17 Feb 2016

Review - Illegal Leg Locks, Roli Delgado and Vladislav Koulikov, Digitsu

An excellent selection of effective, high percentage leg attack submissions, escapes and counters from two experienced experts in the field. Although the IBJJF rule set disallows knee reaping and heel hooks, many other tournaments do allow them as do most MMA events so a knowledge of all leg attack options is a must for the committed student of grappling. Ideally, this set is best viewed only after watching the Legal Leg Lock instructional (especially if you are reasonably new to grappling) since Roli spends more time explaining key positions and set-ups on the Legal set. That being said, there are many techniques on the Illegal set that can easily be adjusted to suit IBJJF rules.

Details: Available from Digitsu On Demand or via Apple iOS store.
Price: $24.99 ($19.99 current promotion) each part (comes in two parts) or $49.98 for both ($37.98 current promotion)
Chapters: 34

I really enjoyed Roli Delgado's previous instructional - Legal Leg Locks - so I was keen to view his follow up set, the amusingly titled counter offering: Illegal Leg Locks. This time he is joined alongside by Vladislav Koulikov who is a noted Sambo expert and submission wrestler (read his BJJEE interview).

Contents and Production Quality

Part One:
Straight ankle lock, Heel hooks, Heel hook positioning strategy, Finishing knee bars, Toe hold, Alternative hand position for toe hold, Fundamentals of calf slicer, Z lock, One leg x style heel hook, Butterfly guard entry, Leg attack from butterfly, Switching from arm attacks to leg locks, Armbar to leg lock, Butterfly knee bar, Inverted heel hook from sprawl turtle attack, Traditional knee and ankle locks double leg attacks

Part Two:
Inverted counter, inverted counter to leg attack, Reap prevention butterfly passing position gfteam style, Back step counter to undertook knee bar, Heel lift counter counter lever power, Inverted heel hook finishing counter, Defending heel hooks, Defending tradirtional leg lock, Lins lock counter, 1 leg x guard defense, Leg switch counter, Toe hold knee bar combination, Pinning position, Defense to offense, Leg drag gi vs no gi for heel hook, Joe baize leg lock, Double leg trap, Twist on 1 leg x sweep attack.

The immediately noticeable aspect when first viewing this set is the much improved sound and video quality compared to the previous Leg Lock set. The other observation is that each chapter is very short. Roli or Vladislav begin each chapter with a brief verbal explanation and then whisk through the technique either once, maybe twice, and then move straight on to the next chapter. There is no messing around with long winded explanations, and in many cases, they will refer to Roli's previous leg lock set, where certain positions and set-ups are explained in more detail. [Hint: I recommend getting the Legal Leg Lock set first.] Personally, this is great for me as I like to view chapters in short snippets on my mobile or tablet when travelling out and about.

As with most other On Demand videos on the Digitsu website, one can either view the contents as a high definition stream, or download a much lower resolution video to your computer (240p) - which is perfectly adequate in quality when viewing on mobile phone or tablet.

Technique Highlights - Part One
Here's the weird thing - technically, I'm not really allowed ever to use many of these submissions and positions in the gym - our place adheres strictly to IBJJF rules when it comes to sparring. So why did I choose to review this set? The main reason would be a scholarly fascination and desire to expand my all round grappling knowledge. Although heel hooks and leg reaps are disallowed under IBJJF rules, they still are a very common set of techniques in other jiu jitsu rule sets, for example with the NAGA tournaments. They are also very applicable in MMA matches. Then there is also the fact that many of the techniques shown here in this set can be tweaked and re-applied at brown or black belt level and still adhere to the IBJJF rules set.

I hinted previously that viewers should ideally watch the Legal Leg Locks DVD first - because in this set, it is generally assumed the viewer will know the rule sets involved and work out where the non-legal moves come into play and when they do not. Sometimes Roli or Vladislav will point out situations where one could opt for a legal variation, but in most cases, they just focus discussion on the technique, rather than the rules. Which is of course a better use of their air time.

