Dan Faggella is a BJJ Academy Owner, No Gi Pan Am Champion at 130 pounds, and recognized expert in the area of leg locks. Dan writes for Jiu Jitsu Magazine, Jiu Jitsu Style, MMA Sports Mag, and more – find more of his leg lock articles and resources at www.BJJLegLocks.com
Before conquering the finer points of the Ankle Lace, Reilly covers some defense tactics should you find your own leg in danger. Whenever someone is attempting any type of ankle submission on you, your first instinct should be to straighten the leg and stiffen the foot so that the base of your foot is flat, as though you were standing on it. You may have heard this defense referred to in the gym as “putting the boot on”. By stiffening the leg and foot you are taking all the give out of your ankle and holding it firm against the attack. If our opponent can not bend your ankle, they can not submit you. It would be a more effective defense, however, to stand up and place the foot being attacked on the ground. As Reilly says, “as long as your foot is flat, consider it safe” –a good motto to remember.
Reilly tells us that the smartest thing to do when you find your ankle in danger, is to stand up if possible, and get your opponent’s legs in front of you. They will not do you any good behind you, but in front they are vulnerable to attack. Once their legs are in front, your next move will depend on where they chose to place their legs. If they triangle them around the leg of yours that is being attacked, it is easy for you to smash the triangle down and break open their grip on your leg. From here, many options become available. The most obvious being to pass into a better position. If they place their legs higher up and cross their ankles on the side of your hip, they have left themselves in a perfect position for you to ankle lace them.
To obtain the ankle lace, Reilly tells us to sweep your arm OVER the top foot and UNDER the bottom foot, in a hold that looks similar to a heel hook. From this position, all you need to do is grab your own hand in a gable grip –remember, no thumbs when gripping your hands together–and squeeze. This move crushes both ankles and makes for a quick tap. Your grip causes pressure on the bottom foot’s achilles tendon, while the trapped bottom foot puts pressure on the top foot’s achilles tendon.
Done in tandem, this move is a great technique for taking yourself out of the danger zone, and in turn obtaining a submission of your own. Remember that things will not always go as planned, so work with what your opponent deals you. Base your reaction on the placement of their legs once you manipulate yourself to a standing position. Most importantly, remember “as long as your foot is flat, consider it safe!”
-Daniel “Micro” Faggella