An excellent run through of the main leg attacks and defences in gi based BJJ according to IBJJF rules. Roli Delgado is a highly rated leg lock specialist. This instructional covers the many small adjustments and details that ensure successful application of leg and foot attacks - specifically the grips and the power base required to finish the submission, while still remaining within IBJJF rules. Although biased slightly towards the straight ankle lock more than any other submission, there is enough here to arm the intermediate to higher ranked student with a much more effective leg attack game.
Leg attack submissions in BJJ have long existed but their recent rise in popularity is a prime illustration of how the sport continues to evolve. They were once viewed as a ‘dirty’ way to win a jiu jitsu match [read about Helio v Fadda challenge matches] but today, leg attacks are now very much a part of the elite players arsenal of submissions.
In my opinion, there are several reasons for this sea change of opinion: the main one being the exposure of jiu jitsu players to techniques from other grappling arts such as sambo and catch wrestling, the other reason is the adoption of 50-50 other styles of play that encourage leg attacks – in many ways, both factors feed off one another. With the recent MMA headline grabbing antics of athletes such as Rousimar Palhares and Ryan Hall, leg attacks it seems are here to stay so it makes sense to understand both the attacks and the defences within the rules of the sport.
Roli Delgado is a BJJ black belt who enjoyed a career as an MMA athlete including a stint on the UFC. This instructional set offers his take on how to successfully apply various leg attack submissions within the IBJJF rule system (correct at time of release). The IBJJF does alter its rules periodically but as far as I know, this instructional is still valid as of the present day. The official website for Roli's instructional includes testimonials from a number of very respected BJJ athletes.
Before proceeding with the review, just a brief note on IBJJF rules. The current rules for adults and older prohibit the following: heel hooks, locks that twist the knees, knee reaping, in straight footlock - turning in the direction of the foot not under attack, outward pressure on the foot during a toehold.
The IBJJF have a handy in depth video that explains the knee reaping rule, which seems to cause most confusion among some jiu jitsu students. The rule about the leg crossing over the opponent's thigh is obvious enough, but be aware the rule kicks in even if your leg does not cross over the thigh - see 1:53 of the IBJJF video.
Content and Production Quality
I watched this instructional as part of the Digitsu website On Demand library. Videos can only be viewed on the website as there is no download facility for this specific title. This instructional is sold at $29.99 and total length is 2 hours so that represents around $1.10 a technique.
2 Drills for the Grip
Straight Ankle Sequence
Re Adjusting Ankle Lock
Belly Down Ankle Lock
50/50 & CROSS LEG ATTACKS
Cross leg attack
Escaping 50/50 to the top
SWEEPS TO SET UPS
1 Leg X-Guard
Recover Failed Straight
Back to the top
Pass the leg
Strategy in Passing
DEFENSE & COUNTER OFFENSE
Straight Ankle Counter
Toe Hold Counter
HIP LOCK, KNEE BAR & CALF SLICER
Knee Bar Escape
Knee Bar Fundamentals
Calf Slicer Detail
The video is filmed from a fixed camera angle with Roli talking to the camera while executing his technique. The camera zooms in to show certain details in the technique, but by and large, the format is very simple with no extra video gimmicks or alternative angles. Sound quality is a little noisy but not too distracting.
Straight ankle lock
Roli begins the set by teaching the straight ankle lock. Often viewed as a 'beginner' technique, Roli states that it is actually the most powerful of all the foot attacks and more often than not, his preferred go to submission. Roli applies the technique using a specific grip on the foot - toes are tucked deep into the armpit and the top of the wrist/base of the thumb area acting as a fulcrum very low down on the opponent's leg - at the Achilles tendon. Roli also instructs the viewer to tuck elbows in tight. It all adds up to a slightly modified version of how the straight ankle is normally applied.
The second part to the 'basic' straight ankle is understanding how to apply the power. Here Roli explains the mechanics involved when applying the straight ankle and how to create power. These details are very useful as most novice footlockers probably try to apply the straight ankle by arching backwards and tugging with all their might. Roli explains that this method only serves to stretch the opponent's leg. Instead, Roli illustrates three parts to creating power - see image below:
(1) Roli applies foot onto the opponent's hip.
