“I need to improve my leg lock defense.”

This statement could be costing you. Big time.

It could injure you and delay progress for years.

Leg locks are indeed tough to figure out. Human feet are literally farther from the brain than any part of the body.

Plus feet get almost no coordination practice. We basically just use them to walk and hit gas and break pedals.

So when legs/feet get entangled, most practitioners react in 1 of 3 ways:

  1. Panic Tap– As if spontaneous combustion were about to occur, these guys tap as soon as someone touches their feet/legs.
  2. Running Man– On a wing and prayer these guys explosively spin or retract at every available moment. The prayer being “I hope I don’t spin the wrong way and rupture my ACL.” Or the retractors pray, “I hope I don’t get caught in an Aoki Lock”
  3. Rugrat Top Game– These guys play low and slow. Mostly kneeling, they make half-hearted passing attempts and sprawl their legs backward at the first hint of trouble. These are the boring stalemate rolls.

The problem with all of these is this:

When you succeed you learn nothing.

When you fail, catastrophic injury could occur. And you still learn nothing.

Time In the Fire

You learn nothing because your goal is to spend minimal time in the fire. You’re optimizing for the preservation of your ego and/or bodily health.

So what if there was a way to not get injured AND spend enough time in the fire to learn to become a leg lock assassin.

Let’s start by reframing the problem: “I need to learn the leg lock game.

Framing anything as a game tampers down the ego. Your ego is still there, but you’re telling your archaic brain, “It’s okay, this isn’t a fight to the death.” or “This isn’t a fight for the only sexual mate in my village.”

Both Sides of the Board

Once you learn the game of anything, you see both sides of the board, not just your own chess pieces.

You learn both the offense and the defense. Learning offense tells you what to stand guard against. You learn threats and counter threats.

Your awareness expands. Your whole world expands.

Why the Leg Lock Game is Safer Than the Guard Player vs Passer Game

Has anyone ever cranked your neck? Has anyone ever driven their knee into your solar plexes? As anyone thrown you over their shoulders from back control? Have you ever slipped mid-pass and tweaked a knee or ankle? Has anyone ever bridge-bumped you off them causing you to faceplant?

Top or bottom, the face to face, chest to chest, hips to hips game of top vs bottom player statistically carries a lot higher injury risk than leg entanglements.

It's also incredibly tiring to fight an entire match with your upper body.

But when you’re willing to sit on your butt and play leg locks against a leg locker there’s minimal weightload on your body. And leg strength across populations tends to be more equal than upper body strength.

Leg Locks are Like Video Games

And aren't you on the mats to have fun? To be a kid again?

Passer vs Guard Player is like a first person shooter game, while the Leg Lock game is like third person shooter. You see all four of your limbs in front of you. You see all 4 of your opponents limbs also. You’re shooting and they’re shooting back.

I'm sure first person games are great also, but as a non-video gamer I can say it’s freaking fun to see it all out in front of few. 🔫 Pew pew 🔫

A Million Ways to Die

Yes, there is a laundry list of attacks to watch out for:

  • Straight ankle Lock
  • Kneebar
  • Inside Heel Hook
  • Outside Heel Hook
  • Toehold
  • Aoki Lock
  • Estima Lock
  • The list of variations goes on and on, maybe into the millions…

But You're a Cat with a million lives.

This means you’re going to get caught and you will have to tap.

Tap to pressure not pain. If you tap to pain it's too late.

Next Time You’re in a Leg Entanglement…

Here's a beginner leg lock protocol so you can defend, tap to pressure without being a “panic tapper”:

  1. Extend & Boot– Pull yourself deeper into the entanglement with an extended leg. This will transfer your opponent's bite from your ankle to your calf. Then Boot with strong isometric tension–see dorsiflexion.
  2. Tap if you feel pressure or are not sure.
  3. Disentangle– Use your hands to peel your opponent's feet away from your hips to create daylight between their legs and your primary leg that is trapped.
  4. Tap if you feel pressure or are not sure.
  5. Test Retraction– The moment you see any kind of day ight at the both the ankle line or knee line, test a straight retraction. If you feel stuck on the way out, try to extend back into it with dorsiflexion. Don't spin, be ready to tap.
  6. Tap if you feel pressure or are not sure.

The point of the above protocol is not to make you invincible. It's to give you the courage and a plan to hang out in a leg entanglement for at least 10 seconds. Hopefully minutes.

Most defense is awareness and isometric tension. Keep your eyes open and staying a step ahead.

Don't learn offense. Don't learn defense. Don't stop here. Learn the whole game.

If you're ready to learn game changing frameworks like IKEA, the Buddy System, Secondary Leg, the 51% Rule you can apply for private coaching here.

I write bite-sized blogs about BJJ, money, and non-woo spirituality. If this combo is in your wheelhouse subscribe to get these direct to your inbox.

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