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BJJ Instructional Videos
John Danaher Leglocks
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The Power Of Leg Locks For Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

The Power Of Leg Locks For Brazilian Jiu Jitsu


In the world of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, nothing is more respected, revered, and fear than leg locks...

Nowadays everyone is trying leg locks. The concepts are intermediate movements for the most part and are generally taught to Brazilian jiu jitsu practitioners at blue belt or higher. Generally, leg locks are not taught at a white belt level and are banned from some competitions. But that does not mean you should be exploring and thinking about leg locks. Eventually you will be exposed to a BJJ player who loves attacking leg locks, so you should at least be familiar with them.

Learn how to attack the leg lock game like some of the best jiu jitsu fighters in the world.


Believe it or not, there was a time in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu when attacking the legs was taboo. High level Brazilian Jiu jitsu players over time eventually realized that it did not make sense to ignore half of the body and started working on a new approach to attacking the legs. Guys like John Danaher, Eddie Cummings, Gordon Ryan, Gary Tonon, Tom DeBlass (also known as members of the notorious Danaher Death squad) and more completely revolutionized the sport by implementing leg lock submissions. With this explosion in popularity came many more adopters of leg locks, and many more ways to innovate on the technique.

There are many different types of leg locks you can go for. Some of the common types of leg locks are the straight ankle lock, the knee bar, the calf slicer, the toe hold, and the heel hook. Today we are going to explore a variety of leg locks that are easy to learn and very effective. So let’s get started! Here are some leg locks for BJJ that you should know.

The “Lion Killer” Garry Tonon’s Triangle Escape to Leg Lock Finish

Garry Tonnon is one of the best submission finishers in the world. He is known for his chokes and leg locks. Obviously Garry is an extremely inteligent grappler with a strong jiu jitsu IQ. But he cites John Danaher as the man who has helped complete his game, and make him on of the best submission grapplers in the world. In the video below Garry Tonon is going to show us a slick triangle choke escape and transition to a leg lock set up. From here there are two different ways you can finish: using a heel hook, or an ankle lock. Watch the video below and then we will break down the technique. Check it out!

First things first when caught in a triangle choke position is not to hesitate. As your opponent works to tighten the choke your percentage of opportunity to effectively pass goes way down. The very first thing you want to do in this case is posture up. By posturing up you make it a lot harder for your training partner to pull your head down and finish the choke. Once you posture, get your knees directly underneath your opponent’s hips. This will remove the angle necessary he needs to lock up the triangle. Now you are in a somewhat safer position, and can try standing to break your opponent’s lock. Make sure your legs are tight to your opponent when you stand, and do not forget to keep your posture by looking up towards the ceiling. The goal here is to gradually loosen the choke. From here you can sit back down now that you are in a better position and break the choke. Once the choke is broken you are able to go for the leg lock. Control your opponent’s leg that was once over your neck while pushing his other knee to the ground. Now, you may be doing this in a competition, so depending on the rule set you can either go for a heel hook or a straight foot lock.

Nasty Foot Lock From Single Leg X Guard by The Best On It: Renato Cardoso

The foot lock is often times one of the most under rated submissions in all of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Many people assume that the foot lock does not actually threaten a break, and is rather a “pain” submission. But this is actually a very common misconception. When applied properly, the foot lock can very easily break your opponent’s foot, knee or ankle. The foot lock is also an incredible submission because of just how often it presents itself. You can apply this submission to any BJJ player prior to passing their guard, to sweeping them, and from bottom or top. Renato is very well known in Brazil and the rest of the world as one of the best foot lockers with the gi.  Today, Renato is going to show us one of the best foot locks he does from the single leg X Guard. When the person does the single Leg X Guard he goes to a very cool foot lock from there. Watch the video below of Renato Cardoso demonstrating the technique and then we will break it down.

Renato has won many of his matches by using this foot lock. This is a great submission because it is applied from single leg X. Normally this is a position where your opponent is threatening you with the foot lock. To hit this foot lock, Renato peels the foot on his hip. He instinctively knows his training partner is going to try to put it back as quick as possible. But when his opponent goes to put his foot back on the hip it is already too late, he has already trapped the foot. To finish the foot lock Renato does a two on one gable grip on the foot using the leverage from his elbow to break the foot.

Calf Lock From X-Guard by Mike Cusi

A calf lock is a compression lock that involves pressing the calf of your opponent into your leg. The direction of your shin against your opponent’s leg acts as a fulcrum and determines where the pressure goes. This is a dangerous position so only advanced grapplers should use it. The calf lock is an illegal technique for the lower belt levels at most Brazilian jiu jitsu tournaments. Michael Cusi is a second degree black belt under Roy Harris and currently trains under Cobrinha. He has a very unique calf lock from X guard. Watch the video below of Mike Cusi demonstrating a calf lock from X Guard and then we will break down his technique.

Mike Cusi starts this technique from the bottom X guard position when his training partner (in this case Bernardo Faria) has one leg up. From here Mike Cusi likes to move into a foot lock submission position, or to control his training partner’s knee. Mike points out a really cool position for guys who are heavier or know how to pressure down using their body weight. He feeds his foot through to the inside of his training partner’s thigh to help control the distance. Mike also uses a collar grip to pull Bernardo Faria down before taking his right leg and sliding it under his training partner’s ankle. Once his ankle is through he grabs it and stretches through to lock his opponent’s calf. Mike makes sure to drive his knee to the outside the keep the pressure on his opponent. If he loosens his knee there will not be any pressure keeping his training partner’s knee tight. If it is a bigger guy, Mike will even step on his opponent’s ankle to better protect his own knee. From here he either goes for a collar grip to destabilize his training partner’s base, or his more preferred method is to swim his hand back and over the leg to secure the lock. Now Mike starts climbing up Bernardo Faria’s back, grabbing at the gi pants and belt to help himself up. He uses the momentum of his own body to tip his opponent over. Once his training partner’s back is flat on the mat he posts to get up and now he can start attacking the calf lock. To nail the calf lock he drives into his opponent. He can also release the calf lock and initiate a leg drag to transition away.

Brutal Foot Lock From The 50 / 50 Position For BJJ

Luiz Panza is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt who is considered one of the top heavy weight competitors of his generation. Luiz is a black belt under the legendary Marco Barbosa. In his first year at a black belt, Luiz won multiple medals in the highest levels of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition. Luiz has a great instructional series called “Hidden BJJ Secrets” available exclusively on In this series he shows a unique system of unorthodox foot locks and weird sweeps that just work. Watch the video below and then we will break down Luiz foot lock from the 50 / 50 position. Check it out now!

Luiz has found himself in the 50 / 50 position many times in many different competitions. When he is here, the first thing Luiz looks to do is secure his grips. He passes his arm underneath his opponent’s leg and connects with his own arm. From here Luiz grips his own bicep and then brings his other hand to his opponent’s shin – even if his training partner does not let go of the sleeve grip. Now Panza will slide his arm blade across his training partner’s shin, and the tap is not far away. By twisting his upper body, Luiz slides his arm blade across the ankle, securing a quick tap. From here he steps into his ribs and tightens the submission if his opponent still maintains his grip.

Did you know that John Danaher has a DVD / On Demand Series that will teach you all these leg lock attacks and more?

“If you haven’t felt a John Danaher heel hook then you haven’t really lived.” Gordon Ryan - July 18th, 2017



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