Ashi Garami - Sweep and Submission
Ashi garami, aka single leg X, is a position that has gotten very popular over the last few years due to its effectiveness in sweeping and acquiring submissions from, especially leg locks.
Before its use as a position to attack the legs with, Marcelo Garcia was using it extensively to beat some of the best competitors at the time.
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Now, ashi garami is viewed as a position that is all encompassing. It is used for guard defense, sweeping, transitioning to other guards, and catching submissions. This is mostly due to grapplers like Gordon Ryan and Garry Tonon who used it on all stages of grappling competition to defeat some of their toughest opponents.
Many students are initially cautious of the position since it appears complex and out of fear for leg locks. Fear not, however, as ashi garami is just as simple, or complicated, as any other guard.
There are many different ways of entering ashi garami. The position is most usually acquired from open guard, especially butterfly guard. Think of it like this, any method you can use to enter standard X-guard can be used to enter ashi garami.
One of the biggest predictors of success of ashi garami for grapplers is how well they understand and apply the various details required to make it work well. The most important detail is elevating the hips as much as possible.
The next most important detail involves appropriate placement of both feet. The outside foot should preferable be situated directly over the top player’s hip so as to be able to push and maintain distance. The other foot should be gripping the other leg rather than the same leg, which is a mistake many students make.
Although the guard may be considered advanced by some standards, the primary sweep from ashi garami is very simple. All it entails is lifting the hips and turning them sideways. In the video below, BJJ Globetrotters coach Charles Harriot shows this. See below:
After completing the sweep, you will have the option of either getting on top, which is preferable for new students, or beginning to attack the legs using a variety of submissions.
Before working the leg locks from grounded ashi garami, its important to develop your ability to finish the sweep by getting on top, which can often times be tricky from this weird position. After developing this skill, start working on other options.
In order to be a competent and comprehensive submission artist, you must attack every part of the body, including the legs. Historically, leg locks were frowned upon kind of like how wrist locks are frowned upon now, which is pretty silly.
A common issue with new students today is they want to begin attacking heel hooks and toe holds without learning how to appropriately finish and armbar. You should make it a real for yourself to always master the fundamental building blocks of certain positions before learning the new stuff.
Many students see the straight ankle lock as an inferior submission. Sure, its not as flashy and painful as a heel hook, but a good straight ankle lock can be devastating, and if not that, may cause your opponents to fear it and open up other options.
If you search ankle locks on Youtube, you will see dozens of people teach it in many different ways, all with different details. Personally, one of my favorite straight ankle lock videos comes from Dean Lister, one of the earliest pioneers of the use of leg locks in Jiu Jitsu.
In the following video, Dean Lister will explain this simple technique with a lot of detail. Even if you are skilled at the ankle lock, I’m sure Dean can still help improve it. See below:
One of the most argued and varied details on the straight ankle lock you will hear is the grip. There a three to four different grips you might learn, some better than other. From my experience, each person favors a different one depending on the length and thickness of their arms. My favorite is a guillotine grip high on the chest.
Some instructors will teach you to place the inside leg on the leg that you are attacking. This is a bad idea as you’re not controlling the defender’s other leg at all. If the defender has full control of their other leg, they can initiate a roll that might end up in them escaping. Instead, use your inside foot to control that far leg. Still make sure that you are pinching your knees though.
There is another small detail that Dean does not utilize that I have learned from Garry Tonon and Gordan Ryan. After acquiring a grounded ashi garami, avoided lying on your back or shoulder. Rather, stay high on the elbow, from here move your elbow as far back behind you as you can so that you can’t see the defender’s toes if you look back. To finish the submission, begin bringing your other shoulder to the mat as you bring your belly to the mat and then bridge.
Enjoyed reading Ashi Garami techniques? Then consider checking other sweeps: