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DVD Review: Leg Locks of Doom

1 Oct

There is nothing like inflicting leg locks of impending doom on your opponent….

Coach Dan Faggella attempting to remove his opponents’ foot from his leg

No, but in all seriousness, who the heck doesn’t find leg locks intriguing? Iv’e seen plenty of matches go from hopeless to hopeful with the use of leg locks.

As some of you guys know, about a month ago I did a review of a Micro BJJ DVD I picked up from the one and only Coach Dan Faggella, 2011 No Gi Pan Am brown belt Champion.

This week, I am reviewing another DVD I was able to get my hands on , Dan’s Leg Locks of Doom DVD.

Ever since I knew what a straight achilles lock was, leg locks have always captured my attention. I absolutely love watching guys like Davi Ramos tear through tournament brackets with their evil and deceptive leg locks. Not only do I love leg locks, but my coach loves them as well.

Coach Dan posing for a leg lock with the one and only “Toquinho”

The Review:

First off, I am going to say right off that bat that you better have a few hours set aside to watch this DVD, because it is literally filled with HOURS of techniques and instructional. It even includes two completely separate leg lock seminars that Dan put together. So again, grab a comfortable seat, because you will be diving into the world of leg locks for hours on end.


If you have ever seen one of Dan’s DVDs, been to one of his seminars, or even know him as an instructor, you know that he is really big on concepts.

In the Leg Locks of Doom course, he has a whole section specifically designated to analyze the 3 main concepts of the four main leg locks. When I say the four main leg locks, I mean the achilles lock, the knee bar, the toe hold, and the heel hook.

He covers everything from which leg locks work in what positions to transitions to leg lock chains and other counter attacks. I was lucky enough to attend one of his advanced leg locks seminars that ended up on the DVD, and being able to watch the material whenever I want is great!

Advanced Leg Locks:

Like I said earlier, Dan includes two of his advanced leg lock seminars on the DVD. These seminars cover a bunch of stuff, including how to initiate a leg lock from the neutral standing position, which in my opinion is some game changing stuff.

One thing that I think is great about the advanced leg lock section of the course is that it is not just a bunch of cool leg lock setups and attacks that everyone already knows about. The advanced section includes leg lock techniques which Dan has actually hit in tournaments, on multiple occasions.

As a person who trains with Dan on a regular basis, I can safely and easily say that the techniques in this part of the DVD course are perfect for the competitor with prior leg lock experience who is trying to build their leg lock game and achieve leg lock mastery.

Muscle Memory Blueprint

Another great part about Dan’s Leg Lock of Doom course is the muscle memory blueprint section.

I believe that drilling and integrating muscle memory into one’s BJJ training is the foundation of one’s jiu jitsu, and this section is perfect for you BJJ nerds out there (like myself).

Dan shows multiple leg locks drills that include transitions, counter attacks and initial setups. I have even taken some of these muscle memory drills and incorporated them into my weekly quotas of technique drills.


Overall, this DVD is a must have for any leg lock guy or someone who is looking to improve their leg lock game, and is totally worth the money.

It is an awesome DVD to have if you are planning on competing in a tournament where twisting leg locks are allowed, because Dan goes into great detail with the heel hook game and touches on some of the leg lock stuff that you see at most NAGA tournaments and Grappler’s Quests.

Also, if you are looking to be competing in tournaments where they have IBJJF style rules, this DVD goes into tons of IBJJF legal techniques that will help you achieve victory with leg locks.

I would definitely recommend this DVD, and you are looking to get your hands on it, it’s right here.


BJJ Technique: The Calf Crank

27 Aug

The calf crank is certainly the black sheep of the BJJ realm…

It’s true guys, the calf crank is quite possibly the most under utilized and most disregarded leg lock technique out there. Sure, there are some guys out there who have some pretty sick calf cranks, but for the most part, we don’t really see much of them compared to some of the other leg lock submissions.

One reason why the calf crank may not be as popular as some of the other foot locks and leg locks in BJJ is because calf cranks are primarily used to cause pain. Most of the time, a calf crank will not directly threaten a particular joint, ligament, or tendon. Instead it will focus on applying pressure to any part of the calf muscle using the shin bone.

Don’t get me wrong, it can cause some serious damage including broken bones, but it tends to not be such a direct threat, unlike heel hooks and knee bars, etc., which attack ligaments and hinging joints.

Again, this might be a large reason why we don’t see too many calf cranks in competitions.

This following video was made by No Gi Pan Am brown belt champion Dan Faggella, who in my opinion is a conceptual genius when it comes to BJJ, and was made help you guys out there understand the calf crank better. This includes calf crank concepts, fundamentals, and an overall ability to navigate the calf crank positions.

So after watching this and getting a better understanding of how to finish the calf crank, lets go over some of the main ideas and concepts that are displayed by this video:

Backside variations vs Frontside variations:

So right off the bat, Dan talks about distinguishing between backside and frontside calf crank variations.

A backside calf crank is when you are directly facing your opponents back while applying pressure by grabbing the hip. The frontside calf crank is when you and your opponent are facing opposite directions, and you apply pressure by grabbing the foot and pulling down.

Eddie Bravo loves to use his infamous “ninja roll” technique to end up in a killer frontside calf crank position. Definitely one of my favorites.

Inside leg and Outside leg variations:

Dan then goes on to explain that the calf crank is finished by using either the inside or outside leg to put pressure into the calf. As you can see from the demonstration, the inside leg is typically the one being used to apply pressure in the case of a frontside variation. Again, Eddie Bravo loves this one, as do I.

