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Tuesday, March 25, 2014


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Your point about the absence of leg locks in the BJJ game is right on target. As someone who is a white belt, it would be helpful to add a few leg locks into my toolbox. However, at the white belt level, I can see some reasons for keeping the prohibition on leg locks while rolling. For a novice who is new to grappling, just learning the fundamentals (without leg locks) is a challenge. I realize that my striking and take-downs may be improved by studying other martial arts. Perhaps the lesson is that to become a better fighther, one should master more than one art, and the limits on leg locks are just a cost of this particular martial art. Perhaps the tools we need to be better fighters and grapplers are not the same tools we need to become better at BJJ. On a related point, do you think it's a good idea for lower-level belt holders to participate in submission only competitions in which leg locks (and neck cranks) are allowed?

Thomas Nadelhoffer


But the Gracies always claimed (and tried to demonstrate) that Brazilian jiu jitsu is a "complete art" since it involves striking, take downs, self-defense, and grappling. That's presumably why some leg locks are allowed--e.g., straight ankle locks, knee bars, toe holds, and knee/calf compressions. So, while it makes some sense to have belt restrictions, it makes no sense to exclude heel hooks from the arsenal of acceptable leg locks. It makes even less sense to render the knee reap illegal since, in my experience and opinion, the reap makes the application of leg locks more rather than less safe since it minimizes the chances that one's opponent will damage his own knee by trying to twist/roll out. Neck cranks are a different story given the potential seriousness of the injuries. So, while they should be learned for self-defense purposes, I understand why they're not generally allowed. As for submission only tournaments, I have done a few and had a blast! So, I suggest you give one a chance to see if it's your cup of tea.


That's a totally fair point about BJJ's claim to be a "complete art." You may be right about knee reaping; I have not had enough experience with advanced leg locks to know the dangers. I completely agree with your point about neck cranks. I was shocked to hear that an upcoming submission-only competition in Atlanta (the Kakuto Challenge) actually allows neck cranks! I have not participated in a competition yet, but hope to do one soon. Possibly even this summer, if I'm ready.

Thomas Nadelhoffer

U.S. Grappling runs some great comps. I did several when I was living in NC doing my postdoc at Duke. I suggest a few warm up comps with smaller local organizations first. But at some point, despite the problems with the organization, you should do a major IBJJF tourney. It's worth the experience. It's been a while since I competed, but I am hoping to make it to the Master/Senior Worlds either this year or next. It's good to compete against the other old farts who love the sport!

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