The Delicate Training Approach To Leg Locks


Leg locks cause a lot of discussion in the MMA/BJJ world.  When the topic is brought up, many debates begin, such as how/when should you start to train these techniques?

Given the danger behind them, many people feel that training leg locks should be delayed late into your grappling career, and you should be protected from them otherwise.

I understand this train of thought, but overall, it is something that I don’t always agree with.

There is a time and place for everything, and that time is…now! If you like what Dan has to say on this topic, check out his other material on BJJ training here!


When Should Students Be Exposed To The Techniques?

When you think of leg locks, you instantly think about the dangers behind these holds and just how much damage can be done.  Which in turn brings up the debate as to when students should be exposed to these types of holds and is there a limit to it?

Many people say that grapplers should be shielded from leg locks till they reach the higher belt ranks, such as becoming a brown belt.  Personally, while I understand their reservations on it, I don’t see much of an issue with training leg locks prior to that belt rank!

For instance, I’m an analogy kind of guy.  I liken it to when kids leave home to go to college and are on their own for the first time.  College can be a crazy time, and these kids can literally party almost any night of the week!  For kids who were sheltered their whole lives, they are likely to indulge in this new found freedom as opposed to those who may have been allowed to have a glass of wine from time to time at home.

By exposing grapplers to leg locks at a slower, confined rate you are likely to see them go easier in training as opposed to going all out.  Slow it down, break the moves into pieces and stress the dangers of these holds, and your students will heed what you have to say.


What To Focus On When Training Live

Once you make the choice to begin training leg locks at your school, you have to know how to approach it.  Unlike other holds, leg locks aren’t something you can slap on, crank it, and get the tap.  In theory, you could, but then all of your students would be confined to crutches and wheelchairs!

Have your students use the “catch & release” method.  Allow them to go through the setup, applying the hold, and begin adding pressure, but once they reach a certain point, release the hold and repeat the process.

This allows your students to get a feel for the move without putting one another in any serious danger.  It acts like a set of training wheels, of sorts.  It will aid in the process and development of the move, and once you take that block off—participate in an actual event—then you will have much better control and feel for it and should be able to execute without many issues!

Simply, while I see the hesitation some can have when it comes to the submission holds, I’m not one to worry much about it.  If you understand the holds, and know how to handle the process, then training leg locks shouldn’t be an issue.

Dan Faggella

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