Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has become an extremely modernised version of what was once the hardcore self defense combat system. Athletes these days have an unlimited series of techniques, and attacking positions they can learn. The availability of the online content is easily sourced, as beginners of the art have a greater ability to learn this modern form of Jiu Jitsu. As the art has almost divided into different disciplines, the rise of No Gi grappling has seen organisations like the ADCC, Metamoris, and Who's Number One take significant steps towards changing the makeup of not only the game style itself, but the rule sets in which the athletes participate in. The calibre of today's bjj transitions are extremely high level, and all have intricate systems that athletes can use to trap, and bait their opponents.
What this article covers:
- What Is a Reap in Jiu Jitsu
- Is Reaping the Knee Legal in Competition
- What Are the Dangers to Reaping the Knee
- Is There a Future for Knee Reaping in BJJ
Some Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitions are extremely different from the IBJJF regulations, as they will allow a wider range of more dangerous submissions. The addition of less stringent rules on the leg entanglement game has allowed athletes to become more brutal in securing heel hook, and toe hold submissions.
This is the same when it comes to choking opponents, as some of these organisations will allow neck cranking submissions. The truck bjj position like many other new aged variations of the guard like the 50/50 guard, can pose significant threats to athletes, especially when combined with the ability to execute a knee reap. This has forced a change in how athletes will train, as they are now looking for more information on how to defend leg lock submissions, and ways to escape the position without damaging any of their knee joints, or their ligaments.
WHAT IS A REAP IN JIU JITSU
A reap in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu refers to athletes reaping the knee. This is a position where athletes will shoot their leg through the legs of their opponent, before placing their thigh behind their opponent's leg, and then circling their foot around the outside of their opponent's body, and back in front of their opponent's leg. This is deemed illegal once the athlete's foot goes over the vertical midline of their opponent, and they are applying pressure to the leg. Knee reaping can be used for many different scenarios, and is mainly used to trap the opponent into a leg lock entanglement. This is a high percentage movement in Mixed Martial Arts, as students can strategically secure an opponent's leg, and look for a heel hook victory without receiving any damage in the form of punches. Using a knee reap in jiu jitsu rolls will also help to secure leg lock submissions, but can also be used to execute easy sweeps, as an opponent will be compelled to fall to the mat once the position is locked in. Even though some competitions allow this dangerous position, practising knee reaping inside of an academy can still be dangerous. Students should be extremely cautious when applying the knee reap to their training partners, inside their own academy, and this is so they can look after the welfare of their friends. Although students need to be cautious, this position still needs to be practised, as many competitions do allow the knee reap.
IS REAPING THE KNEE LEGAL IN COMPETITION
Reaping the knee in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition is illegal in all Gi divisions, and has always been illegal in all IBJJF competitions worldwide. This has always been the way with traditional Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, as protection for their athletes has always been a number one priority. In more recent times the IBJJF has now legalised knee reaping, and heel hooks in the No Gi division, but only for brown belt, and black belt competitors. This has been a new revelation, and is subsequently because of other organisations taking giant leaps forward with this new innovation. The IBJJF is purely trying to stay more modern, and keep up with other organisations like the ADCC. There are other competitions around the world that do allow knee reaping as a part of their rule sets. Even though this can be dangerous to an athlete in the No Gi divisions, the rise of more dangerous maneuvers, and positions are becoming more frequent. Organisations like the ADCC, Grappling Industries, the EBI Invitational, Who's Number One, Fight 2 Win, and various other grappling promotions all allow more dangerous moves sets like knee reaping.
DO ACADEMIES ALLOW KNEE REAPING
Allowing knee reaping during training sessions will really come down to each individual instructor, and their own ideology within the combat sport. Most high level competition teams will allow knee reaping in their training, because they will need to utilise this position in competitions they will compete in. Commonly an instructor will say for lower belts not to practise the knee reap, as it is predominantly practised by higher level athletes, as they are training for more prestigious tournaments. Allowing beginners to mess around with knee reaping, and heel hooking can be extremely detrimental to their safety, and their longevity in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It is hard enough trying to stop beginners participating in bjj inversion techniques, let alone trying to stop them from utilising a knee reap, as most new athletes will want to start familiarising themselves with the more modern, and popular leg lock game.
Like most dangerous moves they need to be practised cautiously, and both training partners need to be willing participants. Surprising a training partner with a quick knee reap, especially while adding pressure, can result in a torn ACL, and various other injuries. The smart move is to agree with a training partner on whether they want to practise leg lock techniques, and positions, before they start any form of high intensity training. Practising the technique of knee reaping may be a lot easier, and less dangerous, as long as students are not applying too much pressure during their technique. Working out positions is extremely important in Jiu Jitsu, and instructors will commonly allow students to explore these types of positions.