The first half of Part One covers the main leg attack submissions: straight ankle, toe hold, heel hooks, knee bars and calf slicers. Roli alone teaches these sections (except one where Vladislav teaches an alternative toe hold) and ends the sequence with the quite literally toe curlingly painful Z-lock! The latter reminds me a lot of the Estima lock and it just looks astonishingly painful. Roli describes it as an inverted heel hook disguised as a straight ankle lock. He goes further to explain that he prefers not to teach it at seminars as it detracts from the fundamental straight ankle lock, but in my opinion, on video at least, it looks like Roli just gave you, the viewer, a new super power to unleash [In my opinion it also looks quite legal under IBJJF rules, though it is open to interpretation.]

Many of the leg attack positions derive from 50/50 guard or at least some sort of related leg entanglement position. It's interesting that 50/50 isn't implicitly discussed - the instructors assume you know how to get there and how to play the position. Roli provides an excellent 50/50 chapter in his Legal Leg Locks DVD, but for a deeper exploration of 50/50 I highly recommend Ryan Hall's box set.

The cra-Z-lock
The second half of Part One focuses on set-ups into the leg attacks and here, Vladislav takes over most of these sections. It's really cool to see him bring in his wealth of sambo and submission wrestling knowledge to the set and the things he shows in Part One are only a taster for the goodies he brings in Part Two.

Part One closes with a discussion and demonstration of the 'traditional' leg reaping position known in Japanese as ashi garami. Interestingly in judo, it is a forbidden tournament technique, yet I assume it is still taught in class since it forms one of the official techniques of Kodokan judo [judo experts can fill me in here]. On a personal note, I think jiu jitsu gyms should also teach non-legal techniques, just like judo, with explanations when they can and cannot use them.

Technique Highlights - Part Two
The large majority of part two deal with escapes, defences and counters - specifically, escapes that transition into counter attacks. The brisk pace of instruction continues as with Part one with Roli covering most of the first half and Vladislav taking on instruction for parts of the second half.

I really love the attacks that stem off a back step and you end up sitting on your opponent's hip, facing their legs. The first and most obvious attack from here is the knee bar, and Roli shows how to gather the leg for this attack in the most efficient manner. He then proceeds to show further attacking options depending on how the opponent defends from your underhooking his leg. This position is a great example of why one doesn't need to be so concerned over rule sets, it's a great place where the top person gets to more or less choose the submission attack. My favourite here is the toe hold to knee bar transitions - all perfectly legit under IBJJF rules (for brown and black).

Much of the theme of part two illustrates just how very technical the leg battle can and should be - how fighters have to prepare to transition from one move to the other instinctively...a far cry from old fashioned views of leg attacks as a 'dirty' or unsophisticated way to win a fight [read the BJJ Heroes article on the history of the toe hold].

There is one very cool segment from Vladislav where he sits atop of Roli with both legs captured. He then proceeds to explain how to move to the knee bar. Vladislav says he often likes to just sit here though, for a longer period, to test his stability and see how his opponent reacts. The position looks odd in regular BJJ terms, but then it's basically a top mount position facing the other way. There isn't much Roli can do to escape while Vladislav is just sitting there threatening with evil knee bars.

Vladislav pins Roli down while threatening both his legs

Leg attacks are no longer the dirty, less commonly played moves they once were thought to be. The influence of wrestling and sambo have helped jiu jitsu grow into the complex sport it is today with leg attacks very much a big part of the arsenal of submissions as much as armbars and choke holds are. This set compliments the previous instructional Legal Leg Locks, in fact I would go as far to suggest that viewers (regardless of ability) grab Legal first before watching this set. That being said, if you are of a reasonably good enough level already, Illegal Leg Locks will give the viewer a good all round set of ideas to try out and practice if they want to explore the leg lock game further than the IBJJF rule set.

I really enjoyed the short, sharp nature of the chapters, providing the viewer with quick instruction (though still detailed enough) and helpful tips on how to develop a killer leg attack game. I would say however that this instructional is not as comprehensive nor in depth as other box sets out there - the Ryan Hall 50/50 set springs immediately to mind, but other lengthy sets by Erik Paulson, Dean Lister and Gokor Chivichyan seem to be quite popular, and keen students of the leg lock game might want to investigate those box sets in addition to Roli and Vladislav's set. But for most folk, like me, who just want to learn a good range of leg techniques, both this set and the Legal set is more than capable of transforming and improving your leg attack game.


About the Author


Author & Artist

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



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