Leg Locks – Dominating Recent Sub Only Events

Photo by: Blanca Marisa Garcia

Jiu-jitsu techniques seem to be cyclical in nature.  Techniques come into popular use, catch fire, and then give way to the next trend.

Leg locks have been around for a long time. The Japanese fighters in particular developed incredible entries and variations, twisting the lower limbs in seemingly impossible and painful configurations.

However, the time spent practicing leg locks has been in decline, partially due to the largest governing body in sports BJJ, the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF). The IBJJF have gradually instituted rules on which types of leg locks are permitted at various belt levels. They have also prohibited heel hooks.

The growing popularity of submission-only events like the Eddie Bravo Invitational (EBI) and Metamoris has led to an uptick in the number of leg lock attack specialists, though.

Take, for instance, leg lock master Eddie Cummings, who submitted all of his opponents in the most recent EBI.

Then there’s Gary Tonon, who submitted Ralek Gracie at Metamoris with a knee bar.

Why are leg locks so dominant in these types of competitions?

For one, these attacks are permitted, so we are getting to see them on display.  Some very talented and hard training teams are putting their minds together and developing and innovating the positions.

Secondly, many competitors (yes, even black belts) who have been training to compete in events where leg attacks are limited by the rules have not spent as much time training these positions. The less time one spends training certain techniques or strategies, the less familiarity and expertise he or she has in that area.

If you have been playing spider guard and extending your legs without much fear of being heel hooked or knee barred, you will be vulnerable to an expert leg locker!

One of the fundamental principles of combat strategy is to force your opponent to fight in his area of weakness. Those no-gi specialists who develop a complex system of leg attacks can take high level black belts who are not as accustomed to dealing with leg attacks into alien territory.?? If your opponent is forced to play in your area of strength, it is only a matter of time before she commits a fatal mistake.

On the upside, this “resurgence” of leg locks is motivating all jiu-jitsu practitioners to pay increased attention to submissions on the lower half of the human body, making our understanding of the art of submission more complete.

And if you’re looking for some good tips on heel hooks, check out this video from Eddie Cummings!

Eddie Cummings heel hook finishing details

Read also on Jiu-jitsu Times – Leg locks : The 5 Basic Types


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