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CALF SLICER BJJ
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CALF SLICER BJJ

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In the modern era of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu the art has begun to surge towards a newer trend of innovation. The rise of the international No Gi platform has given birth to exciting new styles of submission grappling. Nowadays athletes will major in the leg entanglement game, as they trade in fundamental positions like the closed guard, for the bjj ashi garami position. Since the rise in popularity of the leg lock, athletes are relentless in their development of inversion techniques, and the more intricate guard systems used for complex leg entanglement set ups.

What this article covers:

Many innovators like John Danaher, Eddie Bravo, Keenan Cornelius, and Lachlan Giles have revolutionised the state of leg lock mastery within the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu community. Many jiu jitsu leg locks like the heel hook, the calf slicer, the toe hold, the knee bar, and the bjj ankle lock have become even more deadly due to the development of their finishing structures, and the endless amount of detailed entry points.

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bjj calf slicer

Eddie Bravo is one pioneer of the sport who has revolutionised the way No Gi athletes approach their grappling matches. His significant contribution to the intricate details of his rubber guard, twister side control, and his truck entries, have seen incredible refinement within one of his signature submission holds, the calf slicer. 

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WHAT IS A CALF SLICER

The calf slicer has become one of the most iconic submissions within the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Even though the heel hook is beginning to dominate the scene, the calf slicer is no slouch, as its variations differentiate from other systematic submission methods. The calf slicer is a submission that can be executed from a vast range of positions, as the set ups can be direct, or a by-product of a transitional movement. The mechanics of a calf slicer involve an athlete placing their shin behind the knee of their opponent, as they pull down their opponent's foot. The shin acts like a wedge in between the thigh, and the calf muscle, and the force of the submission will impinge on the calf muscle, causing a significant amount of pain. In the worst cases, when opponents do not tap, then it can cause extreme damage to the knee, and this is because the calf slicer is a compression lock. 

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IS THE CALF SLICER A DANGEROUS MOVE

There are many dangerous submission moves in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and just like the bjj neck crank, the calf slicer can be extremely deadly to the calf muscle, and the knee of an opponent. The calf slicer is a compression lock that incorporates squashing the calf muscle into the tibia, or the fibula bone in the leg. The calf slicer can also be applied by an athlete inserting their forearm behind their opponent's knee. The act of flexing an opponent's leg into a shin bone can be extremely excruciating, and depending on the angle of the shin, this will ultimately determine where most of the pressure will go. 

Commonly the pressure goes into the calf muscles, which will force an opponent to tap rather quickly. But some competitors see this submission as purely a pain move, and will refuse to tap. This can be extremely detrimental to the opponent, as what may not be commonly known is that the calf slicer can do some serious damage to the knee of an opponent. The calf slicer is an effective submission move that can separate the knee through an elongating motion, and in turn can put significant strain on many of the knees tendons, and ligaments. This is why a calf slicer is banned at the lower ranks of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, as the move is left in the hands of much more experienced grapplers.

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HOW DID THE CALF SLICER ORIGINATE 

No one practitioner can be credited for inventing the calf slicer submission, as all that is known is that it has been around for a long time. Many academies have frowned upon the use of this style of compression lock, which is why this submission has not been seen that often in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition. The calf slicer has been popularised in more recent years due to the stylings of Eddie Bravo's 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu system. Eddie is an innovative thinker of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and because of his intricate details surrounding many of his grappling positions, the calf slicer remains as one of his go to submissions within his schools curriculum.

After Eddie developed the bjj lockdown position, he discovered that it helped him comprehensively in defending heavy guard passers. This defensive mechanism became synonymous with 10th planet Jiu Jitsu, as it opened an avenue towards further developments within many of Eddie's guard systems. One of these iconic positions was the bjj electric chair, which is a position where an athlete can utilise groin stretching submissions, and even transition into other positions like the truck. All of these guard systems have given Eddie an outstanding platform, in which he has developed the calf slicer to become one of his mainstays within his 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu arsenal.

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The calf slicer is one of those submission moves that can catch an opponent off guard. The compression lock can cause significant damage to the calf muscle, but more importantly it can do serious damage to a knee if the submission is not addressed properly. This means that the calf slicer has been put in a high risk category just like the heel hook, as the IBJJF have banned the move for purple belts, and below. However, the move is legal for brown, and black belt competitors, and this is due to the experience of these higher level athletes. The ADCC have a different outlook on many of the arts submission moves, as they also have a different criteria for their divisions. There are only three divisions in the ADCC and they are beginner, intermediate, and professional. Calf slicers, or under the ADCC guidelines calf pressure locks are allowed by both intermediate, and professional athletes, and it is only the beginners that are prohibited from using any type of calf pressure lock.

