Three Lower Body Submission Options
Attacking the lower body has recently become one of the biggest phenomenons in bjj. There is a revolution going on in the Jiu Jitsu community today. People are getting more and more skilled at lower body attacks. This could be attributed to several different things but it is primarily because of the rise in submission only events. There are so many professional grappling platforms that have sprung up out of nowhere and many of these have submission only rule sets.
Some of these big submission only tournaments include the Eddie Bravo Invitational, Metamoris, Fight To Win Pro, Kasai pro, ACBJJ, and many more. These tournaments have increased the popularity of lower body attacks. But why? Well people are starting to realize that they are often neglected. Many people spend so much time on their guard and passing but fail to work on lower body attacks.
Just as recently as 10-15 years ago it was frowned upon to do lower body attacks. Eddie Bravo infamously has a story about when he was a purple belt competing he went for a toe hold and everyone in the crown started throwing things at him, yelling, and more. Today, knowing lower body attacks is the norm!
So what are some of the best lower body attacks to know? Well, that depends on your level of knowledge; a great intro level leg attack is the strait ankle lock, this is the fundamental leg lock and the core of many of the intricacies necessary to complete other attacks. Another excellent leg lock is the toe hold, and the most devastating is the heel hook.
The Ankle Lock
The ankle lock is the foundation of many of the high level leg attacks. This is the introductory leg lock and it is legal in almost every tournament at almost any belt level, and age. It attacks the Achilles tendon, the metatarsals, the foot, and the ankle. There are so many variations of the strait ankle and strait foot lock and so many different ways to apply it, and finish it. The core of the foot lock is getting into the position and controlling the foot.
Although this is considered by many the basic leg lock, it is also one of the most complex depending on how you choose to finish it. So lets break this down a bit. It is the foundation of many leg locks because the leg entanglements necessary to finish this technique are identical to the ones use to finish the heel hook. Therefore, mastering the details on the leg entanglements of the ankle lock will allow you to make a quick transition to heel hooks. You can apply a foot lock from ashi garami, outside ashi, 50/50, saddle, belly down position, modified X hook, and almost every famous leg entanglement position. Leg entanglements just refer to guars or positions you use to finish leg locks, for example, single leg X could be considered a leg entanglement.
The strait foot lock also has a very similar finish to the heel hook. The intricacies and the details necessary to finish a strait foot lock are almost identical to a heel hook. For instance with a strait ankle you would ideally want to have both hands connected, you want to be on your side, you want three points of contact with the ground, and you want to keep your knees tight for starts. Once you have all of this to apply the finish you want to push your hips in as you arch your back so you can engage your hips, core and back. We know there are a lot of details; these are almost all the same for the heel hook. Check out this video below of Dean Lister breaking down a proper strait ankle finish.
So as you can see above, Dean uses so many details to finish this “basic” foot lock. What makes this foot lock basic? Well, you see, the thing is that it is relatively safe. People have a lot of time to tap and they are never in any serious danger that occurs abruptly. Meaning that if someone throws on a toe hold, heel hook, or estima lock fast it can happen extremely abruptly. This is not to say that a strait foot lock cannon happen abruptly, it is just less likely to happen fast. As you can see in the above video with Dean Lister, this submission is meticulous, detailed, and highly technical so you can be patient and methodical with your finish. The strait foot lock is the core of all other foot locks.
If you want to have a good primer for lower body attacks, take 6 months to really get a handle on the strait foot lock. Learn the leg entanglements, the finishing details, the set ups, when to bail, the reactions, and everything there is to know and then your transition to other leg locks will be seamless and simple.
The Toe Hold
The toe hold may be one of the most popular lower body attacks, especially in the IBJJF. There is a common misconception with the toe hold; many people assume that it is just a “pain” move. This is completely untrue; if you let someone toe hold you and you don’t tap a couple of things could occur. Your foot could break, your joints could break, you could break ligaments, and your metatarsals could also break.
The toe hold is not a pin move at all, it is a completely viable submission that threatens severe damage. The reason many people assume that it is a pain move is because we see people fight out of it so often; this is because all of these people are probably extremely familiar with the move and they are capable of defending it properly. At the 2017 Black Belt IBJJF World Championships multiple time black belt world champion Romulo Barral had his foot brutally broken in a toe hold. It was a sad moment in bjj but it showed the devastation that a toe hold can cause.
So why is the toe hold a good option of lower body attack? Well it presents itself very often. The toe hold is almost everywhere, you can use this attack from bottom, top, and even when someone has your back. It can be one the best submissions to keep in your back pocket. Check out the video below to learn a cool toe hold set up.
The Heel Hook
The heel hook is the mother of all leg locks, the most feared, the most effective, the most devastating. The heel hook attacks the foot, the Achilles tendon, and all of the ligaments in the knee. The heel hook has quickly soared to popularity because of the infamous Danaher Death Squad. Garry Tonon, Eddie Cummings, and Gordon Ryan have been able to win several EBI tournaments via heel hook.
The heel hook leg entanglements are very similar to the ankle locks. The finish is also very similar. The heel hok has a bad reputation because for so many years it was neglected among the mainstream bjj academies. To this day the IBJJF does not allow Heel Hooks at all, in gi, nogi, and at any black belt level. The heel hook is one of the best submissions to learn.
If you want to learn some of the best heel hook entries in the world and some of the best lower body attacks check out one of BJJ Fanatics new releases. We had the opportunity to film with the rising star Craig Jones who was able to make his debut at the ADCC 2017 in Finland one of the best in history. He submitted 5x black belt World Champion Leandro Lo. He recently competed at EBI and beat everyone via heel hook except for the reigning champ, Gordon Ryan. Craig has the best heel hooks and lower body attacks in the world that have been filmed.