Wrist Locks from Everywhere
Jiu jitsu practitioners can be a very fickle group of individuals. Throughout the history of the art certain techniques have been marginalized or at worst demonized for a variety of reasons. The study of leg attacks and foot submissions has been rapidly gaining favor over the past 4-5 years, having formally been marginalized and seen as "dirty" or somehow less honorable than any other particular submission or joint attack.
Wrist locks in my experience are still carrying around that same stigma. In my nearly 9 years of study, I have never had an instructor teach a class on wrist locks, nor have I attended a seminar where they were discussed. But over the years, I've gotten myself caught in a few and had a few training partners share some of their seemingly nefarious secrets.
Looking at things logically, wrist locks are something one experiences in other martial arts during a lot of self defense scenarios. In BJJ, they are legal in many adult tournaments for competitors who are at least a blue belt. So why are they avoided so much. My theory is that it is some of the very same reasons that kept leg attacks on the fringe for as long as they were.
Wrist locks are dirty
Just for fun, talk to your coaches and instructors and ask them this question? "What are the first words that come to mind when you think about wrist locks?" Do not be surprised when they say things like "dirty", "sneaky", or even "illegal" or some synonym. Watch their body language. It will be clear to you that there is a prejudice against the techniques.
Wrist locks are dangerous
Because they have had the same stigma that leg locks have had for years, the lack of study and practice of them leads to poor execution and potentially injuring training partners. Like any submission involving a joint, one must understand the mechanics of the body so as not to hurt someone when practicing. In addition, the wrist is a complex and relatively small area filled with many points that can be exploited depending on how one attacks the joint. We use our hands and wrists all day for thousands of tasks, so it goes without saying that our brains are naturally going to try to shy us away from any activity that could potentially damage such an important part of our lives. It is all the more important than to shine a light into the darkness where wrist locks reside and begin to understand them so that they can be trained safely and effectively.
Wrist locks aren't 'real jiu jitsu'
Don't get me started on what "real jiu jitsu" even means. I think we can all agree that controlling and manipulating an opponent's limbs and joints is real jiu jitsu. Why would doing so to the wrist be somehow left out of this definition?
In the video below, legendary instructor Fabio Santos teaches many time world champion Saulo Ribeiro a wrist lock that can turn a common "bad spot" into a successful submission attempt or at least an escape.
In another extremely thorough review of wrist locks from almost every imaginable position, Pete "The Greek" Letsos offers viewers a crash course in the effectiveness of the technique that made him a darling with his instructor Carlson Gracie.
You can continue your exploration of the wonderful world of wristlocks, here with this article by BJJ Fanatics.
If you want to become a master of wristlocks, you NEED to check out Judo Olympian and BJJ black belt Travis Steven's Two Volume DVD instructional set here. You will be able to find them from every position!
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