The hammerlock or chicken-wing is a standing shoulder lock and come-along hold, frequently used by policemen and nightclub bouncers. Hammerlocks are an effective means restraining and relocating an opponent; wherever you move, they will follow. A hammerlocked opponent can be used as a human shield, and later shoved into another opponent’s path as an atemi. Since the hammerlock is a nonviolent technique, it is ethical to use on friends or loved ones who are intoxicated and/or threatening self-harm.
To perform a hammerlock:
- Grab the opponent’s same-side wrist.
- Reach over the opponent’s arm with your opposite-side hand, grabbing their elbow. For best results, place your middle finger in the crook of their elbow.
- Simultaneously pull your opposite-side hand down to towards your hip, and press your same-side hand in towards the opponent’s neck. This should turn the opponent around, with their hand behind their back and their elbow pointing out to the side (thus, a “chicken-wing”).
- If the opponent’s elbow will not bend, apply a reverse wristlock instead.
- Push the opponent’s elbow towards their spine, and pull their wrist up towards their neck to increase shoulder joint pressure.
- The goal is to force the opponent on to their tiptoes, which makes them easy to off-balance. Mechanical compliance holds are always more effective than pain compliance holds.
- Take your hand off the opponent’s elbow, and use it to establish head control by:
- Grabbing the back of the opponent’s jacket collar.
- Reaching across the opponent’s neck to grab their opposite-side lapel.
- Reaching across the opponent’s neck to hook the side of their face with the back of your hand, like an irimi pin.
While this step is not required for the technique to work, it is strongly recommended. Most hammerlock escape waza assume that this step was ignored or not yet applied.
- Take a small step backwards, to slightly pull the opponent’s shoulders back past the plane of their hips. This breaks the opponent’s balance, making them easier to move and steer. This also precludes the opponent from performing foot hooks, sweeps, trips, or desperation moves.
[Photos of isolation techniques] [Video of a hammer lock, fast and slow, from the front and side, and over the tori’s shoulder.]
While a hammerlock may superficially resemble a kimura, a hammerlock does not incorporate the brutality of the kimura’s figure-4 grip.