Modern Day Leglocks


There are a few major systems in the leg lock game these days. Dean Lister’s KATCH system, the Sambo stylings of Steve and Reilly, Roli Delgado’s Legal Leg Locks, and the system being used by the Danaher Death Squad all come to mind. Recently Island Top Team put up some information on Danaher’s system based on a private the instructor did. It’s controversial as the videos have been asked to be taken down (and have gone up and been taken down a couple times now).

Many will note that what’s being shown in the videos is inexact. He’s lacking fine details and some of the information’s not quite right. I found myself wanting to yell at my computer screen “Control the free leg dummy! You have a free hand!”

Everyone seems to have different terms for different positions. What’s being referred to as “ashi garami” in the ITT video looks a lot like “position 1” from Reilly Bodycomb’s stuff. Though, to be fair, position 1 is on your side. The outside ashi garami is something I’ve seen/done, but I don’t like it as much personally. It’s a nice “oh shit” position for when you’ve failed to advance from ashi garami to the Saddle (modified position 2 or position 3).

As I play with more and more leg control positions, I’m finding some are just more secure, less equal, and just plain work better for me. For me:

Truck < 50/50 guard < outside ashi garami < seated knee-bar position < ashi garami (position 1) < position 2 < Saddle (modified position 3) < position 3 < leg knot (position 4)

I’d much rather get a saddle or a leg knot than try to play from the truck or 50/50 guard where everything’s more or less even. With my legs hidden, controlling both of his legs I can attack one handed. A couple of notes with this: I don’t heel hook. I’ll set the position, and if need be I’ll hold the heel to keep my partner aware that they’re trapped and in a bad position, but I’d much rather fish for a straight ankle lock or toe hold than heel hook. I am able to heel hook, but I don’t like to. These positions are in the order they are in because of my preferences of submissions:

Straight-ankle lock > toe hold > knee bar > calf crush > hip lock > heel hook

That’s just about the order that I feel most comfortable finishing with control which is why it’s my preference. Stuff like the Vaporizer and some of the quick and dirty leg locks from side control or top of guard aren’t even listed here as positions because they’re significantly different from the normal stuff and aren’t in my regular rotation without being a setup for a position or transition.

Last night was too much Saddle and leg locks in general. I need to double down on developing a bottom game for no gi. I want to have a good butterfly guard and half-guard without the jacket so I have somewhere to go that’s not just my safety net leg positions.

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