Leg attacks are probably one the most exciting genre of grappling submissions today. With the continued rise in popularity of the sub-only No-Gi competition format (EBI, Metamoris, ADCC etc.) which tends to subscribe to somewhat more liberal submission rules, advancements in leg attacks continue to grow exponentially. In this article, we will tackle two of many leglock positions: Ashi Garami and Outside Ashi Garami.
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The Power Of Ashi Garami & Outside Ashi Garami
If you’re completely new to the world of leg submissions (see also the article “BJJ Leg Locks Essentials Guide”), it can be pretty overwhelming. When you’re new to something, one of the first questions to ask is ‘Where do I start?’
Just as most people become overwhelmed in the early days of their BJJ training, it’s important to understand that no matter what your current belt level is, if you’re new to leg locks, then you are a white belt at leg locks. Which is perfectly okay.
It’s pretty similar to a situation when you find yourself in a foreign country and absorbing in a language that you’ve never experienced. The more you assimilate and take in, the faster you will start to understand what people around you are speaking. The only way to begin building your skills in this field of BJJ is by jumping into the sea of leg locks and starting to learn the positions.
The best way to begin your introduction into the world of leg locks is to gain a deep understanding of the actual positions from where the leg locks arise. Simply trying to understand a heel hook or straight ankle-lock submission in isolation from the controlling position that secures it, will never give you a full picture.
The following video guide below will give you a summary overview of some of the key positions from where one can be able to launch a wide variety of leg attacks. By better understanding these positions, you will start to understand the underlying structure of the language of leg attacks. The two we will focus on in this article are Ashi Garami and Outside Ashi Garami.
The video does an excellent job of breaking down the techniques based on how one has control over the opponent’s leg. Is the arm control on the same side or is it on the opposite side or across the body? Classifying the positions into the options from the same side versus the opposite side will better aid you in your understanding and eventual mastery of the techniques.
Ashi Garami can be loosely translated from the Japanese language to “leg entanglement”. It is considered the basis of all other leg attack positions because it can be seen as a launching point for transitioning into the others. This position is also the primary controlling position from which you can attack the straight ankle lock. It presents a great starting point from which to begin your study of leg attacks.
The inside Ashi Garami means that you control your opponent’s leg at the ankle by wrapping your arm around it. Simultaneously, you will use your outside leg to push at his hip. Your inside leg needs to be flexed and tucked in between your opponent’s legs, helping to maintain control. That is the basic inside Ashi Garami position.
1. Outside leg and foot must control the opponent’s hip to create a hinge point for pressure, especially in the execution of a straight ankle lock. Maintaining this control also keeps preventing the opponent from sitting up and beginning their escape.
2. The inside leg is kept underneath the far thigh of the opponent to maintain control. The knees should be kept really tight to maintain control, and pressured towards the ankle of the outside leg to create a triangle-like effect for control.
Ankle locks and heel hooks are the primary leg attack from this position. It is also important to point out that if the opponent stands up to counter the Ashi Garami, the position you will then find yourself into is also known as Single Leg X Guard. The Single Leg X is a complete system in and of itself.
The Ashi Garami is the best place to start your leg attack journey as it is one of the easiest positions to enter into, but like anything else, you need to give yourself some time to study and master it.
Outside Ashi Garami
If you take the leg that is located on the inside of the standard Ashi Garami and throw it over the same side as your outside leg, that position becomes outside Ashi Garami and can sometimes also be referred to as double outside Ashi Garami.
This position provides a strong level of control over the legs of the opponent and offers a great place from which to launch a heel hook attack. The straight ankle lock submission is less likely to happen here because of the placement of the legs. Unless the position of the feet is adjusted to place them on the opponent’s hips to create the pressure and extension, it’s pretty hard to finish the ankle lock submission from here.
The outside Ashi Garami position also provides one the opportunity to go belly down and then attack the legs.
In the following video, two leglock experts Lachlan Giles and Craig Jones discuss the Outside Ashi position. They offer some incredibly valuable insights, especially because that position was the one they found themselves in when they had their own match.
And the following video dissects the footage from the Gordon Ryan – Felipe Pena BJJ fight from 2017. It explains in detail how Ryan managed to transition from the Outside Ashi to Honey Hole a.k.a. Inside Sankaku position. The technique is, of course, pretty advanced if you are just starting, but nevertheless can serve as proof of what can be achieved when you become proficient in leglock attacks.
Ashi Garami Submissions
Whether it is inside or outside Ashi Garami – in both cases you can wrap your arm under the ankle of your opponent. Clutch this arm at the wrist with your free hand to perform the ankle lock, and your opponent will have to tap out.
The following video presents just one of the options (footlock) that you can execute from this position:
The heel hooks are banned under IBJJF, but that definitely does not mean that they are banned from BJJ. You just need to be very careful when performing heels hooks, as they can indeed be risky. So, what you can do from this position, is you can slide your arm under your opponent’s heel and then rotate it, while at the same time preventing your opponent from escaping with your legs.
There are myriads of different entries that you can use for getting into this position. The easiest method involves a sitting player versus a standing one. The sitting player needs to wrangle up his leg around his opponent’s leg, on the same side, and push with his foot at his hip. Simultaneously, he needs to wrap his hand around the ankle of the same leg of the opponent and pull. If executed correctly, the opponent will fall down and he will be into an Ashi Garami position.
There is also an option of escaping from mount control and entering the Ashi Garami position. All that is required is to explode your hips under the opponent, scoot back a bit so you can put your foot at your opponent’s hip, and then pull at his ankle.
You can also use a counter-movement to enter into the Ashi Garami position. For example, your opponent can use a hip bump in order to push you from top guard into being mounted. If this happens – you must lose no time. You need to react fast, while your opponent is in the process of mounting you. You need again to quickly scoot back and then put your foot at his hip while pulling his ankle. Once again, you entered Ashi Garami.
In the following brief video, we can take a look at twenty different entries to Ashi Garami position: