Whether you’re a true beginner or already have a couple of months and years invested into training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, it’s always a good idea to take a detailed look back at the basic techniques; to understand why and when they should be used… And then to practice them again, again and again, until they are something which you can do both automatically and perfectly at the same time.
This is true for submission and defense techniques alike. And so it is with the basic Straight Ankle Lock escape; take a look at what makes this technique, shown by Firas Zahabi, work and then revisit it in training as well.
WHAT SHOULD YOU FOCUS ON?
First of all, it’s important to understand that whenever one of your limbs is inside – or on a good way towards getting into – someone’s submission hold, that your first objective often has got to be to neutralize their attempts of keeping that limb in place. That is, you have to identify which parts of their body are rendering your trapped limb immobile; and then address those parts with utmost seriousness.
In our example, one of the Straight Ankle Lock, you’re under danger of getting tapped out because of a submission hold applied at, well, your ankle. However, just because you’re tapping out due to a submission hold doesn’t mean that this is what’s keeping your limb in place. More specifically, imagine the following: if your opponent just had this hold applied – and their legs stayed off to the side – do you think they would be able to submit you?
If this were the case, then you’d be able to move your leg. And since you’d be able to move it, you’d be able to escape the threat of a submission. But you can’t. You can’t because, essentially, they have their legs wrapped around yours – keeping it in their possession.
So how do you defend against the Straight Ankle Lock? You address the opponent’s legs first, and then move on with the rest of your escape.
ESCAPING THE STRAIGHT ANKLE LOCK
Firas shows how you can do this in a great three-step approach. For the first step, you need to grab the opponent’s foot – one on the top of your hip – and press it down to the mat, extending your arm fully at the end of the movement. You’ll do this at the same time as you grab their other leg’s knee and pull it away from your thigh muscle. By doing this, you’ve neutralized the points which are keeping you in-place; creating space for your escape.
To move on with your escape, Firas demonstrates that you need to raise your backside off the ground, staying really heavy on their foot with your extended arm in the process, and sit to the side. Once here, Firas emphasizes that you have to commence your next step quickly; if you wait too much, the opponent might transition to another submission hold.
So, when you hop off to the side, you need to place your other foot on the opponent’s chest. Push against it, as you simultaneously turn your „locked“ leg’s knee to the mat. This will provide you with an opening to pull your foot out, from where you can then establish a combat base and impose your own attacking game.
Firas Zahabi explains this basic Straight Ankle Lock escape on the video below:
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