bjj moves

Using the Leg Lock from Closed Guard

Close up action of a leg lock

Close up action of a leg lock

Successfully finishing a leg or foot lock in a mixed martial arts fight is not an easy task. Without very good technique your opponent could easily slip from your clutches and turn the tides of the fight in his favor. However being able to complete this submission successfully can round out a fighter’s submission game and give him a very sneaky weapon.

This leg lock setup will focus on finishing  from the closed guard position. When your opponent has you stuck in his closed guard your options are not always as open as you want them. many times fighters will fight not for submissions or sweeps but just to break your posture, hold you down, and tire you out while you fight for a stalemate. Quickly applying this leg lock can throw your opponent a curve ball and hopefully get you the victory.

Breaking Through the Defense

Usually if a fighter is on his back he will wrap his legs around you for the closed guard; there are also other techniques but this one is really the most common. His goal from here is to either submit or pass, you want him to do neither.

To start your attack you need to first unhook your opponent’s legs from behind your back freeing up your range of motion. There are times when a fighter will do this on his own, whether it is to attempt a sweep or maybe just a lapse of concentration. If you can perfect the leg lock it should only take this momentary lapse for you to take advantage and finish the opponent.

In reality though, we cant all be that good or that lucky. There is one fundamental closed guard pass that works great for this technique that is simple and effective. To perform this pass you need to posture up  in the closed guard with your hands on the opponent’s waist pressing him into the ground. One kneed is placed at the opponent’s tailbone and the other leg is stepped out and back. A simple twisting motion is used to break the opponent’s feet from your back and you are free. For an in depth explanation for this simple pass CLICK HERE

Positioning For Attack

Once you have broken through the guard of the opponent it is time to start pressing the attack. To get yourself in position, one leg is placed in between his legs almost as if you are kneeling down and pressing your shin into the groin. This help keep your opponent pinned down and prevents him from moving into you so that you can have the opportunity to grab his leg.

Your other leg is then swung out and around your opponent’s leg and onto his stomach to isolate the leg you are going to attack. You then also roll off to the side of the attacked leg. The knees are squeezed together to keep the leg from slipping out. The legs are also used to pin the opponent’s hip into the ground so that he cannot escape now that he knows what is coming next.

The opponent’s foot should now be in the vicinity of your armpit. The foot is gripped similar to the grip used in a guillotine choke, the arm on the bottom side is placed under the foot and the other hand is used to hold onto your hand locking the foot in place. This grip should be placed as close to the foot/ankle as possible because the higher you go on the shin the more pressure is diverted away from the foot during the finish.

The Finish

The finish for this submission is really an Achilles lock. It uses all leg strength to attempt to separate the opponent’s foot from the rest of him. Your arms are used to lock the foot into place against your upper body.  his hips/thigh are pinned to the ground and immobile due to your legs holding him down.

By using a squatting motion, pushing down with the legs, and pulling up with the upper body all the force is placed on the ankle joint and a tap out is inevitable. Mastering this technique is no easy task but it can certainly come in handy in a pinch.

Here is a video showing this technique in its entirety.


Twist Your Opponent into Submission

The Twister is a Devastating

The Twister is not a basic submission that you see all the time. However it can be an extremely effective way to finish off your opponent from the back mount.  What tickles my fancy about this move as well is how mean this move looks when you lock it in. You get the opponents whole body twisting in ways that it certainly is not made to stretch in.

For some evidence on how rare, and mean, this move is: Here is Jung Chan-Sung’s submission of Leonard Garcia with the first and only twister in UFC history.

Why to Choose the Twister Submission

The twister submission is performed from the back mount. The go to, classic, age old submission form the back mount is the rear naked choke. Because of this, everybody is ready to defend against it so it can be a lot more difficult to sink in than you would expect. This makes also helps make the twister, a relatively unseen move, more likely to surprise the opponent.

Again, the twister is just mean. It involves twisting the whole torso and neck. The lower body is pulled in one direction by a leg triangle, and the upper body is pulled in the other direction via neck crank. The whole submission tends to focus this pressure on the cervical vertebrae in the neck making it extremely painful and possibly dangerous if followed through with.

The Set Up

First and foremost you need to take the opponent’s back with a good seatbelt and good hooks. To get in position to perform the twister you need to then get you and your opponent on your sides. This is where you will pin your opponent to torque his whole body for the submission.