Cross bite vs Same Side bite:

Note that this detail only pertains to the backside calf crank variation. Dan shows us that when in a backside calf crank, the placement of your opponents trapped foot can make a difference.

There can be a “cross bite”, where your opponents foot rests on your outside hip, or a “same side” bite, where your opponents foot rests on your inside hip. This can make all the difference when trying to finish the submission.

Overall Concepts for Finishing:

Even though these variations can be hard to remember at times, especially while rolling live, there are a few key concepts to remember that will guarantee the submission.

  • Maintain control of the two levers, those being your opponents foot as well as their hip.
  • Your shin must be able to drive into the back of your opponents knee.
  • The shin must be at a 90 degree angle against the back of the knee in order to create the strongest and most effective pressure.

If you weren’t big on calf cranks before, give these variations a try the next time you are training some new techniques. If used properly and effectively, the calf crank can be a great submission, and will totally give you cool guy points as well. Enjoy!


BJJ: The World of Leg Locks

2 Jul

As far as advanced jiu jitsu goes, having a solid leg lock game is essential.

If we observe some of the modern jiu jitsu techniques that we see being done today by some of the best guys, each one of them has a pretty solid, if not, dangerous leg lock game.

Leg locks can be some of the best submissions if executed at the right time. If you take a look at BJJ fighters like Toquinho, Davi Ramos, and even Caio Terra, you can easily see that their leg locks are some of the best and most devastating in competition.

A perfect example of a nasty leg lock game is Davi Ramos. His leg lock game is sharp and he is fast with his transitions. Take a look at some of his setups and finishes:


Davi Ramos is the epitome of how a good leg lock game can win you fights, especially in absolute divisions against much larger opponents.

If leg locks are the discussion, then it’s impossible not to mention Rousimar Palhares, aka “Toquinho”.

Unless you’ve been under a rock for a few years now, Toquinho has some of the most brutal heel hooks anyone has ever seen. He has used his heel hook to win many grappling matches and even UFC fights. He is strong and relentless:

The leg locks of Toquinho are extremely dangerous. He is another great example of how dominant leg lock skills can win you fights.

Here are the basics:

There are five basic foot/leg lock submissions that are commonly used.

  • The straight Achilles foot lock 
  • The heel hook 
  • The toe hold
  • The knee bar
  • the calf crank

These submissions are what make up the world of leg locks.

The Straight Achilles Foot Lock

The straight achilles foot lock is one of the more basic and less dangerous foot locks. This technique should be in everyone’s jiu jitsu encyclopedia. It involves applying pressure with the arm to the achilles tendon. It has many variations, but generally looks something like this:

A basic straight Achilles foot lock

The Achilles may not be as dangerous or painful as some of the other leg locks, but if executed at the right time with proper technique, it can can be a serious weapon. (for a more in depth look at this technique and its variations, check out this article)

The Toe Hold

The toe hold is a technique that involves applying pressure to the ligaments and tendons on the outside of the ankle/foot. A “figure four” type grip is applied  to the foot which causes your opponent to either tap or allow his foot to be destroyed. A toe hold looks like this:

The Toe Hold causes the foot to bend in such a way that it pushes force through the weak tendons and ligaments of the foot

In my opinion, toe holds are a slightly more reliable submission, and generally happen from scramble positions where the opponents shin is positioned horizontally across your torso.

Heel Hooks

Heel hooks could easily be the most dangerous and devastating type of leg lock. They involve placing the inside of the wrist under your opponents heel, and twisting the heel while keeping the knee stationary. You would think that being called a heel hook, this technique would cause pain to the heel, right?

It actually puts immense pressure on the structure of the knee and can cause serious and/or permanent injury. Heel hooks look like this:

An example of how painful a heel hook can be to your opponent

If you are training this submission, always be careful with your partner. When this submission is applied properly, it does not take much to get the tap and even cause damage to your partners’ knee, so be extremely careful when doing this one guys.

The Knee Bar

The knee bar is a submission that involves applying pressure to the top of the knee cap by pulling the top of the leg with your arms and using your hips to hyper extend the knee. It looks a little something like this:

A knee bar puts a ton of pressure into your opponents knee cap and can end a fight quickly

Like the heel hook, the knee bar is one of the more dangerous leg lock submissions, and should be practiced with reasonable caution. In my opinion, it is a powerful technique, but not the most reliable leg lock compared to toe holds and some heel hooks.

The Calf Crank

The calf crank is one of the lesser seen leg locks. Although it is a viable submission, it is probably the least reliable. This is because the calf crank mostly applies pressure to the calf muscle and to the tibia and fibula bones, and not necessarily to a specific joint.

This causes substantial pain, but a lot of guys may fight through the pain long enough to escape. Here is what a calf crank looks like:

A Calf Crank variation that pushes against muscle and bone

Not only are leg locks reliable submissions if executed properly, but they are also excellent weapons against larger opponents

Here is an example of a smaller grappler, Dan Faggella, using leg lock techniques against larger opponents in absolute divisions. For those of you who do not know, Dan has an extremely crafty leg lock game and he used it to help him win the No Gi Pan Ams at brown belt. (He also has a great article on leg lock setups for competition here, definitely worth taking a look at).

As you can see, leg locks can even the playing field against larger opponents.

These techniques and submissions make up the world of leg locks, and are all formidable weapons on the mats.

As leg locks become more and more popular, it is important to know these techniques and more importantly, know how to defend against them.

If you don’t already train leg locks, you should study them, as they will add to the depth of your jiu jitsu game.