Fancy and Funky Leglocks in BJJ (With Videos)

Updated on April 13, 2020
revolutionbjj profile image

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

Learn about some unorthodox leglocks in martial arts.
Learn about some unorthodox leglocks in martial arts.

Leg Attacks

I've been grappling for over 20 years now, starting with my high school days of wrestling. A few years after graduating, I quickly fell in love with both judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. However, I was always drawn to the somewhat more unorthodox approaches to BJJ training, particularly with regard to lower body submissions. Right from the beginning, I was messing around with some pretty unorthodox leg attacks, including heel hooks and toe holds back in the late 1990s—way, way sooner than I probably should have been, in retrospect.

Unorthodox Leglocks

As a result, my "orthodox" BJJ game has evolved alongside my unorthodox leglock game, borrowing from catch wrestling and sambo, among other sources, and genuine inspiration on very rare occasions. What follows are some of the more unorthodox leg attacks I've been using for more than a decade now. I'm going to start with the most familiar one and gradually work in the direction of less and less familiar territory with these techniques.

  1. The Rolling Toe Hold
  2. The Cloverleaf
  3. The Goathook Escape
  4. The Goathook

Practice Under Supervision and Use Extreme Caution

As always, please practice only under the supervision of a qualified instructor, and use extreme caution any time you're working on any sort of leglock, particularly when trying it for the first time (or when having it done to you!). Enjoy!

1. The Rolling Toe Hold: It's Everywhere!

Although the toe hold (or the "figure four footlock") was a staple of submission grappling for a long time, it wasn't until the finals of the 1999 Mundial (World Jiu-Jitsu Championships) when Rodrigo "Comprido" Medieros finished the legendary "Roleta" with a very fast toe hold from the open guard that the BJJ community really seemed to take notice. Up until that point, Brazilian fans would often boo any time someone went for a leg attack of any sort in competition.

However, after this attack quickly and decisively won the biggest match in the world of BJJ in 1999, the practitioners took notice and slowly began to integrate this attack into their games. One of my favorite ways to hit this attack is rolling from the open guard.

For a more fundamental look at the toe hold, check out How to Set Up a Toe Hold.

2. The Cloverleaf: Homage to Pro Wrestling

This particular leglock is one that Seph Smith and I have been using since the early 2000s, and very early on, I quickly appreciated the devastating nature of the submission. I worked out that, based on my favorite kneebar set up, my opponent was extremely likely to cross their legs to prevent the initial (very familiar) submission attempt, thus setting up the toe hold and the straight ankle lock. However, when they crossed their ankles instead of triangling their legs, as shown in this video, the cloverleaf submission is a perfect set up.

The cloverleaf is a combination of three nasty submissions rolled up in one. It has the potential to be a kneebar on the leg that's trapped underneath, and there's definitely an "Achilles crush" element as well thrown in there, not to mention a kind of crushing straight ankle lock for the top foot. Use extreme caution when practicing this one, because your opponent may not even understand that he or she is caught in a submission until it's too late!

Me using the Goathook escape in competition.
Me using the Goathook escape in competition. | Source

3. The Goathook Escape

The "Goathook escape" here is presented before the Goathook itself, mainly because it's actually slightly more "orthodox" than the latter technique. This is essentially the type of ridiculous escape a child would get away with when mounted (and I watch children use very similar escapes all the time when rolling). However, there's quite a bit more to this particular escape (and, ultimately, heel hook set up and finish) than might appear to the untrained eye.

If you read through the YouTube comments (and hey, why wouldn't you take the opportunity to check out the Jerry Springer Show of words and sentences?), you'll note that several people suggest that the top person would simply armbar you, duh. Having used this escape myself on literally dozens of black belts over the years, and having had it used on me, I can say for certain that this escape is still an extremely high percentage move if you're flexible enough to get the initial hip placement correct.

Placing the hands in the armpits also seriously reduces any opportunity for the armbar counter, and being ready for the transition to S-mount by preparing to switch to an up-the-middle escape is really all you need to deal with those threats. But hey, what do I know, right?

4. The Goathook (TM): The Grandaddy of All Carney Moves

Here it is: the Goathook. Ever since I first started using this move around 2003, everyone kept asking to see me do it. Even though I've been a BJJ black belt for six years now, and although I've focused extensively on creating a game that does not rely on flexibility, people to this day really want to see me do the Goathook. Why? Because it looks absurd, and it actually works.

It's a heel hook from inside your opponent's closed guard. Essentially, you can either force them to open their legs, once your foot is across, or you can wait for them to move to try to get on top. Either way, you're going to have a nice setup for that over/under heel hook, which is the absolute best finishing position for a heel hook.

You do need flexibility for this one; I'm not going to lie.

Which Is Your Favorite?

Which is your favorite of the carney submissions here?

See results


"Legbars" can be a great deal of fun if you have the right training environment. If you'd like to check out some more orthodox leg attacks, check out some setups for kneebars from the bottom of half guard. If unorthodox upper body attacks are your game (or if you just love the Kimura), you might enjoy How to Pass the Guard Using the Kimura Grip.

As always, I welcome feedback, and if you find any of these moves useful, please do let me know! Also, let me know what you'd like to see next.

© 2014 Andrew Smith


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • revolutionbjj profile imageAUTHOR

      Andrew Smith 

      5 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Hey Scott! I'll use the escape in the gi, but any time you finish the leglock, you'd definitely get called for reaping (even if you finished a straight footlock). Hope this helps!

    • profile image

      Scott Oates 

      5 years ago

      Hey Andrew, do you ever do the Goat hook in the gi, and if so, would you get called for reeping? I think you did this on me once in the gi.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)