Honey Hole BJJ position is an ashi garami (jap. “leg entanglement”) variant, where one of your legs goes across the leg of your opponent, usually leading to submissions such as an inside heel hook or cross-Achilles lock. If your legs are inside and triangled for strenght, then it’s called “cross ashi garami/inside sankaku”.
Honey Hole, Saddle, 411 (four eleven), and Inside Sankaku are the same positions, just come from different schools of thought (“Honey Hole” name is favored by Eddie Bravo, while “Inside Sankaku” is favored by John Danaher).
Table of Contents
What is Inside Sankaku a.k.a. Honey Hole?
Inside Sankaku presents one thing: COMPLETE CONTROL. It is the most powerful position, of all the leg lock positions. Why is it so? It is because your opponent doesn’t have the chance to attack your legs, while you have every chance to attack their legs. The reason for this is because your legs are triangled on the inside of your opponent’s legs. Unlike Outside Ashi or 50/50 position, it is the safest of all leg lock positions.
Today, many BJJ practitioners know of the infamous “Danaher Death Squad”, lead by Renzo Gracie black belt, John Danaher. While you watch those impressive black belts compete, you’ll notice that leg locks are their main game. More than just the locks themselves, even more the positions that these competitors are able to control. They are constantly entering different positions such as Ashi Garami and Outside Ashi, but the most powerful of all positions they go to is Inside Sankaku a.k.a. Honey Hole.
One other thing why it is so powerful is the tight, sometimes painful control. There are two main ways of holding and securing Inside Sankaku. One is a stiff control of the hips which prevents your opponent from running away and escaping from your leg lock. The other one is a painful crush on the leg grip. Both of these two controls will leave your opponent sore. Being able to exert some painful pressure and keep someone from constantly trying to escape is one of the big pro’s for this position.
Another point to think about why Inside Sankaku is so effective are the various entries into it. There are countless ways to get to the position. Top or Bottom, it is irrelevant for entering Inside Sankaku! You can be creative and easily find ways to do it, no matter what. Find the ways you like best and go for it.
Inside Sankaku is a position you will increasingly see in a high-level competition. This is something to learn and experiment with during training, especially if you are leg-lock oriented. But even if you’re not, it is very desirable to know leg locks as a self-defense weapon. Studying this part of the BJJ game can only be positive.
Spring Camp: Keeping The Honey In Honey Hole
Charles Harriott is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt and a BJJ Globe Trotters Instructor. He is a lifelong martial artist with a strong passion for BJJ and a focus on the conceptual approach to teaching. He has visited over 15 countries so far teaching, training, and living Jiu-Jitsu.
In this beautifully structured Spring Camp session on the theme of Honey Hole, Charles shows us some of the fundamental knowledge of BJJ that we need to know about this important position. The whole list of subchapters is shown below the video, with timestamps:
- 1:40 – Introduction to Ashi Garami (jap. “leg entanglement”):
50-50, mutual ashi, straight ashi garami, cross ashi garami
- 4:20 – Inside sankaku (triangle) position
- 6:00 – The drill – spinning, triangle
- 8:55 – outside and inside sankaku
- 9:50 – finishing leglock, out of the opponent’s reach
- 12:00 – sneaking the leg away, and returning it (pulling by the knee, shaking it…)
- 14:45 – reaping
- 15:50 – honey hole entrance
- 17:55 – footlock (Dean Lister’s “thumb on the chin” rule)
- 20:00 – chest position (“Superman” vs “Quasimodo”)
- 21:18 – if heel hooks are allowed/escaping
- 23:25 – cross-face
- 26:00 – using the wedge with hand
- 30:00 – defending heel hooks
- 34:00 – stoping the escape
Entry From Knee-Cut Position
In the following video, coach Tom Davey shows us the entrance into the Honey Hole BJJ position from the knee-cut passing position. He then proceeds to show us some possible submissions from there, that are allowed by IBJJF.
Entry From Back Step Position
Another beautiful and simple entrance into the Honey Hole position by David Avellan.
This entrance is probably one of the fastest ways to set up the kneebar or inside sankaku from having no grips whatsoever. When done right, it is like being teleported into the honey hole. 🙂 The back step into the honey hole should be a part of every leglocker’s game. It is simple, quick, and efficient. One of the best ways of setting this up is by feinting the pass first, so they your opponent gets distracted and forgets about defending his legs.
High Percentage Entry From Top Half Guard
In this video, Nick Albin “Chewy” shows his favorite and one of the more high percentage entries into Honey Hole that he started using early on. The best thing about this technique is that it works off of someone who is doing the right thing from inside of half guard!
Entry From Butterfly Position
In the following video, guys from Redline Jiu-Jitsu demonstrate how to enter into Honey Hole/Inside Sankaku from the Butterfly position. With a bit of practice, it looks very natural to eventually enter from this position.
Eddie Bravo’s Escape From Honey Hole
This is not one of those standard positions that you can simply power out of. Getting stuck in this position severely limits you. There’s no way you can choke, leglock or armlock someone while being stuck inside. In rare cases, there’s an option to execute a brabo choke if the timing is just right (watch Bill Cooper vs Geo Martinez in the EBI 7 finale).
One worthy option to escape from inside sankaku is in the following video, demonstrated by Eddie Bravo.
He suggests protecting the foot, and then getting up slightly. Next, Eddie suggest hugging the foot to yourself. The goal of this is to get the knee hook off. You’d also want to swing your other leg underneath both the opponent’s legs, as can be seen in the video below. Definately, this requires quite an amount of flexibility to execute.