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How to Set Up a Heel Hook Leglock From Deep Half Guard

Andrew Smith is a 3rd-degree BJJ black belt based out of Richmond, VA (Revolution BJJ). He runs BJJ Path, a video tutorial website.

Setting up a heel hook.

Setting up a heel hook.

Deep Half and Leglocks

A lot of my students who love going for leglock attacks complain that they have a tough time getting underneath for a more conventional attack from the bottom. This follows, since everyone gradually learns one another's game, and the simpler attacks become more and more difficult to set up. However, deep half guard is another viable entry for heel hooks and other leg attacks, as we'll see during this tutorial. Some of the positions are all but impossible to stop without giving up the sweep, something you can count on your partner not wanting to do!

Entry to 50/50 Heel Hook

The first entry begins with a basic deep half guard position, with the inside hook under their ankle, completely controlling their leg. Once you feel like you have sufficient control, elevate your partner's leg (let's call it their right leg here) enough so that you can bring your right foot in front of their knee, but keep your right knee behind your leg (this is very similar to an X-guard position).

Note: By elevating your hips here, you can bring your partner's foot forward, making their leg not only extremely light but also bent.

Once you've got your partner's leg elevated, all you have to do is kick your legs straight through, crossing your ankles (or making a triangle if you're newer to the position), and you're almost to 50/50. You need to pass their foot to the other side of your body, though. Once there, use your hips to turn your partner's knee outward (closer to a triangle here) while blocking their other leg with your right arm, keeping them from crossing their legs to defend the position. Lift your hips and keep your knees wide to finish the heel hook here, preventing the roll.

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To the Over/Under

This second option begins in the same "inside hook" deep half guard position, and you need to elevate their leg just a hair this time, but your next move is to create a frame with your inside arm so that you can ultimately rotate your body and attack the leg from the other side. Make sure to keep their leg trapped and under control with your feet until you're ready to grab it, and then you can make your spin move (more on that below). Jarrett shows a nice detail in this video where you can come up onto your shoulder in order to be able to weave in for the over/under heel hook.

Full Details

In the above video, I show an entry into deep half guard from combat base, where you hook their ankle preemptively and then swivel into the position. As always, make sure to hide your left arm underneath your partner's leg during the transition leading up to this. From here, once again, their leg gets elevated slightly. When your hand comes through to make the frame, think of it as a "karate chop" hand so that you can push off of your partner's far side hip. It's important that your right knee comes through the space to mirror what your hand is doing.

Once your knee is in position, your left foot can begin to loop around their trapped right leg, beginning to establish the over/under position. Grab your foot and bring it across your partner's waist until you can establish a leg triangle, keeping your other foot hooked behind your partner's knee. Once you sweep your partner backward, you can establish the over/under position, lacing your leg behind your partner's leg. If you can't get that far, you can also opt to triangle your own leg (I don't like this option as much, but there are some very high-level leglock attackers who do).

Training With Heel Hooks

As always, whenever practicing heel hooks, be sure that you understand your gym's etiquette, because not all gym rules are the same, and not all partners are going to understand the potential damage heel hooks can do. It's everyone's responsibility to create a safe training environment, so please do help by becoming a part of the solution. Once you can train safely with heel hooks, a whole new chess game will open up for you. As always, please let me know if this lesson is clear and easy to understand!

© 2016 Andrew Smith

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