What’s the first submission that comes to mind when someone mentions Gordon Ryan?
More than likely, chances are that it is the Leg Lock. Especially the Heel Hook.
But when and how did Ryan start using Leg Locks in competition?
He shared a part of the story on social media, emphasizing that his “Leg Lock journey” started with lots of criticism:
I burst onto the local grappling scene in 2014-15 having great success with leg locks. I then burst onto the international grappling scene in 2016 having great success with leg locks.
Since leg locks at a high level were still new to the sport and considered “cheap”, I fell under a lot of criticism for being a “leg lock” guy.
People said that if it weren’t for leg locks, I wouldn’t have any success, or at least nowhere near the amount of success I had with them in play.
For me, this got old because I knew I was better at classical upper body jiu jitsu than everyone else, but the public didn’t believe it.
So, he made an in-house decision with his coach, John Danaher, to not use Leg Locks for the upcoming EBI tournament (2016) – in which he won all 4 of his matches with a strangle.
He also made a point to use Leg Locks as little as possible until ADCC 2019:
Of course, I still used leg locks, I needed to keep people honest. If they made obvious mistakes, I would just leg lock them, but I made it a point to show everyone and anyone that I was undoubtedly better not only at leg locks, but in every position on the sport.
Even after 2016/17 when I was a 4x ebi champion and ADCC champion, people were still calling me just a leg lock guy, so I decided to enter the IBJJF no gi pans and no gi world’s (where heel hooks were illegal) just so I could win them once and never compete in them again.
I doubled golded at no gi pans (100% sub rate) and no gi world’s without using a single leg lock.
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