Easy Knee Bar from Knee Shield Set Up
Leg locks are all the rage nowadays. One can barely open up social media without seeing John Danaher's face on a meme or in a video talking about his philosophy of leg attacks. If you're someone new to the leg game or perhaps someone who tends to stick with gi training, entering into the ever-evolving world of leg locks can be quite daunting.
It's important to start with some of the more basic leg locks and entries to build your comfort level and inoculate yourself for the crazy world of leg locks outside of your academy. The knee bar is a great leg lock to start with and is legal in both gi and no gi competition. It'll have you starting down the road of leg entanglements quickly and easily.
Long time friend and training partner of Bernardo Faria, Gabriel Procopio Da Fonseca has a great knee bar entry that builds off of a classic half guard set up. Training with Bernardo who is considered the "Michael Jordan" of half guard, all of those years forced Gabriel to come up with create ways to set up attacks that worked to counter not only his half guard, but in this case also his pressure passing. Let's break down the details of the technique in more detail and you can check out the video and the end of this article.
Half guard and knee shield
Gabriel starts this demonstration of his easy knee bar set up from a classic half guard set up where he is using his knee shield to keep Bernardo at a safe distance and also withstand any pressure that Bernardo might come forward with as everyone knows Bernardo is prone to do.
In this case, Gabriel prefers to keep the knee shield pointing at an angle towards Bernardo's far shoulder. If he keeps the knee too parallel or straight across Bernardo's belt line, it will be must easier to smash the hips and pass easily. If Da Fonseca opens his knee too far vertically, this could open him up to an Over Under Pass which is another of Bernardo Faria's specialties.
To counteract the knee shield and the distance at which he is being kept, Bernardo is going to want to reach for the lapel or bottom sleeve of Da Fonseca to establish some sort of control on him and keep him from being mobile. Gabriel must address this reach and grip combo with a grip break of his own should that happen. This will begin to set up the next step in this progression.
Sleeve and Pant Grips
If Bernardo should secure a grip on the lapel or on the bottom sleeve, Gabriel will address that with a two on one grip in return on Bernardo's sleeve. This sets up the cross grip on the sleeve that will prove to be fruitful very soon. With the bottom arm, Gabriel will secure a grip on the pants near Bernardo's knee. This grip will deter them from backing out and away from your half guard which is exactly what you don't want to be able to set up this technique. At this point your opponent will know you are up to something and will be looking to collapse on top of your hips and keep their base strong.
With the help of these grips and the knee shield, he will turn his knee that is service as the knee shield outwards and begin to pull Bernardo across his body. This will create the necessary reaction and space that will allow Gabriel to begin bringing his knee shield leg in and across Bernardo's body so that it can shoot through.
Shooting the leg through
Once the top leg that was once the knee shield is shot through and across the opponent's body, they will most likely attempt to capitalize on what looks like a leg drag position from their perspective. To be able to smash down upon this gifted leg drag will prove to be too good to be true soon, but for now, Bernardo is thinking the tables have turned in his favor and he is about to pass.
The collapsing of the pressure onto the leg that has shot through in a leg drag position, is exactly what Gabriel needs to create a strong connection between his body and Bernardo's while also opening up the door to the reversal. Using the grip on the pants and the thigh kicking into Bernardo's armpit in a way that is reminiscent of the flower sweep, Gabriel will reverse Bernardo taking him over.
The Knee Bar
As you follow through with the reversal, it brings what was once your bottom leg to the top as both legs clamp around the hip. If caught by total surprise, the opponent and their isolated leg will be easily secured and extended, allowing you to drive your hips into the knee joint the wrong way, securing the submission. Keeping the feet tight against the opponents butt and hips and securing a strong (usually rear naked choke style) grip on the opponents foot will allow you to easily to drive the hips into the knee.
The toe hold contingency
In many cases, the opponent will attempt to defend the knee bar by making a figure four with their legs to keep the vulnerable leg from being extended. In this event, Gabriel is able to attack Bernardo's other leg and foot, which allows him to lock up a tight toe hold. Should the opponent think to try to use the vulnerable leg to come to the rescue of the foot being attacked by the toe hold, they will actually find that this sets them up perfectly for the switch back to the knee bar. To finish the toe hold it's important to keep the end of the foot controlled as you attempt to drive the toes down to the butt of the opponent to extend the foot beyond it's range of motion.
Now that we've broken down the key elements of this easy knee bar set up from the knee shield half guard by Gabriel Procopio Da Fonseca, check out the video of the full technique below.
If you want to explore leg attacks, particularly knee bars, you will want to check out Gabriel Arges, Knee Barges Leg Attack System available here from BJJ Fanatics.