Couple of weeks ago we were working on Kote Hineri; I am at least a foot taller than my daughter. My hands are correspondingly larger; I haven't measured, but my palm is probably an inch wider than hers. How can she apply Kote Hineri against me (or other larger people)?

Ignore for a moment that this will never be her "goto technique" against large people; she is perfectly capable of using her lower center of gravity and superior skill at blending to introduce me to the mat at high velocity. We accept that, but when studying kata, we try to learn how to do the technique realistically, effectively, and correctly.

Dogmatically speaking, Kote Hineri should be performed with the middle finger across uke's knuckle, and the thumb in the "pocket" of the palm. It is extremely difficult for someone with a small hand to perform that against someone with a large hand.

One option is to slip the hand down and work against the fingers, rather than against the hand. I am skeptical that this provides the same degree of control. The goal of a joint lock is to use the joints to communicate the control/hold to the whole body and to effect an unbalance. Working against the fingers is likely to break the fingers; at that point the control is based on pain and fear rather than on full control.

A second option is to use the other hand to reinforce; in many kata this is a legitimate option, but in Go Shin Ho No Kata, the other hand is used to capitalize on the unbalance.

Other suggestions? How do people accomodate different body sizes when doing joint locks? (I think the general question is interesting, but I think I'll limit this question to joint locks. If you think that the kote hineri is different from other joint locks, explain why.)

  • 1
    Are you asking how to make Kote Hineri work for different body sizes, or are you asking how to accomodate different body sizes in general?
    – Anon
    Commented May 6, 2013 at 2:22

1 Answer 1


First off, let me just say that I have a different view than most people – I don't believe a technique is correct because your movements match your instructor; I believe a technique is correct because you can break it down into its bare principles and apply it.

Differences in size can be understood from the point of view of handicapping yourself during training. With most techniques, you are not adapting the technique, but manipulating the kukan (empty space; you might also understand this as the angle-distance-timing of the movement). So, understanding how you might perform the technique from a chair (giving you a lower center of gravity), for instance can lead to new insights about the importance of positioning yourself in relation to your opponent.

The importance of kote hineri is not in the placement of the hand, but in the twist-locking of the wrist, which continues up into the arm, and on into the torso. It is another angle (namely, up) from which the body is locked by means of the wrist. The placement of the hand as you've described makes a huge assumption: that the assailant has an open hand. Goshin ho no kata (護身法の方 – means of the principles of self-defense) are about applying techniques to real-life situations, if still in a controlled manner. Outside of Aikido, have you ever seen a big dramatic charging chop? Consider a fist, or a knife clenched in the hand, or a truncheon. Moving down to attack the fingers will only weaken your grip.

Ignore too the impulse to use only your hands and feet. What if you had only one arm? You could still use your shoulder, your hip, your chest, or even your head if you're in need of a means to support your grip. Be creative; you have a whole body.

Let's assume you're an average man (I do not personally know you, so I'm going to work with averages here). If you attack her or resist her with your arm alone, you're resisting with roughly 4.8% of your body mass, or about 4.03 kg. If an average 11 year old girl were trained to use her whole body mass against you, she would be using nearly 9 times the mass you're using, or approximately 35.93 kg.

The principle of the technique, remember, is to lock out that arm, to make it useless to the opponent, and use it to control the rest of his body. By locking out that side of the body, you're reducing the potential effective mass – you're no longer able to strike, grab, etc.

So, now, a bit of a koan for you – how do you apply kote hineri to a man with no hands? Break down the technique into it's parts and examine it, and not only is it possible, but knowing how, you'll better understand the application under normal circumstances.

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