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LEG ENTANGLEMENT BJJ
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LEG ENTANGLEMENT BJJ

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The art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has gone through an extensive series of developments over the course of its history. From the hard core self defensive combat systems in the early days of the Gracie family, to the more modernised version of the international No Gi scene. Athletes of today are entangled in the web of leg lock submissions, as the intricate guard systems play a pivotal role in how athletes engage in the art. There are multiple avenues of attacking a leg lock, from different positions like the ashi garami, the leg knot, and the inside sankaku, to many different guards like the bjj inverted guard, the single leg x guard, the 50/50 guard and the bjj z guard

What this article covers:

Over the last few years the leg lock submission has become one of the most dangerous finishing moves in the sport. The rise of international No Gi as a competitive sport has seen world class level athletes like Gordon Ryan, Craig Jones, Lachlan Giles, and Gary Tonan dominate the mats with their deadly leg lock mastery. Learning how to become a leg lock specialist is becoming even more important these days, because even when a competitor has little interest in using leg lock submissions, they need to be well versed in how to defend these positions. In the modern format of No Gi grappling, athletes are relentless in their pursuit to achieve leg lock submissions like the heel hook, the knee bar, or the toe hold. 

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INNOVATORS OF THE LEG LOCK SUBMISSION

There have been many myths about where leg locks actually originated from. There is no real video footage, or photographic evidence of any kind of twisting leg locks. The myths say that catch wrestlers brought the move to Brazil in the early 20th century, as well as Russian sambo fighters were using the same format of submission. Even at the beginning of Gracie Jiu Jitsu’s inception, there was no evidence that heel hooks were a part of the arts repertoire. The earliest recorded form of heel hooks were by Japanese Mixed Martial Artists. Pancrase was an event run by a group of Japanese Pro Wrestlers, and at their second event the American shoot fighter Ken Shamrock submitted Kazuo Takahashi with a heel hook. Later that year Ken Shamrock defeated Patrick Smith with another heel hook on American soil at the inaugural UFC event.

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bjj leg entanglement

After Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was showcased on the televised stage of Mixed Martial Arts, many practitioners began training in the art. This spurred on a list of fighters that would go on to master many of these leg lock positions. Dean Lister was one of the best at utilising the leg entanglement game, as he decimated ADCC competition with a series of heel hook finishes. Dean also convinced John Danaher about how effective leg lock submissions were, as they both became pioneers of the leg lock submission system. Masakazu Imanari was another innovative Martial Artist who revolutionised the leg lock position. His creative, and intelligent style of grappling saw his signature move the imanari roll become an iconic part of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu history.

The leg lock submission was beginning to spread, as the new generation of raw talent was beginning to utilise the bjj open guard to facilitate entries into heel hook, and toe hold submissions. Athletes like Craig Jones, Gordon Ryan, Eddie Cummings, and Lachlan Giles have all become masters of these positions, setting up fancy guard entries like the z guard, the 50/50 guard, the single leg x guard, and the k guard. The expertise of these innovative grapplers have now further developed the leg lock position, with a series of extraordinary entries from all positions. The inside heel hook, along with the outside heel hook, the inverted heel hook, and the toe hold have become deadly submissions that have struck fear into the hearts of many Brazilian Jiu Jitsu athletes. 

DIFFERENT LEG ENTANGLEMENT POSITIONS 

The ashi garami is a common position in the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu arsenal. It involves an athlete to be on the inside of their opponent's legs, with their right knee pinching the inside of their opponent's leg, while the athlete's left leg goes through the legs and wraps around the outside of their opponent's leg with a foot secured in the hip. The outside ashi garami is basically the polar opposite to the ashi garami. To secure the outside ashi an athlete will secure their opponent's leg by threading their right leg from the inside and over the top of the opponent’s leg, while their left leg goes around the back of the leg, connecting with the right leg to the outside of their opponent's leg. 

