Is Backside 50/50 the new GAME OVER position?
The backside 50/50 has gained loads of popularity over the course of the past few years due to it being utilized at the highest levels of competition by some of today's most celebrated BJJ stars. Most notably, Lachlan Giles who managed to turn in an impressive ADCC performance in the absolute division where he called up the backside 50/50 to tame and submit some of the competition's biggest names. We also witnessed the power of this submission in the UFC when Ryan Hall applied a devastating inside heel hook on BJ Penn using a very impressive rolling entry into the backside 50/50 position.
The backside 50/50 seemed to come on the heels of another popular leg entanglement known as the saddle, 411, honeyhole, or cross ashi, if you're a proponent of the japanese terms. The cross ashi position offers a significant level of control over the lower half of the body and it's certainly made plenty of appearances at the highest levels of competition but as time has gone on, it seems that many practitioners have developed the skills to not only stave off the position but also unlock it, once secured. The levels of defense to cross ashi are many and this has left some individuals looking for an alternative when it comes to attacking the lower half. The cross ashi entanglement is likely the more dynamic of the two positions offering multiple footlocks, heel hooks, transitions to the back, and even some great passes, but both the cross ashi and the backside 50/50 can lead to devastating inside heel hooks and when it comes to game over subs, the inside heel hook could be considered king.
So when it comes to the inside heel hook which position gives us a better platform for attack? Good control in the cross ashi position can certainly lead to an inside heel hook but if your opponent is facing you while you’re attacking the heel, there is the possibility of a hand fight, even if the submission is fully locked. And if they can manage to slip the heel, they can then turn away and begin to escape causing the attack to fall apart and the position to be dismantled. This is not to say there aren’t holes in the backside 50/50 as well but many times as you transition to the backside and attack the heel your opponent will be facing the opposite direction, making the hand fight incredibly difficult. The position of the legs in the entanglement also lends itself to superior control, making the escape an arduous task and incredibly risky once the heel is trapped.
In this clip, Lachlan Giles details the submission he used to claim a victory over Muhammad Aly in the absolute division of ADCC. The entry is more so the topic of discussion than the finish but there are some great details here that really shed a lot of light on the finish and why it’s so devastating. Take a look!
Many times, when we talk about leg locks, the inside position of the feet is referred to as paramount. In most cases this is true but Giles takes a slightly different approach with this particular entry. As he explains; when we use the inside position of the feet to attack we give up the ability to push with the soles of our feet. Losing this advantage can really hinder the bottom player, especially when it comes to taming larger opponents, so Giles has been developing a game that in some instances favors outside position, using K-guard, DLR, etc. to get the job done. With this in mind, Giles begins to demonstrate an entry.
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Positioning himself with an outside DLR hook and his other foot primed to relieve pressure or manage distance, Girls now looks to under hook Faria’s leg. First, he reaches his right arm to the back of his partner’s knee, now obtaining two points of contact with the hands, one high and one low on the ankle. With the leg secure, Giles removes his DLR hook, shifts his left hip down toward the mat, and then under hooks the leg with his bottom hand and grips his own shin. With all these controls in place, it becomes very difficult for the top player to retreat.
Next, Giles makes a very important adjustment. He drops his knee to the inside of Faria’s shin and connects his hands with a gable grip, reinforcing his control. This position resembles a very shallow version of the K-guard. He then transitions by shooting his hips up, threading his outside leg around and through Faria’s legs, and hooking the leg furthest from him with his foot on Faria’s thigh. As Giles turns into Faria, it becomes nearly impossible for him to stay on his feet. Upon landing, the backside 50/50 has been achieved.
The interesting thing about the backside 50/50 position is that it almost doesn't even feel threatening in its early stages. It's not until Giles begins to pass the leg to the topside of his body that things start to feel a bit more troublesome for Faria. For added security, Giles creates a triangle with his legs, and uses both hands to elevate Faria’s foot. This makes running away damn near impossible and really begins to create the submission threat. With the leg topside, Giles secures the heel with a gable grip, with his top hand palm down. With the slightest bridge, he creates an enormous amount of pressure on the knee and Faria is forced to tap.
Giles then adds some instruction detailing the exact scenario he found himself in with Muhammad Aly. When Giles reached the backside 50/50 Aly sat back and got heavy in the position, somewhat disrupting the path to the heel hook. Here, Giles still uses two hands to push the foot up and then uses the structure of his forearm to support the foot. This initially makes sitting back harder for the top player. He then swims under his own arm, placing his shoulder under the foot, creating a shelf, and making it even more difficult for Faria to push his hips back. With his shoulder in place, Giles faces away and begins to sit up, causing Faria’s weight to dump forward. He then swims his arm back and captures the heel. Game over.
You can see the advantages right away to the backside 50/50 method of obtaining the inside heel hook. With the top player facing away the handfight is nearly impossible and with good leg positioning running away is also extremely difficult. If you’re a leg locker or interested in creating a better plan of attack for the lower half of the body it would serve you well to add the backside 50/50 to your arsenal!