8 Details to Finishing Leg Locks

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.


  1. Grips


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

Palm to Palm Heel Hook Grip


Butterfly Grip

For Straight Ankle Locks

Guillotine Style:

Guillotine Style ankle lock grip

Figure 4:

Figure 4 grip for Ankle Lock

  1. ‘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.



The offensive grappler has his radius bone under his uke’s Achilles tendon.


Finishing with the meaty part of the arm is O.K. but it’s much more effective with the radius.

Here the grappler has his opponent’s ankle in the meatiest part of his arm

  1. 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.



  1. 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.

The “Clamp” or “Pinch” is a very important aspect to Leg Locks


  1. 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.


  1. 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.

Grappler is off of his elbow with it tucked passed his spine.

  1. ‘Zipping the Jacket’


Dean Lister’s hands are in line with his sternum. High Hands.

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

  1. Hipping In

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.

Here, Firas Zahabi shows how most grappler’s twist from one side of their body to the other. HIP IN instead!

For the readers who find learning easier through watching a video, here’s an instructional video on the details.

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