Jeet Kune Do Grappling: Enter the Standing Armbar (A Few Things To Consider)

JKD Grappling: Standing Armbars Considered

(The article and video are presented purely for informational purposes. Never train without proper supervision, clearance, instruction, and the necessary training equipment.)

Grappling, standing up or on the ground, is not the primary focus of Jeet Kune Do. The art's name literally means "Way of the Intercepting Fist". Grappling techniques are found in the art and its predecessors, Wing Chun and Jun Fan Gung Fu. How much grappling a particular student prefers to learn, functionalize, and perfect is up to him or her. Learning a few basic restraints locks definitely would be in the best interest of the practitioner of any martial art. Hitting is not always the best choice in many situations. Attacking the joints provides a way to subdue someone without causing unnecessary harm while also leaving the door open to the escalation of justifiable force.

The basic standing armbar is perfect example of a solid restraint lock the is effective and easy to execute....provided you been practicing.

Basic Points On The Basic JKD Armlock

The basic standing armbar is not a difficult move. Downward pressure is placed on the elbow joint. The body reacts by dropping down to alleviate the pressure and prevent injury to the arm. The unfortunate trade-off here is posture and structure is totally compromised. Moving and changing the angle of the pressure could further off-balance or disrupt the posture of the person experiencing the armlock.

The person now becomes vulnerable to:

  • Takedown & Throws
  • Strikes & Kicks
  • Full Hyper-Extension

Being "vulnerable" does not mean, however, the person is going to automatically subdued. As with any other techniques, a standing armbar has its limitations. Counters are always possible.

The Uncontested Lock

Jeet Kune Do is (supposed) to be about utilizing moves that work. The way in which a technique is taught, trained, and practiced plays a role in how well it is functionalized.

The trouble with teaching, learning, and performing stand-up joint locks is decades upon decades of performing the locks without any resistance. Locks are demonstrated with a compliant partner who is not contesting the move. This is a fine way to demonstrate a lock and point out the necessary fine points of the lock. It is far from a great way to show students how to deal with progressive resistance.

The above video shows how to start working against slight, isolated resistance. In this case, yanking the arm out of the lock.

Building on Resistance - The First Stages

The simplest way to introduce resistance is to first yank the arm out with varying degrees of force and in different direction. The person yanking his arm out should also change his body's positioning. This is done by twisting the torso or taking a step backwards or forwards with either leg. Inside or outside pivots are worth doing as well. The student has to move seamlessly to the next move regardless of the movement and posture of the training partner.

Incremental Resistance Increases

The second stage requires the training partner to resist the follow-up to the armbar counter by clinching and moving the other person around. A takedown can also be added here as well provided the students know how to land and breakfall. Strikes are not introduced yet and should not be introduced until the student has the reasonable skill to deal with them. (And yes, proper safety equipment should be worn when training any type of striking)

Some might say this is a slow process and it is best to get right into hitting or throwing. Maybe. Not everyone develops skill right away or is 100% capable of dealing with resistance. Progressive resistance training methods help such students gain the skill necessary to eventually launch and immediate, effective attack.

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