Jiu-Jitsu: Wrist Locks

Apart from foot/leg locks, there is a group of techniques that we don’t see much of in BJJ competition, the wrist lock.  There are some wrist lock specialists who do a fantastic job at using them, but they are not nearly as common as some other joint locks.  I think that it’s a shame because wrist locks can be a fantastic tool.

For starters, you can attack wrist locks anytime and anywhere.  I’ve seen submissions from standing, from inferior positions, from neutral positions and from dominant positions.  As long as you understand the dynamics of the wrist, you can use the wrist lock as your proverbial jab, hunting for it while at the same time setting up other submissions or maneuvers.

Perhaps one of the more fascinating elements of wrist locks is that they can be done with two on one or one on one grip on another person’s hand.  If you can learn to execute a wrist lock with one hand you’ll have a powerful tool.

I don’t finish my wrist locks very often as they are fairly easy to see coming, but generally as soon as you start to apply a wrist lock the other person will make drastic changes in their posture or their positioning which will allow for new opportunities.

One of the key disadvantages that BJJ has in the world of wrist locks is that there are only a couple of them that are taught with any regularity.  A practitioner looking to hone their wrist lock game is better suited looking into some traditional martial arts.  I’ve personally benefitted from passing study of wing chun and aikido both of which focus on trapping the hands and then applying joint locks to them.

They can, however, be quite dangerous if done to unwitting participants, so be careful.  I’ve seen some serious injuries as a result of a person not respecting the wrist lock and trying to force their way out of it.  For this reason, I wouldn’t recommend applying them on people who are stingy with their taps, as you could potentially seriously injure them if they don’t realize that you’ve got a submission applied.

The next time you roll take a moment to look at your training partner’s hand positioning.  Try to wrap your hand around theirs and start playing with the bend of their wrist.  It doesn’t take much to execute a well placed wrist lock and you can be very effective from anywhere.  Some of my favorite pairings are wrist locks off of failed arm bars or omoplatas.  When you see that the other person is able to get out start folding their hand towards their wrist, suddenly their focus will be entirely on that.

Wrist locks are super useful when studied and applied correctly.  Many jiujiteiros are closed off to them which is a double edged sword.  On the one hand it means there will be relative lack of preparation in tournaments, but on the other hand teammates may not take kindly to an unexpected submission, so be careful.  Expand your submission game to less common submissions and you’ll be able to surprise people.


Emil Fischer is an active blue belt competitor under Pablo Angel Castro III training with Strong Style Brasa and is sponsored by Pony Club Grappling Gear and Cruz Combat. For more information, other articles, and competition videos check out his athlete pages at www.facebook.com/emilfischerbjj www.twitter.com/Emil_Fischer and https://instagram.com/emilfischerbjj/


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here