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Leg locks, the Secret to Sweeping, Defending and Passing

Leg locks, the Secret to Sweeping, Defending and Passing


Leg locks are quickly becoming extremely popular throughout the Jiu Jitsu community.  With the revolution in sub only tournaments leg locks have increased in popularity.  They are an effective tool in gi, nogi, and MMA.  We wrote an article, “Leg Locks Overview” discussing the basics of leg locks, if you’d like an introduction to leg locks, check it out!

Today, we discuss different benefits to learning leg locks.  Leg locks are commonly perceived only as submissions.  Although they are primarily used as submissions, they can also be used to sweep your opponent, as a defense mechanism, and as a tool for passing.

Leg Locks for Sweeping

Leg locks are one of the most important positions to be comfortable with.  Many people look at leg locks as the equalizer between lower belts and upper belts.  Some people assume that upper belts don’t study them as much as they should.  One of the best ways to utilize leg locks is to use them to distract your opponent so you can sweep them.

Single Leg X is one of the most common positions to set up strait foot locks, heel hooks, and more leg locks.  Many guards have leg lock entries as well such as half guard, x-guard, De La Riva, Reverse De La Riva, and virtually any guard.  These leg locks can act as a way to sweep your opponent as opposed to submitting them.

  Toe holds are a great way to threaten a submission and force your opponents to pull guard.  The benefit of using leg locks is that in many situations your opponent must give up position or sit to guard to defend at which point you can come up. Check out this cool ankle lock from Dean Lister below, you can also use it to sweep.

Leg Locks for Defending

Leg locks are also a great defense mechanism.  Many times if you have an aggressive passer, you can slow his movement down by threatening a leg lock. You can also negate your opponent from their path by threatening leg locks.  One of the best ways to defend back takes is by applying a toe hold.

There are so many leg locks that can allow you to defend yourself from whatever your opponent is attempting to do.  You can use leg locks to defend sweeps, in many situations, your opponent may be about to sweep you and you can apply various leg locks to stop the sweep. Check out this knee bar below shown by Felipe Pena, it is a great way to stop passes from 50/50.

Leg Locks for Passing Guard

One of the best applications of leg locks is using them to pass the guard.  How can you use them to pass the guard?  When your opponent is threatening sweeps, you can apply leg locks to force them to stop, and it can allow you to have an opening to pass.  Sometimes when you apply a submission your opponent will give up everything they are doing in order to properly defend.  This is what will allow you to threaten leg locks to set up passes.

The reason leg locks are some of the best submissions to threaten in order to pass is because they constantly present themselves.  Many times when you are passing guard, the feet will be available, therefore, making leg locks easy to start attacking.  One amazing leg lock that presents itself very often when passing guard is the Estima Lock.  This presents itself when your opponent is trying to retain guard.  There are so many leg locks though, just as a bonus, check out this clip of Dean Lister thoroughly breaking down a heel hook.

If you’d like to thoroughly enhance your leg lock attacks check out this DVD bundle "Leg Lock Bundle" that includes a total of 13 DVD’s from the best leg lockers in bjj.  It will be a great resource to enhance your leg lock arsenal and diversity of attacks. 


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