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Attack, Defend, and Counter the Straight Ankle Lock with Lachlan Giles

Attack, Defend, and Counter the Straight Ankle Lock with Lachlan Giles


If you’re new to the leg lock game, it can seem like an overwhelming piece of the puzzle when you begin learning the ins and outs.

We watch the megastars of the sport, like Gordon Ryan and Craig Jones seamlessly work their way through elaborate entanglements with such ease and efficiency, that sometime learning these avenues seems insurmountable. As with any position in BJJ, you have to start with the fundamental principles.

We don’t often begin our study of the guard by learning reverse De La Riva guard. Most of us began with learning the fundamental attributes of the closed guard and then moved on from there. I believe leg locks should be approached in the same manner.

The ashi garami position is a great place to start when you begin learning leg locks. It’s a platform from which we can launch many attacks, transitions, and sweeps, and it will eventually connect you to more intricate leg entanglements.

Let This Aussie Killer Teach You Some New Stuff From Half Guard! Click Learn More below!


Learning the position itself, it’s submissions, and how to escape it will give you some very solid ground to stand on as you move forward with your study of the leg game.

We would all love to have a dangerous leg game. IN many cases it is a great equalizer. It doesn’t matter what rank your opponent is. The chances are, if you have a solid system, to attack the legs, and your opponent doesn’t, you will be the winner.

But before we begin having dreams of submitting people at the highest level, lets put in some work at the entry level positions.

Let’s begin with this video from Lachlan Giles. He’ll detail some of the most important themes on entering, attacking and escaping, beginning at the ashi garami position. Pay close attention to the technical details of the position, and also make the escape a priority, as knowing how to escape the position will make you much better at attacking it. Check it out.

Setting up the position

Giles begins with the perfect basic entry into the ashi garami. From a standing position, with his partner playing an open guard, Giles secures an over hook style grip on his partners leg at the shin/ankle area. He’s careful to crowd his partner’s hips and crouches down, keeping his partner from finding any anchoring points to push him away. He cups the knee, keeping it in place and then sits down into the position. Giles places great importance on keeping his partner on his hip. To b more specific the same hip as the leg that’s being attacked. This will prevent some forms of escape.

The configuration of Giles’s legs is also very important here. His bottom leg instep is controlling the underside of his partner’s thigh, while his leg is coiled over the top of his partners leg with his heel planted firmly in the hip. This will help to maintain the structure of the position and prevent escape.

Basic attack 

Once the position has been achieved, it's time to work towards the first basic submission, the straight ankle lock. This is a very important submission to understand, as it will lead to other transitions and reactions within the leg game.

Giles first begins by walking his elbow back to achieve a higher and more secure position on his partners foot. I’m a huge fan of this detail, as it will up your percentage of finishing, don’t skip this one! With his partners toes now in his armpit, Giles secures what we could refer to as a guillotine style grip, and hikes his hands high.

Before he adds any pressure to the finish, he collapses his elbow underneath his partners foot. This loads up and incredible amount of weight to the lock before any pressure is even applied. This is another step that’s critical to securing the finish. As Giles lays down on his shoulder, he bridges his hips and arches his upper body in to the foot, which commands the tap.

Some quick advice from Giles 

Giles pauses for a moment to give some advice and it is definitely worth a listen. He recommends that as a white belt, you don’t spend the bulk of your time learning leg locks, as it will inhibit your ability to learn how to pass the guard. Being exposed to leg locks is certainly ok, but to favor them over learning one the foundational concepts of BJJ will simply not benefit you. Make sure you have a healthy understanding of guard passing before you begin adding leg attacks to the mix!

The escape 

On the other end now, one of the main components keeping Giles from escaping the position is his partner top leg, in particular the heel that’s planted in the hip. To begin escaping, Giles must first remove his partners foot from this position. While Giles states that either hand will do the job, he chooses his inside hand, and lets his outside hand remain as a base. As he removes the foot, he jumps his hips over his partners leg, freeing himself from the position. Once he is clear of the ashi garami, he can now choose his next course of action.

Countering the escape

As his partner escapes the position, Giles’s bottom leg is no longer in the game. Here, hell call upon his top leg to step over, and find his partners hip. From here, many of the same mechanics will be used to salvage the attack, only this time, Giles will belly down in to the leg and use the pressure of his hips to assist in finishing the lock.

An important idea to note here; The planting of the foot on his partner’s hip is essential to keeping the distance between Giles and his partner. Without this detail in place, his partner can close the gap and begin dismantling the position.

Lachlan Giles is an ADCC Veteran, Pan Pacific Champion and coach to one of the fastest rising starts, Craig Jones!


Escape details 

Now that we understand what our opponent may do to counter our escape, we have to be ready to answer. As Giles escapes his hips, he’s in immediate danger of the counter. To put a halt to it, he pommels his top leg to the inside of his partners leg and again places it on the hip. He then cups his partners knee to decrease the mobility of his leg. This stops his partner from stepping over and reacquiring the lock.

This is the perfect jumping off point to begin understanding entering in to the legs. Giles has laid out three of the most common scenarios here.

Having a good straight ankle lock is very important. If you fail to threaten your partner with a solid straight ankle lock, they will not be motivated to move. This will lead to less transitioning and make it more difficult to force those other dangerous entanglements. Work on the positional attributes and the finishing mechanics of the straight ankle lock, and make it a very strong attack in your game.

Escaping is paramount. It's how we live to fight another day. I feel that learning the proper escapes to techniques will also make your attacks much more efficient. Put lots of repetition in to your escapes and build on them little by little. Begin by drilling with zero resistance, and work up to your partner giving you a little trouble to see what you might encounter in a live setting.

Know the common counters to this position. Giles demonstrates what is probably the most common reaction to your escape. Keep this in mind as you play in the position and attempt to escape it. Have those common reactions in mind, and be ready to call them up when you’re on the receiving end of this attack sequence.

Be careful when training the legs. Keep your partner’s safe by allowing them time to tap.  Leave the ego out of the leg game. Tap when you need to tap and get back to the drawing board! I hope this helps!

Want more from Lachlan Giles? Check out his DVD  "The Half Guard Anthology", and get to work on improving your half guard! BJJ Fanatics has it! Check it out here!



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