Elevated Wrist Lock, and Shoulder Locks

Elevated wrist lock, also called mochi mowari in Jujitus or sankyo in Aikido Elevated wrist lock, also called mochi mowari in Jujitus or sankyo in Aikido
Elevated wrist lock, also called mochi mowari in Jujitus or sankyo in Aikido

Elevated wrist lock, also called mochi mowari in Jujitsu or sankyo in Aikido

My group has been looking in detail at a wrist lock called the Elevated Wrist Lock. In Kokodo Jujitsu it’s called mochi mowari. In Aikido they call it sankyo. Some Hapkido schools call it a spiral wrist lock, or vertical wrist lock, or corkscrew wrist lock. Alain Burrese calls it the standing center lock.

This lock involves gripping the pinky side of the attacker’s hand, pointing his elbow up to the sky, and rotating his hand inward while keeping it vertical. It has the effect of causing severe pain in the wrist and elbow, and putting the person up on his toes.

The photo I’ve added above is from Aikido. In Hapkido we do it in almost the same way, but we typically include strikes (for example an elbow strike to the ribs) as we enter, and we keep the lock close, rather than holding out at arm’s length like they do in Aikido.

As a side note, to answer a commonly-asked question, Hapkido does not come from Aikido. The two share a common origin in Daito-Ryu Jujitsu, but have gone in very different directions. Aikido focuses on non-violent responses to attacks, and that takes the form of harmonizing with the attacker, using exaggerated circular motions, and often using direction reversals or energy throws. Many complaints have been leveled against Aikido that techniques are trained against unrealistic attacks and highly cooperative partners, and I agree with those criticisms.

Hapkido has gone in the other direction, taking the already violent techniques of Daito-Ryu and adding in highly effective Korean striking techniques, including elbows and knees, hand strikes, and a wide range of kicks. The result is a versatile, effective and realistic fighting art with a vast range of techniques.

Back to the elevated wrist lock, it is often used as a police lock or “come-along” lock, to control a person or escort him out of a building. It can also be a transition to several types of throws, or to a choke. I like it because it’s easy to enter into, especially when you have a hold of a person’s hand (maybe from blocking a punch, or maybe you’ve taken the hand to pull someone along) and he tries to pull it back.

Before we got into the Elevated Wrist Lock, we were focusing on shoulder locks of all kinds. With the exception of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, joint locking arts tend to focus on wrist locks and arm bars. Knees get some attention too, primarily as kicking targets. In fact most martial artists who are not in Hapkido seem to think Hapkido is mostly wrist locks.

Figure 4 shoulder lock

Figure 4 shoulder lock

I think shoulder locks deserve more attention. In most Hapkido schools they are higher-level colored belt techniques, but I think they should be introduced earlier. Wrist locks are primarily pain-compliance techniques, while shoulder locks (while they may involve pain) also utilize principles of leverage that make it easy to throw and control a resisting attacker. And they are complex, and varied, requiring a lot of practice, so the sooner you get started the better. It’s taken me years to really understand the variations among shoulder locks, and to appreciate them.

The photo on the left is one I found on the ‘net (I should really start taking my own, I know) and the guys in the photo are practicing Jujitsu. It illustrates a common figure-4 shoulder lock, though this particular lock is not a true figure 4 since he’s not gripping his own wrist. He’s doing it more like a Jujitsu-style Shiho-Nage. Again, we do the same lock in Hapkido but typically stay closer to the opponent, close enough to deliver an elbow strike to the jaw as we apply the lock.

In Hapkido we always want our joint locks to be connected to our center mass, so that instead of using arm strength to apply the lock we have our mass, or the force of our body rotation, or our body weight as we step through. That’s why we always hold the lock close. We also want to be in range to apply a counter-lock or to strike if the person attempts to escape.

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