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John Danaher Leglocks
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Why the Knee Lock Is An Important Leg Attack

Why the Knee Lock Is An Important Leg Attack


One of the very first techniques I learned on the jiu jitsu mats was the armlock.  Simple, straight-forward and one of the most commonly used submissions. Over the years, I've seen or been instructed on countless variations of this foundational submission attack.  Conversely, it would be many years before I was exposed to a technique that attacks the leg in a very similar way by trapping the limb, controlling its rotation and exerting pressure at either side of the knee joint instead of the elbow in the case of the arm lock.  Why did it take so long for me to get exposed to this important leg attack?  We learn so many variations of the classic arm lock, it would seem that the study of this fundamental leg attack, the knee lock would prove just as fruitful.

The controversy around leg attacks

If you've been around the jiu jitsu mats for any time at all, you probably know that there is a great deal of discussion and in many cases controversy around submissions involving our lower extremities.  Leg attacks have historically been seen as somewhat of a "lesser" submission by traditional jiu jitsu practitioners who have long espoused getting around one's opponent's legs and in their minds getting on to bigger and better things like establishing side control or mount and launching attacks from those classic positions. 

Leg attacks such as the knee lock have been feared mostly because of a lack of understanding and a feeling that they are somehow more dangerous than other techniques.  But when looking at the armlock versus

This 'old school' mentality is beginning to disappear with the rise of so many new competition formats and options with more expanded rule sets allowing a wider variety of leg attacks.  Students and instructors are becoming more comfortable with the idea of leg attacks as improved understanding is developed.

Your Leg Attack Journey Must Start Sooner than Later

Over time, as you progress in your jiu jitsu journey, you will realize that no matter at what belt level you currently reside, there will be techniques and positions that you will essentially be a white belt at.  If you're like me, training with some of the more traditional jiu jitsu schools of thought for my first 6-7 years, you may not have had much exposure leg attacks, specifically knee locks.  Ideally, your instructor will open their mind to the idea as leg submissions become more common.  If not, there are ways to research on your own.  Do your homework and find who are the grapplers that are most famous or in some cases infamous for their leg attacks.  Then like any position or technique, begin to explore different moves and slowly add them into your jiu jitsu tool box.  

One such resource is leg attack "OG" Dean Lister.  Dean is one of the most famous American grapplers who has historically specialized in leg attacks.  In 2003, as a brown belt, he was victorious at ADCC with a game built on a leg lock foundation.

Using a Knee Lock to defeat a legend at ADCC as a Brown Belt

Learn directly from Dean Lister

 One of the easiest ways to learn from legends like Dean is to utilize instruction DVDs and videos.  You can quickly pick up Dean Lister's Leg Attacks and Grappling Hacks DVD series here.  You can also learn more in this informative blog post from BJJ Fanatics.  Check it out here!


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