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Switching to the Knee Bar from the Ankle Lock
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Switching to the Knee Bar from the Ankle Lock

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Although the most effective leg lock, the heel hook, is not legal in every competition, the knee bar generally is allowed. The knee bar, just like the arm bar, is a submission that involves hyperextension. By hyperextending the leg about the knee joint, an attacker can inflict a lot of pain against a defender, getting the tap. The knee bar is also one of the more effective leg locks, especially when compared to ankle locks or toe holds.

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The knee bar is a very versatile submission; it can be attacked from many different positions including half guard, both top and bottom, while passing, or from open guard. When looking at leg entanglement positions such as ashi garami or inside sankaku, it is difficult to see where the knee bar falls into the hierarchy of leg attacks. That’s because the angle of the attacker on the leg is different in most other leg locks compared to the knee bar.

For a knee bar to work, the attacker must get their hips or torso on the knee cap, similar to where you would place it on the arm for an armbar. To do this we need to find ourselves in unique positions on the leg that don’t really coincide with the standard leg entanglements. This doesn’t mean the knee bar can’t be attacked from these positions, all we have to do is find a way to rotate our bodies so that we are facing the correct position.

In the following video, Black Belt prodigy Mikey Musumeci illustrates how you can rotate to the knee bar from the standard ankle lock position with a lot of great details. Mikey also shows how to finish the knee bar appropriately. See below:

It’s important to know that when you are doing this rotation, you are essentially rotating only your body. You might be inclined to hold the leg tightly, but if you do this, you will rotate the defender’s leg and end up in the wrong spot. So, to correct this, move the leg directly in front of you, hold it only loosely, and then begin your rotation.

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