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Kwan Jyel Gi Sul - Combative Joint Locks

By Grand Master Michael De Alba


Much has been written and much more has been discussed and debated, over the effectiveness of joint lock techniques. Many martial arts claim to practice them, yet this area of training still remains as one of the least understood, truly mastered and appreciated of skills.

I have heard so many times that joint locks are too difficult and should happen more accidental than incidental. That they are too elusive and/or not very effective.
To me these are words of the narrow minded and an obviously unskilled martial artist. Not to diminish strikes or any other facet of combat (these are all part of balanced and comprehensive training).

Allow me to enlighten. Just think of any sport, football, basketball etc. and then think of the worst, career ending injury. Surely some form of a joint injury should come to mind, such as: knee, ankle, elbow , neck or back injuries.
These injuries can not only end a sports career, but if done with bad (combative) intent, they can have life threatening results.
Part of the problem is that most martial artist never really understand the proper angles, power, timing and range of joint locks.

In the De Alba System of Modern Farang Mu Sul®, joint locks are an integral part of it's combative skills and are delved into at great lengths. However, they are still only one part of the overall picture of interdependent tactics, which include: hand & foot strikes, trapping, throwing, grappling, pressure points and weapons, to name but a few.
Modern Farang Mu Sul
® defines joint locking techniques (KWAN JYEL GI SUL) as:
Techniques that place the articulating joints in precise angles that go against their natural operating directions, and will subsequently cause MAXIMUM PAIN to the OPPONENT, with MINIMUM EFFORT on OUR PART for TOTAL CONTROL over the situation.

Boy, doesn't that sound great ?!? Let me repeat that last part, maximum pain to the opponent, with minimum effort on our part, for total control of the situation.

This is accomplished by the effective application of the joint techniques involved and proper follow up tactics. By nature, joint locks are best used when a contact point is established, whether it be when one is grabbed (defensive), or utilizing certain special techniques for when no initial contact point is available (offensive), i.e.: combative trapping or grappling drills.

Distance, body relations and positioning must be controlled, as well as effective use of pressure point attacks in conjunction with precise, scientific placement of the joint (angulations) for optimum results. In addition to these principles there are three very important elements that need to be a part of an effective joint lock technique. They are:

1- MOVEMENT -put the opponent off balance while you maintain your own.

2- TIMING - precise execution of the movements involved.

3- FLUIDITY OF TACTICS -ability to spontaneously integrate techniques,

This is regardless of category or range.

Modern Farang Mu Sul
® also distinguishes between a JOINT MANIPULATION, a JOINT LOCK, and a JOINT BREAK technique. Although to the untrained, these can (and do) seem all the same, there are very major differences which correlate to the ESCAPE, HURT and DESTROY philosophy inherent in all of Modern Farang Mu Sul® techniques. Every self defense technique will have various applications. They break into either Escape (free oneself), Hurt (cause controlled pain) or to Destroy (completely eliminate danger). Of course all dependent on the seriousness of the situation. This philosophy affords the Modern Farang Mu Sul® student the ability to exercise more options. Consequently, one can summarize by pointing out that although a joint manipulation can in fact be considered a lock or break, in reality it is used to free oneself. A joint lock also can be a manipulation or break, but is meant to hurt and control the opponent. But a joint break is a joint break, and there's no real mystery as to the application of this technique.

Training in Modern Farang Mu Sul® joint lock techniques (KWAN JYEL GI SUL) begin with wrist, elbow and shoulder locks, and will progress to literally every single moving joint in the human anatomy. Although taught in a more "static" form (this is the best way to learn the individual movements),i.e.: defense of wrist grabs (HOSHIN SON MOK SUL), defense from body grabs (HOSHIN MOM JAP GI SUL), and defense from kicking attacks (HOSHIN JOK BANG A SUL) etc., training evolves to integrating their application(s) to include changing the scenario such as a wrist grab into a punch, or a side kick into a tackle take down, etc. In this way the techniques become more fluid, practical and useful (combative).

Once the basic training sets are understood, training expands into techniques that envelope double and triple joint locks/breaks, such as attacking the wrist and then the shoulder in a second fluid movement, etc. Which now leads to a training drill called CONTINUOUS JOINT LOCKS (aka: "the Dance of Pain"). In this drill, joint locks are connected in series of 10 to 50 (or more) locks done in sequence. The main objective being to learn how to flow from one lock to another, should one loose a lock such as, if the situation were to change as in a scenario where the opponent might know the counter to your lock or, your hand slips from the sweat on his wrist, OR if he were able to just plain muscle his way out of a move. This is where knowledge in flowing smoothly, using the strength of the opponent, into another joint locking technique becomes extremely useful.

It would be nice if when attacked, we could just grab, twist and send our assailant flying into a crumbled mess. But let's get real, those movements as taught in the various dojangs (schools) are really meant to be basic in nature, and it is up to us, their applicators to give them real LIFE. Remember Murphy's Law:

That which CAN go wrong, WILL go wrong

And in real life and death self defense (read: self protection), we MUST be prepared for the worst case scenario, and not complacent or walking around with a false sense of security, only to be in for the worst surprise (read: lesson/wake up call) of our life. Remember your opponent will not be cooperating with you, allow you to strike or apply a move on and is actually out to do YOU bodily damage.

Now, as mentioned earlier, joint locks are only as useful as our command over the other possible elements of an unfriendly encounter. Starting from our mind (SHIN GONG), including total awareness, proper attitude, etc. and down to physical tactics such as Combative Kickboxing Skills (TAE KWON SUL), Combative Trapping Skills (CHA PYO TA SUL), Combative Grappling Skills (HAP GI YU SUL), and not to be over looked are all conventional and unconventional Combative Weapon Skills (MOO GI GONG), etc.

Most importantly, learn to blur the lines that separate these areas so that they will in fact, ultimately, all become ONE (as they should be). A true master of any art will be able to actually apply his skills to virtually any situation and/or adapt. The next time you train in serious self defense, take into account the application of your movements as to take advantage of the very powerful joint locking techniques of Modern Farang Mu Sul ® - KWAN JYEL GI SUL.

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