Oftentimes, we hear from other BJJ practitioners that “they don’t tap to foot-locks”, and sometimes these “other practitioners” are ourselves – if we will be completely honest. However, chances are that they haven’t come across those “real” foot-lock executions yet, like the foot lock of our today’s instructor Luiz Panza.

A straight foot lock can attack various parts of the foot and lower leg: the foot, ankle, calf muscle, and Achilles tendon. No matter in which direction your foot attack went, a properly performed foot lock can (and most often does!) have very devastating effects. Because the knee is excluded from a foot-lock attack, we often feel that it is not so dangerous and that we will not go home limping.

If we possess the ability to apply a good foot lock or its variation, we will bring in a tremendous improvement to our lower body attack game in general. If you have a good foot lock game like Luiz Panza, many other options will suddenly open up, not just submissions. Due to the threat of a foot-lock at the right time, we can improve our position, pass the guard of the opponent, or maybe transition to a more advanced level of lower body control, such as Outside Ashi, Inside Sankaku or some similar position.

The great thing is that foot locks are legal at all levels of competition, be it Gi or No-Gi, IBJJF or some other organization. All of this makes it imperative to become acquainted with a deeper knowledge of foot-locks so that we can gain an advantage over our opponents, while at the same time being careful not to get caught up in the submissions.

Luiz Panza has been practicing these advanced types of foot locks for a very long time, and definitely has credentials to say something on the subject. If we look at his competition summary, we can see that he was successfully finishing opponents with foot-locks at the highest levels. In order for a foot-lock to be effective at the elite level of competition, the mechanics of that submission hold must indeed be the most optimal and most destructive possible.

In the following video, Panza shows us some important details that change the whole picture of straight foot-locks that we’ve had so far:

Luiz shows us his ideas starting from the 50/50 guard position. He emphasizes how important it is to put the blade of your wrist just below the end of the calf muscle, in the spot where the muscle transitions into the Achilles tendon. At the same time, we pinch our elbow tight to his toes. Panza says that it’s best to attach our hand to our own hip, and also to place both of our feet to our opponent’s chest, thus preventing him to move forward and engage in a hand fight. After that, he extends his whole body, pinching the knees together and executing a submission. Interestingly enough, Luiz only uses one hand during the submission!!

While there are a lot of variations of this technique that you’ve probably seen before, in this particular case Panza feels it’s not necessary to lock your hands. He simply joins his hand together with his hip. This modification provides him with more mobility of the upper body.

It is also important to note that we do not allow our opponent’s foot to get too deep into our grip, because otherwise of course we will not be able to successfully perform the lever.

Panza secures the foot with the position of his elbow, but he also creates a narrow wedge with the positioning of his arm. This neutralizes the opponent’s ability to defend against foot-lock with the traditional “boot” escape, which has become so popular. Another concept that deserves attention is single-handed finishing.

Using only one hand to perform the submission, Panza thus frees the upper body for improved range of motion. This allows him the freedom to stretch his body as much as needed to achieve tapping.