To pin your opponent to the ground you use your legs to control lower body position. The technique to do this is a leg triangle. From your leg hooks in back control, you slide your lower hook through your opponent’s legs and take your top leg out and lock in the leg triangle. Your top foot is placed over your bottom leg and under your opponent’s trapped foot similar to a the lockdown in the half guard.

Your upper body positioning is also essential to completing the submission. You need to get his top side arm behind you and slide your bottom side arm around the back of your opponent’s neck.  Your opponent will still be looking to defend his head and neck from strikes and submissions so separating his arm from his body, and getting between it and your opponent, is not always easy.

The Finish

Setting up this move against a comparable opponent is hard, finishing it is easy. The hands are locked around the bottom of the head/neck of the opponent. The grip used for this is referred to as an “S-grip”. This consists of bending the top digits of the fingers down essentially into a hook and then interlocking those two hooks together.

The hips are then pushed forward into the opponent to rotate the bottom half of his body into the ground and away from you. The S-grip is used to pull the opponent’s neck up and towards you. These two contact points forcing the body in opposite directions is what causes so much torque on the opponent’s spine and neck, forcing the tap.

Here is a video explaining the move in depth

The Shoulder Lock

BJJ shoulder lock in action

The full guard position is a very versatile position to be in when you are in the bottom during a mixed martial arts fight. You can either sweeps and submissions are always options and which ones to use vary depending on which position your opponent is in and what he is doing. Therefor adding more submissions to your full guard arsenal can always help.

This shoulder lock from the full guard is fast, simple and effective, a dangerous combination in a mixed martial arts submission. This submission quickly isolates one of your opponent’s arms and lock it in place with your legs. Then pressure is applied to the shoulder by using the wrist as a lever and your whole body to apply force.

Isolating an Arm

While in the full guard you need to isolate one of your opponent’s arms to attack. This is usually the arm which wonders away from a safe position close to your opponent’s body. The leg on that arm’s side is then thrown over the opponents back and the opposite leg is pulled out from its position in the full guard. The arm is held close to your body and turned backwards toward the opponent’s legs while you rotate your body towards the isolated arm side.

This part of the set up is very similar to a triangle choke. However in a triangle choke you then rotate your body towards the side of the opponent’s free arm and in this shoulder lock you rotate towards the opposite side. This means that if you quickly isolate this arm, say perhaps in a scramble  when you throw your leg over the opponent and rotate, you can use your momentum to make the finish powerful and quick.

As you throw the leg over your opponent’s back you put your foot in front of his face and use your other leg to pinch the arm. Rolling into the opponent to force his face into the ground can help hold him down securely.  Because the weight of your whole body is being forced through the shoulder of the opponent it is very difficult for him to lift himself up. This applies even if the opponent is much larger than you, making this move a good option for smaller fighters.

Torquing the Shoulder

The finish for this shoulder lock involves putting pressure on the shoulder by using the arm as a lever. As you pinch the arm between your legs you grab onto your opponent’s hand and break their wrist towards the sky. While keeping their arm tight to your body you use the power of your abdominal muscles and arms to twist, rotating the opponent’s arm at the shoulder causing the tap.

Here is a video of the full setup and execution

Other Options

The setup for this move does not have to end in this specific shoulder lock. A more exotic version of this submission that involves using the legs to rotate the arm instead of your arms and torso is referred to as an Omoplata Shoulder Lock. Also this setup could even be used as a sweep to get to your opponent’s back or some other more advantageous position than simply full guard.

Getting Caught in Bottom Turtle

your standard turtle position is demonstrated here

The turtle position, or what i like to simply call the fetal position, is not the ideal position to be in, especially in MMA. In a strictly grappling arena this is really not the best position to be in but not nearly as dangerous because of the absence of striking. However there are a host of techniques to either sweep or even submit the opponent from this position.

You Better Scramble

Bottom line you usually do not want to be caught in turtle position. You are really just a sitting duck if you curl up and sit there. Even though you feel secure in your own little world a good opponent will be able to slowly pick you apart and defeat you. The key to escaping the turtle position is getting out of it as quickly as possible. This is especially helpful because if you have to turtle quickly, you can sometimes catch the opponent scrambling expecting you to stay in turtle and take advantage of that.

This is especially true if the opponent is trying to take your back in the turtle position for a rear naked choke. This is because if the opponent locks his leg hooks in even if you think your protected for a shot while, your chances of victory plummet.


