Leg locks are now as much a part of BJJ as saying “Oss” without any apparent reason is. While this means that BJJ has clearly evolved, it also brings about a new problem. That problem is sloppiness. The effectiveness of leg locks for the early pioneers of the Danaher Death Squad is now legendary, however, if you watch any grappling event that allows heel hooks and the like, you’ll notice that grapplers that do manage to execute leg locks are few and far in between. So why don’t the same positions that made the DDS notorious work just as good for everyone? After all, their secrets are now out via numerous instructionals by all of the members. The secret is drilling like a maniac, Still, you can’t just drill leg locks like you do guard passes. This is where flowing leg lock BJJ drills enter the frame.
We all know that we love to hate on BJJ drills. Everything that has a strict and repetitive structure, tends to drive most people away. Jiu-Jitsu drills fit that description perfectly. Yet, the age-old BJJ cliche “drill to win” is even more important in today’s modern grappling game. There are so many techniques, concepts, principles, systems, and whatnot, that without constant repetition, there’s no success or progress. With leg locks, which are quite new to most, drilling becomes even more important. The good news is that you don’t need to go for countless reps of any particular leg lock in order to get better. All you need to do is flow.
The Secret To Grappling Success
While the secret to becoming a high-level grappler everyone fears is in BJJ drills, leg lock superiority is in very SPECIFIC Jiu-Jitsu drills. Yes, you may approach leg locks by drilling the usual way, but that means taking a much longer path.
Usual BJJ drills include you working with a partner for reps or time. The partner usually stays still or provides very little resistance. The goal here is to fine-tune technique so much that it becomes second nature. This is a proven method that all martial arts employ. In grappling terms, drilling like this does have its benefits. Whenever you need to work on specific movements or transitions, there’s no better way to do it. A good example area passes sweeps or guard-to-guard transitions. It may be boring, but it is effective and certainly necessary.
Leg locks, on the other hand, are a bit more difficult to perfect that way. Correct positioning makes or breaks any leg lock attempts. Furthermore, due to the positioning, your legs may end up in danger much more easily compared to other submission holds. So drilling with reps is not going to cut it. Instead, you need to drill with scenarios. These include you entering a leg lock position, stabilizing it, blocking defense attempts by your partner, and ultimately finishing. Another possible outcome is to transition into another position and keep going until you finish. Adding escapes in these flowing leg lock BJJ drills is mandatory as well, both for knowing how to get out and how to prevent someone from escaping. Plus, they’re fun as hell!
Flowing Leg Lock BJJ Drill #1
We start with a very simple example. This drill is somewhat stationary compared to the others we’ll cover today. the goal here is to perfect your braking mechanics first and foremost. Next, you get to practice submission prevention. Finally, there’s a way out that leads into a leg lock attack of your own. This drill acts as a “loop flow”, meaning you can do it infinitely without ever leaving the positions. Simple sub and escape drill.
The flow drill begins with you in an Outside Ashi Garami position, with an outside heel hook grip. The first thing you do is to carefully finish the submission, looking to dial in your braking mechanics. Right after the partner taps, they go into action. they use their free leg to place a bloc inside your elbow and stop you from executing the submission. They then move to pull your top leg on top of them and transition into an Outside Ashi Garami of their own. Now they get to finish the heel hook, you tap and go for the counter, and so on. This is a great core drill for perfecting both the Outside Ashi, the heel hook, submission prevention, and counter-attacking transitions.
Mr. Leg Locker himself Craig Jones likes to use a lot of flowing leg attacks when he fights. All of his leg lock flow scenarios as well as essential drills are explained in his video instructional. The “Down Under Leg Attacks” DVD set might be the most practical leg lock BJJ DVD you’ll ever get for yourself!
Flowing Leg Lock BJJ Drill #2
This drill is an entry drill, taking you into the best leg locking position you can be in – the Honeyhole, or 411. Once there you get to practice quite a lot of available submissions. The drill has you entering from the bottom which makes it that much more valuable for practical application in rolling and/or competition.
You start in a butterfly guard. Your first action is to attempt a basic butterfly sweep. As your opponent shifts their weight, you use their motion to actually reverse the sweep direction and set up the 411. Once there, you get control over both legs and start submitting. Options include a straight ankle lock, the Texas Cloverleaf, an inside heel hook (optional), and a kneebar. Right after you finish you could stay on the bottom and go again, or do a technical stand up and your partner will be ready to go. If there’s one flowing leg lock BJJ drill you need to be doing, it’s probably this one.
Flowing Leg Lock BJJ Drill #3
For those of you that feel advanced enough to go deep into the world of leg locks, this is the flow to try. his leg lock BJJ flow has immense transitional value as it covers pretty much all the leg locking positions and submissions. Well, all high percentage ones, anyway.
With this one, you can either start in the kneebar position or enter a kneebar as you wish. You get a couple of taps from different kneebar variations and proceed immediately to transition into the 411. Here you go for the most devastating leg lock of them all – the 411 inside heel hook. After the tap, you open up your entanglement to get a tripod ankle lock that’s going to lead you into a rear Ashi position. Instead of hitting a kneebar, you now go for a toe hold first and ultimately let your opponent escape just as far as you can sink in a brutal calf slicer.
If you ask me, mastering this particular leg lock flow is going to make you incredible at finishing from just about any leg locking opportunity you find yourself into.
Flowing Leg Lock BJJ Drill #4
Our final flow leg lock BJJ drill example focuses on the art of escaping Ashi Garami. This drill is an entry and escapes flow that has one person training an entry, and the other an early escape. Note that contrary to the first flow we went over, this time you escape the position rather than defend the leg lock itself.
The drill is fairly simple, with both of you starting in the half guard. The top person gets to break grips and spin around immediately to hit a kneebar on the top leg. However, the bottom person will allow the transition, but not the submission itself. As you spin, the partner is going to cross their legs in a triangle and use the momentum from your spin to come on top. Here they pass the guard and allow you to establish half guard. Now it’s their turn.
The above drills are just some examples of how you can organize your flowing leg lock BJJ drills. The sky is the limit here, as you want to make sure you cover all positions that you intend to use. Furthermore, make sure you cover as many submissions as an escape from every position as you can too. Finally, do a careful selection of the entries, as they’re arguably the most important part of this type of drill.