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How High Are Your Hands?
The old cliche, 'The devil is in the details' is nowhere more apparent than in the practice of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. What can at first look like a simple technique or position, with some digging and study could easily become a life long quest for perfection. Many of the early techniques we learn at the beginning, can become long lost friends, but only after years and thousands of hours on the mats.
Positions like closed guard and half guard with all of the sweeps and submissions they can generate will always be foundation techniques that can be revisited and refined. In addition, more complex techniques like leg locks also share some of the fundamental concepts and principles that transcend individual techniques and can apply more broadly throughout your BJJ toolbox.
In the video below, grappling phenomenon Garry Tonon who is also Tom DeBlass' first black belt shares an often missed concept and detail that is guaranteed to make your straight ankle locks and guillotines better. This detail is literally right under our noses and is often forgotten as we arch back and try to crank at the ankles and necks of our opponents, simply annoying them and never submitting them.
For Garry, the vast majority of practitioners start out the straight ankle lock and guillotine properly. They secure a tight grip on the ankle or neck and keep their elbows tight to their body to increase the pressure of the technique, but when they get to the finish line, whether it is the straight ankle, belly down ankle lock or guillotine, they let their hands drift down their bodies towards the hips and spend wasted minutes trying to drive their hips and arch their torsos back with little to no effect. After dozens of foiled attempts, most practitioners will abandon the techniques as ineffective, when in reality, the imperfect technique is not refined and improved.
By adding this sometimes forgotten detail or concept and keeping ones hands as high and as far up the body as you can, you can guarantee the finish instead of trying to force it. A good rule of "thumb" for Garry is to work to constantly be pulling one's thumb on the choking arm up to the chin. This simple, yet missing piece of the ankle lock puzzle can up your finishing percentage dramatically.
In this short and simple video, Garry shows not only a crucial and often overlooked concept and detail that will improve both the finishing rate of your ankle locks and your guillotines, but also underscores an important truth of jiu jitsu, that having a deeper understanding of techniques and the sometimes unseen or at least easily missed details can impact your game across many techniques.
If you're looking to become a guillotine headhunter you will want to check out Neil Melanson's newest instructional "Headhunter Guillotine Series" available in both DVD and On Demand formats from BJJ Fanatics. Neil Melanson is one of the most widely respected MMA and grappling coaches on the planet. He shares all of the secrets that will have you strangling friends and opponents before you know it!