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[EXPLAINED] 5 Best Martial Arts For Joint Locks

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Are you looking for a martial art that involves joint locks and grappling?

There are a few options you should consider, I’m going to talk about some of these martial arts in this article.

These are the 5 best martial arts for joint locks and why you should consider them.

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5 Best Martial Arts For Joint Locks

The 5 best martial arts for joint locks are:

  1. Aikido
  2. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)
  3. Judo
  4. Sambo
  5. Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)

Let’s take a look at these martial arts in more detail.

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Aikido is a modern Japanese martial art developed in the 1920s by Morihei Ueshiba.

The word Aikido translates to “the way of unifying with life energy.”

It’s a well-known martial art and it’s practiced in over 140 countries.

There are more than seven styles of Aikido.

There are four main principles in Aikido:

  1. Entering
  2. Breath control
  3. Triangular principle
  4. Turning

Aikido teaches you to defend yourself without injuring the attacker.

Why Is Aikido Good For Joint Locks?

Aikido’s main techniques are primarily throws and joint locks.

The goal of putting your opponent in a joint lock is to make them submit or give up.

There are many different joint lock and control techniques used in Aikido:

Basic Techniques:

  1. Ikkyo – First Teaching (Elbow Control)
  2. Nikyo – Second Teaching (Wrist Control)
  3. Sankyo – Third Teaching (Wrist Control)
  4. Yonkyo – Fourth Teaching (Wrist Control & Pressure Point)
  5. Gokyo – Fifth Teaching (Elbow Control)
  6. Rokkyo – Sixth Teaching (Arm Control)

Wrist Techniques:

  1. Kote-hineri – Wrist Twist
  2. Kote-gaeshi – Wrist Turn
  3. Munetsuki Kote-gaeshi – Punch Counter Wrist Turn
  4. Tenkai-kote-hineri – Rotating Wrist Twist

Elbow Techniques:

  1. Hiji Garami – Elbow Wrap
  2. Hiki-taoshi – Pull Down
  3. Oshi-taoshi – Push Down
  4. Ude-gaeshi – Arm Turn
  5. Ude-hineri – Arm Twist
  6. Waki-gatame – Side Pin

As far as joint locks and control movements are concerned, these are the main techniques used in Aikido when it comes to fighting.

Most of these techniques listed above teach you how to defend yourself when weapons are involved.

Aikido is a great martial art for self-defense purposes.

Aikido offers harmony, positivity, calmness, clarity of mind, and mental strength.

Equipment Needed For Aikido

Below is the basic equipment you will need for Aikido:

  1. Blue or White Gi
  2. Hakama
  3. Shinai
  4. Bogu set

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Aikido joint locks.
Credit: MartialArtsTube

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu also known as BJJ, originated in Brazil in the 1920s.

It’s derived from Japanese Jiu-Jitsu and Judo.

BJJ was created by the Gracies who were taught by a Japanese Judoka, Mitsuyo Maeda.

In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, grappling is the core foundation and joint locks and chokes are used to submit your opponent.

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Why Is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Good For Joint Locks?

BJJ teaches you to control both the joint directly above (proximal) and directly below (distal) which is essential when putting on a joint lock.

It completely immobilizes the compromised joint of the opponent.

There are many joint locks taught in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Below is a list of a few different joint locks:

Upper body joint locks:

  1. Twister
  2. Armbar
  3. Wristlock
  4. Kimura
  5. Straight Armlock

Lower body joint locks:

  1. Kneebar
  2. Calf Slicer 
  3. Estima Lock
  4. Heel hook
  5. Straight Ankle lock

These are some of the most used and effective joint locks in BJJ.

Some joint locks are not taught until you have more experience.

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BJJ Essentials

Below is a list of all the items you’ll need to practice BJJ:

  1. Mouthgaurd
  2. BJJ Gi
  3. Rash Guard
  4. No-Gi Shorts
  5. BJJ Gi
  6. Rash Guard
  7. NoGi Shorts

No additional items are necessary.

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BJJ joint locks.
Credit: Tutorialspoint


Judo is a Japanese martial art and it was created in 1882 by Kanō Jigorō.

The name Judo means “gentle or yielding way.”

