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The Powerful Ashi Garami & Outside Ashi Garami
Leg attacks are easily the most exciting genre of grappling submissions today. With the continued rise in popularity of the sub-only No Gi competition format which tends to subscribe to somewhat more liberal submission rules, allowing some attacks that are deemed illegal in IBJJF and most Gi competitions, advancements in leg attacks continue to grow exponentially.
As competitors like Garry Tonon, Gordon Ryan, and Eddie Cummings continue to showcase the flashy, but devastating nature of the leg game, more and more students are going to be exposed to the techniques and more and more instructors are going to be opening their arms (or legs in this case) to learning and teaching the techniques.
If you're completely new to the world of leg submissions, it can be overwhelming. When you're new to something, one of the first questions you should ask is 'Where do I start?' Just as one can become overwhelmed in the early days of their jiu jitsu training, it's important to recognize that no matter what your current belt level, if you're new to leg locks, then you are a white belt at leg locks and that's okay. It's just like being in a foreign country and immersing oneself in a language you've never experienced. The more you absorb and take in, the faster you will start to make sense of what people are saying. Only by jumping into the world of leg locks will you begin to build your skills.
One of the best ways to begin introducing the world of leg locks is to have a firm grasp on the actual positions from where the leg locks arise. Trying to understand a heel hook or straight-ankle lock in isolation from the controlling position that one secures it, will not give you the full picture.
If you'd like more information about the various types of leg attacks, check out this BJJ Fanatics article on the topic here.
The video below will serve as a summary overview of some of the key positions from where one can be able to launch a wide variety of leg attacks. By better understanding these positions, you will start to understand the underlying structure of the language of leg attacks. The two we will focus on is Ashi Garami and Outside Ashi Garami.
The video does a great job of breaking down the techniques and chunking them based on how one has control on the opponent's leg. Is the arm control (or bite) on the same size or is it on the opposite side or across the body? By chunking the positions into the options from same side versus opposite side, it will better aid in your understanding and eventual mastery of the techniques.
Ashi garami means "leg entanglement". It is considered the godfather of all other leg attack positions because it can be seen as a launch point for transitioning into the others. The ashi garami position is also the primary controlling position from which to attack the straight ankle lock. This is a great starting point from which to begin your study of leg attacks. By focusing on the ashi garami and straight ankle lock, you will build a strong foundation to expand into the other techniques.
Basic control points:
1. Outside leg and foot must be controlling the opponent's hip to create hinge point for pressure, especially in completion of straight ankle lock. This control also keeps the opponent from sitting up and beginning their escape.
2. The inside leg is kept underneath the far thigh to maintain control, while not putting oneself in a bad position for a heel hook counter if the foot is kept under the same side thigh that is being controlled by the outside leg. The knees should be kept tight to maintain control and pressured towards the ankle of the outside leg to create a triangle-like effect for control.
Ankle locks and heel hooks are the primary leg attack from this position. It is also important to note that if the opponent should stand up to counter the ashi garami, the position you will find yourself in is also known as Single Leg X Guard. The Single Leg X is a complete system in and of itself.
The ashi garami is the best place to start your leg attack study as it is one of the easiest positions to enter into, but like anything, give yourself some time and study to master it.
Outside Ashi Garami
If you take the leg that is on the inside of the standard ashi garami and throw it over the same side as your outside leg, the position becomes outside ashi garami and can also be referred to as double outside ashi garami.
This position provides a strong level of control over the legs of the opponent and offers a great place from which to launch a heel hook attack. The straight ankle lock submission is less likely here because of the placement of the legs, unless the position of the feet are adjusted to place them on the hips to create the point from which to drive one's hips into the opponent and pressure the leg.
The outside ashi garami position also affords one the opportunity to go belly down and attack the legs. The more open-ended nature of this position makes it very popular among today's leg attack wizards.
The video does a great job review several additional positions that we can take a look at in future articles. Powerful positions like "Game Over", 50/50 and the Inside Sankaku to name a few.
If you're ready to jump into the world of leg locks with both feet (see what we did there?), it's time to begin learning the positions from where you will catch your opponents. Two of the first places you should start are practicing and working from Ashi Garami and Outside Ashi Garami.
One of the pioneers of the leg attack and submission game is the legendary Dean Lister. His "K.A.T.C.H." 4 Volume leg attack system is available On Demand here.