Did you see that infamous Gordon Ryan slap? Of course, you did, there’s nobody in the grappling world that hasn’t seen it. While that might have been the most viral moment of the latest Who’s Number One grappling event, it was not the only thing worth noticing. the vent itself was a huge success, although not for the Altos gym in particular. In the main event of the night, we saw Craig Jones beat another big name in BJJ competition circles in Ronaldo Junior. That raises the question once again about leg lock BJJ escapes and what most people are doing wrong, even at the highest levels.
Leg Lock BJJ Escapes are not an easy thing to do against people that are really good at leg locks. The people that might have a chance of pulling off successful escapes against leg lock aficionados are the people that do leg locks themselves. However, a lot of people are still shying away from leg locks. This means that people are trying to figure out leg lock defense without gathering inside knowledge on leg locks. It can work, but unless grapplers understand leg locks, it doesn’t matter how many world titles they have – they’ll do them escapes wrong and get caught over and over again. Just like Ronaldo did against Craig.
Dealing With Leg Locks In BJJ – The Evidence
The latest example of Ronaldo Junior vs Craig Jones is just one more in a series of examples of high-level grapplers completely underestimating leg locks. With Craig Jones, you pretty much know what is going to happen – he’ll sit to guard and go for your legs. Not taking that seriously and thinking about defending things both early and late is a great way of ensuring you tap to a leg lock. I mean, you would train back escapes if having to compete against Marcelo Garcia, or worm guard passes if grappling Keenan, right? Why not take leg locks just as seriously?
While there are many ways to pull off leg lock BJJ escapes, there are also many ways in which you should not try and get out of lower body submissions. What perplexes me the most, is that most people, especially high-level athletes, tend to gravitate to these proven wrong methods when up against expert leg locker, expecting a successful outcome. Let’s look at the evidence.
The match was a short affair, lasting under 5 minutes. It went pretty much the way everyone expected – Craig sat down to guard, and Ronaldo was wary that leg locks are not far away. In fact, Ronaldo did well in his initial attempts to avoid entangling in Ashi Garami situations, but it was far from enough. IT meant he was doing a Schaub, running away from Craig instead of actually engaging in a grappling match. The moment he tried to pull something off, he got stuck and did everything wrong, allowing Craig an easy 5101/50 heel hook.
Craig was actually pretty patient with his attacks, not allowing Ronaldo any time to think or rest while they were engaged, but staying really calm when they were at a distance or engaged in grip fighting. During the entire match, Ronaldo was only allowed to do leg lock BJJ escapes and quite early ones at that and did not set up an attack of his own.
Craig’s attacks came in different forms. During an opening couple of engagements, he went aggressively for an entry off and nearly got a solid Ashi Garami in the opening minutes. It turned out though, that he needed to work more methodically against a wary Ronaldo, which he did in subsequent attempts, leading the 50/50 after several adjustments that we will cover in detail later. You can also check out an analysis in the video at the end of the article.
The Escape Attempts
When it comes to leg lock BJJ escapes, Ronaldo did the right thing in terms of denying Craig the option so start attacking with leg locks. However, that simply means that he was trying to turn away from Craig and escape to safety, aiming to disengage completely. While ti worked several times, it seemed that Ronaldo did not have a game plan for what to do next. Craig simply changed his approach a bit, and the moment Ronaldo couldn’t turn away, he started to fall into the traps of panicked, wrong escape attempts that ended in an inevitable heel hook finish for Craig.
Why You Shouldn’t DO Leg Lock BJJ Escapes This Way
Let’s do an analysis of what Ronaldo did wrong in his leg lock BJJ escapes against Craig, and why. To begin with, he did right in denying Jones the option of getting an Ashi Garami which is the one thing that absolutely has to precede a leg lock finish. However, while he did manage to get away from entanglements, he did so very one-dimensionally.
Namely, Ronaldo got away from Craig’s entries but had nothing ready to use in order to improve his positioning off of that. Moreover, he had nothing to kill subsequent attacks, which left him doing the same escape over and over again a few times. It was all Craig needed to adjust his game.
What Jones did was he traded direct entries for control, by opting to entangle Ronaldo in his half guard, or more precisely, his scary good Z-guard. The moment he managed to limit Ronaldo’s movements he started threatening a different type of entry, by looking to control the ankle of Ronaldo’s leg.
Junior managed to disengage a few times more y controlling Craig’s ankles, but eventually, Craig made him place all his weight on one leg, which is all he needed. He went for a Honey hole entry initially but switched to a 50/50 the moment Ronaldo focused on trying to control his feet again. That was a wrap because it meant Craig got control of the hips, got the hips to the ground, and was able to finish with ease.
What do you need to get a leg lock in BJJ? Get control of the hips with an Ashi Garami. Get the hips to the ground and prevent the opponent from raising them back above your own hips. Dig for a leg lock and then apply braking mechanics. Where did Ronaldo’s leg lock BJJ escapes fail? He let Craig gain control of his hips and did not focus on getting his hips free, but rather panicked about his heel which was not yet in danger. The result from there was predictable – an inside heel hook for Craig Jones.