“Crank it…Just Crank it”

A few of my teammates recently competed at a local tournament where heel hooks were allowed. While I am all for allowing heel hooks, I did hear that there were some dangerous situations. During the tournament numerous people were quickly applying and twisting heel hooks without any concern for their partner’s leg. In fact a coach was overheard yelling “Crank it! Crank it!” when his student had an inside heel hook applied.

Normally I don’t like to rant and criticize others but I feel like this is an example of a poor coach. In not so nice words, if your instructions are “crank it” when someone applies a submission you are not a real jiu jitsu coach. A real coach should be able to look at the position, quickly analyze, and then provide feedback on what the person can do to finish the submission. It would be like saying “throw faster” to a pitcher in baseball. A real pitching coach would be able to analyze a pitcher’s technique and show them how a different grip, body position, or ball release could improve their pitching. Yelling “crank it” basically just goes to show that the coach does not understand the move and has no regard for either competitor.

Furthermore cranking a heel hook is just a dick move. Heel hooks injure people. Correction…heel hooks can seriously injure people. Don’t believe me? Watch the video below and see what happens when you “Crank it!”

We are finally getting to a point in Jiu Jitsu where leg locks are becoming accepted by the masses. More and more high level competitors and coaches are using and teaching them to their students. With that being said, we do need to remember that leg locks can cause serious and sometimes permanent harm. I know Jiu Jitsu is a full contact sport and injuries occur, but there is no reason to try and injure each other.

So if you plan on playing heel hooks take my advice. Tap quick and often. Respect the heel hook. If you feel like you are in danger then tap. If you feel like you are applying the heel hook and a guy just won’t tap, then let go and transition to something else (a sign of a real leg locker). If you want to test yourself and see how far you can go with heel hooks, make sure you are training with someone you trust. Finally if you are a coach please do not yell “Crank it”. Learn the move, understand why it works, and most of all be safe.

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Ashi Garami

A few months ago I had the pleasure of attending Nathan Orchard’s leg lock seminar at 10th Planet Van Nuys. A majority of the seminar was spent covering the Ashi Garami. Ashi Garami is a judo leg attacking system that many of us were first introduced to by leg locking wizard Masakazu Imanari. Recently Jiu Jitsu players like Nathan Orchard, Eddie Cummings, and Gary Tonnon have been been using this position in tournaments across the United States. Ashi Garami roughly translates to foot tangling and can be used to describe a plethora of leg attacking positions. For the sake of this positional study we are going to define Ashi Garami as the position below.

Eddie Cummings in the Ashi Garami

Eddie Cummings in the Ashi Garami

Ashi Garami Breakdown

So let’s break down the Ashi Garami and look at how it can be used as a leg control position. When playing the Ashi Garami the leg that you are attacking is underneath your body. The side of your body and ribs are being used to trap your opponent’s leg and pin it to the mat.Using your entire body to control the trapped leg is a huge pro of this position.

The next point of control is your knee shield. Your knee shield should be facing your opponent’s chest. By placing the shield there you are able to block them from sitting up and smashing your control. If your partner starts to sit up simply move your knee into their chest and use it to push them down. If you are trapping the leg properly with the ribs they shouldn’t be able to generate enough power to get past your knee shield.

The final point of control in the Ashi Garami is controlling the hip. To control the hip you need to place your heel on their hip. This is a huge control point for me because you can control their lateral and vertical movement with your heel. The heel also tends to be the first thing that your opponent attacks when trying to escape.

Below is an annotated picture for those of you who prefer a visual explanation of Ashi Garami.

aragoshibreakdown

Ashi Garami Submissions

Two of the most common submissions from the Ashi Garami are the straight ankle lock and heel hook. Recently the heel hook from this position has exploded onto the competition scene. Below are some videos of Eddie Cummings using this position to finish the Heel Hook.

Ashi Garami to Heel Hook

Omoplata to Heel Hook

Pros and Cons of Ashi Garami

Now keep in mind these are my own personal pros and cons. I’m sure someone like Orchard, Cummings, or Tonnon would disagree with me.

Pros:

1. You can use your entire body to trap your opponent’s leg. This is a huge control point that is very difficult to defeat but can also be a road block to submission. I’ll talk more about that in the cons.
2. From Ashi Garami you can transition quickly into various other leg control positions. Some of the more popular positions are the double outside ashi and 4-11 or Saddle.
3. If you plan on competing and want to attack the legs the Ashi Garami helps avoid the way to prevalent DQ for reaping.

Cons:

1. This may be a personal preference or a lack of reps with the position, but I feel like your submissions are limited in this position. So far I have only really been able to apply an ankle lock and heel hook with this position. I’ve found that the Sambo approach of leg locking (trapped leg on the high side) has more submissions available.
2. Again this might just be a body type issue, but I have had a hard time attacking the trapped leg. When you are in Ashi Garami the trapped leg is in-between your body and the mat. This leaves very little space for you to work with.

Conclusion

The Ashi Garami is like all positions in Jiu Jitsu, it may or may not work for you. For some it’s a key part of their leg attacking system. For others its a great supplement. If you are like me and tend to approach leg locks from a more Sambo approach (High side outside), then I suggest still learning the Ashi Garami. It has opened up a whole new approach to my leg attacks and made my game that much more dangerous.