Be sure to read the other Green Belt articles about Kansetsu Waza prior to reading this article. While there is no specific requirement or prerequisite for studying this article, you will benefit from having an understanding of the other Kansetsu articles and the many definitions they contain prior to reading this article.
Combination locks are those locks that rely on concurrently locking multiple joints. While nearly all locks rely on multiple joints in some form, these locks specifically target multiple joints as part of the lock.
Z-Bar (Also called Waterfall Lock)
This is a combination of a hyperextension pronation wrist lock and an elbow lock. Both must occur for this lock to have its desired effect. Once this lock is in place putting additional twisting pressure on the wrist and forearm will force an opponent immediately to their knees. Occasionally a person with hypermobility will be able to resist this action, but for most people this lock is instantaneously extremely painful. Most people drop willingly to their knees in order to avoid the extreme discomfort and pain this lock inflicts on the forearm.
The lock is initiated as a typical pronation lock but the wrist and elbow are forced into a position such that they are both at the same elevation and parallel to the floor. In this position the arm is bent somewhat in the form of the letter ‘z’. The opponent’s upper arm projects directly forward from his or her shoulder. The elbow is sharply bent such that the forearm runs parallel to both the floor and the opponent’s chest wall. The wrist is now subject to sufficient pronation so that the opponent’s fingers point directly in your direction. Now any further pronation of the wrist will cause immediate intense pain that most people are unable to resist. Even the slightest pressure is extremely painful and potentially injurious. Be careful when working with your Uke. Something a small as a one degree twist will send the Uke into immediate dancing and tapping mode. This is a very painful lock. Go very, very slowly when working with a partner.
Kote Gaeshi (Wrist Out-turn Lock)
The Kote Gaeshi lock has several variations which are simply extensions of a general theme. We’ll cover a few of these so you get the general idea. You have undoubtedly encountered some of these locks before since they are both quite effective and quite common.
The basic procedure for applying this lock is to grasp an opponent’s open hand so your fingers rest in the palm of his or her hand and your thumb rests on the back of the hand. Ideally you would now want to employ your opposite hand in the same manner; your fingers rest in the palm and your thumb rests on the back of the hand. One of your hands grasps the opponent’s hand on the thumb side while your other hand holds the opponent’s hand on the pinky side. You now twist the opponent’s hand outward forcing the opponent’s elbow inward at the same time. This puts a good deal of pressure on the opponent’s wrist and will lead to substantial pain quite quickly. In many cases the opponent will immediately try to roll out of the lock (Kote Gaeshi Nage).
This lock is often employed as a counter to someone grabbing your shoulder. You simply use one arm to engulf the opponent’s hand, turning it outward. Your opposite hand then comes in to provide any necessary augmentation of force and stability.
You might also use the opposite hand to press the opponent’s fingers inward rather than holding the palm of the hand. While one hand holds the palm and applies twisting force, the opposite hand pushes the opponent’s raised fingers directly toward the opponent. This applies additional pressure on the wrist joint providing additional strain and pain. This is simply a variant of the prior hold.
You can also turn the wrist outward but leave the hand generally along the opponent’s center line. Now you utilize your opposite (free) hand to trap the opponent’s elbow so it remains down and inside, perhaps trapped against the opponent’s side. You can now apply downward force against the opponent’s wrist to institute a painful lock. A variate of this lock is to pull the opponent’s arm inward so it rests against our chest, then use your free hand to reach under and inside the opponent’s arm until your free hand can grasp the other side of the opponent’s hand. Now both hands can apply downward pressure on the wrist while keeping the opponent’s arm in a fixed position between your two arms.
If the lock becomes a throw then you can continue the lock with the opponent on the ground. Maintain your grip with one hand and use your opposite hand (normally the back hand) the press the opponent’s arm inward until it straightens. Now move in a circular manner around the opponent’s head until you are on the opposite side of the opponent’s prone body. This will force the opponent to roll onto his or her stomach. Use the bent wrist to apply direct downward pressure that both presses the opponent’s shoulder into the floor and puts more than ample stress on the wrist joint.
You will want to spend some significant time exploring ways to move from one lock to another in a seamless manner which does not lead to any loss of control or a developing void. Some locks lend themselves well to such transitions. Other transitions are difficult if not impossible. You should seek to be familiar with those transitions that are easy to accomplish and those that are hard. This will enable you to better control an opponent and to instinctively know how to avoid an accidental escape by the opponent.
Wrist locks to elbow locks are very common transitions. Experiment with transitions in the opposite direction as well. In general moving from one lock to another along the arm and hand are not difficult, but they do require some practice so you appreciate where and when to move to best control your opponent.
When experimenting with transitions look at how an opponent might escape during the transition. Also look for moments at which an opponent might strike or kick during a transition. You will want to ensure none of these situations exist. Naturally, this takes some time to get right. Some transitions make this total control fairly easy. Others provide copious opportunities for the opponent. You’ll want to know which works best and what you need to be aware of for each transition you learn.
Escaping from Locks
There are a great many things you can do to avoid being placed into a lock. We’ll cover a few select options here. Here’s a list to explore and consider.
- Practice stretching to improve the range of movement of key joints, particularly the wrist joint. Increasing your range of motion by five or ten degrees can greatly decrease your susceptibility to locks targeting the affected joint. Perform these stretches consistently and regularly for maximum benefit.
- Accelerate the direction of movement. When someone attempts to place you in a lock you can move your joint at a faster rate than the opponent expects. This will often weaken the opponent’s structure, perhaps even catching the opponent while weightless. You can frequently move in an orthogonal direction to then escape the intended lock.
- Move slightly to one side. This will often cause an opponent to be misaligned rendering their attempted lock ineffectual. This is where you say, “Kaboom!”
- Rotate your center. Immediately rotating your center will often pull the opponent out of their optimal structure. Without optimal structure it is difficult to make any lock effective. You can’t delay though, you must move immediately.
- Use the affected arm to strike. Even if the strike has no chance of landing or being effective, the movement will likely cause the opponent to lose their grip, suffer diminished structural integrity, or become misaligned. Now immediately move on to something else.
- Lower or raise your center of gravity. This changes the angles the opponent is attempting to use and can render the lock ineffectual. It may even give you an immediate advantage.
The Tensoku Ryu adage, “When in doubt, move”, applies here. The one thing each of the methods listed above have in common is that you are moving immediately to circumvent the lock. If you stand still and watch your arm get twisted and contorted into inhuman shapes then bad things will happen.