It became an Olympic sport in 1964.

Millions of people throughout the world practice judo.

Why Is Judo Good For Joint Locks?

The word joint lock is called “Kansetsu waza” in Judo.

Judo teaches you how to put your opponent in a joint lock fast and effectively.

Many joint locks seen in BJJ originated from Judo.

The goal of putting your opponent in a joint lock is to make them submit or give up.

There are a few main joint locks used in Judo:

  1. Ude Garami – Bent Arm Lock
  2. Ude Hishigi Ashi Gatame – Leg Arm Bar
  3. Ude Hishigi Juji Gatame – Cross Arm Bar
  4. Ude Hishigi Ude Gatame – Straight Arm Lock
  5. Ude Hishigi Waki Gatame – Armpit Lock
  6. Ude Hishigi Hiza Gatame – Knee Arm Bar

Judo has limited joint locks only to the elbow joint because the others are too dangerous and illegal.

To put someone in a joint lock you have to bend it in the reverse direction.

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Judo Equipment Requirements

The following is the only equipment needed to get started with Judo:

  1. Judo Uniform
  2. Mouthguard

Judo joint locks.
Credit: FluentBJJ


Sambo started in the early 1920s and was developed by the Soviet NKVD and Red Army.

It’s a Soviet-origin Russian martial art used for self-defense in the military.

The word Sambo means ‘self-defense without weapons.’

There are 2 different styles of Sambo:

  1. Sport Sambo/Sambo Wrestling
  2. Combat Sambo

Sport Sambo/Sambo Wrestling is a sport where you compete against each other.

Combat Sambo is used only for self-defense, since it is more dangerous than the Sport Sambo.

Why Is Sambo Good For Joint Locks?

Sambo is an aggressive martial art and focuses on powerful throws and fast submissions.

This is one of the best martial arts for real-life situations.

Sport Sambo/Sambo Wrestling is very similar to Judo and focuses on powerful throws and joint locks.

In Sport Sambo, you aren’t allowed to use chokeholds and striking is illegal.

Combat Sambo is similar to modern MMA and you are allowed to use any form of striking, throws, and joint locks.

Joint locks used in Sambo:

  1. Leg locks
  2. Shoulder locks
  3. Wrist locks

Sambo teaches you how to do these joint locks fast and aggressively.

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What Equipment Will You Need For Sambo?

Below is a list of the basic equipment that is needed for Sambo:

  1. Mouthguard
  2. Boxing Gloves
  3. Freestanding Boxing Bag
  4. Shin guards
  5. Gi Top
  6. Wrestling Shoes
Sambo joint locks.
Credit: Leisurely Lifestyle

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)

Mixed Martial Arts, also known as MMA, dates back many years, but it only became widely known in 1993.

Royce Gracie fought the first UFC fight in Denver Colorado.

Millions of people around the world practice MMA.

It has become the most popular Martial Art.

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Why Is Mixed Martial Arts Good For Joint Locks?

MMA is based on many different types of martial arts.

The prominent martial arts used in MMA are BJJ, Wrestling, Muay Thai, and Judo.

In mixed martial arts, you can learn different types of martial arts and become an all-around fighter.

MMA teaches you many types of joint locks you can use against your opponent.

A few joint locks used in MMA are:

  1. Armbar
  2. Rear neck choke
  3. Gelatine choke
  4. Triangle choke
  5. Triangle armbar
  6. Knee bars
  7. Ankle locks

There are significantly more joint locks than MMA teaches you to use.

Most joint locks that are seen in Mixed Martial Arts originate from BJJ.

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MMA Essentials

Below is a list of a few items you need to train in MMA:

  1. Mouthguard
  2. Boxing Gloves
  3. Freestanding Boxing Bag
  4. Shin guards
  5. Boxing Short

The most important is the mouthguard and gloves when starting to train.

MMA joint locks.
Credit: MMA Mania

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In this article, I mentioned several martial arts that are great for learning joint locks and general fighting techniques.

Choose a martial art for joint locks and ground combat I would choose BJJ or MMA but the decision is yours.

Make sure you enjoy the martial art you’ve chosen because it is the most important part of playing a sport.