Due to some restrictions, such as reaping, imposed by the IBJJF in its competitions in previous years, leg locks were some of the most overlooked submissions in competitive Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Competitions such as the Eddie Bravo Invitational and ADCC, which do not have these restrictions, have allowed the leg lock game to evolve rapidly in the last few years, and, with the IBJJF’s recent lift on the knee reap position in it’s No-Gi brown and black belt divisions, learning how to attack the legs is more essential than ever.
In this video, BJJ World Champion Alex Silva from the Evolve Fight Team shows us some fundamental leg entanglement positions and attacks that you can add to your arsenal of lower body submissions.
Attacks From Top Position
Irimi Ashi Garami Ankle Lock 2:50-5:40
The straight footlock (ankle lock) is one of the first leg submissions you will learn in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. In the video above, Professor Alex Silva shows us one of the most basic leg entanglement positions from which a straight footlock can be applied – the Irimi Ashi Garami, or standard Ashi Garami position.
From top position, while your opponent has an open guard, wrap your right arm around the opponent’s left ankle and sit down, as if pulling guard. Place your right hand above their left knee for control.
As you sit, your left knee will naturally end up between your opponent’s legs. Place your right foot on their hip to make sure that they do not have a chance to stand up, and to control distance.
Place your right wrist directly under your opponent’s Achilles and reinforce your grip with your left hand.
Lie on your right side, as your shoulder touches the ground. Arch your back to finish the straight footlock.
Alternatively, if you cannot achieve plantar flexion of your opponent’s foot, you can bring the leg to your left and finish the ankle lock from there. If your opponent is able to defend the footlock further, you are in a prime position to get up and go to a leg drag (6:05-7:45).
Saddle (Inside Sankaku/Honey Hole/411) to Ankle Lock 8:05-9:15
Another great position to apply an ankle lock from is the Saddle position, which is more secure than the standard Ashi Garami. The position is legal in the brown and black belt No-Gi category in IBJJF competitions.
One entry to the Saddle position is from the Over-under pass (bulldozer pass).
As your opponent defends an Over-under pass (your right arm underhooks their left leg), lean back as if pulling guard.
Lift your right leg over and across your opponent’s left leg so as to trap their leg in a triangle.
Wrap your left arm around their left ankle to apply the ankle lock submission.
Another option is to use your right arm on their left leg to apply the ankle lock.
The kneebar is another great leg submission that is allowed in the IBJJF in the advanced belt categories (brown and black belts). The submission works by hyperextending the knee past its range of motion by using your hip as a fulcrum – similar to an armbar.
Start from the Over-under passing position with your right arm underhooking your opponent’s left leg.
Slide your left knee across their left hip as you post your left arm on the floor for balance. You will end up with your opponent’s knee above your hips as you end up in the kneebar position.
Place your hands on your opponent’s heel to prevent them from being able to rotate their knee away from your hips.
As you control their heel, lift your hips up to put pressure on the trapped leg and finish the submission.
Attacks From Bottom Position
Saddle Entry From Butterfly Guard 11:30-12:50
A popular entry into the saddle is from the butterfly guard. Because the opponent will usually block the entry into the Single Leg X-guard or Ashi Garami from the butterfly by locking their legs, an opening into the saddle will present itself.
From the butterfly guard, lift your opponent up by rocking back, pushing up against their armpits, and using your butterfly hooks to elevate.
As they lock their legs together, place your left hand across their left lat area.
Take your right butterfly hook out and swing it around their right leg while still keeping them afloat with your left butterfly hook. Triangle your legs to enter the saddle.
Control your opponent’s left foot by wrapping your right arm around their ankle. From this position, you can finish with a straight ankle lock.
By switching your hip position to face the knee, you can also open up a kneebar submission.
Kneebar From Butterfly Guard 13:10-13:40
You can go straight to a knee bar from the butterfly guard if the opponent does not cross their legs as you lift them.
As you lift your opponent from the butterfly guard, underhook their left leg with your right arm.
Pull their leg near your chest as shoot your right butterfly hook straight to lace their leg.
Switch your hips so that it faces their knee and trap their leg between your legs.
Finish the kneebar in the same way as mentioned in the kneebar section above – by grabbing their heel and applying pressure to their knee using your hips.
Calf Slicer From Beartrap
A bear trap can be set up from your basic butterfly sweep.
From the butterfly guard with an underhook on your opponent’s right side using your left arm, initiate your basic butterfly sweep by elevating them to your right side.
As they defend, scoop your right hand under your opponent’s left knee and swing your right leg under theirs. Trap their right leg in the calf area as you triangle your legs together.
Hug your opponent’s hip on the same side as their trap leg and stretch your triangled legs away from them to apply a calf slicer.
Leg locks can be set up from many positions in BJJ, even inferior positions such as the bottom mount and when your opponent has your back (20:30-23:20). Knowing which entanglement position to go into in specific situations is key to mounting more efficient attacks.
Learning how to attack the legs will open up a whole new dimension into your Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu game. No matter what belt you are in, you have to be familiar with these positions to have a proper progression on your ground game.
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