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Kung Fu Liane 02-26-2003 06:24 AM

Yonkyo nerve pinch

does the nerve pinch part of yonkyo feel painful to every person who receives it? should it be painful?


Ta Kung 02-26-2003 07:21 AM

In my limited experience, there are people who don't feel any pain from this. This is why my sensei alwayas tells us to go for the shoulder instead, and using the nerve as a secondary "bonus".


andrew 02-26-2003 07:32 AM


Patrik Eng (Ta Kung) wrote:
In my limited experience, there are people who don't feel any pain from this.

I hear that a lot, and I know loads of people who don't feel any pain from mine.

I've never seen anyone fail to feel pain from my old teacher though, or indeed his teacher. By far the most painful control I've felt. I think maybe it's a very difficult control to nail.

Or maybe they are completely immune.


Ta Kung 02-26-2003 08:13 AM


I think maybe it's a very difficult control to nail.
I agree. And since those people who supposedly do not feel pain from this technique, probably haven't been uke for every single sensei around the world, there is no way of really knowing... :)

The fact is, that regardless of why it doesn't work on everyone everytime, it is better to go for the shoulder. IMHO it's easier to do, and not as risky for nage.


PS. I won't quit trying to get it to work, though! :D

Dennis Hooker 02-26-2003 08:59 AM

I have been doing Aikido for a very long time and I have trained with many people and very few are actually proficient at yonkyo. I am talking about 4th, 5th and 6th dans and a few Shihan. Now a lot of folks make pain in various ways using the traditional application of the 4th principle and can use that pain for submission, but few actually in my experience do yonkyo. When applied correctly this damn technique leaves a burse the size of a silver dollar on the inside center of the forearm about three inches above the wrist and your fingers don't work very good for a few days after a class of yonkyo. No, I can not do it very well myself.

erikmenzel 02-26-2003 09:10 AM

I dont believe there are people that are imune to yonkyo. IMHO imune people havent run into people that actually can do yonkyo. The technique is far more difficult then most people are willing to admit.

I am one of the persons on which a lot of people cannt find yonkyo. About 95% of the people cannt do a hurting yonkyo on me. The other 5% can and then it is like mister Hooker describes it. A dime sized deep bruise and a dead feeling in your fingers (BTW I always shake this feeling away, you know, shake low, shake above the shoulder).

As a side note. I found that my yonkyo really improved from doing suburi with a suburi to.

akiy 02-26-2003 10:14 AM

Hi Dennis,

Quick question. As you point out, not many people can do the kind of yonkyo that you describe. So, how do you teach yonkyo at your dojo? Do you make the pain and/or bruising the primary objective, or (perhaps) do you ask your students to aim for the balance break?


-- Jun

Creature_of_the_id 02-26-2003 10:28 AM

I know a guy who is immune in one arm (had surgery on that arm after an accident, the nerve is no longer there). His other arm is very susceptable (sp?) though ;)

ian 02-26-2003 11:02 AM

I can get yonkyo on people quite easily but would strongly disagree that the nerve pain works on everyone. At the end of the day pressure must be applied to the nerve. I have found that it is difficult to penetrate the fat on overweight people, and thus difficult to get yonkyo on them.

I also think that some people are less suceptible (possibly due to pain resistance) - there is a similar nerve near the shin bone which you can get on pretty much anyone, however for some people it doesn't have much effect.

(I'm not sure which category you fit into Erik!)

Dennis Hooker 02-26-2003 11:02 AM

Hi Jun, I show how it should be done and ask for them to try and find it.

MikeE 02-26-2003 12:29 PM

I think the nerve pain in yonkyo is secondary to taking uke's center with the sword-like cutting movement of nage's body.

And its a small matter of nerve pain when you are successfully flexing uke's radius.

erikmenzel 02-26-2003 01:57 PM


Ian Dodkins (ian) wrote:
I'm not sure which category you fit into Erik!

