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Leg Locks From Top Half Guard With Neil Melanson
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Leg Locks From Top Half Guard With Neil Melanson

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Leg locks is something that may still be new to you.  If you’re new to Jiu Jistu or started training in the last year or so, you have the upper hand in that many academies, not all, but several, just recently started really diving into learning and teaching leg locks as a part of the normal curriculum, at least, with the detail that is available to us today.  

I feel this movement was largely started because of Professor Dean Lister’s words “Why would you ignore 50% of the human body”. Valid point, right? Yet for years, we have focused on the legs only long enough to get past them, be it over, under or around, the goal was to get past the legs not to attack them.  

It can be argued that training leg locks too frequently sets one up for a weaker guard passing game.  While there is validity to that, like everything, it’s about balance. If you are concerned your guard passing game will suffer when you start focusing on leg locks, simply mix it up and ensure you are spending ample time on both and learning when it is best to pass the guard verses when it is best to attack the legs.  

When it comes to guard passing, there is no better resource out there than Gordon Ryan’s “Systematically Attack The Guard” where he breaks down of the course of more than 10 hours exactly how he thinks and moves in every possible guard situation you can imagine.  Let that sink in for a minute. TEN HOURS of guard passing with one of the best grapplers on the planet. This video instructional has been referred to as the “Cheat Code” in guard passing, it’s without a doubt a resource that will ensure your guard passing game not only stays strong, but improves beyond belief while you are also focusing on building your leg attack game.

Where do we start?  

Neil Melanson gives us a sneak peak at his video instructional “Ground Marshal Leg Locks” and his go to technique from top half guard position.

 

Before we can get into the leg submission, Melanson provides some detail on how he “sits” in half guard to ensure he is protected as well as what he is focusing on to keep his opponent where he wants them.  First, he points out that he does not want his opponent to be able to move their bottom leg freely, so he literally sits on it and “turns the corner” meaning that he brings his other knee (the leg opposite of the one sitting on his opponent’s leg) around and into his opponent’s bottom hip.  

From here Melanson is only focused on the bottom half of his opponent as he feels this is the part of his opponent’s body that will give him trouble when it comes to attempts to escape or otherwise. It’s important to stay heavy on the opponent, and always on the outside, meaning that Melanson is keeping his head facing his opponent on between his arm and his opponent’s head.

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From this position Melanson “chops” his opponent’s knee down using this right arm, staying low, and immediately switching from his right arm controlling the opponent’s leg to his left forearm controlling the leg freeing up his right arm to pummel under his opponent’s top leg, reaching the grip to the top of the opponent’s thigh.

To finish this submission, Melanson is getting up on his knees and moving his inside knee slightly allowing him to maintain his base while reaching for the opponent’s head.  When he goes for the head he is reaching over the top and cupping the back of his opponent’s head or neck with his left hand. From here he simply drives into the opponent while doing a cradling motion with his arms.  As you can see in the video at 2:56, the submission comes on very quickly.  

As an additional note, while training in general it’s important to ensure the safety of your training partner, on the mats at your academy, you should make it your responsibility to ensure no one gets hurt as a result of your inability to control yourself, your submission attempts or any other part of your game.  There are varying thoughts on where that responsibility falls during competition, personally I think it is each competitor’s responsibility to protect themselves and no one else, but on the mats in training, train safe. To be clear, this does not mean to sacrifice technique for your training partners comfort. Just because knee on belly sucks, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t drill it with them, in that case they just need to deal with it, but what it does mean is control your submission attempts, don’t get sloppy and make sure you give them time to tap before you hurt them.  

As an alternative, if you can not reach the thigh grip, or prefer a different option you can pummel and go straight to the crook of the opponent’s knee gable gripping on the outside of the opponent’s knee with your palm of the arm in the crook of the knee facing down.  From here we are pulling the leg into us tight, we step the left leg (inside leg) back and getting off of our knees driving all of that pressure into the opponent’s knee. Again, as you will see, this submission also comes on quick, so proceed with caution.

If for some reason the previous submission is not working, maybe something got lose along the way, we have another option.  We break our gable grip and place our left hand on the mat making a fist and driving our head into the top hip allowing us to put pressure on that fist and move our legs toward the opponent’s head, while keeping them from moving around too much because of the hip control with our head.  From here we can then reach over the opponent’s head, as we did in the first variation. To finish we simply drive in pulling our arms in, in turn pulling the opponent’s head and leg towards each other in a cradle like motion, similar to the first submission attempt.

Melanson closes by saying, “I don’t want to always have to fall back to attack the legs”.

In just a few short minutes Melanson shows three variations of leg attacks from top half guard, imagine what pro tips are revealed in his 4 part video instructional “Ground Marshal Leg Locks”!

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