At this point in my Jiu-Jitsu training (almost three years), I feel like I should have a better understanding of leg and foot submissions than I do. It’s not like I haven’t been taught some things, but I still have a hard time even finishing a straight ankle lock on a completely unresisting partner. I do sometimes go after feet when I grapple, but it’s really just a distraction move, because they don’t know that I have no idea what to do with it!

I think part of the problem is that I don’t really want to learn leg and foot submissions. I don’t want to learn them, I don’t want to do them, and I don’t want people to do them to me. SavageKitsune thinks I have long legs (and that might be true compared to her ;) but compared to most people I grapple with, my legs are short. Short legs vs. long legs in leg submissions…long legs usually win.  Not to mention the fact that after dislocating my knee, I am not too excited about the prospect of leg submissions, either doing them myself, or having them done to me. I usually tap right away. Sometimes I want to tell my partners “no leg or foot submissions”, but as a blue belt I am expected to know how to defend them, yet I really don’t.

I know, I know, if I don’t want to do below-the-belt submissions, I should just go to Judo! Our women’s Jiu-Jitsu teacher, Amy, feels the same way I do about them. As a Peace Keeper, she spends a good deal of time walking the beat, so her legs and feet are vital to her ability to do her job. The danger of ankle locks in particular concern her. It doesn’t take much for someone to get a little carried away and seriously injure you, and that’s a chance she doesn’t want to take.

I don’t think leg and foot subs should be taken out of Jiu-Jitsu, I just personally want to be able do Jiu-Jitsu without them! Since that is unlikely to happen, I think what I really need to do is to learn how to better defend against them. Offensively, I think it makes more sense for me to develop a wrist lock attack first, which is what we worked on in our last women’s Jiu-Jitsu class. Self-defense is always in the back of my mind when I train, and the scenario of me using a leg or foot submission against someone on the street seems pretty remote, but wrist locks could be very useful in that situation. When Amy had us practice them, she let us try to figure out for ourselves how to apply them from various positions, and I was surprised at how well we were able to do that. Each of the women in class was able to submit a resisting partner with a wrist lock after just a little practice. I feel like I understand more about wrist locks from that one class then I do about ankle locks from all of the different classes I’ve had on them.

The funny thing is, arm/wrist and leg/ankle subs work on the same basic principles. I just think leg and foot submissions are a lot harder for me to physically do, especially against someone who outsizes me (which is 99% of my grappling partners). Most of the people I roll with also know how to defend against leg and foot attacks, but not everyone is familiar with wrist locks, so I probably stand a better chance of success if I go that route.

It’s not like it’s an either/or situation, I do intend to develop an offensive leg game at some point, but right now it’s not on the top of my list. For the time being, I’m just going to stick with trying to perfect my wrist locks.

“Calm down, don’t you resist
You’ve such a delicate wrist
And if I give it a twist…”

4 comments on “Legs

  1. I do a lot of open guard, so my legs are constantly vulnerable. There were several months there where I spent a lot of grapples tapping to heel hooks, foot locks and knee bars. It really helped me learn how to not only escape but where I can look for leg submissions. I am lucky to have teammates who don't crank my legs off. Do you have some training partners who you could trust to ask to go for leg locks a lot so you can practice escaping?

  2. That's a good idea, most of our purple belts do a lot of leg attacks (and I trust all of them not to crank too fast or hard), so I probably should start grappling with them more often. I think part of it is that I've spent too much time as a blue belt rolling with white belts, so I haven't had as much experience with leg subs :(

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