that you are in a mechanically advantageous position but an aggressor is a different story.

I am only a short arse myself at 170 cm and sympathise/empathise with the womans' issues in martial arts more than a man of typical size or larger.

timma said...

Sue, good post and some great comments. We should always be questioning what it is we're learning and why we're learning it. I agree with pretty much what Journeyman stated a few comments ago. A few of my own thoughts:

1. As noted by others, pain, by itself, can't be relied on a compliance tool. Adrenaline-fueled rage is very powerful. Take advantage of the temporary control to gain a better position (preferably putting your opponent in the prone position with lock intact).

2. A fast escape is not always possible so a quick strike may not be enough. If you're in unfamiliar territory or have considerable distance to safety -- a joint lock can buy you some time to look at your options or do some additional disabling damage to buy you even more time for escape.

3. Quite frankly, I just want any physical confrontation to end with me being safe. If my opponent starts hitting me and perhaps gain wrist control, chest/lapel grab while striking with the other hand. What am I suppose to do? Continue to trade strikes to him unless one of us can't hit anymore? My goal isn't to win the fight necessarily; it's just to end it with me being safe. I think a joint lock could end it without me risking any more strikes.

4. With regard to training. I find little value in joint flow drills. Static/non-resistant drills are only useful to learn the mechanics of the technique. Once several techniques are learned, I've found open hand striking resistance training to be the most realistic yet relatively safe. The striking is modified to hit the side or top of the head (slapping motion rather than head on) for both participants. The attacker isn't prepped to fully resist any particular joint lock since the defender can use any number of joint locks they choose.

SueC said...

Brett, some excellent strategy tips here - I like your thinking...

Craig, I'm glad someone's finally mentioned physics! I'm pretty sure that mass, leverage, angular momentum and such things play an important part in why smaller people have more difficulty when applying techniques to large people. Unfortunately it is very hard convincing large people that it matters!

timma,

Some good points. Not sure I quite understand what you mean by 'open hand striking resistance training' though?

Openhand said...

Craig Ma'har said...
"Sue has hit the nail on the head on that it is more difficult for smaller people to apply techniques. Less leverage and mass are major contributors and for those that want to argue technically, please argue against physics with the universe; it's not my fault. Yes, you can position a partner so that you are in a mechanically advantageous position but an aggressor is a different story.

I am only a short arse myself at 170 cm and sympathise/empathise with the womans' issues in martial arts more than a man of typical size or larger."

Unfortunately, this is the commonly made argument against any type of “joint-locking”. Without intending to insult, it is the opinion voiced by those ignorant of correct technique. “physics” and it's relation to the universe, are not in question. The ability to apply a functional joint lock is well within the abilities of anyone regardless of their height/weight relationship to the aggressor. 170 cm. Is the size of an average female (5'6”+/-), and I regularly train females (and males) that are below that size. None of them have a problem with applying the shown techniques. I'm not saying that there aren't some commonly taught techniques that (frankly) are “Crap” (and shouldn't be taught under any circumstances anyhow).
I am saying that if that's the problem that your experiencing with the techniques available to you, you should investigate new techniques, a new instructor (or even a new system).
I know many view this as some form of “unholy” sacrilege, but it depends on your purpose for study. I teach for/to individuals that HAVE to use this stuff, I've also abandoned a previously studied system (after attaining Shodan in that system), so restarting is often a better option (than practicing something that doesn't work). I've been with this one for 30 years, and if it didn't work, I quit it tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

From personal experience (both on and off the matt): locks are complex techniques that require a high degree of training to apply properly. They have specific uses and should not be counted as the first or preferred response in a self defense situation. In any cases they shouldn't be forced: if the opportunity is not there forget about it or you'll end up getting slugged while your hands are occupied. Techniques should flow naturally.

I would say this: if you experience trouble applying locks the cause is either faulty instruction or faulty application. How to use locks in actual fighting application cannot be properly explained in mere words: if you're not taught the proper way I would either find another, better instructor or leave it out of your curriculum altogether. Locks are high level techniques and require years of dedicated training under proper instruction to become practical, there's no way around that unfortunately and no one will be able to do it for you or explain it properly without being there personally and showing it. I find this discussion rather sterile and representative of a beginner's mindset: take this question to your sensei, if he/she can't show it follow my previous advice.

I don't mean to be condescending but from what you've written it's clear your understanding of this subject is rather limited: no-one but a highly trained martial artist or security professional is ever going to attempt to lock you up so defenses against these types of techniques are virtually useless. In any case: how can you defend against techniques you're not very familiar with yourself? Your proposition is aking to first learning defenses against kicks before you've mastered the kicks themselves.

To conclude: locks are quite useful (they allow for either a break, a throw or pain-control) but only for those highly skilled in their use. For most people, including many martial artists, I wouldn't recommend them unless you're willing to invest a whole lot of time and effort. They should be a part of a well-rounded curriculum since they only work in conjunction with other techniques and defenses.

SueC said...

Anon, in a strange patronising way you seem to be agreeing with me - locks are not that useful in self-defence for the average martial artist because of the high level of training required. Thank you.

