Can someone tell me the name of this joint lock?

joint lock from Sherlock series S03E03

Here is a still of the final position:

joint lock from Sherlock series S03E03

It seems to be an Aikido technique (is it?) .


  • 2
    It's a sher-lock. Commented Jun 3, 2019 at 22:31
  • The basic structure of this lock has utility in the real world against untrained opponents—typical bouncer move—but is generally practiced with the other hand controlling the elbow to force the opponent's shoulder up at a poor angle for response. One would need to be a legit jujitsu or chin-na master to make it work one-handed.
    – DukeZhou
    Commented Dec 15, 2020 at 18:41
  • But doing it just with the thumb as in the movie is pure fiction. (Here I think the intent is to convey that the character is a high-level master who is pushing some sort of imaginary pressure point with his thumb and front knuckle.)
    – DukeZhou
    Commented Dec 15, 2020 at 22:32

7 Answers 7


It's hard to tell, but it looks like the dude on the right's left arm is pushed up behind his back. I hear that called that a "chicken wing", which is similar to BJJ's "Kimura", catch-wrestling's double wrist lock, and judo's ude garami. I'm sure there's a name for it in SAMBO, and aikido too.

I say "similar to" because most of those techniques actually require a different and more effective grip. The one shown here is not secure or strong.

  • 2
    Thanks for reply, Yes both use left hand and the image is taken from series Sherlock S3E3 (here is a gif from performing it & of course I don't expect actors to perform a technique correctly) & it is not chicken wing
    – Ariyan
    Commented Nov 3, 2015 at 22:43
  • 2
    @4r1y4n I have seen this referred to as a chicken wing. I suspect the "chicken wing" term is highly imprecise with multiple definitions.
    – mattm
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 3:58
  • 3
    The gif makes me sure that this is a movie version of the chicken wing and related locks I mention. The point is to prevent the shoulder from moving forward in space while moving the wrist and elbow upward towards the back of the shoulder. Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 7:10

This is a nothing lock - it is a made for television move.

While Sherlock's thumb and index finger do lie along anterior wrist points used frequently with various wrist locks or throws (e.g. kotogaeshi in Aikido), this particular implementation is a waste of bandwidth and screen frames, it is a British version of Hollywood nonsense. Try it, and see how little control you have and how easily your opponent will be able to get out of it or nullify it.

As suggested by Dave, at most this will be a crude shoulder lock, although poorly held and not very painful as the persons hand is only halfway up their back (which most people can do with little or no discomfort).

  • True—it's a terrible, fake lock. Pure fiction. But, as for the general position of the opponent's arm, you can make it hurt, and even hurt the opponent's shoulder, if you control the elbow and they don't know the counter.
    – DukeZhou
    Commented Dec 15, 2020 at 22:35

This appears to be a hammerlock or "chicken wing", held with only one hand for ostensibly artistic purposes i.e. to imply Sherlock is so skilled he only needs to utilise a very small amount of movement/control to subdue an opponent.

In reality, such a hold is relatively insecure since Sherlock is not controlling Mycroft's arm/body in any way (other than pushing the wrist up); with no 'grip' to speak of, Mycroft could theoretically just turn clockwise and be free.

Most martial arts which teach joint locks teach similar techniques (hyper-rotating the shoulder joint by winding the arm up the back) but with much more stable control of the arm, either by using both arms to control the lock in a figure-four hold, or by using the other arm to control the opponent's body to some degree, preventing them from escaping.

Below are the names of some similar techniques (or techniques with one or more similar variations) in various disciplines:

Martial Art Name Example
Judo ude-hishigi-te-gatame enter image description here
BJJ Kimura enter image description here
Catch Wrestling Hammerlock enter image description here
Aikido hiji-garami enter image description here

And here are the names of some techniques which can attack the same joint (hyper-rotating the shoulder backwards), but are generally characterised by very different grips than one handed control of the arm (e.g. a figure-four hold):

Martial Art Name
Judo ude-garami
BJJ Kimura, Americana
Catch Wrestling Double wristlock/Chickenwing
Aikido ude-gaeshi

And the following describe a similar lock secured with the legs:

Martial Art Name
Judo ude-hishigi-ashi-gatame, ude-hishigi-hiza-gatame
BJJ Omoplata
Catch Wrestling Coil lock

Note that in both the Judo and catch-wrestling variations above, when only one hand is being used to apply the lock the other hand is very purposefully being used to restrain the opponent's body. If the other arm is not engaged as such, it is much more sensible to attempt to secure the lock with both available hands:

Te-gatame, double hand variant Hammerlock with arm up the back with a bar (a Forbidden Hold)


In the Takagi-ryū of classical jūjutsu this could be considered a variation of "Ōgyaku dori". Some variants include having the arm collapsed behind the back like in the presented image and GIF. While other versions keep the arm streight or only slightly bent in order to initiate an elbow lock or even a throw.

Pretty much every tradition or practice will have either a similar name or it's own name altogether.


Lock Aikido techniques involve first of all, the use of the attacker's own power in a clever way to turn it against him so that the lock takes place effectively.

However, on this movie, we see the performer of the technique is very awkwardly locking the wrist of the other person who was standing up and not moving (so in practice, the wrist/elbow lock will fail especially given the angle of the attack and the stable posture of the both men)

The hand of the victim is not lifted enough to the shoulders, which thing means his elbow is not enough trailed in the back: with these 2 facts, the attacker can not allow himself to handle the hand of his victim with the his thumb only, and the victim can easily free himself.

Conclusion: that has nothing to do with martial arts.

  • 1
    Aikido locks (or any other for that matter) work just fine on a static opponent. There is nothing clever in wrist locks, just simple body mechanics. The rest of the answer is fine. Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 13:04
  • 1
    @Sardathrion I agree, you can perform a lock on a static opponent, but it can fail for two reason: 1. You will have to deploy more power. 2. If your opponent is stronger, there would be less chance to succeed.
    – user5590
    Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 13:14
  • One can't expect Benedict Cumberbatch to properly execute a martial technique on film! (Look how long it took Keanu to become convincing in John Wick! Dude trained hard under a legit master for more than 10 years, and still not in the league of the action stars who trained their whole lives.)
    – DukeZhou
    Commented Dec 15, 2020 at 18:40
  • It's a fake lock but meant to imply use of pressure points by Sherlock's thumb and first knuckle

Likely Aikido inspired, as there are legends of masters being able to submit foes by placing pressure on a single point, for instance with the big toe.

Choreography, not real joint locking, but meant to convey a martial ideal.


What is demonstrated by the clip is not a martial art technique. I would say it's a street technique for some dude who wants to be a make shift wrestler or martial artist. You know the tough guy who thinks he is the big kid on campus but has NO LEGIT TRAINING. I say this because almost ANY LEGIT martial artist would escape this bs "lock" as you called it in seconds.

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