Crippling Jiu-Jitsu: a Leglock Article Roundup

On November 4, 2012, my Brazilian jiu-jitsu coach, Adam Ryan, took gold in the senior 2 black belt category of the IBJJF 2012 World No-Gi Championships, submitting his opponent with a pretty brutal ankle lock. The Dynamic MMA team were all pretty excited to watch this, and in honour of Adam’s leglock finish, I figured I’d put together a quick compilation of leglock-related articles that I’ve written over the years. These articles were published in different places under different sets of publication guidelines, so there’s some repetition, but they give a good overview. The flow is: introduction, examples of leglocks in action, learning resources, and dealing with knee or ankle injuries.

[Editor’s Note:  This article originally appeared here at Jeff’s Blog Jiu Jitsu Vortex.]


I: Leglocks – Introduction and Overview
Leglocks in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu”. June 23, 2009.
A quick overview of the role of leglocks in the BJJ game. Types of leglocks, benefits of learning them, why they can be dangerous, and how to train safely.

II: Leglocks in Action in MMA, BJJ, and Submission Grappling
The Calf Crush / Calf Slicer in MMA and BJJ”. January 31, 2012
An analysis of the darling of Russian sambo – the calf crush. Written in the aftermath of Charles Oliveira’s submission victory over Eric Wisely by calf slicer at UFC on Fox 2. With video instructionals from:

  • Frank Mir
  • Lars Wallin of Viking BJJ
  • Mike Evans and Derek Bonds from Hybrid Fighting Systems
  • Brazilian Martial Arts Center in Boston
  • The Gracie Breakdown team
  • Those animated humanoids from the Human Weapon show

Leglocks for MMA, BJJ, Submission Grappling”. October 24, 2011.
Two big DO’s and three big DON’Ts of leglocks. This is one of my favourite articles, but also one of the least popular on the site… thanks everyone. Kneebars, achilles locks, toeholds, heel hooks, Toquinho, terrible injuries – they’re all here. Videos include:

  • Ken Shamrock vs. Bas Rutten in Pancrase
  • Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Zelg Galesic at Dream 12
  • Jim Miller vs. Charles Oliveira at UFC 124
  • Mauricio Shogun Rua vs. Kevin Randleman at Pride 32
  • Shinya Aoiki vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri at Dream 15
  • Rousimar “Toquinho” Palhares vs. David Avellan at ADCC 2011
  • Jason “Mayhem” Miller vs. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza at Dream 4
  • Ken Shamrock vs. Royce Gracie at UFC 1

That, my friends, is a stacked article. Why more Jiu-Jitsu Vortex visitors have read my “Who Am I” page is beyond me. I’m not that exciting, these techniques are.

III: So You Want to Learn Leglocks?
Then you’re in luck because Stephan Kesting – Marcus Soares black belt, Grapple Arts mastermind, and all-around nice guy – has two videos that will give you a very solid foundation in mangling peoples’ legs:

  • High-Percentage Leglocks” features Don Whitefield of West Coast BJJ and is a detailed exploration of the achilles / straight ankle lock, heel hook, and toehold.
  • Dynamic Kneebars” is exactly what it sounds like and has the added bonus of guest starring the purple belt version of Adam Ryan, the inspiration for this article.

I own both of these and they’re excellent. Do yourself a favour and buy them.

IV: When Good Leglocks Go Bad: Dealing with Injuries
So you’ve protected your ego by defending a leglock for too long and things went snap, crackle, and/or pop. That’s a bad thing, but at least you’ll have lots of time to spend reading The Jiu-Jitsu Vortex. Given the circumstances, I’d recommend:

V: Get Out On the Mat!
Leglocks in Brazilian jiu-jitsu are a relatively new phenomenon. It wasn’t that long ago that a person could get booed off the mats for submitting their opponent via leglock in a BJJ tournament. But the jiu-jitsu world has wised up and realized that those who ignore leglocks do so at their own peril. I’ll end with a quotation from the May 2001 issue of Martial Arts Legends Presents Grappling that I recently discovered in my magazine pile:

“Like the legendary Cold .45 revolver in the Old West, leglocks are great equalizers that will let a smaller, ‘out-gunned’ man, take on and whip much larger opponents” – Judo Gene LeBell

You heard Gene. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an MMA fighter, a BJJ competitor, or strictly a no-gi submission grappler – get out there and start practicing your leglocks.

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