Hierarchy and Safety
There’s a basic order of submission hierarchy in BJJ. Although in training and competition all taps finish the engagement equally, there is a natural order to their strategic importance in a fight. We understand with any distance from the core we are weaker; the wrist from the elbow, the elbow from the shoulder, and the obvious command of all from our brain (with it’s necessary blood flow). The closer we get to the core the higher prize the target. This puts wristlocks lower on the target list, but an absolutely legitimate submission on the road to target neck. When we tap to a wristlock, we acknowledge that our partner got closer to our neck than we did to their’s. We respect the hierarchy of submissions while understanding there is victory in using lower order targets to gain the advantage in a fight, the win in competition, or the lesson gained in training.
Any submission or movement can be made dangerous by employing them recklessly. Like all clean submissions, the first phase in execution is in controlling the position you’ll be attacking from, and this is where the great majority of action occurs. For an effective wristlock, we need to gain control of the person enough to capture the wrist in order to make it vulnerable for the finish. This ambition often takes a lot of energy and “heat” to bring them under control, which is the norm in any submission. The problem arises when that control is lost. If that positional control is lost, the carryover heat can be inadvertently applied to the haphazard execution causing injury. This can happen without or without control of the position, with no chance to tap regardless.
Conclusion: Wristlocks are great. Like any other submissions they shouldn’t be chased, and certainly not forced, especially so far from the core. Roll in a way that presents submissions to you and accept what comes along. Wristlocks might be lower on the target list, but better to score easily than bypass opportunity. Don’t like being wristlocked? Defend them. And remember that although wristlocks are lower on the strategic target list, the higher order longevity target is lifelong training partners on the mat with us.
Train. Belong. Evolve.