Learning Leg Locks: A Method

A training method that I learned from my instructor was to get obsessed with a position for a month. All of the drilling and learning is to be focused on that one position for a set period of time.

He would also roll with limited goals in mind, only trying to get that target position. For example, he would pass up a choke opening because he was only hunting arm bars. He swore by the method.

I want to spend the next month on leg locks. I have a fair knowledge of leg locks but I would like to take it up another level. Armed with some great instructionals I’m going to do my own leg lock focus.

What will be the approach? I have applied this model to every position in jiu-jitsu — back control, half guard bottom and so on — with good results.

Here it is:

1) Identify the key variations.

There are numerous ways to entangle the legs with two grapplers bodies. What are the best control positions?

The rules of sport competition also significantly affect the application of leg locks, so you need to understand what is allowed and what isn’t for your rules.

2) Learn to control #1

You could leap on an exposed leg and try to get a tap before an experienced opponent slips out, but that is a low level of strategy.

How do I secure the position and maintain control before looking for the submission? This is the more important question.

Positional or specific training is a great tool for this. Start in the leg position that you want and ask your partner to move around and look to escape. Start at 25% and gradually increase the intensity as you learn how to control.

3) Learn the subs and sweeps from that control.

Now that we have confidence that we can control the position, what are the highest percentage attacks?

Learn the correct mechanics of the attack so that you may exert the strongest leverage against the joint. In the case of leg locks, are attacking the powerful joints of the knee and ankle that are used to carry the weight of the entire body and therefore stronger comparatively than the elbow and shoulder. Your mechanics have to be correct or no tap!

4) Learn the entries.

How do we get into the position. Against an experienced opponent, there will be few mistakes that will give easy entry. As the level of your training partners gets higher, the transitions become increasingly important.

We need to ask ourselves such questions as: which major ground positions will we be looking to enter into our major leg positions; and how can we get to ashi garami from guard, from passing the guard, or from standing?

5) Learn the defenses.

What is a knowledgeable opponent going to do to counter our attacks? Understanding the defense will help us tighten any gaps and anticipate the opponent’s reactions.

How do we address the most common counters and move to a combination or regain our attack position?

Try this method of structuring your learning and training of any position that you wish to improve.


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