As can be seen here in this video, it seems impossible to escape from the sankyo grip.

Is there a way to escape from it (including self defense options)?

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    This question would be vastly improved if you clarified whether you are interested in escapes within the bounds of normal aikido practice, or a self defence situation: for the latter, a side or back kick into the knee is an easy option. – Tony D Mar 8 '16 at 15:04
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    Thanks @TonyD, I am interested in self defense. Although back kick might be an option in case of such a grip the pain in tremendous. So practically this option is very limited. I'll be glad if someone would give a complete solution to overcome the pain with combination with escape/ rellease. – Avi Mar 8 '16 at 17:02
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    The "movie move" is a front flip, but somehow I doubt that would work too well in a real life scenario :-) – Leonardo Herrera Mar 8 '16 at 18:48
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    I can do a forward roll from this. That works but if they know the move they can pin you afterwards. – Huw Evans Mar 8 '16 at 20:37
  • @TonyD: I think the self defence tag would make this question too broad. Should the self defense tag be burninated? – Sardathrion - against SE abuse Mar 9 '16 at 10:43

A non-Aikido solution, is to simply hammerfist or punch the back of the grabber's hand or their fingers, smashing it to get free.

We see twice in the video the guy gets a countergrip before the grabber shifts position and increases pressure, so the reach is there, and few people consider their hands as striking targets.

There's also the possibility of stomping the grabber's feet, however, it's harder to get off given that the grabber has a good read on any weight shifts through the pressure of the lock itself, and it's not as immediately easy to target like the hand on your arm which you can target by feel, instantly.

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    My point about the guy reaching for a countergrip in the video isn't that countergripping is useful, it's that it shows you can REACH the grabber's hand in order to strike it. The strike is a gross motor movement, which is quick and easier to do while in pain than anything complex. – Bankuei Mar 8 '16 at 21:10
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    It doesn't matter if they grip both the elbow and wrist - what matters is what angle they put your arm at. If they get your arm behind you, you can't slam their gripping hand. If they stand at the side (which is what happens in most of the video) you can reach it and hit it. Once the wrist lock is released, the tendon strain is gone. – Bankuei Mar 8 '16 at 21:12
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    Consider: 1. it is very quick to hit the hand grabbing you BEFORE they get the full lock on. 2. Yes, you end up doing suboptimal solutions once you've gotten deep into a lock, because if it was not a good position for the grabber, they wouldn't use it. I'm not sure what magical solution you're looking for? – Bankuei Mar 9 '16 at 4:12
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    Comments are neither for discussion nor for answering questions! – Sardathrion - against SE abuse Mar 9 '16 at 7:58
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    @Bankuei can you summarize some of those comments into your answer? I can then clean up the discussion. – slugster Mar 9 '16 at 12:29

In the case of sankyo (or tenkai kote hineri), the most common way to escape the technique is to drop one's elbow. Of course, a well executed tenkai kote hineri prevents that from happening.

Any kote hineri (rotational wrist lock) or kote gaeshi (supinating wrist lock) can be escaped with a judicious punch aimed at Tori's nose or to be fair, any body parts. In addition, if one's wrist is heavily muscled then it is possible to just force the write to untwist.

All wrist locks are aids to a technique (either throw or pin) and not the technique. Better results are achieved with balance breaking and wrist locks than with just wrist locks. Unless the intent is to cause grievous bodily harm by snapping the wrist1. In this case, the lock can cause dislocation, tendon tears, and bone breaking. Depending on the level of balance breaking, indirect harm can as well be inflected.

1: I am not a lawyer nor do I play one on TV. That said, causing grievous bodily harm will get you into trouble with the law whatever the situation and reasons for doing it.

  • Thanks @Sardathrion, Can you direct me to video that shows how to escape? – Avi Mar 8 '16 at 8:16
  • Thanks. If you suffer from pain and the catch includes both twist and lock of both elbow and wrist at the same time is there a way to escape from such position? – Avi Mar 8 '16 at 8:27
  • @avi: No... Maybe... Yes... With ifs you can put Paris in a bottle. ^_~ – Sardathrion - against SE abuse Mar 8 '16 at 8:47

Holds like sankyo rely on crossed extensor reflex action - the sensation of pain causes reflexive activity in other parts of the body. This is most effective when the opposing side of the body has nothing to leverage against, i.e. no wall or floor to push against. This means you can continuously adjust or tweak the hold to prevent the opponent punching or grabbing you.

One very simply way to nullify the pain from sankyo so that you can then counter it is to put your forehead to the back of the wrist that is being manipulated. I'm sorry to say I don't know why it works - from my experimentation I don't believe it's due purely to bio-mechanical reasons because the attacker can still be cranking on the wrist (it may have something to do with interrupting the pathway of the nerve impulse).

Of course placing your head in that position can lead to further danger - so don't leave it there for too long!

  • Thanks @slugster♦, is there a way I can see how to place the forehead at the back of the wrist? and if catch includes both twist and lock of both elbow and wrist at the same time is there a way to escape from such position? – Avi Mar 8 '16 at 8:48
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    When we do tenkai toke hineri, uke's hand is rotated towards their arm pit with the elbow high. In that position, putting your forehead to the back of your hand would require some amazing flexibility. I'll give it a try next time I train! Thanks. – Sardathrion - against SE abuse Mar 8 '16 at 8:50

We have a similar throw in the the style I practice but It's only taught to higher grade students for the reason that it's very hard to get that grip in the first place. Once you have the grip on the fingers the throw isn't too difficult but to get it requires:

  1. The receiver of the technique must have their hand open (ie not in a fist)
  2. The receiver must not move the hand when you try to grab it.

You can learn a lot about balance when you do this technique but I don't think this is going to come up much outside a dojo. Open hand strikes are one thing but if your opponent is good enough to catch one of your strikes you are probably in trouble anyway either in self defence or anywhere else.

However the first thing you should do if caught this way is relax the arm muscles. This makes it harder to manipulate the body using the arm and also reduces the pain caused by the stretch. Then anchor the elbow to the body. If your elbow ends up high you are in big trouble as you can see in the video.

  • I have done this technique on people fully resisting and with close fists. It is not pretty but tenkai kote hineri does work just fine. You do need balance breaking. A lot of balance breaking. – Sardathrion - against SE abuse Mar 9 '16 at 8:00
  • True, but the question was about the grip not the rest of the techniques from that grip. There are many other options for escape if you have your closed fist gripped I didn't mention these but I could add them. – Huw Evans Mar 9 '16 at 10:29
  • There are also better techniques to choose if you are gripping the fist. – Huw Evans Mar 9 '16 at 10:33

There is always a counter technik; also inside the Aikido (other than punching and kicking) For every technique there is a twin technique which could be used as counter, like ying yang principle. The concept is called Kaeshi waza. Of course I would not suggest to resist the sankyo grip if your opponent/partner tori has solid control over you, it might harm your joints. But there are 2 maybe 3 points of time which you can use for your kaeshi, if tori makes a small failure:

  1. Shortly before the sankyo grip seated, tori needs to slow down a little. As already suggested, you can try to drop your elbow, control opponent's wrist and with the other elbow of yours you can go for a quick kote gaeshi.
  2. After sankyo grip seated, tori screws the controlled hand with a direction to the top and immediately sinks it for the throw/leading to the ground. He can lose the control for a second exactly at this moment. You can once again drop your elbow and go for a kote gaeshi.
  3. Does not happen often, but tori can slightly lose the control during the leading to the ground. You can try to make a forwards roll (mae-ukemi) and loosen the grip.

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