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Knee Bar Fundamentals
Don't Forget This Great Leg Lock!
The kneebar is one of the few leg submissions utilized by all types of grapplers. It is safer and taught more often than the heel hook. In fact, many academies teach the kneebar as a fundamental technique every grappler should learn. Personally, I believe that this is a great submission for grapplers of all levels should learn as a standalone submission but also an introduction to leg locks.
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Because heel hooks have gotten extremely popular lately, many Jiu Jitsu practitioners skip out on the knee bar. The knee bar, when done well, is an extremely effective leg submission just like any other. Another great aspect about the kneebar is that it is a great submission to use to transition to heel hooks as well. Anytime someone defends the kneebar by rotating, they are opening themselves to many dangerous leg submissions.
The knee bar, just like many other leg attacks, can be attacked from a wide variety of positions. Most often, it is attacked from bottom half guard or top half guard. Half guard is an excellent position for attacking the legs because while one leg is usually caught, the other is free. From bottom half guard, all the guard player has to do to get the kneebar is lift the grappler over to the other side, lifting the leg they want to attack. From top half guard, all one has to do is a full rotation around the free leg.
In order to finish the kneebar, just like any submission, the attacker must be cognizant of all the necessary details and potential escape routes. Like the armbar, it is essential to maintain a tight squeeze of the entire leg. This is important because it makes rotating the leg being attacked difficult. Also like the armbar, the feet must be curled tight to control the hips of the defender.
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I’ve learned may grips over the years for the kneebar, but I find that a basic rear naked grip works best if you grip the toes. When gripping the toes, make sure to push the toes away from you. This also makes rotation difficult but also makes the kneebar much tighter.