Well Ian, you can decide for yourself cause you have trained with me.

BTW are you going to be in Galway this year? I am :D :D :D :D :D :D

Don_Modesto 02-26-2003 03:16 PM


I always try for that electric feeling when you nail the nerve to the bone. I noticed more years ago than I care to recall, however, that Ikeda applies his in the center of the arm. It's a less sharp pain, but it dulls the arm. Does he still do that? How is it taught in his dojo?


Bronson 02-26-2003 03:22 PM

My sensei teaches a slightly different version of yonko than the one I keep seeing described here. He learned it from Tri Thong Dang sensei. Instead of going for the nerve on the inside of the forearm he puts his index or middle finger and thumb between the knobby wrist bones and the hand. He then does a scissoring type action with his finger and thumb. Hard to find but hurts like.... something that hurts a LOT :p Anybody else do this one? I was shown the one that I usually see described here and personally like it better so that's the one I use (when I try for the pain...which isn't really that often anymore).


Jonathan 02-26-2003 04:09 PM

On one fellow to whom I applied a hard yonkyo there developed a bruise that covered most of the inside of his forearm. He was very susceptible to the yonkyo pressure point. On another fellow, however, I had to extend into yonkyo until his arm fractured before he felt any pain (he didn't realize it was actually broken until several hours later). So, I wouldn't rely solely on the pain of yonkyo to control someone. It's better, I think, to use yonkyo to take uke's center than to crush his forearm.


Les Kelso 02-26-2003 04:15 PM

Pain (especially in a non-vital area) is so relative to the individual it is impossible to say you can use it effectively at any time.In 35 years of studying Aikido I have never seen ANYONE effectively apply it with 100% consistancy..some were much much better that others but it was (and is) usually a grizzled old sensei with years of experience.

When used in a "street" situation against a person who may be 'elevated' emotionally with adrenelin or drugs, my personal opinion would be to use something a bit more practical and controlling. I think for the COMMON Aikidoka the nerve center approach is dangerous in the wrong arena but in the dojo under sensei's watchful eye, can be lots of fun. Little more than that though without years of concentrated study.

Dennis Hooker 02-27-2003 07:21 AM

If you have trouble making any kind of yonkyo work try this. Use your left hand to apply sankyo so you partners right hand. Tighten up all the tendons am muscles in his forearm with sankyo then apply yonkyo with your right hand. It is not the traditional way I was taught but it gets to the meat of the technique and not the membrane around the bone. To do the other side turn, blend, mix and repeat.

Mark Jakabcsin 02-27-2003 08:31 AM

There was a decent discussion of yonkyo in the Aikido section of e-budo in February of 2002. Below is a post I did on that thread, perhaps some one here will find a little value in it.

"The radial nerve compression has eluded me,"

I just stumbled across this thread and have found it interesting and would like to share a few thoughts. I do apologize if I am repeating what someone else has posted; I haven't finished reading all of the posts but noticed the common statement above.

While I am certainly no expert I have found success with the nerve aspect over the last couple of years and MIGHT be able to lend some insight or at the least muddy the waters. LOL. At this point I would like to post a disclaimer: Painful nerve locks/pinches/etch don't work 100% of the time on 100% of the people. Using the radial nerve will work on the vast, vast majority of the people. There are a great deal more people that you will not be able to apply pain to the ulnar nerve (I am one) no matter what you do. Therefore I always look at the nerve pain as a bonus when it happens but I don't rely on it to accomplish a technique.

Several of the posts I read discussed footwork, posture, moving from the center, etc. which is all very important and well said so I won't repeat any of that. I noted that several people stated that the grip is like a sword grip, since I am not a swordsman I couldn't really say for certain one way or the other, however I would guess this to be not fully accurate. While the grip may LOOK similar, cosmetically, I doubt the manner of exerting pressure is similar, but I could be wrong. This will become clearer later in the post.