The 50/50 position is just like the outside ashi garami, with the slight difference of having the opponent’s leg across the inside of the athlete's body. This position is called 50/50 because both competitors will have an equal chance of attempting submissions on each other. This guard is a common attack position for the modern day grappler. The inside sankaku is one of the more powerful positions in the leg entanglement game, and it may also be known as the saddle, or the 411. To obtain this position the athlete will secure their opponent's leg by threading their left leg over the top of their opponent's leg, and connecting it into a triangle towards the inside of their opponent's leg. This is a highly effective, and dangerous position for any opponent to find themself in. 

The leg knot is a tricky leg position that originates from Russian sambo, and it is also known as the game over. To secure an opponent in this position the athlete will be controlling both legs. The first step is to take hold of their opponent's left leg, placing their ankle under their armpit like they were attempting an ankle lock. From here the athlete will thread their left leg over the top of their opponent's right leg, and thread across, and underneath their opponent's left knee. The athlete's left leg is then trapping over the top of their opponent's left shin, and connecting hooks with their left foot. This is quite an extensive leg entanglement position, and can be quite profitable in terms of attacking multiple legs. 

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leg entanglement positions

LEG LOCK SUBMISSIONS

The heel hook is one of the most dangerous leg lock submissions, and can be secured from a range of different positions like the 50/50 guard, the bjj butterfly guard, the de la riva guard, and many more. The heel hook is an extremely dangerous submission that can affect multiple joints within the knee. A twisting leg lock will put extreme torque on the ankle, which will in turn transfer significant strain into the knee joint. This submission can cause slight meniscus damage all the way up to serious anterior cruciate ligament damage. There are different variations of the heel hook, but essentially they all have the same basic mechanics. It requires an athlete to secure the leg above the knee joint, before trapping their opponents toes in their armpit, and taking a significant grip with the wrist bone on the end of the heel. The twisting action of the heel coming inwards, or outwards will cause significant pressure on the knee joint, forcing an opponent to tap.

The kneebar is another leg lock that will hyperextend the knee joint, as it has a similar leverage point to the arm bar. To secure this submission an athlete will need to trap their opponent's leg in between both of the athlete's legs, above the knee joint. The athlete will then apply the submission by grabbing hold of the heel or the end of the leg, and straightening the leg to hyperextend the knee joint. The ankle lock is another common submission used in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and will usually cause a compression lock to the achilles tendon, or strains around the ankle bone, and calf muscle. The ankle lock is known for hyperextension of the talocrural joint, the subtalar joint, and the inferior tibiofibular joint. To execute an ankle lock the athlete will secure their opponent's foot inside their armpit, as they grip onto the foot with their forearm. The athlete will use leverage by pushing their hips forward, creating tension, as the forearm works as a fulcrum applying pressure to the talocrural region.

The toe hold, or otherwise known as an ashi dori garami in Judo, is another extremely deadly submission move. The submission involves an athlete applying pressure to the foot by grabbing hold near the toes, and twisting the foot while the athlete controls their opponent's leg by using a figure four grip. Usually an athlete will be securing the leg to apply this kind of submission maneuver. The toe hold can put a lot of torque onto the foot, which can cause significant damage to many of the bones in the foot. The calf slicer is another leg lock submission that can put a significant strain on the calf of an opponent. It requires an athlete to use their forearm, or their shin behind the knee, as they pull the shin down onto the blade. This can cause significant pain, and debilitating injury to the knee joint or the calf muscle. This submission is one that can be achieved from the bjj closed guard, as athletes will commonly sneak attack their opponents.