CALF SLICER ENTRIES

The most iconic calf slicer entry is from the truck position. The truck has become significantly more utilised, and not only in submission grappling, but in Mixed Martial Arts too. This highly functional position has become a part of the bjj building blocks, as it allows an athlete to access a wide variety of submission attacks. Because the truck incorporates an athlete to have their opponent's leg secured in a triangle, the shin is already in an attacking formation. All the athlete has to do is drop their shin behind their opponent's knee, and pull down their foot to get the tap. The slight variation is when the athlete threads their other leg around their opponent's leg, and locks down on their shin. This is called the kamikaze calf slicer, and is basically a no hands way of finishing the crank. Using an athlete's legs instead of their hands to pull down their opponent's lever is a much stronger way to execute this submission hold.

One of the easiest entries into the calf slicer submission is from the closed guard. Because the closed guard involves an athlete having both of their legs wrapped around their opponent's waist, they have either leg within striking distance of a calf slicer attempt. All the athlete has to do is drop one of their legs down behind their opponent's leg, and as it slides in behind the knee they can change their angle, and reach behind their opponent, as they grab hold of their foot. This will create a calf slicer that their opponent will struggle to defend. This same maneuver can also be executed from the half guard position. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is not meant to be complicated, so when an athlete can find an extremely easy technique to use it is worth its weight in gold.

Another common position to set up the calf slicer is from the turtle position. The athlete will look to thread their nearside hook around their opponent's leg, and this is a good option because the opponent is thinking about defending the back take. The next step is to continue to thread the same hook deeper, and thread it over the shin of the same leg. Now it can be extremely easy for the athlete to rotate around, and grab hold of the foot. From here they can simply lift upwards, but for a better torque on the calf they will lay onto their back, as they pull down with momentum, causing a painful calf crush. To add extra bite to the submission, the athlete can lock a triangle over their own foot, or even push their heel into their other foot, as they pull down on their opponent's lever.

Another way to find the calf slicer is from the mount position, and this will happen as an opponent tries to use an elbow escape. Commonly when an opponent looks at escaping from the mount they will turn on to their side, and use their top leg to hook onto the athlete's leg, and this can be a gift to an athlete as long as they time this counter movement the right way. All the athlete has to do is use their other leg to secure a figure four on top of their opponent's figure four, and reach back securing the foot. As they roll to their side they can pull down on the foot with force, creating an extensive amount of pressure on the calf muscle. This is a good variation of the calf slicer, and is extremely rewarding because of how they can shut down such a fundamental, and iconic mount escape. 

There is a nasty calf slicer variation from the scorpion position, otherwise known as the lockdown. As the athlete extends their opponent's leg, they will swing their lockdown to the side, and use their frames to keep some distance. This movement will ensure that their opponent stays extremely light on their other leg, making it easy to scoop up onto their shoulder into an electric chair position. From here the athlete will turn this into a sweep, by ducking their head underneath the leg and moving into a kneeling position. The athlete will keep their legs laced, and look to forward roll over the lockdown leg behind the back of their opponent, as they wind up in a calf slicer that has an oblique angle to the outside of their opponent's leg. Not only will this create a considerable amount of torque, the athlete is also safe from any arm bar counter attacks.

There is a sneaky calf slicer entry from the butterfly guard, and this usually happens as the athlete sets up an under hook on the same side as a butterfly hook, and an over hook with their other hand. As the athlete elevates their opponent's leg and looks for the butterfly sweep, the opponent may often post on their other leg, while their elevated leg stays dangling in the air on the athlete's hook. Keeping hold of their under hook, the athlete can use their other hand to grab hold of the elevated leg's foot, as they slide their hip in behind the shin. Now the athlete can secure a figure four lock on their own foot, and reach up underneath the leg, and to the outside of the leg, as they connect their hands together. As the athlete pulls their hips down, and extends their legs out, this will create a devastating force that no opponent will be able to handle.

HOW TO DEFEND A CALF SLICER

Most calf slicers are achieved from the truck position, and like most submission defenses, it warrants an early preventative measure. As the opponent executes some kind of rolling back attack they may find themself in the truck position. This will mean that immediately the athlete will need to flex their toes upwards, and this will make it considerably hard for the opponent to manipulate the foot, and prevent them from having enough leverage to start a calf slicing technique. Having a strong flex in their toes means the opponent will have to secure a grip on the ankle to administer the compression lock, and this is a much easier prospect to defend, as the athlete will have a much stronger extension with their leg. 

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calf slicer jiu jitsu

When the athlete extends their leg they will do so in more of a forward motion, because this is a stronger mechanic, and it can begin to deconstruct an opponent's locking mechanism. The athlete can also add their free leg into the mix by either crossing their feet, or using it to push into their other foot, as they extend their leg, and this will give the opponent very little chance of maintaining any kind of calf slicing technique. Furthermore, if the athlete continues their defensive extension of the leg they can wind up in a more advantageous position. In the truck position whichever athlete's hips are higher is losing the battle, and when the athlete extends their leg to defend the calf slicer they can use their hands to reinforce behind their opponent's hips. Now the athlete can switch their leg onto the thigh of their opponent, as they either counter attack with their own calf slicer, or they use the momentum to start climbing onto their opponent's back. 

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