Sunday, October 09, 2016

John Will seminar 9th Oct 2016 - Ashi Garami, footlocks



Ashi Garami is best translated as "leg entanglement" or "leg control".

In developing leg attacks, same as with most of Jiu Jitsu, we need to work on control, and control positions, before considering how to apply submissions. John's strong belief is that one has no business playing around with footlocks until an understanding of ashi garami has been developed.

Introductory and warmup drills come first.

Drill 1 - Standing Ashi to Ashi

You are lying on your back. Your partner is standing over you, one of his feet in each of your armpits.

Wrap your L arm around his R ankle like an overhook. It should be deep and tight, with your L fist on your chest. Lift your legs and drive your hips up, wrapping your L leg around the back of his R thigh and the L heel over the front of his R hip, toes pointing out (to your L). Your L knee comes between his legs. Try to touch your R knee to your L shin and clamp the leg tight. This is similar to a single leg X guard, but closer to regular ashi garami.

Release the legs and let the hips drop back down. Now wrap his L leg with your R arm, and perform the same movement on the other side.

Repeat.



Drill 2 - Seated Ashi to Ashi

You are both sitting facing each other, legs out in front. You can pummel with your legs similarly to the way you can pummel standing with your arms. You win the pummel by getting both your legs inside his. That way you can footlock either of his feet, but he cannot footlock either of yours.

Get a fairly tight overhook on both his ankles with both arms. Your R foot moves outside his L hip. Your L knee comes up between his legs as you roll onto your R, placing the sole or instep of your R foot, heel towards the midline of his body, on his L hip and ribs.  Pinch your L knee onto your R shin and lay on your L elbow, your ribs keeping his L foot trapped. You are now in the regular ashi garami position. John Danaher would have you curl your R toes and push with the foot to make it harder for him to push it off his ribs.

Take your R foot off his hip. Take your L knee out and straighten the leg as you roll to your L, taking him with you. roll toward your L side, drive your R knee between his legs, then put the L foot on his hip/ribs. Pinch your R knee onto the L shin to consolidate the ashi garami position.

(I found it was important to, when I took my L knee out, to keep my L foot a short distance from his hip, otherwise my  L gi pant leg would catch under his hip, stopping me from then being able to put my L foot on his hip. Should be safe provided you keep the foot flat and move reasonably quickly. Plus, it's a drill).

It is important your partner be compliant and move with you cooperatively. It is in the best interest of his knees and ankles.


Pretty much what we did at the seminar


Eddie Cummings and ashi. Arm position is different - they do more heel hooks than footlocks


Drill 3 - Triple leg position

As for drill 2, get regular ashi (garami) on his L leg.

Roll back to your L and get your L hook under his R knee. Use the L hook to lift his R leg, so you can thread your L shin over his R thigh and under his R knee. His knee will be getting reaped pretty strongly here and he will need to roll with you and bend his L leg to avoid injury. You end up on your L side, still holding his L foot under your R armpit. Roll from your R to L slowly enough to be able to complete all the leg movements - you will not be able to get your R foot under his leg if you roll him fully onto his L side beforehand. This position is called inside ashi.

(A decent picture of this position proves elusive. The Knot video from Reilly Bodycomb below will show it as a transitional position)

Without releasing the overhook with your R arm on his L leg, start rolling back to your R. Take your R foot out, and your L, rolling onto your R side. Your L foot goes next to his L hip, your R foot this time stamps on your L foot, try to hide you feet as close to or behind or under his L hip as you can. This position protects both feet from footlock attempts. This position is outside ashi.


Outside ashi by Eddie Cummings - foot position is different but notice how both feet are well hidden and protected

The "Seed" drill

Beginners are generally discouraged from learning footlocks early, because their success in choosing them over trying to pass the guard can stunt their progress at passing the guard, and working toward a strong top game.

From a strategic point of view, the usual sneaky white belt move of falling back to take a footlock from inside someone's guard is VERY poor.

If he is on his back and you are standing over him, you are in a strong strategic position from which to throw punches, run around his guard, pass, etc ... or to run away.

To sit back for a footlock is NOT the way to follow the "improve your position" mantra of Jiu Jitsu. Position wise, you are giving up a strong position to effectively roll the dice. If the guy can grab your collar, he will get a fairly easy ride to the mount, ground and pound, etc.

A more strategically sound path from which to use ashi garami (leg entanglement, not necessarily the footlock) is for the guy on his back in open guard. And this is what is called the "Seed" drill:

You are on your back. He is in front of you, down near your feet.

Stop him from punching you by using both feet on his ribs. (not hips - he can still hit you with feet on his hips. Foot in hip is for when you have grips on his arms).

If he steps forward, say with his L, wrap that foot up with an overhook with the parallel arm (in this case the R).

Kick your R foot between his legs and "thread the needle" bringing your R leg behind his putting your R foot on his L hip, lifting your hips (as per the first drill above)

Hide your L foot by putting that hook behind his R knee. Turn to your L and sweep him by pushing on his hip with your R leg in a sidekick motion, using the L hook to stop him stepping to compensate. Keep hold of his L ankle the whole time. He should fall over and you should be on your L side. Come up on your L elbow, then hand, and perform a technical standup. You still have hold of his L ankle with your R hand, Your positions are now reversed. You can now run away or take the fight to him.

Your hook behind his knee can stop him rolling and take you straight into inside ashi.

This sequence has a continual improvement of the bottom guy's position. Which is good jiu jitsu. Unlike sitting back for a footlock from top position.

