Perhaps one of the most frightening aspects of competition to many jiujiteiros is the prospect of the leg lock battle. Many of us are not properly prepared to handle another person trying to leg lock us and some of the most horrific and career damaging injuries can occur as a result of a well placed leg lock. There are, however some ways we can train to become better at dealing with leg locks.
For starters, if you decide to embark on the journey of improving your leg lock game, remember to always tap early. Leg locks are not like other submissions in that by the time you feel them it is probably already too late and damage has already been done. In the gym there is no sense in being too prideful to tap anyways, and leg locks are definitely part of this rule. Find people to train them with who you trust to not hurt you.
Incorporate leg locks into your drilling routines. We have so many drills for other submissions, but I very rarely see people actively drilling leg locks. Find creative paths from different submissions into leg locks and drill them until they become second nature. If you are able to accomplish this, you’ll find leg locks during matches that will surprise your opponents and end matches quickly.
I say this VERY cautiously: train leg locks in the Gi. I say this because it forces one to be aware of different paths and potential escapes. Be super careful if you do this as feet can get caught in fabric, but training leg locks while wearing a Gi adds another dimension and level of completeness to your repertoire.
Learn escapes. Any move can be escaped, but leg lock escapes can be dangerous. If you try to spin out the wrong way you can actually tear your own knee. There are certain actions that you can take when someone starts to go for a leg lock that can buy you time, and very often when a leg lock battle is initiated both people are susceptible to being submitted. Learn to counter leg locks with leg locks of your own.
The leg lock game is a risky one and if you’re not careful you can really hurt yourself. However, it is an aspect that is not explored nearly enough and if you do take the time to get good at it youll become a more complete grappler. Be mindful of your training partners and their willingness to engage in this, and find partners who are willing to work carefully and methodically with you so as to avoid injury to either person.
Emil Fischer is an active blue belt competitor under Pablo Angel Castro III training with Strong Style Brasa and is sponsored by Pony Club Grappling Gear and Cruz Combat. For more information, other articles, and competition videos check out his athlete pages at www.facebook.com/emilfischerbjj and www.twitter.com/Emil_Fischer