Rise of Lower Body Attacks
Recently in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu there has been a revolution. Many people are starting to incorporate lower body attacks more and more. Decades ago it was frowned upon to attack the lower body in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. There is an infamous story with 10th Planet founder, Eddie Bravo, where he was competing as a purple belt and he went for a toe hold. The crowd began to boo him and yell, some even say that they threw things at him. This was a little over a decade ago. In martial arts terms, that is not long ago.
Funny story because many people will attribute the rise of lower body attacks to Eddie Bravos infamous competition, the Eddie Bravo Invitational, this is one of, if not, the most prestigious no gi submission only tournament around today. This tournament has helped the now famous, Danaher Death Squad rise to mainstream popularity, and it has helped competitors such as Gordon Ryan, Vagner Rocha, and Geo Martinez cement themselves as some of the best grapplers in the entire world.
So why are lower body attacks becoming more and more popular? There are several reasons for this, the guard has also evolved so much and the level of competition has increased exponentially. Lower body attacks are an extremely good way of threatening and getting a submission without the necessity of passing your opponent’s guard. Since people these days have next to impossible guards to pass, if you are submission driven, you have to be able to adapt and attack the legs. Another reason is the rise of submission only events, and the innovation of techniques, and last but not least is the rulesets.
The Evolution of the Guard
So when we discuss evolution, we have to look at the cause and effect. The guard has been evolving since the dawn of competitions. People today have far better guards than people in the 1990’s. This is merely because in any sport, as the competition grows, the techniques grow as well. There are also far more people competing today than there was in the past. With that being said, the level of competition has severely increased along with the level of the guard. If you yourself want to learn some complex guards and positions such as the twister, check out Eddie Bravo’s DVD “Mastering The Twister” below.
Today we see a growth in the innovation of the guard and the complexity of the guard is beyond that of the past. For instance, today, inversions are an enormous part of the guard, we see techniques such as the berimbolo, the truck, the twister, and many other complex techniques. These techniques have made peoples guards much more difficult to pass. For instance, the Miyao Brothers have famous guards. Almost no one has ever been able to pass their guards. They play a De La Riva Guard, and they are constantly trying to berimbolo people. This is why when they fight, often times, we see people attack their legs, it is the only shot a lot of people have at submitting them. If you can’t pass their guard, why not attack the legs?
Now when you have people struggling to pass guard, they begin to focus on the legs more, this leads to advancement in leg attacks. Legs have been neglected by many Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Practitioners for years. So people have started to develop complex attacks on the legs because they may otherwise not be able to submit their opponent. Check out this video below from Luiz Panza showing an awesome foot lock.
The Rise Of Submission Only and New Techniques
One of the biggest contributing factors to the innovation in lower body attacks is the rise of submission only events. In the last 5 years we have seen hundreds of submission only events spring up out of nowhere, and many of these events are considered “Professional” grappling. Some of the most famous events include The Eddie Bravo Invitational, Polaris, Metamoris, Fight To Win Pro, Show The Art Finishers, and many more.
With events like these on the rise, people are becoming more motivated to be submission hunters. Some people focus so much more on attacking submissions than passing and playing guard. This will naturally lead to a bunch of new positions and techniques. For instance, if you take away the points, the single goal will be the submissions, so having your guard passed may not be the end of the world, this leads to a rapid advancement in submissions and particularly, lower body attacks.
The lower body attacks have exploded with popularity in these events because they were neglected prior to the creation of events such as these, and they are easier to threaten than submissions where you must pass the guard first. For instance, you can enter an ankle lock, heel hook, toe hold, or other lower body attack far easier and quicker than you may be able to enter an arm lock, kimura, or strangle. For this reason, we see them far more often.
Just because it is easier to find these positions it does not make the finish for them any less technical than that of upper body attacks. The precision, timing, and technique necessary to finish a heel hook, toe hold, ankle lock, or any lower body attacks is equal to that of the precision and timing necessary to finish an arm lock, kimura, or upper body attack. Check out this video with ADCC Absolute champion, and original leg lock king, Dean Lister below on the intricacies of finishing a heel hook.
What originally led to the creation of submission only Jiu Jitsu tournaments was the rulesets implemented by big tournaments such as the International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation. The IBJJF has long been recognized as the governing body and most prestigious tournaments in bjj. This is only a matter of perception because the IBJJF is not a nonprofit governing body, what gives them this credential is the perspective of the people. That being said, they have changed the rulesets and many people think that they have taken out emphasis on the submission.
Many people believe IBJJF is boring to watch, and that it does not encourage submissions. They think that the IBJJF has taken away from the essence of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, this is up to speculation and is a topic for another day. The IBJJF implemented a rule called an advantage in order to allow clear victories in matches that are relatively even. We spoke about how some people have guards that are almost impossible to pass, there are also people that are almost impossible to sweep. So when you get a match with an excellent guard passer and guard player, there may be no points awarded due to the fact that the passer can’t pass and the player can’t sweep. This led the IBJJF to implement the advantage rule. If the guard player gets close to sweeping or submitting he is awarded an advantage and if the passer gets close to passing or submitting he is awarded an advantage. This advantage rule upset many people because on many occasions there was no real winner and victory was not clear. Check out this match between Paulo Miyao and the Gui Mendes and see how close it is.
Fast forward a few years and we now have many top tier grappling events that are submission only. The only event that really encourages submissions all the way through is the Eddie bravo Invitational because he has his infamous overtime rules. In events like Metamoris, and Polaris, there may be no clear winner. This is because in Metamoris, if you don’t submit, it is a draw, and in Polaris it goes to the judges much like in the UFC. So as you can see, the rules in point Jiu Jitsu have had a massive contribution to the creation of sub only which has had a massive contribution to the development and popularity of lower body attacks. As we said earlier, we have to look at the cause and effect.
So now you’ve realized that you should jump on board with the development of lower body attacks. Well lucky for you, we have an incredible resource for learning lower body attacks. Get your hands on Dean Listers DVD Set, “Leg Attacks and Grappling Hacks.” If you are not familiar with Dean “The Boogeyman “ Lister, you may have been living under a rock. Dean won the most prestigious grappling event in the world, the ADCC Absolute title. Dean has long been recognized as one of the pioneers in the leg locking community. He has been doing leg locks for over 15 years!