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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.