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BJJ Instructional Videos
John Danaher Leglocks
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Themes in Leg Lock Escapes

Themes in Leg Lock Escapes


Understanding How Leg Locks Work Will Allow You To Better Escape!

Whether you like using leg locks in your Jiu Jitsu game or not, there is still a need to develop defenses that are adequate enough to get you through an open mat without getting tapped all the time. Although I have begun to transition my focus to using less leg locks, I am fortunate that I developed a strong leg defense game because many of my teammates are still very fond of them and use them all the time. Rather than explaining specific defensive techniques, which can be found all over the internet, I would prefer to discuss major themes in defending oneself against leg attacks.

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In order to enter leg entanglement positions, the attack must find inside leg position like butterfly hooks or shin-on-shin. To counter this, the defender must continuously look to pummel back to the inside position before the attacker proceeds to a dominant position. For example, if someone is playing shin-on-shin guard against you, pummeling the leg to the inside position will prevent leg traps and allow the top player to begin to pass.


Another important aspect of effective leg locks is pinching the knees together. By reducing the amount of space around the defender’s leg, an attacker can limit the mobility of the defender and also prevent leg rotation. This means that if you are caught in a leg entanglement, the first step is to look for strategies to open the attacker’s legs. For example, if you are caught in 4/11, use the foot not being attacking to push the knees apart. By creating this space, it becomes near impossible to finish a leg attack.

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Finally, the most important part of finishing leg locks is that the attacker must remain above the knee-line of the leg they are attacking. Without this, it is difficult to produce the required leverage and torque to finish many submissions like heel hooks, knee bars, and toe holds. This means that as a last ditch effort, a defender must separate from the attacker enough to escape their knee. This can be done in many ways but is easiest when done belly down on all fours.


By understanding the factors necessary to attack leg locks, we can begin to understand how to approach effective defensive mechanisms. The three main themes are inside leg positioning, leg separation, and knee-line position. By defending these three, one can become a great leg lock defender.

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