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A pronating wristlock used to hold a man's head down
Classification Joint-lock
Parent style Judo, Aiki-Jujutsu, Aikido

A Wristlock is a joint lock primarily affecting the wrist-joint and possibly the radioulnar joints through rotation of the hand. A wristlock is typically applied by grabbing the opponent's hand, and bending and/or twisting it. Wristlocks are very common in martial arts such as Aikido, Hapkido and jujutsu where they are featured as self-defense techniques. They are also used as submission holds in combat sports such as Brazilian jiu-jitsu (where the most common name is mão de vaca, "the cow's hand") and Catch wrestling. While being an illegal technique in modern Sambo[1] and Judo[2] competitions, it is still practiced in judo forms of self-defense kata Kodokan Goshin Jutsu.[3] Wristlocks are also widely used by law enforcement and military as pain compliance hold.

The wristlock is a technique that can be applied from a stand-up position, simply by grabbing the opponent's hand and twisting and/or bending it in a non-natural direction. It is considered to be a relatively safe technique to practice with a willing opponent,[4] but if applied suddenly and/or forcefully, a wristlock can cause ligament tears or possibly even dislocation or bone fractures.

Mixed Martial Arts organizations usually allow wrist locks but they are almost never performed due to the MMA gloves and wrist wraps which stabilize the wrist. Wrist locks are also seen as being easy to defend against and often leave the attacker vulnerable to punches and elbow strikes. One notable use of a wristlock was by Royce Gracie against Akebono Taro.

Major methods of wrist manipulation[edit]

Rotational wristlock[edit]

Rotational wristlock by an Aikido instructor

A rotational wristlock (in Aikido referred to as a type of sankyō, 三教, "third teaching")[5][6] is a very common type of wristlock, and involves forced supination or pronation of the wrist, and is typically applied by grabbing and twisting the hand. The wrist joint does not allow rotating motion, and the force is transferred to the forearm causing radioulnar rotation, eventually resulting in a joint lock on the radioulnar joint. Once the radius and ulna have been brought to their extreme positions, further twisting motion will put severe torque on the wrist. In martial arts, standing rotational wristlocks are often accompanied by the opponent instinctively willingly throwing him or herself to escape or alleviate the lock.

Supinating wristlock[edit]

A supinating wristlock demonstrated.

The supinating wristlock (in budō referred to as kote gaeshi, 小手返, "forearm return")[7][8] is a rotational wristlock, and arguably the most common wristlock. It involves rotating the hand so that it becomes maximally supinated, often referred to as 'externally rotating' the wrist, and hence putting a joint lock on the wrist and radioulnar joint. This can be done by grabbing the opponent's hand with one or both hands, and twisting the hand so that the opponent's thumb points away from the opponent. A supinating wristlock performed from a stand-up position can be used to force the opponent to the ground on his or her back. Straightening the arm does not alleviate the pressure, since the shoulder joint does not allow further supination of the hand.

A properly executed lock of this type does not apply torque to the wrist, itself. In practice, the bones of the forearm and, eventually, the shoulder are the focus of the lock. If performed correctly this technique will break the opponents wrist, elbow and dislocate the shoulder. In practice uke will turn over his own arm, in order to prevent his wrist from breaking. The goal of almost all throws executed via joint/bone manipulation, at least from the perspective of some classical (koryu) martial arts, is to break or dislocate a limb(s).

Pronating wristlock[edit]

Pronating wristlock in a professional wrestling match. Here, William Regal is applying the hold to Cody Rhodes.

The pronating wristlock (in budō referred to as kote mawashi, 小手回し, "forearm turn", and in Aikido referred to as nikyō, 二教, "second teaching") is similar to the supinating wristlock except that it is reversed in direction, known as 'internally rotating' the wrist. The hand becomes maximally pronated, resulting in a joint lock on the wrist and radioulnar joint. The degree of possible pronation depends on the degree of flexion at the elbow, as a bent elbow inhibits rotation of the humerus. Hence, straightening the arm allows rotation of the whole arm and alleviates the pressure on the joints. The arm has to be additionally twisted until the shoulder joint reaches maximal rotation to preserve the joint lock. This typically results in the arm moving posteriorly, and allows for the complementary technique of pushing the arm at the elbow or shoulder to force the opponent to the ground.

Hyperflexing wristlock[edit]

A hyperflexing wristlock used as a pain compliance technique.

A hyperflexing wristlock (in budō referred to as tekubi gatame, 手首固め, "wrist lock") involves forcing the wrist into hyperflexion by pushing or pulling the hand towards the inside of the forearm. A hyperflexing wristlock is often performed in combination with rotational wristlocks, since the hyperflexed hand provides a good lever for twisting, and in addition it increases the overall effectiveness of the wristlock. Hyperflexing wristlocks are often featured as pain compliance techniques, since they allow for good control, and a gradual pain increase if more leverage is added. Hyperflexing wristlocks are also a typical wristlock used as a submission hold. Hyperflexing wrist locks, often applied after an escape from a rotational wrist lock, is a signature technique in Chen-style t'ai chi ch'uan.

