The Kodokan goshin-jutsu kata as well as several 20th century judo texts1 demonstrate various wristlocks as a self defence technique, similar to the teaching of atemi. However since at least 1900, they appear to have been barred from use in randori or competition.2

Were wristlocks ever permitted before this?

Since BJJ notably allows wristlocks as submissions, I had assumed that they were permitted in early judo.

  1. enter image description here My Method Of Self-Defence, Mikinosuke Kawaishi

  2. Even those above shodan rank are not permitted to perform the kwansetsuwaza on a finger-joint or wrist, while playing the randori contest.
    Judo: Japanese Physical Culture, Sumitomo Arima (1908)


2 Answers 2


Syd Hoare (8th Dan) in a lecture given to the EJU Foundation Degree Course at Bath University in Aug 2005 said the following with respect to his research on the inclusion of wrist locks in early judo:

Let us now look at the new 13 Article Butokukai Jujitsu Competition Rules which were completed in 1899:


  1. The nage-waza included sutemiwaza (sacrifice throws) as happens today and the katamewaza included strangles, joint-locks and hold-downs. However the allowed locks must have included all sorts of locks such as leg-locks and wrist locks and shoulder locks. Note that osae-waza (restraints/hold-downs) were not defined.


  2. Finger, toe and ankle locks were not allowed probably because they were seen as prone to injury but knee, shoulder, wrist, neck and spine locks were not specifically banned. Knee locks occurred in competition in the very early Kodokan days so perhaps these other locks were allowed as well.


Kodokan Competition and Randori Rules

Within one year of the formulation of the Butokukai competition rules the Kodokan produced its own rules (Kodokan Judo Randori Shobu Shimpan-ho) in 1900. Note that these were randori and competition rules. They were identical to the Butokukai ones but with three small changes which were... the (3rd) difference was in article 13 which was changed to read, “Even 1st Dan and above are not allowed to use toe and finger locks or ankle and wrist locks.” Maybe the wrist-lock inclusion here was because of a typo/omission in the earlier Butokukai rules.


Nowadays only Elbowlock is officially permitted in judo competitions. Nevertheless, National federation (french judo federation in particular) has set up for 5 years Newaza competitions where ankle-knee-shoulder-wristlock are authorized. You could remark that sometimes udegarami turns out to be shoulderlock even in international slam.

But let's come back to wristlock and modern judo. Actualy, when tori in competion (even Paris or Duseledorf) try to do jujigatame, he practices a hidden wristlock to free uke's hand from his judogi. That's the reason why Judo french team trains to avoid wristlock by leaving no room between the harm and chest when defending jujigatame. I talk about hidden wristlock because if you practice with your right handle a wristlock on the right wrist of your oponent, you can hide this bad gesture (from the eyes of referee) thanks to your left handle.

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