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Lower Body Destruction with Tom DeBlass
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Lower Body Destruction with Tom DeBlass

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The achilles lock seems to be the least respected lower body attack in the family tree of leg locks. I often hear people say they “don’t tap” to straight ankle or achilles style locks. Maybe these folks have never been in a properly applied achilles submission. The truth is these straight style leg attacks can be every bit as devastating as a twisting style heel hook if you understand the mechanics of what you’re trying to accomplish. Furthermore, having a good achilles lock that your opponents fear, will also cause them to give up other leg-based submissions as they try to defend. 

Tom DeBlass has one of these most feared achilles locks in the game, often times attacking near the calf muscle and working towards a break at the shin. DeBlass is fresh off of a knee bar victory at Kasai Pro against an opponent almost 100 lbs. his senior. DeBlass has been known to smile playfully in his matches, as his opponents latch on to his legs and attempt to finish him with a leg lock. This is no surprise as he is incredibly well versed in the lower body submission game and has full confidence in his abilities on both ends of the spectrum. 

I’ve personally experienced the bite that DeBlass secures on a leg, and I can tell you, from the instant he latches on, there is extreme discomfort. This discomfort is prevalent in Bernardo Faria’s expressions throughout the demonstration in this upcoming video. Let’s delve in to some DeBlass technique. In this piece of instruction, DeBlass explains in great detail how he prefers to attack some of these highly effective and dangerous submissions. He starts with the dreaded achilles lock and then works through the knee bar as well as the toe hold. There are some great details here to analyze and some excellent ideas to consider. Have a look at this! 

Beginning in a double outside ashi garami position, DeBlass explains the two different kinds of achilles locks. He explains that there is one below the calf, that actually attacks the shin, as well as another that is applied closer to the foot, attacking the small bones of the foot. We are not actually looking to rupture the achilles tendon, the name is meant as more of a reference for the placement of our grip. 

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As DeBlass states, it’s a good idea when in these types of positions to hide your top foot with your bottom foot when your configuring your legs. This will (in most cases) keep your leg safe from counter attacks while you begin to work your offense. 

DeBlass begins with a tight wrap on the foot with the toes secured in his arm pit. He then slides the blade of his wrist down toward the heel. For added leverage, DeBlass transitions his feet to his partners hip, where he can plant them and use the platform to add more pressure to the lock. He then begins to roll to his shoulder, almost as if he’s traveling to a belly down position. The finish is very interesting and its something that should be paid attention to. DeBlass rotates his hands upward, almost in the style of finishing a guillotine. As the inside of the foot is exposed to the ceiling, he then drives up in to the ankle. The foot is in such a dangerous position that the tap is imminent. 

Another interesting concept to remember here is that we don’t necessarily need the knee line to bring this tap to fruition. We often hear this as a golden rule of leg locks, but it doesn’t necessarily apply to this particular straight lock. Keep this in mind before you decide to bail out on this submission for fear of losing the knee line. 

If DeBlass cannot get his feet to his partners hip, he finds another way to create leverage. This time by working towards a belly down position. To transition he reaches his free arm out tot eh mat and begins to rotate his body to a belly down position. As he arrives, he applies the same mechanics, hipping in, extending his body, and crunching the toes, applying the submission with one arm. 

Another common response here is “the boot”. This is when the opposing party straightens the leg, making it rigid and tough to work with. DeBlass has a great answer for this type of defense that’s very unique. As his partner straightens the leg, DeBlass releasee the leg from the achilles lock, lifts it with his bottom arm and literally throws the leg up above his lat muscle. You would think that DeBlass might attack the heel from this position, but he’s actually attacking the LCL portion of his partners knee. As DeBlass explains, there is no flexion in this part of the knee, so be really careful with this one, especially since your training partner will probably not see this one coming.

To finish here, DeBlass uses his body to attack the knee, by extending and bending his body upward a bit. This puts pressure to the left side of his partners knee, which ultimately would blow out the LCL. This is not a traditional style knee bar, but I love that there’s not much adjustment. Sometimes getting to the backside of the knee for a more common knee bar is a dangerous choice and can find us giving up position during the transition. DeBlass simply stays in the configuration he’s in and uses his body in a different manner to achieve the tap. 

Should his partner choose to roll out to the belly, DeBlass simply follows him back to the belly down style achilles lock. IF he decides to roll in the opposite direction, DeBlass transfers the foot topside, and again can easily transition back to the achilles lock. 

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DeBlass also attacks a toe hold here, adjusting his hips a bit and covering the last three toes with his hand, he uses the figure four lock to force the toes down toward his partners calf muscle, achieving a very painful submission. Regardless of the height of the foot, DeBlass is able to command a tap by adhering to these important concepts. Again, if necessary DeBlass can easily transfer back to any of the other attacks based on his partner’s reactions, as he is not far away from reacquiring any of the other attacks. 

My favorite part about this sequence is how versatile the position is. Without tons of movement, DeBlass is able to work his way through three different submissions, linking each to the other and back again, making this an incredibly efficient method of attacking the lower body. Great stuff as always from one of the best! 

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