(2) Roli keeps opponent's leg bent and applies forward hip pressure (like an armbar)
(3) Roli directs his head and upper body backwards.
Not visible in the screengrab, but Roli has his partner's foot tucked in tight under his armpit in the manner described above.
Over the next few chapters, Roli proceeds to cover variations on the straight ankle - both same side and the cross leg attacks. At this stage, it might be worth mentioning that Roli doesn't go into much detail about the reasoning behind the legality of a technique or not, he simply shows the correct way to apply the technique. He assumes the student will have studied and understood the nature of leg/knee reaping.
This portion of the set was one of my favourite chapters. 50/50 tends to get a bit of negative opinion based around the fact that it's more than likely a position used to either stall, or cynically attain advantages and points without much progression thereafter (now since changed by the IBJJF - where advantages are NOT awarded if you 'sweep' from and end up in 50/50). But 50/50 is still a useful position to play, especially if you are seeking to attack the legs. Roli opens up the chapter by showing how best to open the 50/50 when the opponent has triangled his legs. He then proceeds to teach variations of the straight ankle and toe hold submissions. There's also something cool called a 'Lins lock' named after Italo Lins (Roli's partner in the video), you can see the lock here at around 7:50mins mark.
At this stage it might be useful to point out that some of the submissions that Roli shows are not applicable to purple belts and below due to IBJJF rules which bar use of toe holds and knee bars.
Leg attack set-ups
Moving on from the 50/50 chapters, Roli discusses how to look for footlock entries when playing guard passage while standing up - the theory being, that when you stand up, the opponent is forced to play an open guard game which offers more opportunities to attack the legs. This segment of the tape is more of an opportunity for Roli to lecture on the importance of developing high level guard passing. "Don't box yourself in and just be the leg lock guy", he warns, "if you have good guard passes, the leg locks are going to come."
Counters and Escapes
The latter portion of the tape focuses on counters and escapes. Roli explains the difference between an escape and a counter (the latter being a situation where you attack back while being under attack yourself, an escape however, being a technique you use to move out of the attack to an area of safety).
This section was useful to observe, although Roli is careful to add a caveat - counters are fine but not always useful against a very proficient attacking opponent. Roli himself prefers to escape to a safe position and work again from there rather than use a counter. Still, one counter technique that is worth assimilating is the Estima lock, which Roli demonstrates as a counter to a regular straight ankle lock. As you can see from the screengrab below, Roli's adds pressure with his top leg, to ensure the tap.
|Roli demonstrating the Estima lock|
One omission is the lack of an escape to the toehold. I feel it should have been included.
Knee bars, hip locks and calf slicers
The latter portion of the tape moves on to several chapters on knee bars plus one on the hip lock and one on the calf slicer. The hip lock was new to me. Also new to me was the idea of the knee crank. Both look horribly painful so at least thanks to this video, I am now aware of them. Roli explains the difference between the two and how to avoid the latter, which is illegal under IBJJF rules.
The final technique chapter shows the calf slicer. It's only a brief overview and those who follow the work of Eddie Bravo can probably offer a lot more in this area of leg attacks, notably the Electric Chair and Vaporizer and related techniques. But it's a worthy finale as again, Roli offers a number of small details that can alter the submission from something that sorta of works some of the time, into a speedy and higher percentage submission.
I really enjoyed this set. I'm not interested in training MMA or non-IBJJF rule set grappling so a person like me is the perfect audience for this tape.
Roli Delgado is a very good teacher who breaks down techniques excellently. A lot of the content is biased towards the techniques that Roli himself favours - in particular the straight ankle lock. That's a good thing, as you know he is teaching stuff he knows works at high level. I particularly liked the 50/50 position attacks, transforming what could be a rather static position into a platform to attack.
Roli shows variations, set-ups, escapes and counters - all more than enough to arm the student with an entire leg lock game. If I was being picky, I guess Roli could have explained the ruleset a bit better - for example who can and cannot use certain submissions, but then again, all BJJ students (at least those who compete) should already know them! I also think he could have added a defence or counter to the toehold.
Overall, this is a set for those seeking an in-depth analysis on how to apply straight ankle attacks really, really effectively. Roli's advice about improving ones overall game, especially guard passing, is important and with that in mind, I think this video is best served to intermediate and higher ranked players who will already possess a more well rounded game.