Escaping from Armlocks


Joint locks are a very practical and effective way in restraining or immobilizing people. Unfortunately, this type of training can lead to injuries if students are not properly prepared. In Systema, there is a lot of time giving for students to explore and build understanding during classes.  Escaping from armlocks is very fundamental in building a solid understanding of the overall concepts in training.

Here is a little demonstration from Saturdays class about escaping armlocks. I stressed the need to stay relaxed (not letting the arms panic) but rather ‘feel’ the pressure being applied and find a way to move to safety. Avoid distress, conquer fears, overcome apathy and challenge your anger. This most definitely can become an external process but try looking at the internal ones as well. This type of training is difficult because it forces you to look at the conditions you fear the most (not hide from them). 

Escaping from Armlocks 


A basic approach to Joint Locks for Systema Students

By first having students rotate, move and manipulate a partner’s joints one at a time they get a first hand feel for how they work.

Care and caution must be taken to not cause physical or psychological injury. The concept is to first build a working knowledge of how the joints in the bodywork. With the variety of body types and past injuries people have sustained, it is quite a different experience every time this drill is done. It’s also a great warm-up for the joints, further reducing the likelihood of injury.

The progression leads to exploring any and all types of joint locks. General principles of leverage and how to effectively apply pressure are explained then applied. One student places a lock on you, while the other studies some possible escapes from it. As students become more confident, their understanding grows as does the level of intensity in the lock. The main focus is to find where the body has freedom if one area is restricted. You see joints operate a certain way when they are isolated and in other ways collectively. For example, if your wrist is locked by simply rotating your elbow and shoulder the dynamics of the lock are changed and you have a chance to escape.

Throws are essentially a body lock. Training principles are very similar to what I have just mentioned. Students study basic body leverage points and apply movement through them. Using body weight as a counter mass to aid in an efficient throw, students are directed and shown how to remain relaxed to reduce tension and injury while being thrown and throwing someone. Throws are not favoured one way or another, it is more of a situational and individual preference.

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