Friday, August 28, 2015

Wrist Locks

Many (if not most) Japanese JuJutsu systems are heavy on standing wrist locks. A common criticism is that there is too much emphasis on these wrist locks and so it negates much of the practicality. Largely, this criticism is true.

Which made me wonder - for years - why an art which was constructed specifically for self defense would continue to focus on moves that are not practical. As is usual, the answer is "never assume malice when an excuse of ignorance will suffice."

Simply put: people kept teaching what they had been taught, because it was what they had been taught.

But why had wrist locks been such a staple in the past? This question also eluded me for years. Then I attended the recent MAUSA seminar. One of the instructors had the answer to that question. And I hadn't expected it at all.

In Japan of yesteryear, nearly 10% of the population went around armed... with swords. Europe, before firearm bans, saw a peak of around 3% daily armament. Even the modern US doesn't reach 5%. And modern martial artists train plenty to deal with clubs, knives, and guns. 

Back to Japan - defenses against a sword while unarmed can get tricky. Doubly so if the sword is already drawn. So why not specialize and pay lots of attention to stopping the draw? That's what about half of the wrist locks are based on.

The other half? If you have a sword you wish to draw, and someone tries to prevent the draw, how to get their hands off you.

So simple, it hurts.

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