You need to escape from this position but the question is how. There are a host of different escapes for the turtle position because of all the possible orientations of the opponent on top of you.

For a more north-south turtle position, there are escapes such as the hook and roll where the opponent has his arms around your body and you use this to plaster him to you as you hold his arm and roll over putting your opponent on his back and isolating his arm. There is also a simple wrestler’s sit out which literally switches your position with your opponent’s.

When your opponent is more behind you or to the side there are also sweeps that you can perform. A hook and roll is still feasible because your opponent will need to stabilize himself by wrapping his arms around your body and the same basic technique is applied (1:50 in video below). Also you can take the fight to your opponent by stepping back when in turtle position, grabbing your opponent’s legs, and taking him down (3:00 in the video below)

This is a video with a whole bunch of escapes from the turtle position along with a submission I will talk about next.

Turtle Submissions

Just looking at the turtle position you would probably imagine that there are not many submissions that you can perform from the bottom. However this combined with the fact that the opponent is probably in offensive mode not defensive it could turn out to be a perfect chance for a submission.

One of my favorite, and surprisingly easy once you get the hang of it, submissions from the turtle position is the knee bar (4:20 in the video ). It involves from finesse and looks really crazy to do but it can be very effective. Although is the opponent sees it coming it can be pretty easy to defend against. This is why if you decide to perform this, or any submission from turtle, you should remember to do it as quickly as possible once the opportunity arises.

For a much more indepth look at the turtle position check out THIS SITE full of video of Eduardo Telles explaining the turtle guard

Triangle Chokes From Everywhere

The triangle choke is so easy you can celebrate while doing it

I have said it before and ill say it again, triangle chokes are awesome. They are a triple threat submission: quick, simple, and effective. With some know how and some flexibility triangle chokes can be your greatest friend in the submission game. There are so many positions that triangle chokes can be performed from it is disgusting. You could learn how to do only triangle chokes and probably still be able to submit somebody from three quarters of the positions you found yourself in.

Of course the good old triangle choke from a closed guard is what many people in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu learned first, and it really teaches all the fundamental concepts of all the the different variations of it. If you don’t know or want to brush up on some basic technique CLICK HERE. Any guys who didn’t click the link because they think they have it down already, you might want to brush up on your technique… trust me.

Mounted Triangle

Many people in mixed martial arts might prefer to simply punch there opponent in the face when they get to a mount position. However this option is not present in strictly grappling tournaments. A mounted triangle is a great submission  to perform from the mount.  You maintain your center over your opponent the whole time from the mount and you have both of your hand free to work with. This combination is great for maintaining your dominant position throughout the submission.

CLICK HERE for a full mounted triangle tutorial.

Half Guard Triangle

Although there are a lot of feasible sweeps from half guard, being on bottom in half guard does not always leave you very many good options for a submission move. But of course there is a sneaky way to pull off a triangle choke with a little quickness. This would not be an easy technique to finish under real conditions but it shows how quick and unexpectedly the triangle choke can be applied.

Side Control? No Problem!

When you are on top in side control you have very many options. One is to transition to mount and work from there. However you can skip that phase completely and go right into, that’s right you guessed it, a triangle choke

Bottom side control is not the first position you would try and perform a triangle from. Well its not, but a reverse triangle choke certainly is. This move is slightly complicated and relies and your opponent trying to gain control of your arm from side control. But add this one to your playbook to surprise your opponents.

Still More…

We can’t always lock in a triangle choke, but even a failed attempt can be salvaged. This video shows how to turn a failed attempt from closed guard into a sweep and then easy submission. The ending submission in the video is a type of kimura armbar; but I’m sure you could find a way to change that up into a mounted triangle if you so choose.

I implore anyone who has seen all of these types of triangle chokes to keep learning about them! There are so many more variations of them. I only picked a couple of them to talk about but they can be a martial artists best friend if you know them well enough.

Using the Hip Bump for Sweeps and Subs

the first part of the Hip Bump sweep

The closed guard is not all that bad of a position to be in for jiu-jitsu and can even be to your advantage. however in straight mma competition a strong opponent can seriously hurt you even when he is trapped in your closed guard with strikes. The hip bump is a good technique to use when trying to escape this position and with good technique it doesn’t even require a lot of effort on your part.

