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Sweeping Into Straight Ankle Locks in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

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

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How to Transition Into a Straight Ankle Lock

Sweeps offer an amazing opportunity for submissions. In the moment where your partner is focused on avoiding the sweep, or just in falling to the ground safely, you have a great opportunity to transition to a submission. This means that you can stay half a step ahead the entire time, catching someone you might not otherwise catch. Here's a quick look at a few of those moments entering into the straight ankle lock.

Catch 1

A basic single leg X-guard entry arises when you are on your back, "tracking" your partner with butterfly hooks behind their knees while your partner is standing.

  1. Grab their left foot with your right hand, and kick your right leg through to the other side.
  2. Close the distance by reverse-shrimping underneath your partner and enter into the single leg X-guard position.
  3. Push your hips outward, to your right, against the inside of your partner's knee, helping it bend outward.
  4. Once they are compelled to sit down, instead of coming up on top for a sweep or a knee cut guard pass, here's your opportunity for a submission. The key to this footlock is to keep your partner's knee bent, avoiding their defense entirely.
  5. From here, it's just a matter of stretching their foot out and applying pressure at the ankle.

Catch 2

Another great way to sweep into a footlock is via modified X-guard.

  1. Start the same way, by creeping underneath your partner into single leg X-guard. However, you'll encounter them grabbing your head in order to prevent the initial sweep.
  2. This is a great opportunity to snake your right leg back around, making a modified X hook to keep your partner's knee bent (notice the theme?).
  3. From here, especially if they are grabbing your head, you can lift them off the ground by applying pressure upward.
  4. As they become momentarily weightless, sweep them to your right. The figure-four grip typically works best here, as you can apply pressure outwards on your partner's shin. The pressure will remain tight on their ankle as it transfers through the closed system you've created.
  5. Finish by stepping on the hip with your left leg, and using that point of contact to push off of your partner's hip, applying pressure for the finishing submission.

Catch 3

The "double ankle grab" sweep (gotta love jiu jitsu nomenclature!) can be another extremely effective route into the submission.

  1. Start with the same "butterfly hooks vs standing" theme, but this time, instead of shooting through and underneath your partner for single leg X, keep both knees in front, and grab both ankles.
  2. Between the ankle control and the knee control, you should be able to follow your partner virtually anywhere.
  3. Next, flare your knees outward and lift your hips up to apply pressure against your partner's knees. This will force them to sit down.
  4. As they sit, close the distance with a reverse boot scoot, making sure you are close enough to connect your shin to the back of their knee. Be sure you're stepping on their left hip with your right foot, and be sure your toes are pointing outward, like the previous single X positions.
  5. Follow your partner's leg so that you end up on your right side, and then use the typical straight ankle lock finish routine to get the submission.

Tips on Using Transitions to Catch Submissions

Transitions are almost always the best opportunity for you to catch a submission. If your partner's base is static and their position unchanging, they are likely to be able to adapt fairly easily to any attacks you throw their way. However, if you find yourself able to change the game somewhat with a positional change, your partner suddenly has more than one thing to focus on simultaneously. Humans are notoriously poor multi-taskers, so taking advantage of divided attention is a classic military tactic, and one that is easily appropriated for jiu jitsu use. As always, let me know how these techniques work for you!

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