I love joint locks, especially straight arm and knee bars. I look for them constantly while I roll. I loose position going for them, I'll overlook easier sweeps and submissions going for them. Guys who have rolled with me for a long time do their best to hold their arms tight to their bodies, and are always ready to move to get their elbows away from danger.
I was working out with a couple of guys this morning and the question came up... Why do I like them so much? Why do I go after arm bars so much more than any other submission, say a choke or a shoulder lock? A good question.
Batman once said fighting styles are like fingerprints. But it goes much deeper than that. Fighting styles encompass the entirety of a person's personality, their strengths, their weaknesses, their fears, and their confidences. Because it is so deeply personal, people often are loathe to admit any fault in their fighting style. It is why some people watch two professional fighters and think they could beat up one or the other, or both.
When a person loses a fight, they are entirely defeated body and soul. It is impossible to separate yourself from the loss, because that other person didn't beat you at a game, they defeated YOU.
So, when a person trains in a martial art, the choice of the martial art is part of that deeply personal choice. As they train in that martial art, their own style comes through. Their body type and physiological configuration lends itself to some parts of the art, and not others. When I was training Taekwondo, I favored power kicks. The ax kick and the rear leg round house were my bread and butter. I used the jump spinning side kick as my go to counter. I really really really really wanted to be able to be one of those guys who could land the jump spinning hook kick inside the round house as a counter, but my body type just didn't lend itself to that kick. When I threw spinning hook kicks I needed my opponent to be moving forward in a straight line. I was virtually immobile when I threw the kick, so I needed their forward momentum to carry them in to the kick.
A style eventually developed based on my own body type and abilities.
The same is now true with my BJJ training. Interestingly enough, it is because of my previous training in Taekwondo that the armlock became my submission of choice.
When normal people start BJJ, normal people, not athletes, athletes bodies can adapt to almost any athletic event and make it their own. Their bodies are naturally flexible and strong. Normal people's bodies... are not. So when a normal person starts BJJ, moves that take "unusual" hip, knee, or hamstring flexibility are not really seen as go to moves. It takes time and training before the person's legs can do what the submission demands. With my TKD training, I was already fairly flexible in those three areas. I found that because of my flexibility, I could move to an armlock before the others of my same belt level. I could throw my leg around a guys head from much deeper angles than others of my same belt level. Because of this, the armbar became my favorite submission.
When you develop a favorite submission, or find a submission that works, you tend to use it a lot. The more you use it the better you become at it. My armbars got to be pretty good. Is that why I liked them? Simply because I could make them work? Or is it something deeper. Something in my personality that puts these submissions closer to my heart?
I have often said, that those who train Martial Arts have some sort of insecurity deep down to motivate us to train fighting over other more gentile pursuits. It leads to drama in the gym as those insecurities come to the surface, but it is also a major factor in the formation of our fighting style.
On the surface... I like the armlock because it is effective, and it is damaging. A choke, while by no means gentle, leaves no mark on the one choked. I have personally seen guys choked in to unconsciousness, only to wake up a few moments later, with their will to fight still intact. Many times they believe that they weren't really defeated.
When a joint is twisted the wrong way, the owner of that joint is out of the fight, or at least that particular limb that the joint belongs to is out of the fight. The person receiving the lock knows, just as if they had been knocked out, that they have lost the fight.
Is this my primary insecurity? Must I always prove myself, with out a doubt, to be the superior man? Is is some deep desire to prove to one and all that I am the "alpha" male? Is it some monkey thing deep in my brain? Is this why the arm and knee bars are so appealing to me? I can't honestly say. I find myself looking for specific facts to disprove someone else's way of thinking, not because I have any interest in the topic, but because I want to best the other person. One of the things I like about being a consultant is that I get to walk in to some business and be looked on as the be all end all of the subject that I was brought in to work on.
The better question to ask here is why do I do this. I either don't know, or I don't wish to go deep enough in to my own personality to say for sure. Is my love for the armlock just a deep seated inferiority complex seeking the surface?
I don't know. It is fun to try and puzzle it out. If I like armlocks because of an inferiority complex, do guys who prefer control positions have deep seated control issues? Are guys who like to stack and smash their opponents in someway feel oppressed themselves?
Perhaps I have fallen in to a new branch of Psychotherapy. Find your problems by developing your fighting style. Only takes 20 years of continuous difficult daily training. Get fit, and figure out what makes you tick!! I kind of like the sound of that...