Ankle lock – History and Mechanics behind this Leg Lock

The ankle lock is one of the most basic leg locks in Jiu Jitsu. It’s a very effective move that can end the fight immediately as your opponent will have to tap out due to excruciating pain. If he doesn’t tap out to the ankle lock, then the possibility of multiple fractures is imminent. If you want to learn how to execute this move properly, then read out the rest of this article. You will find out that you can implement some intricate moves to this submission that can make it devastatingly effective. That being said – let’s get to it.

History of the Ankle lock

It’s not really easy to pinpoint the exact origin of the ankle lock. The reason for this is that it’s a very basic move and that it has been discovered and put to use a long time ago. There are different martial arts that utilize this move. But the fact is that it has reached its full prominence in the jiu-jitsu.

This is not to say that the BJJ history of the ankle lock was always bright. In fact, there are certain BJJ practitioners (world class black belts even) that scoff on the use of leg locks. Until recently, the leg locks and the ankle locks were considered as somewhat of a taboo subject. For an in-depth understanding of this subject, if you’re interested, we suggest that you watch Joe Rogan’s podcast, specifically the episode with John Danaher. For those of you that don’t know, Danaher is a legend in the field of BJJ and he’s specifically known for his devastating leg locks. The entire Joe Rogan episode is a goldmine of information for leg locks.

Again, John Danaher is one of the leading pioneers among the people that promote the use of leg locks. Dean Lister and a few others spring to mind – but if we were forced to pick the world’s leading expert on ankle locks – then it would have to be John Danaher. He found out that leg locks were very underused and overlooked. Yet he fully understood their devastating potential. And chances are that you have heard of the notorious Danaher Death Squad. This is a group of specialists in leg locks that continue to take gold in many of the world-class BJJ tournaments all around the world.

Nowadays the leg locks are coming back to prominence. And since you’re reading this article, it means that you want to learn how to implement this move in your game. Read on.

Setting up and executing the ankle lock

There are two main ways in which you can go about doing the ankle lock. The first way is fully legal under IBJJF rules. The second way isn’t. For purposes of illustration, imagine that you’re standing and your opponent is curled on his back with his feet in the air. Perhaps he’s trying to shove you off by pushing you with one of his legs on your hips. This is the perfect time to grab his leg and take it under your armpit. At the same time, you need to lay down and put your outside foot on your opponent’s hip in order to block him from standing up. You should place your other foot under his thigh on the inside.

If you have done the previous moves, then you’re in perfect position to tap your opponent out with an ankle lock. You have already taken his foot under your armpit and you have placed your forearm under his ankle. Now you need to rotate your body to the outside while still holding the setup. This will put additional strain on his foot and ankle. Finally, you want to squeeze with your forearm. This will result in a tap out.

The second way in which you can perform this move is by reaping your opponent’s knee. This move is dangerous because it puts a tremendous strain on your opponent’s knee ligaments. As such, it’s banned in many BJJ organizations around the world. But if you want to apply it in about where there aren’t any rules considering the reaping of the knee – then you can try it out. All you need to do is to first reap your opponent’s knee – you can do this from the original setup that we mentioned above. Now you will have to again grab his foot under your armpit and put your forearm under your opponent’s ankle. Squeeze tight – this will make your opponent tap out.

In conclusion

The ankle lock is a move that was woefully overlooked by many of the top-tier BJJ practitioners from all around the world. Luckily, recently it gets into prominence by the popularization of the work of BJJ legends such as John Danaher, Dean Lister, and Marcelo Garcia, among others. We wholeheartedly recommend that you learn to perform this move as it will take your BJJ game to another level. If your BJJ school doesn’t allow leg locks – then we advise you to consider moving to a BJJ school where this move is not only allowed – but endorsed as well.