A recent article addressed the applications of the leg lock game. Now it is time to discuss the opposite side of the coin: shutting the leg lock game down. Inevitably you will encounter that certain opponent who is best described as a compulsive leglocker. The opponent whom no sooner have you put him in your guard than he is flinging himself backwards in an attempt to attack your lower body with ankle locks, toe holds, kneebars and other submissions! This type of opponent falls into two categories the unskilled and the skilled. The unskilled opponent is attempting the lower body attacks generally for two reasons; (1) an inability to pass guard effectively (2) too much time on youtube and not enough time actually training. The skilled opponent is attacking the lower body because he can. You generally don’t want to trade lower body locks with this kind of opponent – he uses them all the time and will probably get to the submission first. What can you do against either type of opponent to ensure the safety of your lower appendages? There are certain strategies that are very helpful in shutting down the game of a leglock-oriented opponent:
•If you are using the guard maintain a closed guard. There are few effective leglocks that can be used against a closed guard.
•If you are using the guard break your opponent’s posture: it is very difficult to go for a leglock if you can’t posture up first.
•Maintain your grips! When training with the gi then sleeve and collar grips make it difficult for your opponent to entwine your legs with his arms and throw himself backwards. When training no gi control his wrists and head.
•When passing the guard pass on your knees. There is a wide variety of leglocks that can be applied by an opponent using guard while you are standing. If you stay on your knees when passing his guard you will make yourself less vulnerable to most leglocks (at the expense of being more vulnerable to chokes and armlocks – but injiu jitsu there is always a trade off).
It should go without saying that that you should practice your leglock counters. With every submission there are a plethora of counters and escapes. Review and practice your leglock/footlock counter in the event your opponent figures out a way to counter the above strategies. Also a working knowledge of leglocks themselves is very useful to understand how to counter them!