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Understanding the Knee Bar
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Understanding the Knee Bar

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“Why ignore 50% of the body?” The quote all Jiu Jitsu practitioners are familiar and associate with John Danaher, one of the best leg lock instructors of all time. For many years, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioners considered leg attacks to be taboo and too dangerous to use. Academies had rule against using them and very few competition promotions allowed them, even at the highest levels.

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This day, pretty much everyone has a few leg locks up their sleeves. Leg locks have been incorporated into the curriculum at almost every academy, and rightfully so. Personally, I don’t think leg locks are much more dangerous than any other submission used in Jiu Jitsu.

The problem is that for so long, we didn’t train them and weren’t able to develop the techniques necessary to defend them, so when people would get attacked with them, they would do the wrong thing and get hurt. This is why grapplers like Dean Lister, Ryan Hall, Garry Tonon, and Gordon Ryan were so successful with them in competition.

Now that we are all using leg locks, its time to understand the fundamentals of them just like we understand the fundamentals of any submission, be it chokes, arm locks, shoulder locks, and so on. One of the best leg attacks that doesn’t get used enough is the knee bar. The knee bar is a submission that hyperextends the leg at the knee joint.

A lot can be learned about the knee bar just from looking at its sister submission, the arm bar. Essentially anything you do with the arm bar, you can apply to the knee bar. In the following video, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt Gabriel Arges discusses the fundamentals of the knee bar with great detail.

One of the best attributes of the knee bar, like the arm bar, is its verstality. The knee bar can be attacked from a wide variety of positions like top half guard, bottom half guard, de la riva guard, fifty fifty guard and so on. Also, there are many different ways of finishing the knee bar, all dependent on what the defender is doing and how flexible they are.


John Danher is one of the few people to have athletes be successful at the highest levels in both Professional Grappling as well as MMA. He has systemized his approach to teaching,learning,and APPLYING his Jiu-Jitsu. Enter the System with John Danaher!

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