In addition to being a good sweep setup the hip bump can be combined with a bunch of submission techniques making it a very versatile attack from the bottom. This makes it especially useful to add to your arsenal of attacks. Especially if your in mixed martial arts and are taking a lot of punishment from the bottom of closed guard.

The Sweep

The hip bump sweep from closed guard can be extremely effective if used correctly. The technique is not even that complicated but in practice it can be much harder than when your reading how to do it. First you break your feet around the opponent and sit up into him. While you sit up you twist and grab (for example) the opponent’s right arm with yours. You simultaneously post up on your opposite hand pushing your hips and chest into your opponent.

The closer your are to your opponent the more control you have over them. You then use your legs and arms to sweep the opponents legs and twist them down at the same time. Also this sweep puts you in a mount position on your opponent which is one of the most dominating positions in a fight. For an in depth explanation and video of this hip bump sweep basic technique click here

The Submissions

What makes this sweep so deadly is quick transition to a variety of separate submissions. One submission that works very fluidly from this sweep is the kimura lock. When you sit up and twist to grab the opponent’s arm you have it pretty well isolated. You use your planted arm to grab your opponents wrist and rotate it behind the opponent’s back while turning off to the side to get a greater range of motion over your opponent’s arm.

Another submission that works great from this sweep is the guillotine choke. this is especially true when your opponent counters your advance by driving into you with his shoulder. Instead of grabbing your opponent’s arm with the up hand you reach it behind your opponents head and around to his neck. when your opponent pushes back into you you can slide your hips back and lock in the choke and seatbelt to finish the submission.

Still further is the omoplata which is a more advanced move and more difficult to use in a fight successfully. However because it is not used often it has a higher chance of catching the opponent off guard. Another thing is that this submission starts off just like the kimura submission but obviously ends as the omoplata.



You Need To Escape

Our friend in blue desperately needs to escape this back mount before things get hairy

If your get caught in back mount  you will certainly not want to stay there for as short as humanly possible. Its easily the worst position to be in during a MMA fight, or any type of grappling arena for that matter. Of course being the worst position, it is very difficult to escape from a good back mount position.

There is more to back mount than simply piggy backing the opponent. Any opponent with half a brain knows how to control an opponent from back mount and also knows exactly how to end the fight from back mount as well. I shouldn’t even have to explicitly state the name of the submission but, the rear naked choke is a deadly submission that seems all to easy to sink in once in solid back mount position.

To have a better understanding of, and hopefully counter to, back mount control and submission techniques CLICK HERE

The Basic Idea

Before knowing the specific technique behind this escape. The main security line that your opponent has to stay in back mount on you is the leg hooks. Good hooks pin the lower half of the choker’s body to the chokee’s so that it is much harder to move around and escape. Removing these hooks, or by some miracle fighting an opponent who carelessly performs rear mount, are a key part of escaping back mount.

Also when in back mount you are in a substantially worse position than your opponent so doing anything helps. By driving back into him the mat your opponent loses mobility options because his limbs are out of contact with the mat and he is being driven into the mat as well. So he really has no control over your combined position. This is still not a good position to be in, of course, but it can give you some control over the opponent in preparation for your escape.

Another thing to remember when escaping the back mount is to embrace the roll. Controlling an opponent’s spacial degrees of freeedom are easy because the hooks and arms are barriers preventing movement. However unless your opponent has the strongest leg muscles ever rotating your body inside the back mount is a good way to break their hooks on you and a choke attempt.

The Great Escape

The first technique (video below) is a very simple and effective escape technique to practice. Another aspect that this technique uses is the removal of the opponents hips from yours. Once the opponent lets the pressure up that is gluing your two bodies together your chances of escape increase dramatically. When the hips are stepped out and your control is regained you need to spin around in your opponents back mount to face him. .

This technique should not be used without confidence though because at one point your essentially in mount position. However, as the video shows, there are also more complete variations that end in other submissions for the original one who was going to get submitted,

This next video (below) shows a slightly different variation where you end up in their closed guard instead of mounted, which is exponentially better. It is a slightly more technical move that requires more twisting and turning of the body along with what seems to be more technique in general.

Easy as Pie

Wrong, remember during all of this escaping your opponent is in arguably the most dominant grappling position and smelling that win on the tip of their nose. There is no way the opponent will give up the back mount easily, but you also have no choice but to escape if you want to win.This is why back mount escapes needs to be worked on to have any hope of escaping if you get tangles up.