Kansetsu Waza refers to joint locking techniques. These locks put stress upon or limit the movement of anatomical joints so that an individual can be controlled, manipulated, thrown, struck, or injured. As you advance in rank you will utilize Kansetsu Waza extensively.
A word of caution is necessary though. Many of these locks can cause extreme pain, torn soft tissue damage, broken bones, other severe injuries, or even death. When practicing these locks, particularly one with which you have limited or no experience, it is critical that you undertake the lock slowly and deliberately at first. The primary requirement is that you do not harm your training partner. When doing these locks you must pay close attention to attempts by your training partner to “tap out.” If your partner taps you, his or her own body, the floor, a wall, or verbally indicates they are in pain you must immediately release the lock. There can be no exceptions.
Our approach to Kansetsu Waza is different than many other martial arts systems (though certainly not all). Rather than provide you with a list of specific locks that you must memorize, we instead provide you with the theory of how locks work. We will also provide a series of examples with which you can experiment. The examples are not meant to be your ultimate set of joint lock skills, but rather demonstration of the principles by which you can derive locks with which you feel comfortable.
Feel free to search for interesting or effective locks via the Internet. There are an unlimited number of possibilities. When you find a lock that looks effective or interesting, examine it in detail to see which locking principles it employs. If you discover a locking principle we do not address, let us know and we’ll research it. We’ll readily include any related concepts in our training materials.
For your ranking examination you will be expected to demonstrate five sound examples each of wrist locks, arm locks, and leg locks. You should be able to also demonstrate at least two effective head and neck locks as well. You will be given the opportunity to define how you wish to be attacked or grabbed so that you can employ each of the locks.
One thing to consider when performing these locks. Some people are not typical. By this I mean that their joints do not have the normal range of motion experienced by a typical adult. These individuals are often said to be “double jointed.” This is more accurately described as joint hypermobility, or the ability for joints to move beyond their normal range. Between 20% and 30% of the general population exhibit some level of hypermobility in one or more of their joints. This means that hypermobility is not common, but it is not rare either.
Some locks will not work well against someone who has hypermobility of the joint you are attempting to lock. You must be willing to recognize when you have encountered an individual with joint hypermobility and be ready to abandon your locking attempt immediately. Your lock will not have its intended effect and you will find yourself at a distinct disadvantage against an erect and structurally stable opponent. For example, if you use both hands in an attempt to lock a wrist and if the opponent simply stands there looking at you without losing structure, you will likely be struck immediately while your guard is down. Bad news. This is why it is important to recognize this common situation and abandon your locking attempt as soon as possible. Attempting to apply more pressure will not make the lock more effective; it will make you structurally less sound and your opponent more determined.
You may notice that some locks work extremely well as a precursor to Nage. At times a lock forces a structural shift in an opponent that leads naturally to a throw. It is wise to study how Kansetsu Waza and Nage Waza can be used on concert.
Some of the Kansetsu Waza you learn or practice will be quite useful in your next belt, where additional locks will be explored in detail, particularly related to controlling an opponent while on the ground. First, however, you need to gain a appreciation for how locks work, how opponent’s may resist lock attempts, and how you or your opponent might successfully escape a lock.
Some of the examples provided describe how to do the lock only on the right side. You should practice locks on both sides to obtain the maximum benefit of the learning experience.