2 Sep 2008

CRABBY STYLE


I’ve been slightly obsessed with leg locks recently. It’s probably because my ankle injury highlighted just how vulnerable this part of the anatomy is. Our own Trad JJ style has a surprisingly diverse and full array of ankle, knee and hip locks incorporated into the syllabus. I say surprising, only because I never really looked at them in close detail, since they are generally integrated into a ‘locking set’ kata that you learn as a whole piece, or tagged on as a ‘finish’ at the end of a throw. But when I read through my recent purchase of ’65 Vital Leg Locks’ by Steve Scott, I realised that our style covered most of those contained in the book, including old skool wrestling favourite –the Boston Crab (as illustrated so touchingly above) In fact most grappling styles incorporate leg locks, there are a few in judo, Russian Sambo is most famous for them, and of course wrestling, oh and BJJ willingly includes them all.

The book is pretty cool as an introduction to this diverse facet of submissions. But my impression is that it really only offers an introduction and I personally would only feel comfortable using them if I was shown how to get a good position first by an instructor. In BJJ class, we’ve covered leg locks on occasion, but it is only rarely. My favourite is the knee bar. You can transform a giant uke with tree trunk legs into a weeping baby, tapping for mercy with this awesome lock. Having said that, I only ever managed to get this lock on once ever in sparring. I was quite chuffed, but only for a fleet moment since my uke was injured and out of the game for several months (not just due to my knee bar, but it didn’t help in his long list of injuries).

So I quickly realised that leg locks, although an awesome submission, are quite dangerous in training since a lock can go from ‘nearly-on’, to torn ligaments with just a few millimetres of leverage. In BJJ, MMA and subgrap sparring, inexperience or stubbornness could result in a serious injury if the uke does not tap out soon enough. In fact I seem to recall that only blue and above are allowed to attempt leg locks when rolling, and I think even heel hooks are disallowed until purple or brown. Maybe someone can clarify that.

So all this recent fascination of mine with leg locks culminated in a recent episode of
Cage Rage Contenders on TV. Brazilian fighter Jean Silva fought against Japanese MMA fighter Masakazu Imanari, a fighter who was billed as the ‘Master of leg locks.’ See his video here and you’ll see what they mean.Now if you fought against someone billed as a leg lock specialist, why would you willingly tempt fate and offer him your legs, as Jean seemed to do when he went for a crowd pleased spinning guard pass? Naturally enough, Jean ended up being leg locked. It was horrendous to watch since he got caught by what looked like a heel hook and in order to get out, he twisted and rolled frantically, only making it worse. Finally he tapped but Imanari held on until the ref pulled him off. Silva was seriously injured and remained on the mat for ages. Post match reports indicate that he suffered bad ligament damage to his knee – but it could easily have been worse.

About the Author

Meerkatsu

Author & Artist

Meerkatsu is the artist name for BJJ black belt Seymour Yang.

3 comments:

slideyfoot said...

For future readers, I guess it's worth noting that the only leg lock you can do in BJJ until brown belt is the straight ankle lock. Heel hooks are completely banned (at least under IBJJF rules).

However, I'm guessing that leglocks are relatively common at Nick B's school, given that he is rather good at them? I tend to be tapping frantically to many, many variations involving twisting and bending of my legs and feet whenever I spar him. ;)

Meerkatsu said...

Brrrrrrrr, leg locks

slideyfoot said...

Yeah, I don't like them either: the risk of injury worries me, both in terms of defending and attacking. Scary stuff.

However, as we're both purple belts now, I guess have to start paying attention to them. Something I've been looking to do recently.

 

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