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John Danaher Leglocks
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Get On Board With Wrist Locks

Get On Board With Wrist Locks


People tend to get bent out of shape about the lesser known submissions in BJJ.

It seems for the longest time leg locks were even treated as some mystical improper method of claiming a submission. Why do these submissions get such a bad rap? Ignorance? The unwillingness to include them in curriculum? Whatever the case may be, that face you get when you apply one of these “dirty” moves kind of makes it worth that little extra bit of knowledge you decided to go out and obtain.

Are Wrist Locks The New Leg Lock? Click Learn More below!


One of these aforementioned submissions is definitely the wristlock. If you’ve ever been submitted with one, it can be a bit of a surprise. They kind of come out of nowhere, and when applied properly, they don’t feel very good. And guess what? You may have to tap. Yes, the wrist is just as vulnerable as the rest of our body parts. Still, there is a stigma about wristlocks.

The fact is, the wrist is a joint, and in BJJ we attack the joints. Whether your well versed in all of the possible attacks or not, this is just reality. The smaller the joint, the more attackable it is. With that being said, there should also be an element of respect involved when attacking the wrists in your own training environment. Respect t for the submissions itself and consideration from those applying them. The wrist is a smaller joint and it can be damaged easily, as there is not a lot of strength to defend when a wristlock is being applied properly.

The wristlock is also an excellent tool to get your opponents moving, and it can cause reactions that can lead us to more favorable positions and scenarios. So, while we won’t always get the sub from a wristlock, it can benefit us in other ways.

Let’s look at a few wristlock variations and see where we can apply them in our own training. At the very least, we should have knowledge on hand that will help us recognize when we may be in danger of the submission, and who knows after a little exposure, you may enjoy using them.

We’ll start with a wristlock from closed guard by Jake Mackenzie. Have a look!

Beginning in closed guard, Mackenzie’s partner takes control over his sleeve. As Mackenzie pulls away from the grip his partner reacts by pulling back. Its at this point that Mackenzie secures a cupping grip over the top of his partner’s elbow and over the thumb as well, bending the wrist backward. The next movements are very similar to an arm bar. Mackenzie brings his right knee down near the trapped arm, turns his body, and places his left leg high in his partner’s armpit. From here he locks his feet and secures what looks like a high guard. He then adds the second hand to the lock and applies pressure backwards toward his right leg. With the elbow trapped there is also the opportunity for an americana style submission if the wristlock is not producing the tap.

Travis Stevens is a master of the wrist lock and considers it his secret weapon when he's training and competing. Click the learn more to discover the secrets to the wrist lock game.


There are lots of familiar movements here, which would make this quite simple to add to the arsenal. Great stuff!

Check out this quick technique from the legend himself, Sakuraba. He has a unique way of using the wristlock as a means of getting to his opponent’s neck. Have a look!

Starting from the back control, Sakuraba begins with a seat belt style configuration. His partner chooses a common defense in the two on one, attempting to keep Sakuraba’s hands from reaching his neck. To apply the wristlock, Sakuraba reaches for a palm to palm grip with his hands and begins to apply pressure to the writ, bending it backwards. If his partner does not let go, he will be forced tot ap to the wristlock. If he does not relinquish his two on one grip, it gives Sakuraba a path the rear naked choke.

This is a great example of how the wristlock can be applied to help force a more dangerous scenario. In this case the rear naked choke is being set up, but these little transitions are everywhere with the wristlock!

Our final wristlock segment comes to us from Travis Stevens. I have no doubt that many if not everyone reading this has experienced this a particular scenario. Take a look!

Beginning from this incredibly common topside kimura position, Stevens’ partner has chosen a particularly common defense, gripping his own lapel. To begin applying the wristlock, Stevens pulls up hard on his figure four grip and transitions his right hand to hi partners grip, also grabbing the lapel. He then re locks the figure four grip and beings to put downward pressure on his partner’s wrist with his chest.

Again, this is an easy way to get a quick tap without giving up anything positionally. Worst case scenario you switch back to the kimura or even an armbar if the wristlock isn’t there. One thing is for certain though, it will command the bottom person's attention.

In this second variation (which is just awesome) Stevens’ partner is using his belt as a means of preventing the kimura from being applied. Here, Stevens open his figure four, feeds the belt into his hand with his palm facing up, and brings his knee over his partner’s arm. As his partner attempts to bring the trapped arm back into the game Stevens stops it and applies a wristlock. This can be used as a method of keeping the arm at bay, and you may just get a tap.

The bigger picture here is the hand that’s stuck in the belt. To force the tap here Stevens again reaches in with his hand grabbing the belt and the hand itself. He then backsteps a bit, facing his hips toward the backside of his partner’s body. He gives the wrist a strong bend and his partner succumbs to the pressure.

This hand trap with the belt can be used in a variety of ways. It’s a great way to get rid of a limb while you work on a submission of your choice. I learned this years ago from someone and still use it all the time. Its an excellent technique!  

So, there you go! Three great examples of how the wristlock can be applied. Don’t be afraid of the wristlock! Learn the ins and outs and put it to work in your game! Good luck!

Wrist locks are a universal submission. They require very little experience and very little athleticism to do. That is what makes them so great. The next time you are in a live roll and you have good control over your training partner’s hands, why not go for a wrist lock? It could be just the submission you need for dealing with a tricky opponent. If you liked these techniques and want to learn more wrist locks then check out Travis Steven’s series called “Wrist Locks From Everywhere” available exclusively on!

Wrist locks are everywhere in jiu jitsu and all grappling arts. Attacking the wrist is a fairly simple principle that we see in many martial arts, not just "aikido". But the secret to the wrist lock is knowing where they show up in jiu jitsu - HINT it's EVERY WHERE, and how to set them up properly so they can't escape.



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