Wrist Locks and Submissions and Joint Manipulations…Oh my!

As our goal here at the Tao is to inform, we find it necessary to revisit certain subjects with some regularity. One of those subjects is Use of Force. While some might see this as proof that Nightclub Security are fixated on being violent, the opposite is true: our goal is to minimize the Use of Force or to remove it from the Ejection equation altogether. However, the reality of the Nightclubs (and their accompanying consumption of alcohol, hierarchical male behavior patterns, and no shortage of foolish behavior) is that this combination of factors unfortunately leads to incidences of physical contact between Staff and Patrons. To this end, it is necessary regularly address not only Use of Force, but its correct and incorrect applications.*

In 99% of the entertainment venues where we’ve consulted, we’ve heard someone say, “We wrapped the Patron up and escorted him out”. And 99% of the time the escorting was done with some type of lock or manipulation. The question of whether or not the Staff was correct in use of the lock will NOT be addressed here. But the reality of using these tactics will. There is a reason that locks and manipulations exist: they are helpful in subduing individuals who are dangerous, violent, or resisting you in some way. Unfortunately, the proper application of these locks and manipulations is oftentimes overlooked or just plain ignored.

WRIST LOCKS AIN’T EASY

Let’s start by removing the myth of the “easy” submission. The “real world” application of any type of lock, manipulation, or submission is far different than the application of the same in a controlled environment. Most martial artists are introduced to these techniques in class, with a compliant partner. But very few are asked to apply the same techniques against someone who DOES NOT want to be locked up or submitted. Keep in mind that no one wants to be submitted. There is a basic feeling that keeps people from being locked up…PAIN.  In most cases, grabbing an intoxicated Patron – without even attempting to apply a lock – will cause them to resist. Attempt to apply a lock or submission in this scenario…and more often than not it will fail due to resistance. In addition, should you be able to apply your technique, the second that the Patron in question feels PAIN, they will react by trying to get out of the lock or manipulation or submission as quickly as possible.

One of the potential problems which occurs is that the person attempting to apply the lock will OVERCOMPENSATE and use excessive force to set the lock and/or manipulation. Add to that the fact that alcohol dulls pain (in this case on the part of the Patron) and the end result is something getting torn, ripped, or broken. As a matter of fact, one of the most common injuries to martial artists in training are as a result of excessive force being applied in the attempt to submit! And these are individuals who are expecting to be submitted. So, do you avoid “over-excitement” in the application of any submission technique?

TRAINING

The only way to get better at something is to train. Period. Want to get better at submissions? Train. Want to perfect wrist locks? Train. Feel the need to develop a sweet armbar? Train. Training does a few things:

1) It helps you realize that the “real world” is different from dojo world. People resist and often in creative ways. How will you discover how to work the lock with them, against them, or even move on to another possible manipulation? By constant attempts at application. And by constant attempts at application UNDER PRESSURE. Training should be as realistic to the scenario as possible, while remaining safe. (We can discuss quality of training in another post)

2) Training helps you refine your technique. There is a reason that even professional fighters and martial artists have favorite holds: they work what works for them. Some techniques will work on some people better than others. And some techniques will work more comfortably for you than others. Only by working a variety of techniques against a variety of partners can you find what “works”

3) Working submissions regularly more importantly give you an idea of what the human body is capable of handling. Meaning that you will know how 95% of the population will move and react to having a lock applied. Human anatomy is fairly consistent. True, there are those among us with incredible flexibility and high pain tolerance. But most humans’ bodies don’t take a lot of pressure to feel pain or discomfort. With constant training, one can come to understand by “feel” when the body is reaching its discomfort areas. Which, in the long run, can keep you from “over excitement” when it comes time to apply a hold in the real world.

APPLICABILITY

So now you’ve trained and you understand that you can’t just “put someone in a wrist lock”. The next question you should ask yourself (and one you should continually ask yourself while working Security) is, “Do I have to apply the lock/hold/submission when escorting someone from an establishment?” Ultimately, this comes down to where you are in the Use of Force continuum. Have you exhausted all options prior to putting your hands on someone? As far as we are concerned, if you have gotten to the point where getting physical is necessary, you’ve already lost the battle. But the perfect world where everyone is sober, gets along, and follow directions does not exist. Which is why things like locks, holds, and submissions where invented in the first place!

Careful consideration should be given to Use of Force, regardless of the type of force. Unless you are properly trained in the use of locks, holds, and submissions, you should probably err on the side of caution and NOT use them. Even with proper training, a thoughtful examination of the scenario in which you find yourself should be undertaken before going “hands on.” In the long run, it will not only make you a safer employee, but a more knowledgeable and tolerant Security Staffer.

Until next time…

* We will ALWAYS state that use of control tactics opens you and your Staff to a world of possible liability. And in turn, this can lead to criminal and civil lawsuits. We DO NOT condone Use of Force and ALWAYS recommend using every other option available to you and your Staff prior to putting your hands on ANYONE. The Use of Force continuum exists for a reason, mainly to cover you and your Staff’s behinds. We cannot emphasis this enough: IF YOU OR YOUR STAFF USE FORCE IMPROPERLY OR USE IT IN THE WRONG SITUATION YOU WILL BE SUED.*

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