Sunday, November 3, 2013

Range Of Motion In Joint Locks


Intuitively most BJJ practitioners can sense this but the most often attacked joints; the elbows and knees are the most vulnerable because they have a very limited range of motion. Being hinge joints, they can really only move in 2 directions.

Many will claim it's due to a lack of knowledge or practice that wrist locks, ankle locks, hip locks, neck locks, or locks on any other joint area are not as successful. But all the other joints allow not only for hinging, but roll, pitch, and yaw. With practice you will get better at them but will most likely never get the success ratios of elbows and knees locks (kneebar, heel hook). They also require more speed and power as your opponents will try to roll out of them, which makes it harder to train live without hurting your training partner.


The leg lock guy in every school no matter how well meaning, becomes the best leg lock guy not because of pure talent, but because they can live with hurting a training partner every once in a while. It's par for the course. We all hurt training partners time to time, it's just that knees don't bounce back.

Cervical locks can be quite dangerous but seldom are they successful in an MMA scenario. The neck and spine allows for a lot of movement, but once you do damage to this vital area, the damage will last a lifetime. This won't create a quick tap, but may cripple your training partner or opponent.

In the early days of MMA people applied the guillotine lock as a neck crank. It got a lot of people who had never felt submissions before to tap, or was a way for strong people to submit others not as well versed in submissions as they were. Then it disappeared, but it has now made a resurgence as people began to master the guillotine as an actual choke that puts people to sleep.


Keylocks or paint brush or Americana in the catch tradition were called top wrist locks but always ended up attacking the elbow.


Shoulder locks also end up hurting the elbow. Foot locks usually end up hurting the knee.

Martial arts that relied heavily on wrist locks (because they were the most accessible) or finger locks have become seen as arts that are no longer successful in a reality self defense situation, as those areas can be quick to hurt, but also hard to control.

But if you can put yourself and your opponent into a position where the range of motion of any joint is limited (belly down ankle lock for instance), you can submit just about any joint.

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