Krav Maga in action typically means efficient and devastating strikes. While those techniques are definitely a big part of what makes the system work, we also utilize holds on key limbs and pressure points when the situation calls for them. Joint locks are key to Krav Maga proficiency, and we wouldn’t recommend anyone trying to fight their way out of a dangerous situation without knowing at least a couple of them.

Read on to experience Krav Maga Worldwide’s rundown of various types of joint locks, as well as how and when to use them.

About Joint Locks in Krav Maga

Joint locks are often an important element of disarming an attacker or getting to a better position in a fight to make damage and then get away. Joint locks aren’t usually the point or endgame of a specific Krav Maga technique. The purpose of a specific technique isn’t to end up with a joint lock the way it is in, say, Jiu-Jitsu, but joint locks are used in situations where they coincide with the Krav Maga principles of using the body’s natural reaction to an attack, then defending and counter attacking at the same time.

The most frequently seen joint locks in Krav Maga are primarily wrist locks and leverages on the fingers used to disarm an attacker, then finish the fight and get out.

finish the fight

joint locks are used in situations

fight to make damage

Setting the Record Straight

Joint locks are an important part of a well-rounded Krav Maga practice, and joint locks come in more forms than you might realize.

Arm locks can be difficult, but can be potentially devastating. The armbar is one such joint lock that hyperextends an aggressor’s elbow joint, and can be downright excruciating if it’s performed correctly. Spinal locks have the ability to completely incapacitate an aggressor. Small joint holds, which work over appendages like fingers and ankle bones, can be some of the most painful locks and holds in Krav Maga. A skilled practitioner will have many opportunities to utilize these grabs when neutralizing their attacker.

But for our purposes, one of the most important of the Krav Maga joint locks is the wristlock. This is because Krav Maga is designed around practical defense in everyday situations, and many of those situations might just bring you face to face with an armed assailant. Mastering the wristlock is crucial to disarming an assailant with a knife, gun, or another weapon if absolutely necessary.

When to Use Joint Locks in Krav Maga

Since locks and holds are a vital component of mixed martial arts, they’re great to know if you’re planning to incorporate Krav Maga into your fledgling fighting sports career.
But the goal of Krav Maga has never been for organized competition. Krav Maga is intended for survival. If you find yourself at odds with someone with a weapon, it’s preferable to deescalate the situation or escape.

If you have no other option, or if you need to act in the line of duty, then Krav Maga joint locks are essential for incapacitating an armed aggressor. A well-timed wrist lock may even help you to stop them from reaching their weapon in the first place.

When Not to Use Joint Locks in Krav Maga

Joint locks and grappling are great for your toolkit when you need them, but they should be reserved for the right situation, especially in an active self-defense situation. The reasoning for this is pretty simple: joint locks work best when your opponent is vulnerable, and when you have an opportunity to catch them off guard. This probably doesn’t describe many attackers in the opening moments of their aggression towards you.

You also don’t generally want to end an altercation with joint locks. Krav Maga isn’t about making your attacker cry Uncle or keeping them in a hold until the ref can raise your arm in victory; when you’re in a dangerous situation, you’ll want to do only what you have to in order to incapacitate your assailant and get yourself safely away from them. Keeping your attacker in a grapple is unconducive towards putting as much distance between you and them as possible.

Instead, use your judgment and only incorporate joint locks and holds in your Krav Maga defensive strategy when you have no choice, or when you have help with you to end the threat of an aggressor once you have them held. Striking your attacker should still be the main focus of your defense. Only use grapples and holds when necessary. It will absolutely take some practice to learn this, but rest assured: a fighter who knows when to focus on blows and when to use joint locks in their Krav Maga arsenal will be in a better place to bring about favorable results to most confrontations.

A Krav Maga joint lock being used to defend against a knife

Learning to Defend Yourself with Joint Locks

Getting a handle on techniques of locks and grapples is only a small part of what it takes to become proficient in Krav Maga. When you take lessons with Krav Maga Worldwide, you won’t just get a crash course on the best strikes and holds for deflecting attacks; you’ll also get point-by-point instruction on how to stay conditioned, ways you can use your training in a law enforcement or military capacity, children’s classes, and so much more. If you’re looking to improve your discipline along with your joint locks, Krav Maga Worldwide is the institution for you.

If you’d like to focus on joint locks in Krav Maga, that type of training can be done in our Krav Maga Worldwide Fight program. Specifically, in ground fighting. In these classes, there’s training and emphasis on the kind of competition where establishing a joint lock is the point of the entire match or sport fight or training round. Building your skills with joint locks in Krav Maga fight classes will certainly give you an edge when applying these skills in Krav Maga Worldwide self-defense.

Learn at a Krav Maga Worldwide Training Center

Discover where the nearest certified Krav Maga training center near you is located with our handy finding tool, and be sure to leave us a comment if there are any tips or stories you want to share about incorporating joint locks and holds into your Krav Maga training. Technique is only one element of what it takes to learn effective self-defense, so email us today and let Krav Maga Worldwide bring out the peaceful warrior inside of you.

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