WHAT ARE THE DANGERS TO REAPING THE KNEE
There are multiple dangers attached to students that begin applying knee reaping techniques to their training partners. Using a leg from the inside to the outside, and wrapping it around an opponent's thigh will commonly secure the knee in place, leaving an athlete's knee heavily exposed to twisting, or tearing of the ligaments. If an athlete panics, and tries to turn out of the position they can inadvertently injure their knee ranging from partial, to more serious tears of their ligaments. Holding onto a knee reaping position, and adding pressure bjj to the joint, especially while trying to twist the ankle, can be disastrous for an athlete, especially one that is inexperienced with how to correctly defend these types of positions. Athletes can suffer from partial, or full torn anterior cruciate ligaments, as well as other ligaments in the knee including the meniscus. This can also result in dislocations of the kneecap, and even fractures in parts of an opponent's leg.
Although many of these injuries are accidental, as athletes have no intention of trying to seriously injure an opponent, these types of accidents can happen frequently. This is especially true when a beginner messes around with knee reaping, as they are inexperienced, and have not had sufficient practise in many of the techniques that go along with the knee reaping position. This can cause a rushed technique, and force an athlete to hyperextend an opponent's knee causing them significant harm. This can be extremely dangerous for an athlete, and is completely unnecessary, as a knee can go through severe trauma causing an athlete to have reconstructive surgery, where they can miss out on training for up to twelve months, or more. This type of position must be trained cautiously, so that training partners are free to train safely without risk of injury.
WHAT TECHNIQUES CAN BE DONE FROM A KNEE REAP
The knee reap position can give athletes multiple ways to attack submissions whilst staying relatively safe from danger themself. In essence the knee reap position is just like the ashi garami, and athletes can use this advantageous position to set up a variety of different leg lock submissions. The most popular submission that an athlete will obtain from this position is the heel hook. This submission has become extremely popular in the No Gi version of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, as many high level athletes like Lachlan Giles, Craig Jones, Gordon Ryan, and Mikey Musumeci are using this leg lock mastery to benefit the outcome of many of their superfight, and tournament matches. When dealing with a heel hook there is an inside heel hook, and an outside heel hook, there are also other versions like an inverted heel hook which are all just as deadly as each other.
Another common submission from the knee reaping position is a calf slicer, and these have been predominantly displayed by students of Eddie Bravo's 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu system. The calf slicer may not be as deadly as a heel hook, but it can cause significant pain, and discomfort in the calf of an athlete, which will inevitably force them to submit. Using the knee reaping position can force an opponent to panic, which can cause them to turn away, as this will enable an athlete to easily secure a calf slicer. This exact same position will also allow an athlete to secure a toe hold, and this submission can also be done off the top of a heel hook. A toe hold is always an option, and can be accessed by athletes in a multitude of positions, especially from the knee reap.
Knee bars are another extremely successful submission from the knee reap position, but they just require an athlete to be a little more creative, and angle their hips into a more dominant position, so the athlete can secure a hyperextension of the knee. Although the knee bar may not be the number one go to from this position, it still can be extremely successful against an unsuspecting opponent. Straight ankle locks are also in the picture, as they can be accessed just as easily as a heel hook. An ankle lock is far less deadly, because it only affects the ankle, as opposed to a heel hook that affects the knee, but subsequently the ankle lock can still force an opponent to tap. The downside to trying an ankle lock from this position is that an opponent has an easy way to escape, rather than the more advanced heel hook, which is considerably harder to escape from.
Using a knee reap position can also force an opponent to give up their back. Nowadays the popularity of the crab ride, and the berimbolo from an inverted position, or a knee reap entry has become quite substantial. Most control positions that athletes will secure on an opponent, can be easily escaped from, except the back control position, because this is by far the hardest position in Jiu Jitsu to escape for an opponent. Furthermore it is also a position where the attacking athlete is in no danger whatsoever from a counterattack from their opponent, unless they make a rookie mistake. Getting to the back is extremely important, and beneficial to the success rate of an athlete, especially in a competition match. Using the knee reap to force an opponent to try and escape, will often lead to an athlete securing back control, and this can lead to a whole other range of submission attacks.
IS THERE A FUTURE FOR KNEE REAPING IN BJJ
Reaping the knee in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has become extremely popular due to the rise of international No Gi competition. The modern day combat athlete has an enhanced ability to hunt for leg locks, and this is due to many of the modern superstars of the game finishing their matches with deep heel hook submissions. Although the knee reap can be extremely dangerous, there seems to be a significant future with this attacking position in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The IBJJF have recently added this position for brown belts, and black belts in No Gi competition, which is a clear indication that the leg locking position has a place in the future of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition. If the ADCC is anything to go by, then the knee reap is here to stay, and this is because the Abu Dhabi Combat Club has become the premier BJJ competition in the world, especially with the high volume of fans worldwide tuning into the streaming services that provide its content. Nowadays Brazilian Jiu Jitsu athletes are learning leg locks at an earlier stage of their Jiu Jitsu, which can be daunting to the more traditional practitioner of BJJ, but to the modern day athlete it is merely keeping up with the times. All students have to remember to train cautiously, and don't reef these types of leg lock positions on their training partners, and leave the rough stuff for future competition matches.
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