BTW a beginners mindset is important to maintain however experienced one is, otherwise one's arrogance can close their mind to new learning.

Samurai Girl Sahara said...

Wow, read your previous blog and there are already quite a few comments here, but I am going to put my two cents in anyway as there are quiet a few male comments. I think another comment from a small female is in order. (Aside from Felicia of course)

I'll try to be brief:

Sensei Nick teaches two systems, Karate and Aikijutsu. Essentially, Aikijutsu is pretty much only joint locks and manipulation.

One of the first things that Sensei Nick covers is that there really is no such thing as a joint lock, it is a break. If you are attacked on the street, it will not do you any good to put your attacker in a joint lock. In that, I am in agreement with you. However we practice locks in class because if were broke our partners all the time no one would come back to class! :p So we practice locks to get a good understanding of how the human body works and how far is too far. Sensei Nick has us twist or apply pressure until we can feel the resistance and our partner taps, that way we know we are doing it correctly and at what point we begin to do damage. When you are in the heat of things, you won't go slow, you won't stop, you won't wait for a tap. You will twist or push until you feel/hear the break and then make a run for it.

Secondly, Another useful thing about joint 'locks' is that they can be used, as you said, for pain compliance. As you said, law enforcement officials must use these types of techniques. HOWEVER, that does not mean they are completely out for our use. Sensei Nick always talks about how there are two ways to perform and Aiki technique. The 'Take the car keys away from drunk uncle bob' way and the 'I'm going to bounce your head off the concrete and escape' way. I feel like that is pretty self explanatory, but say for instance you are at a family gathering around the holidays and and an unruly family member gets drunk and wants to drive home. Clearly you do not want to shatter their joint/bone, so you use a lock and have someone take their keys. As opposed to, like I mentioned, getting jumped on the street and needing to use more force to escape for your well being. Sensei Nick mentions it can be very difficult to get a hold of people in a fight and you don't necessarily want to go straight for/focus only on a joint 'lock' or break. That is a BAD strategy. However, if the opportunity arises, take it! Sensei Nick has a unique perspective on how striking arts like Karate fit together with grappling arts like Aiki and techniques from both schools are hidden all over in each other.

Samurai Girl Sahara said...

Finally I want to cover the topic of being a smaller, weaker opponent trying to make a technique work on a larger, stronger, resisting opponent. This is actually MUCH easier than you think it is. You just have to let go of the mind set that says "I am smaller and weaker, I can't do it." In Aikijutsu being smaller is a HUGE advantage as you have a lower center of gravity and it is much easier for you to get under your opponents center of balance and upset their stability. In addition Sensei Nick teaches 'softening techniques'. Sure, if I grab a guys wrist and try to perform Kotegaeshi on him, he will resist and there is no way I can ever overpower him. But if I poke him in the eyes and grab his hands when they come up to protect his face and apply a technique such as Nikyo, it is much more effective. If you strike to 'reset the computer' as Sensei Nick calls it, your opponent can only focus on one thing at a time, and they cannot resist a lock at the same time that they are trying to cover their face or thinking about being palm struck to the jaw. It's hard to explain without being there to show you, but perhaps if someone resists next time they are in class, poke them (or, like Journyman said, slap em in the face!) they will probably jump or flinch in surprise and they will not be focused on resisting the technique which is when you apply the pressure. Once you have them down in your center of gravity, they are pretty much helpless. None of the big strong guys in class like sparring or practicing with me BECAUSE I am so much smaller then they are. It is actually much easier for me to do most of the techniques on them then it is for them to do the techniques on me. :D

I wish SO bad you could come to a few classes with Sensei Nick, he would be able to show you how incredibly effective this sort of stuff can be. Anyway, if you are still curious or want to discuss it more at length, feel free to contact him. I know you already follow his blog, but I know he loves answering questions and just discussing this sort of thing in general.

I know you've already gotten quite a few comments on this, but I hope this was something helpful for you to hear!

SueC said...

Samurai Girl, Hi and thanks for your insightful comments. We also train in many of the ways you describe and I don't doubt that in skilled hands locks/breaks are very effective. I suppose I just don't feel very skilled in applying them. I expect I just need more practice! I'd love to come and train with you and sensei Nick but alas it's a long, long way away.....

Samurai Girl Sahara said...

I feel terrible at Aiki sometimes and sometimes I just get it right. I think overall it takes an immense amount of practice and repetition.

Studying anatomy and Kinesiology (how the body/joints move and work) can also do lots to increase your understanding of how joint 'locks' work and why are they are effective, which can in turn help you understand how to apply which ones when.

Sensei Nick is wanting to do a seminar sometime this spring and maybe on this summer. Even if you couldn't train with us regularly, it might be cool if you could come visit for a seminar!

SueC said...

Samurai Girl, getting a lock on securely does seem to be a bit hit and miss which is why I worry about the useful of locks in a real situation. I suppose it's just a case of practice makes perfect. Reading about the physiology/mechanics of locks is a good idea though, it may help me understand it better. Thanks for the input :-)

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