The most common problem I have seen in people attempting to apply painful pressure to a nerve is that they mash the nerve instead of pinching the nerve. A 110lb women in spiked heels will apply a far higher amount of lbs/sq. in. to the floor with each step than a 250lb man in work boots. The vastly reduced surface area more than makes up for the weight difference. The 250lb man applies more overall force it is just spread out over a much larger area. This same physical relationship applies when working on nerves.

In general, most people tend to grab uke's forearm or wrist and attempt to squeeze it as hard as possible with all of their fingers and palm. This has two affects; first the lbs/sq. in. is minimal since it is spread out over a large surface area. This greatly reduces tori's ability to penetrate the soft tissue and affect the nerve. Secondly, since the pressure is spread out more or less evenly along the nerve (of the large affected area) there is no pinching action merely a mashing of a large section of nerve. Sharp nerve pain is caused when a tiny area of nerve is severely affected while the rest remains neutral. Sorry the theory is so boring but the rest won't make sense unless you understand the theory. You can run several self-tests by poking and prodding yourself using one finger then several fingers to feel the difference.

Now the trick becomes shaping and using our hand in such a manner that we affect the least amount of surface area with the greatest amount of pressure. Hold your palm out in front of your face, ignore your fingers and look for the longest distance between two points on your palm. The greatest distance is needed to create a lever action to apply the pressure. There are only two possibilities: diagonal from the base of your index finger to your heel of your hand below your pinkie, OR diagonal from the base of your pinkie to the heel of your hand at your thumb. Since the thumb is fleshy and soft it would absorb a great deal of the pressure we attempt to apply plus we would have a very difficult time creating the lever we need (don't worry if that doesn't make sense immediately). The point we will need to apply the nerve portion of yonkyo is the hard bone portion located directly under the crease where the index finger meets the palm. I guess you could say the palm portion of the index finger knuckle. Fortunately I have a childhood scar exactly at that point so it is easy for me to remember.

Anyway, this is the sole point we will be compressing the nerve with, the rest of the palm should have minimal contact with uke's wrist or forearm. Now we need to locate the second point on our lever so we can apply the sole point with force. The opposite point on the palm is the diagonal to the heel of the palm on the pinkie finger side. I think of a line connecting those two points, which creates a lever or bar. When we lift one end of a bar or stick the opposite end applies force in the opposite direction. We use a similar although not identical motion here.

Place your hand on uke's forearm in the sword like grip discussed, the point on your hand that will be pinching the nerve should be placed where you think the nerve is located. Tighten your pinkie finger round the forearm so it is directly across from the heel point of the palm discussed (the end of the stick). The other fingers and thumb should remain very relaxed and should NOT squeeze or apply ANY pressure. Actually, the index finger should be extended so the push point in your palm is hard and protruding slightly. Now keeping your wrist straight pull up with your pinkie and heel point and push down with the push point. This is a circular push/pull motion.

In this manner you should not be changing the shape of your own hand. Changing the shape of your hand merely adsorbs the force you wish to impart into uke's nerve. When done correctly the hand motion is accompanied with correct body posture and hip power. One should not feel tension in the forearm, biceps/triceps or shoulder, if you do then you are not using your body correctly. This will take a good deal of practice to become proficient, but since the basic concept of a circular push/pull is prevalent in many Aikido/jujitsu principles and techniques it is a helpful thing to learn intellectually. This sums up the basics with regards to use of the hand for yonkyo, there are some more helpful hints but they all require the understanding and proficiency of these basics first. This is a lot easier to explain in person than writing but hopefully some of it is helpful. Best of luck.


ps. I have never written part 2 of this post, which would be how best to expose uke's nerve when gripping. If you guys find this interesting and I get a chance later this week perhaps I will write that one.

akiy 02-27-2003 10:29 AM


Dennis Hooker wrote:
If you have trouble making any kind of yonkyo work try this. Use your left hand to apply sankyo so you partners right hand. Tighten up all the tendons am muscles in his forearm with sankyo then apply yonkyo with your right hand. It is not the traditional way I was taught but it gets to the meat of the technique and not the membrane around the bone. To do the other side turn, blend, mix and repeat.