Straight Footlock - upside

Do the seed drill and sweep the guy. He hits the floor, you are on your L side with your L hook behind his R knee and your R foot on his L hip. Use your L hook to lift his leg and insert your R hook under his L leg as well to reach inside ashi. It is essential to use the L hook to ensure he falls on his back and does not roll to his stomach, and to keep his R leg up to get inside ashi.

If you have a deep tight overhook with your R arm on his ankle, the straight footlock is not far away. There are five pressures you can apply from here which will almost certainly break your partner's ankle if done all at once. So for training, drill only one of these pressures at a time. Each should get a tap. In a fight, you'd do all at once.

5 Footlock pressures

From inside ashi, push your R leg straight. This puts torque on his knee.

Thread your L hand under his trapped L leg and grab the outside of your R thigh, This creates a small space which you can use to slide your R ulna (wristwatch bone) right up just above his heel on the Achilles tendon. One you have the R arm positioned right, grab your R fist with your L hand in a guillotine type grip and pull your R thumb up toward your chin. This really digs the sharp ulnar bone into that spot.

Pull the R shoulder back to hyperextend the toes, metatarsals and ankle joint.

Pinch the R elbow into the ribs to torque the foot and ankle.

Drive the hips forward.

Remember, only one pressure at a time in training!

If he rolls - Prone footlock

If you have his L leg and inside ashi, He can really only roll one way without shredding his knee, to his L.

If he rolls L, go with him - "follow the knee".

Roll face down, keeping hold of his L foot with your R arm, Take your R foot out from the "honey hole" as you roll. So it does not get stuck.

In order to avoid being stuck with your hips directly over your knees, "reach out" with your chin and head. so your head ends up further away from him than would be the case if you stayed compact. You can now apply hip pressure as part of the footlock ,which you can't if your hips are directly over your knees.. You should be facing directly down into the mat in your knees and forehead, from where you can apply all the same pressures for the footlock.

If he keeps rolling - back to normal ashi and downside footlock

He keeps rolling, stay with him. As he turns face up, you should already be sliding your L knee between his legs and putting your R foot on his hip/ribs for regular ashi. Go right onto your R side with your R elbow underneath you. The footlock is right there, too. The elbow pinch pressure is already be on, thanks to gravity.

You could then go from regular to inside ashi, and go again, all the way across the mat as a drill. However, we don't want our opponent to keep rolling us off the competition mat, or off a cliff or the edge of Discworld, so, we need to find a way to stop him from rolling. The L hook in inside ashi actually can do this pretty well, but to be sure, and to top him pushing at or kicking at us with that free R leg ...

The Knot

From inside ashi, overhooking his L leg with your R arm, use your L hook to lift his R leg so you can grab his foot (not ankle) with your L hand.

Bring your L knee to your chest and pass your L foot over his R leg. (Place the L foot on the floor here, Dean Lister calls it "Game Over").

Hook your L instep behind your R heel. (This is important, if your feet are the other way round he may be able to use his R leg to kick your L leg away).

Move your butt to go butt to butt with him. (Yes Conor McGregor, Nate Diaz, we are playing touch butt). This bends his L leg and exposes his L foot even more. Dean Lister calls this position "Ultimate Game Over". John calls it The Knot. It is also referred to as the Russian Knot.


Sambo practitioner Reilly Bodycomb demonstrates the Knot final position


Nice video demo of an entry to inside ashi and then the Knot by Reilly Bodycomb

Three Rules of Ashi Garami


  • Control the leg (the leg to be footlocked)
  • Follow the Knee aka Follow the Fish
  • Control the other leg

A Drill

You are on your back. He is standing. You go:

Feet on his ribs to keep distance and not get punched.

Overhook the L leg with your R arm.

"Thread the needle" and get single leg X guard on his L leg with your R leg.

Your L hook behind his R knee.

Turn on your L side, sidekick him away and sweep till he falls.

Go to inside ashi.

He rolls, go to prone footlock.

He keeps rolling, regular ashi. Downside footlock. (You could maybe add in going to outside ashi and back here).

He tries to roll again. Go to inside ashi and stop the roll with your hook.

Go to the Knot.

Footlock from standing guard top

For the purpose of providing balance. A footlock from standing in someone's guard which does not require you to compromise your position.

You are standing. His feet are on your ribs.

Use your L hand to knock his L foot into your R armpit. Secure a tight overhook with your R arm.

Push his R knee to the floor with your L hand. (This prevents the footlock escapes where he turns onto his L hip and pulls his foot free at an angle, optionally stomping on your R upper arm with his R foot to assist).

Big step to 1:30 on the clock with your R foot.

Reach out to the R and put your L hand on the mat ouside his L ear. Your L shin goes over his L thigh as you collapse under control onto your forehead and knees.

Take your L foot out from between his legs and put it on his L hip.

Apply the prone footlock, pushing on his hip with your L foot to help drive your hips forward and hold him in place, so he can't come up and try for your back.

This footlock does not require you to go backwards in the positional hierarchy.


A good summary positional video, though it includes some extra positions and leaves out some of those we did in the seminar

A nice related article:

Leg Locks Decoded

A little philosophy


Even if most leglocks are illegal in competition, it is sensible to learn and practice both them and the escapes from them. A standard BJJ maxim is, if you want to be able to counter a move effectively, learn to do that move effectively yourself.

John spoke of inoculating yourself against the threat of footlocks by sensible and graduated exposure to them. He mentioned this book

Antifragile, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Which is, in essence, about how to thrive in a world of uncertainty. The other books in his Incerto series are excellent also, though perhaps a bit dry and technical for some. He is able to make some pretty cerebral subjects interesting and even entertaining. Taleb's The Black Swan in particular is a favourite book of mine.


No comments: