Leg Locks. They are the fastest developing submission in Grappling tournaments across the globe. With that said, it’s time for grapplers across the board to begin understanding them. Whether or not you choose to be a “Leg Locker”, one should have a comprehensive understanding of Leg Lock awareness for both offensively and defensively addressing Leg Locks. There are many aspects to Leg locks, including proper foot placement, Leg Control, Pinning the leg, pinching the leg, hipping in as opposed to twisting, proper grips etc. Moving on, let’s take a look at some of the finer details of finishing leg locks.
Depending on the Leg locks you’re attempting(heel hook, straight ankle lock, Inverted Heel Hook) your grips will change. There’s 3 main grips.
For Heel Hooks, there’s the Palm to Palm grip and the butterfly.
Palm to Palm
For Straight Ankle Locks
‘Bone’ instead of ‘Meat’
When finishing a Straight Ankle Lock, you ideally want to use the sharp bone in your wrist called the Radius as opposed to the deep meaty part of your forearm. Similar to a ‘Guillotine’ style grip.
Finishing with the meaty part of the arm is O.K. but it’s much more effective with the radius.
Proper Foot positioning and Leg Entanglement
Whether it’s a standard Single Leg X, Outside Ashi, 50/50 or Saddle position, it’s important to know what leg entanglement to have for finishing an attack.
Here’s a Video on proper Leg positions.
The Clamp or Pinch
Controlling your opponent’s leg with proper grips and leg positions are vital, but just as important is the “clamp” or “pinch” or your legs to secure control your opponent’s leg. Squeezing your legs as tightly together as possible to secure the leg lock finish. It’s been said that Eddie Cumming’s clamp is so tight, opponents leg’s go numb.
Pin the Leg
Our bodies are like 2×4’s. Our Torso and Back are the wide parts so they’re the ‘4’ and are side profile are the ‘2’. Keeping this in mind, we want to be on our side while finishing leg locks because this allows us to pin our opponent’s leg underneath our bodyweight. Another benefit to pinning the leg is gravity is on our side as an attacker of the leg.
Get OFF of your Elbow.
Don’t try to finish a leg lock on your elbow, tuck it past your spine. Being on your elbow nullifies the ‘Pinning’ of your opponents leg.
‘Zipping the Jacket’
Zipping the Jacket means having high hand placement when finishing the leg lock. Ideally, you want your hands to be at level with your sternum or higher. Similar to a guillotine, if your hands are locked low there’s more space for escapes and less leverage for effectiveness
Many ‘Heel Hookers’ twist their opponent’s ankle towards their opposite shoulder. What is more effective however, is the concept of hipping in. Just like an Armbar you want to extend your hips forwards and pinch your glutes.
For the readers who find learning easier through watching a video, here’s an instructional video on the details.