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Sorry Vinny, Leg Locks Do Work
One of the most exciting things about BJJ is how much it is always changing and evolving. While the fundamental principles may stay the same, people are always working to combine those principles in new and exciting ways to keep that competitive edge. Probably the best example of that right now in sport BJJ is the Danaher Death Squad, who (under the tutelage of John Danaher) have taken a systematic approach to positions like the ashi garami, front headlock, and back control, and turned them into a labyrinth of escalating traps and locks that very few have been able to even survive, let alone have measured success against. Very few, except for Vinny Magalhaes.
Vinny Magalhaes recently fought against ADCC Champion Gordon Ryan, probably the most successful of the DDS, and even though he found himself constantly entangled in positions that most would consider certain doom, he was able to methodically work himself out, and eventually win the fight. It was an impressive performance by an incredible athlete, but after he made an even more incredible statement; that leg locks don't work, and he proved it.
Vinny recently sat down for an interview with Cage Side Press, where he said "I've proved that leg locks don't work. I've gone against some of the best leg lockers in the game like Dean Lister, Gary Tonan, and Gordan Ryan. None of them were able to finish me, even though I was giving them the positions for them to work on multiple times in the same matches, and they couldn't do it."
There's a lot to break down in that one quote! A lot of it is true, Vinny has fought some of the best leg lockers in the game, and he was in bad spots throughout, but was able to use his technique and incredible flexibility to stay safe and escape these dangerous foot entanglements. Where Vinny misses the mark is when he says this is definitive proof that leg locks aren't a legitimate area of BJJ.
Any submission is going to follow the same basic protocol: Pin and control your opponent in one set position, create a lock that either manipulates a joint or blocks blood flow to the brain, and apply force until you get the submission. Does this checklist change between a kimura or a heel hook? Not really, you just do each step differently according to the position. In fact, a kimura and a heel hook, despite one having a reputation as a much more dangerous lock, are similarly dangerous in untrained hands.
When Vinny says that leg locks don't work, what is probably more accurate is that leg locks haven't worked on him (yet, at least). This misses the obvious, that Vinny is both a technical master, and particularly gifted in his range of motion, rendering these moves less effective against him. I mean, how do you heel hook a guy whose knee can twist 180 degrees with no problem? The Miyaos have never tapped out in competition. Do submissions work? Yes, obviously. Cobrinha didn't get his guard passed for a decade in competition. Does that mean guard passes don't work? No, obviously not.
For anyone who has watched the Leglocks: Enter The System series, you'll see what I mean about control. Once you have everything set, finishing a heel hook is as simple as flexing a few muscles and turning your body the right way. The most valuable knowledge is in the control, how to use your body to "entangle" and pin your opponent, and then how to deal with any of the common defenses that your opponent may rely on. As they struggle to escape, you have a set path to keep attacking and moving to stronger and stronger controls, until you are able to finish the fight.
Saying one position doesn't work, or that these moves can't work on you, is forgetting one of the most important parts of being a sport BJJ fighter: the game is always evolving, and just because you have an answer to a problem today, doesn't mean that someone isn't out there figuring out how to counter your counter right now. When it comes to systematic controls, the Renzo Gracie fighters under John Danaher are the class of the game right now, and I am very excited to see the next step in the escalating arms race that is leg locks.
Are you ready to enter the system and learn exactly why leg locks do work? Then pick up the best-selling Leg Locks: Enter The System 8-volume set today!