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The Hammerlock

As taught by Four Teachers, Frank Gotch, George Hackenschmidt, Earl Liederman, and George Bothner

The Bar Hammerlock Taught by Frank Gotch

The Hammerlock and Bar Hammerlock as Taught by Frank Gotch In How To Wrestle

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.

I defeated John J. Rooney, a Chicago policeman, with the hammerlock, using Farmer Burns`  method of getting the back hammerlock.  I grasped Rooney`s right hand and pushed my head into his right arm pit.  Suddenly I jerked his right  back, caught his arm above the elbow and threw my weight forward, forcing  his right shoulder to the mat.  His arm in this way was imprisoned.  It was only necessary then to change my position and force the imprisoned arm back for the hammerlock.  The arm may be shoved back to the shoulder blades, when the defensive wrestler will gladly submit, turning over on his back.

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

To get the bar hammerlock on the opponent`s left side work the hammerlock hold, applying the double leverage with both hands.  Retain the hammerlock with the left hand.  Release the right and shoot it under the arm resting it on the left shoulder of the defensive wrestler as in the illustration.  This completes the bar hammerlock--- a punishing grip.  The opponent will gladly roll on his back.


George Hackenschmidt

The Hammerlock  as Taught by George Hackenschmidt in The Complete Science of Wrestling


 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.

The hammerlock is one of the barred holds, but to carry opponent's arm across his back is a legitimate move. The nature of the hammerlock is clearly indicated in the photographs; that of the arm across the back is obviously different. There is no threat of dislocation or other injury, the arm being carried across the back in such manner that the forearm is lying at a right angle to the upper part. And this relative position must not be altered.

Pushing at a man's arm with your head, in order to pull it back so as to draw the arm across the back

The hand must not be forced up the back.  To force one's free arm up between defender's captured arm and his back (technically "a bar") is not allowed. Such becomes an arm up the back with a bar  a barred hold.  It is not legal to take the wrist and elbow of the captured arm between one's two hands and force these in contrary directions: by doing this a virtual hammerlock is created.

With an arm carried (legally) across the back and held there, the attacker shall not thrust his free hand between defender's upper arm and body and towards or grasp the same shoulder, as thus the liability to dislocation becomes possible.  With the hand so inserted, its direction must be straight forward or towards the opposite shoulder.  This rule does not apply if defender's arm is not pinned across his back or otherwise restrained.

Pulling a man's arm to carry it across his back (second stage)


Arm up the back with a bar (a Forbidden Hold)


Turning a man with a combined Further Shoulder Hold and Arm Across the Back


Hammerlock with the Bar on (now a prohibited hold)


The Hammerlock done by Earle Liederman as taught in

The Science of Wrestling and the Art of Ju Jitsu

PLATE 84 Start of Hammer Lock (Above) Pull opponent's arm sideways and place your head against the back of his left elbow, at the same time hold his wrist with your left hand and pull sideways.  You may also force him down on his left shoulder with the assistance of a Waist Lock.

PLATE 85 Hammer Lock and Crotch Hold (Above) This is a continuation from the proceeding page.  When opponent is on left shoulder, pull his arm behind his back, at the same time pull up his right leg with a Crotch Hold and gradually force both his shoulders to the mat for a fall.

PLATE 86 Hammer Lock and Half Nelson (above) This combination is started from position shown in Plate No. 84.  As you have pulled your opponent down on his left shoulder swing clear over him to the other side, retaining your Hammer Lock.  Then quickly take the Half Nelson with your right arm and force him over on both shoulders.

Hammerlocks with George Bothner

The Hammer Lock and Crotch Hold

From Spalding's  How To Wrestle by  Frederick R. Toombs

The hammer lock is one of the best known wrestling holds. Moreover, it is far more effective than the average grip. It is comparatively difficult to obtain.

The hammer lock is subjected to many variations. Even when used alone the hold punishes a man severely and in combination its effect is of course multiplied.

A simple hammer lock consists in securing a man's wrist with one hand and a waist hold with the other, bending his arm behind his back and forcing his hand well up between the shoulder blades.
One hammer lock combination that is generally productive of a fall is the hammer lock and crotch hold displayed on the opposite page. This hold is obtained as follows:
Suddenly grasp your opponent's near wrist when he is on his hands and knees and push your head into his near armpit. Pull his wrist back and turn it over on his back. Your grip, however, is strained, so hold his hand with your free hand and change the grasp of the other to the most effective one-that with the thumb on top and pointing forward. Now push your opponent's hand up between his shoulders. Simultaneously pull his body toward yours with the waist hold.
When the hammer lock is securely obtained, bend your other arm around his right leg (when working from the left side), slid mg your arm well up into the crotch, and lift his body forward as in the illustration.
You now have your man in a dangerous predicament. Bend the leg you have grasped forward with your shoulder. Bring your elbow around this leg so that its point projects into the under man's stomach. Now you can bend him sharply at the waist, so that the entire flat of his back, including his shoulders, touches the carpet.
A hammer lock can be obtained on either side, and on the far side. It can also be combined with the half Nelson.  (THANKS JEFF FOR THIS BOOK!---Jimmo)