The Inner Workings of a Famous Knee Bar Revealed with Tarsis Humphreys
The leg lock continues to be the great equalizer in the BJJ community and it's still a viable threat, especially if you’re not paying attention. A few years ago, lower body attacks were at the peak of their fame. I’d attend blue belt brackets with fairly open ruleset and there were knees popping everywhere. Attacking the lower half was made incredibly popular by some of the biggest names in the sport and this previously taboo style of making your opponent’s tap was brought to the surface and now being implemented by everyone. It was thought that leg locks would be a fad by many but this intricate and dangerous method of attacking is still evolving at a rapid pace and wreaking havoc on those that refuse to respect the game.
We’ve seen stunning examples of the leg locks’ power over the course of the past few years from athletes like Gordon Ryan, Garry Tonon, and Craig Jones, just to name a few. We all witnessed Lachlan Giles’s incredible absolute performance at ADCC where he was able to dismantle several competitors with an incredible weight and strength advantage in some exciting bouts that brought the crowd to its feet. Yes, the leg lock is alive and well and if you’re a competitor or simply a BJJ enthusiast you need to know more about the subtle art of lower body destruction.
When we talk about the leg lock game, there are some godfathers of the art that were doing leg locks before many of us even thought about stepping on to the BJJ mat. These early innovators paved the way, using leg locks to sneak up on their opponents and shedding light on this largely undiscovered area of BJJ.
Tarsis Humphreys is one of these early innovators and he became known in training and competition as someone that was hunting for the legs. Take a look back at his impressive record and you’ll find a mountain of competitive endeavors against some of the biggest legends in the game, with plenty of victories. In an incredible match against Romulo Barral at Worlds in 2010, Humphreys managed to snag a knee bar from the turtle that was very sharp and just plain beautiful. In a video with Bernardo Faria, Humphreys breaks down this legendary knee bar and explains the details of how he managed to capture the victory. This is something you definitely need to see!
There’s plenty of danger to consider when you’ve been forced into the turtle position, especially at the highest levels. For more on that click here. The first order of business is usually to protect your neck and of course be on the lookout for the back take. Depending on how your opponent is setting up here, you have a few options but you definitely have to be careful and keep all the threats on your radar. As Humphreys sets up the scenario from 2010 for us, he makes mention of something that Barral was doing to keep him from transitioning. There was a hook in place over the top of Humphreys’ right calf. This is a common positional tactic that would have provided some control and even maybe stopped the knee bar in some circumstances.
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Setting up a smokescreen, Humphreys pushes backward into his partner, causing an off-balancing effect and creating the need for his partner to come forward. As this occurs, Humphreys takes advantage of the opportunity and looks outside of his partner's body to the left as he begins to reach in for his partner’s left leg. He performs a shoulder roll, removing his trapped leg and surrounding the limb with his own lower body.
In the 2010 scenario, with the threat of the sweep, Barral decided to stand and this where Humphreys began to attack the knee bar. With some elevation from his hips and the extension of his legs, Humphreys was able to bring Barral to the mat and subsequently attack the knee.
To create a tremendous amount of leverage, Humphreys crosses his bottom foot over his top foot and uses his hips in conjunction to put pressure on the submission. He also prefers to transition the leg in to the armpit to apply maximum pressure to the joint.
This is quite the masterful technique and the details are on point. Humphreys is set to release a new instructional with BJJ Fanatics detailing his unique leg lock game. This is quite the interesting prospect as he is one of the first high level athletes to begin implementing these types of submissions. So, there’s no doubt he’s spent hours and hours in the lab creating and developing some things we’ve probably never seen before.
Look for this one to shake up the leg lock world and if you’re a fan of the lower body submission game, you’ll want to take a gander! This release may already be available by the time you’re reading this blog! Don’t sleep on this one! Enjoy!
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