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This website is about Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ). I'm a black belt who started in 2006, teaching and training at Artemis BJJ in Bristol, UK. All content ©Can Sönmez

09 April 2016

09/04/2016 - Private with Kev | Open Guard | Leg Lock Defence, Calf Crush & Open Guard

Class #708 - Private #022
RGA Aylesbury, (BJJ), Kev Capel, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, UK - 09/04/2016

I know very little about leglocks. I don't really care about being able to attack with them, but I am keen to nail down the defence. Rolling with Seymour at the GrappleThon, I kept ending up in 50/50 without much idea of how to get out, while he went for my feet. The last proper look I had at leglock defence was when John Palmer went through a few options with me, way back during my awesome 2012 Texas trip. Leglocks aren't something that feature in the vast majority of my training, so rolling with Seymour was an eye-opener. I had been planning to work on leglock defence in this private anyway, but that confirmed why it was important. ;)

Fortunately, it wasn't as complex as you might think. There are three basic principles that run through most defences, which I knew already, so that's good. First, 'put on the boot': pull your toes back and straighten out the leg that's being attacked, as if you were struggling to get on a boot. Second, you need to pull them towards you (e.g., grab their gi or head), as they need to drop back to apply most footlocks. Finally, stand up, because they're going to have a really tough time getting anything once you get the sole of your foot on the ground and can bring gravity to bear.

That applies to both orthodox footlock set-ups and stuff like 50/50. Kev added in some more specifics for 50/50 defence, which starts off with the usual putting on the boot, grabbing the gi and standing up. After you've done that, 'hula hoop' to put their locking leg in front of you, then grasp their knee and the bottom of their trouser leg. You can then shove that leg down and begin your pass. If the 50/50 is too tight, Kev suggested grabbing the locking knee, stiff-arming then shifting your hips away. I think I must have missed some details though, so I'll double check that with him next time.

You can also get in some early defence, such as getting a spider guard push into the arm they want to use to underhook your leg. Grab their same side arm, push into the crook of the elbow and use that to free your elbow. Sometimes you might need to hook under their leg as you're escaping, such as when you push their foot down and pop your hips over (I don't remember all the details on that, so will need to drill it some more).

As much as I don't intend to attack with footlocks, it is useful to know a few. Kev shared a nasty calf crush with me, interestingly entirely legal for white belts under IBJJF rules (as ever, that is just one rule set, but it's relatively widespread these days). From your usual straight ankle lock position, drag the arm you have underneath across the middle of their calf, aiming to pull as much calf up on the side as you can. Maintaining the tension, bring your other arm under, pushing the calf even higher. Lock that hand (thumb up) against the calf, then bring your other arm around the first, like you were trying to rear naked choke their calf. Squeeze, while also turning your shoulders away from the leg (i.e., towards their other leg). This comes on quick, so do it with control.

We also ran through some open guard maintenance again, as that's still my weak point. Kev did some light sparring, after which he said my approach is ok, but added that I should be pulling them into closed guard (because I said that's where I want to end up, progressing from the shoulder clamp etc). To do that is simple, you just need to yank them towards you when you feel their weight coming forwards. You can also do it like a guard pull, with a foot on the hip, grip on the collar, then pulling and swivelling from the floor. I'm also not setting up my ankle pick sweeps as effectively as I could. Kev suggested coming in closer and hooking the leg, IIRC.

There was a funky worm guard sweep too. In closed guard (or open, but closed was how we started), pull out their lapel. Get that underneath your same side leg, for which you'll need to open your guard, but keep your foot on their hip. Feed the lapel to your other hand. They will probably stand up at this point. Continuing pulling the lapel, yanking it behind their leg and again feeding to your other hand.

You're now going to do a final hand switch, so that you're grabbing the lapel with your same side hand, palm down. Bring your free leg on the outside of their wrapped shin. To finish, do a technical stand-up. That should knock them over, whereupon you can move through to pass or possibly even mount (you'll need to let go of the lapel for that).

Finally, Kev also got back to me on something I mentioned a few years ago (I was impressed he remembered!) about the 'cat' and 'dog' position with the back when inside somebody's closed guard. When you pop out your back ('dog'), that enhances your posture. It also makes it tough for them to climb their legs higher up your back. When he demonstrated, it put me in mind of Jason Scully's 'eat the belt' guard break: I should use that posture more. Good reminder. :)

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