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Upgrade Your Leg Lock Game With The Incomparable Dean Lister
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Upgrade Your Leg Lock Game With The Incomparable Dean Lister

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How To Do The Heel Hook By The Best Foot lock/Leg lock Grappler in The World Dean Lister

Who is Dean Lister?  Dean is one of the great pioneers of Jiu Jitsu and mixed martial arts in America. He is an ADCC Champion. He fought in some of the biggest MMA organizations: Pride FC and Ultimate Fighting Championships. His teaching has had significant impact in both MMA and Jiu Jitsu.

Dean Lister was born in San Diego, California. However, with his family in the military he spent most of his youth abroad in South American countries. Like a lot of military kids, he faced constant bullying as the perpetual new kid. He sought martial arts as a way to defend himself. When he returned to the states, he found wrestling, then Sambo and eventually Jiu Jitsu. He spent over a decade training at Fabio Santos’ academy in San Diego where he earned his brown belt. Eventually Dean would earn his black belt from fellow Santos student Jeffery Higgs.

Lister’s grappling accomplishments are significant. He competed in ADCC tournament 6 times and is the ADCC Open Weight Champion (2003) and ADCC Super Fight Champion (2005) and ADCC Champion (2011).  Additionally, he a two-time national (US) sambo champion, four-time Machado National (US) BJJ champion and National (US) Gracie BJJ champion. He has notable victories over Jean Jacques Machado, Iiir Latifi, Nathan Marquardt, Saulo Ribeiro, Marcio 'Pe De Pano' Cruz, Alexandre Ferreira ‘Cacareco’, Masutatsu Yano, Augusto Ferrari, Radek Turek, Rodolfo Vieira, Joao Assis, and Ricardo "Demente" Abreu.

Dean’s grappling skills served him well in MMA. He has had over 20 fights in some of the most prestigious organizations. Lister was a King of the Cage Middleweight Champion. He has also fought in Pride Fighting Championships and the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Let this crafty veteran tighten up your leg lock game.

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Lister is well known for his teaching abilities and has been sought all over the world for his combat knowledge. He was a grappling coach for Tito Ortiz on Ultimate Fighter Series 7 (TUF 7). He teaches at Victory Mixed Martial Arts in San Diego with fellow black belts and Jiu Jitsu legends Jeff Glover and Jocko Willink. It is also worth noting that Dean served as the catalyst that introduced the great John Danaher to leg locks. John tells the story of Dean training at Renzo’s. Danaher asked Dean a question about a leg lock. Lister replied, “Why would you ignore 50% of the human body?” It was Dean’s simple statement that started Danaher on the path to create his legendary leg lock system that would shift the paradigm of Jiu Jitsu.

In this video Dean Lister explores some of the nuances of the outside heel hook. Bernardo Faria starts the video by stating Dean is one of the best leg lockers the world. Faria also states that Dean is the one that proved the efficacy of leg locks in the highest nogi grappling completion ADCC.  Dean starts the video with an inside triangle on his opponent’s legs. His far side foot is in the far side crook of his opponent’s legs. This position has many names in the grappling community; honey hole, saddle, 411, Russian knee knot and many more. He states this position is great if you have short legs. However for the longer legged grapplers he shows an alternative position. The near side leg is in the crook of his opponent’s far side leg.  The far side leg is crossed over at the ankles of the near side leg on the outside of his opponent’s far side leg.  In either position the finish is the same. Lister provides some nice troubleshooting. He states that a lot of people get the grip and then turn. However, this will allow the heel to slip out. Dean advocates turning and then getting the grip. He also advocates that lower on the fore arm is the correct placement for our opponents foot.  I personally loved the details in this video. I have been making a careful study of leg locks my whole grappling career. I have always heard Dean’s leg locks were great and I feel like an idiot for not looking at his material until now.

This video is a wonderful example of Dean’s ability to communicate technique to even novice grapplers.  Like all of Lister’s instructional videos, there is a lot of detail. I know that I often gain new insights every time I re-watch one of his videos. Dean Lister’s instructional videos have a powerful impact on anyone who makes a careful study of them. Certainly, the Jiu Jitsu community is lucky to have him.

We all know now that leg locks are the great equalizer. Dean Lister has something to teach both novice and experienced leg lockers. Check out this series from BJJ Fanatics! 

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