Bloody Elbow Judo Chop: Shinya Aoki Breaks Mizuto Hirota's Arm With a Hammerlock Variation He Calls the "Keichi Sasahara 2010"

Photo via Sherdog

Shinya Aoki's use of a modified hammerlock to break the arm of Mizuto Hirota at Dynamite!! 2009 was much discussed, mostly because of the controversy that arose from Aoki's decision to taunt the injured Hirota after breaking his arm.

But the discussion of the technique that Aoki applied has been utterly neglected. I'm going to rectify that here.

First let's see what Aoki himself had to say about the move. From Sherdog:

"Let's name it 'Keichi Sasahara 2010.' Because Sasahara told me to take him out, so I went and did just that, and that's why I figure I should name it after him." -- Shinya Aoki, christening his hammerlock submission after his "boss."

And what is a hammerlock exactly and why don't we see more of them in MMA?

From Wikipedia:

A hammerlock is a shoulder lock similar to the kimura lock where the opponent's arm is held bent against their back, and their hand forced upwards towards the neck, thereby applying pressure to the shoulder joint. The hammerlock is well-known as a pain compliance hold in law-enforcement where it is typically used from a stand-up position to control an aggressor, and is also utilized in the application of handcuffs. It is also sometimes seen used as a submission hold in submission wrestling arts.

In the full entry, we'll look at some gifs and hear from some of the old school catch wrestlers who used the hammerlock as a key part of their submission arsenal.

Aoki's innovative use of a technique more often associated with police brutality than modern day submission grappling shows why so many consider him the most creative grappler in MMA today.


Gifs by Chris Nelson

Aoki-1_mediumOn the right we see the moment that began Hirota's down fall. Aoki has taken him down and has his right leg wrapped around both of Hirota's legs around the knees and his left leg wrapped around Hirota's ankles like a brightly colored python climbing towards the head of its prey. Then he grabs Hirota's right wrist with his left hand. Hirota's wrist won't be free again until after the end of the fight.

Aoki-2_mediumNow on the left we see Aoki transfer Hirota's wrist from his left hand to his right. This is the critical moment that allows Aoki to pull Hirota's arm behind his back.

I'd love to hear from people who have ideas for how Hirota should've escaped from here. If escape was even possible at this point.

Aoki-3_mediumOn the right we see Aoki use that control he's got over Hirota's right arm to climb past Hirota's knees and into full mount. Once Aoki has positional dominance plus his opponent's arm trapped behind his back, Hirota is truly in deep waters.

Aoki-4_mediumMount is gained on the left and on the right we see the ugly uses to which Aoki puts his positional control right away.

From here Hirota has literally zero options. I'm curious as to whether Aoki could've finished the submission from this position by reaching down with his left hand and grabbing the wrist to apply the hammerlock.

Aoki-5_mediumHe's throwing a nasty elbow to the shoulderblade of Hirota and was mixing in punches to the face as well. This is consistent with the philosophy of fighting that Aoki articulated in a recent  Kamipro article he wrote, translated by Gryphon, via Head Kick Legend:

it is united technic of submission, sweep,and stand.....We need groud technic to stand again. Do you know it?..........Sorry I can not explain it perfectly,,,it....I want to say "MMA IS MMA."MMA is not "striking + Ground" , it is called as MMA!!

Aoki-6_mediumOn the left is the moment that Hirota, tired of being battered to the face, decides to give up his back. That's never a happy decision to have to make and it won't end well. Note that Aoki almost immediately works to lock in a figure four body lock with his legs.

Aoki-7_mediumThe rest of the gifs are just the grisly but inevitable process that happens when a fighter gets caught in a submission and won't tap out.

To learn more about the old days of catch wrestling -- back when submissions were a key part of professional wrestling and the bouts were actually sporting contests, I highly recommend tracking down Mark Hewitt’s Catch Wrestling an excellent history of the glory days of the sport -- with several chapters discussion Japanese grappling pioneers who brought their judo and jiu jitsu games to the U.S. and competed with the wrestlers here.

Look at the pictures while we hear from some of the legends of old time catch wrestling talking about their approaches to the hammerlock.

These come from GnarlMaster's excellent Catch wrestling technique and history page. Here's the legendary Frank Gotch's take on the hammerlock:

There are several varieties of the hammerlock.  The hold is usually secured when working over an opponent on the mat.  The aggressor reaches inside the left arm of his opponent and grasps his hand with his own right hand if working on the left side.  The attacker also grasps his opponent`s fingers with his left hand.  He works the imprisoned hand up and back, using the leverage thus obtained to accomplish his purpose.  When the imprisoned  member is pulled back, the grip may be retained with one of the attacker`s hands and a waistlock added to force the hand towards the shoulder blades.



The hammerlock is usually secured in conjunction with some other hold.  A hammerlock and grapevine or a hammerlock and crotch (hold)  are very effective combinations, but not easy to secure on strong opponents.

Aoki-10_mediumNote that Gotch mentions nothing about using the legs to wrap around the opponents hips. That kind of positional control using the legs really originates with Helio Gracie as far as I can tell. It was certainly alien to catch-wrestling.

Aoki-11_mediumHere's Gotch's rival Georg Hackenschmidt talking about the hammerlock, also from Gnarlmaster's catch wrestling technique and history page:

The Hammerlock, pure and simple, is nothing more nor less than a punishing hold, and if applied "with the bar on,  i.e. with the interposition of an arm, over which the locked mans arm is bent, the man so attacked must either turn over on to his shoulders, or incur the risk of a broken or dislocated arm, supposing him to be unable to extricate his arm.


Here's a photo of Hackenschmidt applying the hammerlock and using what he calls a Further Shoulder Hold and Arm Across the Back to control the opponent.










Here's Hackenschmidt showing off a  version of the hammerlock Itthat is really a nasty  twist. It was banned in catch wrestling matches in those days because of the potential for injury.

Note how he's using his right leg to control the opponent with a grapevine. 

This is some very effective grappling, but you can see why Helio Gracie's creation of a system of grappling based around use of both legs wrapped around the opponent's waist to establish and maintain positional control was such a big innovation.

The guard/mount position that is the basis of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu wasn't appealing to wrestlers because of the importance of pin falls in wrestling matches. It's too easy to get rolled over from mount and if you're in guard you're basically pinned and the match is over.

In the comments, BE reader Mr Pants points out that Aoki's hammerlock from back mount wouldn't be out of place in folk style wrestling:

I think the problem is that its mostly being looked at from a BJJ perspective. in amateur folk wrestling there is a very similar move in having legs in plus an arm bar to turn your opponent. Additionally, its not uncommon to take an arm bar, take you opponents back , sit up, extend your opponent’s arm across your chest (to prevent the move from being illegal), and inch up towards the opponents shoulder to cause him to turn.

The move is really similar to a legs in ride chicken wing without the arm in or an arm bar.

Here's a photo of a legs in ride:


Here's a chicken wing:



And here's what the folk style wrestlers call an arm bar:


It's clear to me that there are many many moves in the vocabulary of folk style wrestling in America that we haven't seen applied in MMA, yet.


Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Bloody Elbow

You must be a member of Bloody Elbow to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bloody Elbow. You should read them.

Join Bloody Elbow

You must be a member of Bloody Elbow to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bloody Elbow. You should read them.




Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.