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Leg Locks: Where to Start

Leg Locks: Where to Start


Although they have begun to become a standard of practice in Jiu Jitsu, leg locks were once considered an abomination by many, but this was succeeded by a huge rise in popularity after a few grapplers began using them effectively in competition to beat some of the greatest grapplers in the world. Since then, many academies have begun incorporating them into their curriculum, and rightfully so.

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The big problem with leg locks is many grapplers either didn’t start learning them till late in their career, like me, or don’t know where to start. Because leg locks weren’t used for the longest time, many older instructors didn’t learn them and therefore can’t teach them effectively to students until recently.

Another problem is that many leg locks are banned from competition, especially for white belts and blue belts on the pretension that they are too dangerous. Realistically, leg locks are only more dangerous than other submissions when people don’t understand them.

When starting leg locks, it’s probably a better idea to start with the basic, legal attacks before jumping in straight to cross ashi garami heel hooks. Some of the most simple leg locks include the straight ankle lock, the knee bar, and the toe hold.

In order to learn the basic leg attacks, you first have to learn the basic leg entanglements. This first one every grappler should learn is a position know as ashi garami, also called single leg X when used against a standing opponent.

In the following video, Warren Brooks illustrates a few of the basic leg attacks. See below:

The first technique Warren shows is the straight ankle lock from ashi garami. The entrance he does from a standing position is a common and effective way of getting there. The value of this position is that it allows the attacker to isolate a leg while giving them total control of the defender’s lower body. 

The next technique Warren shows is a simple toe hold from top half guard. I will admit that this leg lock can be difficult to finish but is a great way of inciting the defender to straighten their leg and give up the knee shield which will make passing their guard much easier.

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