Paulo Miyao faced a young Tye Ruotolo at ADCC 2019 and was caught in a nasty kneebar. Miyao, true to himself chose to ignore the pain and didn’t tap… We often see in high level grappling matches, competitors that don’t tap but we seldom hear what happens to them afterwards in the days, weeks and months following the match. These grappling stars are human just like us and their joints and bones can break. The difference may be that many of them are on PED’s so they recover faster…
A kneebar (also known as legbar, kneelock or hiza-juji-gatame) is a leglock that can hyperextend the knee. The basic kneebar technique is similar to that of an armbar. The practitioner will trap the opponent’s leg in between their legs and secure the leg with their arms so the opponent’s kneecappoints towards the body. The practitioner then applies pressure with their hips, forcing the opponent’s leg to straighten, hyperextending the knee joint.
Miyao talked about the damage and consequences:
Summary translation: Miayo had to stay on top to win, but he a mistake and got caught by Ruotolo in the kneebar. He said his knee popped a few times, but he stayed calm. He ended up winning but couldn’t put any weight on his foot afterward. In the days following ADCC, he Miyao couldn’t train due to the seriousness of the injury. His MRI showed complete destruction of both his ACL and LCL. He had surgery, and also repaired his meniscus. His advice to everyone is to tap…
So what happens to the knee during a kneebar?
Dr Kickass, Mike Piekarski, a Doctor of Physical Therapy, Former MMA Fighter, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt. Follow him on instagram, explains:
A kneebar works by causing hyperextension of the tibiofemoral joint. The average person will have around 5-10 degrees of extension and any more motion will challenge the soft tissue and ligamentous structures.
1️⃣Ligaments: 4 ligaments assist with preventing hyperextension (ACL, MCL, LCL, PCL)
2️⃣Muscles: Several muscles cross at the knee joint that can assist in resisting the motion (hamstrings, calf and popliteus)
3️⃣Joint Capsule: The entire knee joint is reinforced by the posterior joint capsule which assists with limiting hyperextension.
There are quite a few structures involved in preventing your knee from completely bending in the the wrong direction. This is why you don’t see people’s knees exploding with kneebars as much as you do with a submission like a heel hook.
So what kind of damage can you expect from a vicious kneebar?
2️⃣Ligament sprain or rupture
3️⃣Joint capsule stretch or tear