There are few names that top Rousimar Palhares on the list of nasty heel hook artists.
A mountain of a man, Rousimar has carved out a reputation for himself as one of the meanest men in Mixed Martial Arts when it comes to applying the nasty submission holds, and have given him some of his biggest wins in the sport.
I had the opportunity to attend a seminar at which he was speaking, and took away plenty of information to pass along to the students at my academy.
Today, I’m going to take a closer at a heel hook setup that will surely evolve your game!
Attacking The Base Of Your Opponent
For this specific setup we’re assuming that we are going in for a single leg takedown, but our opponent was able to stuff the attempt. As they begin to press down on the back of our head, controlling our posture, it’s important that we act quickly so they don’t take away all of our momentum.
Let’s assume that we are attacking their right leg. The first step is to wrap our arm around it, while also grabbing hold as much as we can to their far side knee. This won’t eliminate their base, but it will help setup the attack that we are looking to go for.
The major point of this setup happens when we find ourselves angled off to the side slightly. Maintaining our positioning with our hands, we then want to swing our left leg through their legs, dropping to our back, and bringing our leg to theirs.
At this point, our opponent should still be standing, while we are on the mat, looking to isolate the leg. Keep in mind, if you are using this setup in BJJ, you relatively safe from here, but for those using it in MMA, you are still susceptible to strikes.
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Creating The “Knee To Knee” Car Crash
Once you reach this position, it’s vital to know that you have to go for the finish as quickly and efficiently as you possibly can! This is an easy setup, but also risky, so hanging out here for too long can result in a waste of efforts for you if you aren’t careful.
Now that we have the leg isolated, it’s time expose their heel so we can attack with a heel hook. Something that Palhares does a lot of is forcefully exposing the heel. To do so, we want to take our knee and drive it into the back of theirs, thus turning the leg and exposing the heel.
You want to make this seem “violent”, so that you are driving into their knee with great force. Going soft on this approach will do nothing for you, making it more difficult to get their foot to turn and heel to rise.
Now we have the ability to get them to drop down to the mat, making the submission much easier to execute. Focus on keeping their knee positioned between yours, as this will make their chances of escaping very slim.
Lastly, while maintaining the isolation on their knee, apply the hold on their heel and begin turning. At this point, they will have no choice but to tap out to the hold.