Hyperextending wristlock[edit]

The "hyperextending wristlock" is often combined with a fingerlock as the wristlock itself is not very strong. It involves bending the wrist so that the knuckles travel back toward the forearm.

Adductive wristlock[edit]

By pressing the opponent's wrist downwards, the hand is forced into extreme ulnar deviation.

An adductive wristlock (in budō referred to as kote hono gaeshi, "partial forearm return", part of aikido's nikyō, or second teaching)[1] involves forced ulnar deviation of the hand. It is typically applied by twisting the opponent's arm so that the opponent's palm points laterally and the elbow is slightly bent. The hand is then grabbed using one or both hands, and the wrist is forced downwards, hence reaching the limit of possible ulnar deviation, and creating a potent joint lock on the wrist joint. To avoid damage, it is possible for the opponent to drop down to the ground, and alleviate the pressure. The adductive wristlock is often taught as a self-defense technique against grabbing.

  • Note: in aikido this lock is called Nikyō; It is also commonly referred to as a "Z-Lock" because the bend of the arm forms a Z.
  • Note: in some parts of America this is also called the "Goose Neck" because the bend of the arm forms a S.

See also[edit]


Main references[edit]

  • United States Marine Corps (1999). MCRP 3-02B Close Combat. Department of the Navy. Commercial ISBN 1-58160-073-9
  • University of York Jiu Jitsu Club. Wrist Locks in Jiu Jitsu. www.yorkjitsu.org. URL last accessed February 8, 2006.

Other references[edit]

  1. ^ Amateur Athletic Union. SOMBO competition. www.aausports.org. URL last accessed February 4, 2006.
  2. ^ International Judo Federation. IJF Referee Rules. www.ijf.org. URL last accessed March 6, 2006.
  3. ^ http://judoinfo.com/katagosh.htm
  4. ^ Lowry, Dave. Pain Management. www.blackbeltmag.com. URL accessed on February 11, 2006.
  5. ^ Pranin, Stanley. The Encyclopedia of Aikido: Sankyo. www.aikidojournal.com. URL last accessed February 10, 2006.
  6. ^ Robertson, Ross. Ikkyo, Nikyo and Sankyo as Geometric Principles. www.mimagazine.com.au. URL last accessed February 10, 2006.
  7. ^ Arlington Budoshin Ju-Jitsu Dojo. Terminology. www.arlingtonjujitsu.org. URL last accessed February 8, 2006
  8. ^ Landman, Howard. The technique of kotegaeshi. www.polyamory.org. URL last accessed February 10, 2006.

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wristlock — Please support Wikipedia.
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15 news items

New Zealand Herald
Mon, 07 Apr 2014 09:07:30 -0700

You get them in a wristlock or outnumber them. Do I get vomited on? No, never. I hold them in a wedge and as soon as they start throwing up, I let them go. It did get hairy once at a car event at Meremere. There were a lot of boy racers there and about ...
Tue, 08 Apr 2014 13:01:07 -0700

And that's where you learned the double wristlock, but because he beat the Gracies, now they called it a Kimura; but no, you don't want to be underneath, on your back, in any fighting sport. Sherdog: You talk in your book about young guys in Wigan and ...
Otago Daily Times
Sun, 23 Mar 2014 19:37:30 -0700

A woman was held at gunpoint and forced to carry a package down a Whangarei road, according to reports being investigated by police. The young woman was spotted by motorists with her arm in a wristlock and a pistol pointed at her back on Maunu Rd ...

Brookings Institution (blog)

Brookings Institution (blog)
Fri, 04 Apr 2014 13:17:43 -0700

“I am sure you will agree that these are essential abilities and skills for any politician.” As a former KGB agent and judo black belt, Putin is undoubtedly adept at the deceptive move that turns an ordinary handshake into a crippling wristlock ...
Fri, 04 Apr 2014 11:33:45 -0700

Tigre Uno drags Sanadda down with a wristlock and transitions into a side headlock. Leapfrogging and ducking allows Uno to land a dropkick that sends Sanada into the corner. Boots of Sanada caught by Uno and he sends him outside with an enzuigiri.


Wed, 02 Apr 2014 11:45:00 -0700

Nikki Bella counters with a wristlock before she is sent into the corner. Back elbow sends Snuka away and a springboard leg lariat connect for a brief nearfall for Bella. Headscissors choke from Bella is used to drive the head of Snuka into the mat ...
City Pages
Tue, 01 Apr 2014 14:50:02 -0700

"It was kind of embarrassing for Verne, as an old-guard promoter, that he would be headlining with a guy who didn't know a wristlock from a wristwatch," Keller says of the Hulkster's lack of wrestling prowess. "So there was this reluctance to embracing ...


Sun, 06 Apr 2014 20:17:46 -0700

Quick roll up by Jey and Jey with a wristlock tagging Jimmy in and double clothesline. Diego with chops. Kick by Fernando who gets the tag. Cesaro in, tags Swagger and Swagger whips Cesaro into the ropes and Cesaro delivers the clothesline. Back elbow ...

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