The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) community is no stranger to rapid explosions in popularity of particular techniques, and no techniques are currently more popular than leg locks. Leg locks have always had a precarious relationship with the BJJ mainstream, as they were once regarded as cheap and easy submissions for quite a while. Fortunately, this notion has largely passed as more and more grapplers are starting to recognize their effectiveness. As learning the lower body engagements for the first time can be quite daunting, we have put together a guide to help you develop your skills in a safe and effective manner. Today, Evolve Daily share the beginner’s guide to learning leg locks.
1) Find The Right Instructor
Like all other aspects of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, when it comes to leg locks, nothing is more important than properly executed technique. It will take an extraordinary amount of strength and energy to finish an improper leg lock, just as it would to finish an improper strangle or arm lock, and even then your opponent will have ample opportunity to escape from your shoddy technique.
When learning a new submission series for the first time, it is crucial to learn them correctly early in your studies to avoid developing bad habits that will be difficult to fix later on. In order to learn correctly, you will need an instructor who is well versed in the techniques you are trying to learn. An instructor who has been ignoring the lower body entanglements until just recently is probably not your best resource. Instead, look for someone who is well versed in lower body submissions and recognizes the proper context in which they fit into the sport as a whole.
If you don’t have access to such an instructor, you can start leveling up your knowledge via other means. Thanks to the current popularity of leg locks, there is a plethora of online instructional courses and digital downloads that are available and reasonably priced. If you choose to utilize digital instruction, just know that watching techniques on a screen will not be sufficient, you will have to practice them quite frequently as well. This leads us to our next item of importance, finding a suitable training partner.
2) Find The Right Training Partner
Whether there is sufficient instruction at your BJJ gym or you choose to use a digital instructional, you will have to drill your preferred techniques repeatedly in order to develop them to a point in which they are effective in a live situation. This will require the assistance of a training partner who is like-minded in your objective of learning the offensive and defensive mechanics of lower body entanglements.
When looking for your ideal training partner, it is important to find someone who is able to recognize that you are embarking in an effort to truly learn the aspects of these techniques, not just trying to get quick taps in gym training sessions. They should be open to drilling the techniques as you would any other move until you are both confident that you are knowledgeable of how to correctly apply and escape the holds in an effective and safe manner. As your expertise grows, you should communicate with each other, increasing the pace and intensity, slowly building up to full speed over the course of your training sessions. This is the best way to learn a new skill, and by taking this approach you will be on your way to becoming a proficient leg locker. Now it is time to bring these skills out of your secluded drilling sessions and into your group training.
3) Communicate With Your Partners
After you feel that you and your training partner have reached a sufficient level of skill to implement and escape leg attacks, it is time to bring your skills into your group classes. The most important step you can take to make sure that you are not angering your partners is to communicate with them, asking them which leg lock techniques they are comfortable allowing in your roll. While the stigma that was once attached to lower body submissions is largely gone, there are some practitioners who will be quite annoyed if they are being heel hooked with no prior warning. Also, make sure you check with your coach to see if they are okay with you implementing some of the more advanced leg locks. If they are not, that is okay, just make sure you keep drilling them in your “private” training sessions to make sure you do not forget how to implement them.
4) Be Confident
It is perfectly natural to be scared of engaging in the lower body submissions for the first time. When engaging in a leg lock exchange during a live roll, it is important to trust your training and be confident. If you have followed the steps outlined above, you will probably be a well-versed leg-locker, capable of initiating and escaping attacks on skilled opponents.
Just like the other submissions you have learned during your BJJ journey, lower body submissions need to be respected, but shouldn’t be feared. They can be executed and defended through the proper application of technique, just like every other submission. If you trust your technique and yourself, you will have bountiful success with your leg lock game.
The most important thing to remember when developing your leg lock game is that they are not a secret weapon. Just like every other submission in grappling, they can be escaped from or used to tap highly skilled opponents. By choosing to develop your skills in a methodical and safe manner, you are on your way to becoming proficient in leg locks, and therefore a much more well-rounded grappler.