Interesting, Dennis.

The way we do usually yonkyo at our dojo, it's close to the way you describe it and, other times, it's close to sumiotoshi (if we do it from, say, katatedori without going into ikkyo first). Either way, though, it's seemed very much to me that it's about kuzushi less so than going for pain.

I once asked my teacher once what the difference was between the sumiotoshi-like version of yonkyo that he does and sumiotoshi. He thought for a moment and said that, in principle, there really wasn't much difference. But, he pointed out (like Dennis above) that if you control the wrist joint (between the forearm and hand), uke's entire arm will get affected (ie locked up) moreso than if you don't.

This whole thing reminded me of some folks I know who use the bottom hand in a "traditional" yonkyo to apply a nikyo lock to the hand/wrist. (Easy to get into from a regular nikyo if someone tries to stand up -- keep the nikyo and shift the "inside" arm into the yonkyo position.)

-- Jun

PS: Mark, I, for one, would be interested in reading "Part Two" of your yonkyo thoughts...

Les Kelso 02-27-2003 11:04 AM

Your information and insights are thorough and interesting..Thank you.

please write part two.

Alan Drysdale 02-27-2003 11:35 AM

Yonkyo nerve pinch
Like Jun, I go for the kuzushi as the primary effect of yonkyo. I have a guy in the dojo who has done karate for years, and yonkyo is not very effective on him. Nikkyo and sankyo work fine, however.

?The radial nerve compression has eluded me,???

There has been a lot of discussion as to how yonkyo works, and I don't buy into this one. If you bang the same nerve at the elbow, the sensation is quite different. Sometimes yonkyo has a similar flavor, but sometimes it hurts, but doesn't.

I'd say the parallel with a sword strike is more related to the mechanics of lowering the arms than in the actual grip, though I am not a swordsman either.


drDalek 02-27-2003 01:28 PM

After only doing Aikido for the last 9 months or so, I am probably the last person to comment but I manage to "find the nerve" a good 80% of the time.

Dont get me wrong though, I couldnt when I began my practice of Aikido but because sensei teaches 1 weapons class every week, alternating between bokken and jo, I quickly managed to "get" the sword grip.

I was taught to hold the bokken diagonal across the wrist from the bottom of the index finger to the bottom of the palm next to the wrist. If you proceed to swing the bokken forward and back using only your wrist and maintaining your grip, you get the motion necessary to apply yonkyo to the inside of the wrist with the round bone at the bottom of the index finger.

Mark Jakabcsin 02-27-2003 02:19 PM


I see that you live in Florida. If you are somewhere near St. Pete this weekend my teacher will be there attending a seminar. He would probably be happy to give you demo and as long as you aren't an ass he would most likely give you a few pointers and tips. Discussing in words is difficult, although I enjoy the challenge. One can't beat hands on training and I imagine he would be happy to spare a few minutes. PM me if you are interested and I will check with him.


ps. I have started on part 2: Exposing the Nerve, but it will take a day or two to complete. I have been doing loads of business writing and my brain is rather slow this week.

Dennis Hooker 02-27-2003 03:32 PM

Jun and Allen I sure am not a doctor but I have studied the nerves and muscles of the forearm and in fact there are no major nerves located in the area where I have received the most effective yonkyo. It is a location where the muscles come together in a bunch in the center of the forearm about a hands breath from the wrist. I am told by an oriental medicine practitioner it is also a key meridian of the forearm used in acupuncture. Of course Allen you can check with your better half as she is both an MD and an Acupuncture certified and an Aikido yudansha.

akiy 02-27-2003 03:37 PM

Hi Dennis,

I'm sure you've done more studies on this sort of thing than I ever will...

That said, here's a link to a few medical articles covering some aikido techniques including yonkyo (and nikyo):

-- Jun

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