Jeet Kune Do Counter-Attacks: Locking

November 5, 20151 Comment

There are times when controlling an opponent is more important than cleaning his clock.

Arm and wristlocks are common to many martial arts. They are important primary techniques in chin na, jiujitsu and aikido.

Left to right: Sifu Larry Hartsell, Sifu Dan Inosanto & Sifu Tim Tackett at the Smoky Mountain Camp.

Left to right: Sifu Larry Hartsell, Sifu Dan Inosanto & Sifu Tim Tackett at the Smoky Mountain Camp.

In developing Jeet Kune Do, Bruce Lee considered locking to be either accidental or incidental. It’s accidental because in JKD, while we don’t look for a lock, we may find one. For example, you may slip an opponent’s punch, throw an uppercut to the stomach and get him in a front headlock. It’s accidental because it’s not planned; it’s just there. It’s as if your opponent’s own energy or body position leads him into a lock. Locking in JKD is incidental because it’s seldom a primary goal. Locking almost always follows a punch, kick, trap or throw. We believe in softening up and opponent before locking him.

This is not to say that locking should be disregarded. There are times when controlling an opponent may be more important than punching him out. For example, your “opponent” may be a drunk at a party of a mentally disturbed person who may harm himself or others. You may have a job such as bodyguard, bouncer or police officer where controlling an opponent is desired.

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JKD-Vol2-CounterAttack-BookThe Kali Lock-Flow

Experts in Filipino Kali practice locking by flowing from one lock to another. The flow occurs when you attempt a lock and your opponent resists. When he resists he gives you energy. You flow (or go with) his energy and into another lock. The Kali lock-flow is an example of flowing with your opponent’s energy.

Many Kali instructors will do a different lock-flow every time they show you an example. This follows the JKD principle of no set pattern, and shows that energy will differ from opponent to opponent. Remember, the lock-flow shown in this article is only one example. Learn it, but don’t be bound to it. Once you’ve learned it, dissolve it and just go with the flow. Take each lock to the point where it is defined or set. Stay on the threshold of pain, but don’t push past it.

JKD Grappling Flow 1

JKD Grappling Flow 2

JKD Grappling Flow 3

JKD Grappling Flow 4

This article was originally published in the December 1987 issue of “IKF Presents: The Masters’ Fighting Guide”, and is an excerpt from Sifu Tim Tackett and the late Sifu Larry Hartsell’s book “Jeet Kune Do Volume II: Entering to Trapping to Grappling”. It’s out of print, but is still available via

You can learn more about Sifu Larry Hartsell’s JKD & organization at:; and Sifu Tim Tackett and his JKD Wednesday Night Group at:

About the video: Sifu Larry Hartsell’s Lockflow demonstrated and taught by Sifu Wes Bennett, an original instructor under Sifu Larry Hartsell.

jkd counterattack Larry Hartsell

jkd counterattack Hartsell & Tackett

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  • Debra Ann Crosier Hartsell

    Thank you. I like number 10. :)

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