LEG LOCK ENTRIES AND FINISHES

The imanari roll has been an instrumental leg lock technique that many athletes across the globe aspire to master. Masakazu Imanari is a high level black belt, and a professional Mixed Martial Artist, who has showcased 28 submission wins out of 39 overall wins inside the cage. His iconic imanari roll is a world class submission that is an extremely slick way to enter a heel hook submission. To secure this submission the athlete will step in with their right leg, as they lower their base, rolling over onto their left shoulder, as their left arm reaches into the inside of their opponent's left leg. From here the athlete will roll over their left shoulder, as their left leg slots in and hooks the opponent’s right hamstring. As the momentum continues the athlete will use their right leg to swing around, and trap into the back of both of their opponent's legs, forcing them to fall right into a heel hook finish. The imanari roll is an extremely smooth, and high level submission maneuver.

Attacking leg locks doesn't just happen from a guard position. They can also be achieved from inside of an opponent's guard. When an opponent has the bjj half guard on an athlete, there is a great series of leg locks that can be attacked. When an opponent secures an under hook the athlete is in danger of being swept, or having their back taken. What an athlete can do is lift upwards with their trapped leg, bringing their knee out to post, and then back stepping with their other leg to secure their opponent's leg. From here the athlete will secure the leg closer towards the heel, as they fall sideways to the mat, and execute a knee bar by hyperextending the knee joint. If the opponent defends the knee bar by connecting a figure four with their legs, the athlete can grab the far ankle, sit out to the side and execute a series of submissions like an ankle lock, a heel hook, a toe hold, and a calf slicer.

There are maneuvers like the scissor leg takedown, which is illegal in most competitions, but there is a technique that has similar functionality. An athlete will step in with their right leg, and secure a necktie with their right hand. From here the athlete will step right in connecting their right hip to their opponent's left hip, before continuing to move across, catching their opponent's knee with their left arm, as they forward roll. It is important to use their right arm to cup the back of their opponents head as they are in mid roll. This will land an opponent in a position to attack the knee bar, the heel hook, or the toe hold. This submission entry is more of a dynamic one, and will need to be practised numerous times, before an athlete can master this movement. 

Eddie Bravo has had a massive influence on the development of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in the modern era. He is famously known for his jiu jitsu rubber guard system that is utilised by many practitioners world wide. One of Eddie's famous positions is the truck, which is a high percentage leg entanglement position. From the truck the athlete can move onto numerous submissions like the twister, the banana split, the crotch ripper, the calf slicer, and many more. There are also many different entries to the truck position, as the creativity of this position is highly successful. The easiest entry into the truck position is by stacking an opponent. From here it is as simple as laying onto an athlete's right hip, in a sideways position behind their opponent. The athlete's right leg will hook onto their opponent's far leg, as their left leg creates a triangle around it. From here the athlete can secure a grip with their arms on their opponent's other leg. This is the truck position, and has proven to be extremely successful in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and Mixed Martial Arts competition.

THE FUTURE OF THE LEG LOCK GAME

The modern game of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has seen a multitude of developments within the structure of the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu game style. The innovation of leg locking mastery has hit all corners of the world, as practitioners abroad are all soaking in the knowledge that bjjfanatics.com have been offering, with many of their high level associations. The future of the leg entanglement game is looking extremely bright, as the influx of these new upcoming athletes all jumping in head first into these clinical, and complex positions. It seems now that the leg entanglement game is stronger than ever, as many of these high level black belts are now furthering the innovation of the leg lock position. More and more systems are being created every day, with variations of leg lock submissions becoming extremely efficient.

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leg entanglement Jiu Jitsu

The days of old would see brand new students having to wait until they were higher level before they could practice leg lock submissions. In the modern era new students have an accessible platform to research any positions they want including all of the above mentioned leg lock entanglement positions. Even though this could be detrimental to a new student's growth within the sport, there is still a high benefit of learning these positions. Learning the fundamentals is always the most important thing, but in terms of the modern era of grappling students need to have a comprehensive understanding of all leg entanglement positions. So even new students that may not necessarily be learning how to finish leg locks, they will still need to learn the entries into these positions, so they can at least understand how to defend, and then once they have obtained a higher level they can access these leg lock submissions.

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