May 22, 2012

Leg Attacks and the Evolution of Hooks In Guard

Thanks to all 12 of the individuals who voted on my poll regarding which leg attacks are permitted in free rolling at your academy.  Many grappling academies prohibit certain leg attacks, or in some cases all leg attacks.  While I admit heel hooks, and toe holds must be approached cautiously, leg attacks are very valid both from a sport perspective as well as self defense wise.  Keep in mind that the Russian art of Sambo specializes in leg destruction's because when used in combat not only would you incapacitate a solider completely, but one would also drain the resources of the enemy with extra men needed to carry the wounded solider off the field.  Crazy Russians and their strategery!

As you can see the results of the poll were as follows:
"What leg attacks can you use in your academy?"

  1 (8%)
Straight Attacks Only
  2 (16%)
Everything But Heel Hooks
  8 (66%)
All Are Game
  1 (8%)


Coincidentally Coach Brian covered the straight ankle lock and uncommon entries into it all last week.  On Tuesday night all in attendance were treated to a bit of fireside chat as Brian was feeling particularly good and wanted to share some history.  I had heard Rigan Machado tell this story before but of course Brian remembers details much better and is a better story teller in general.  But some of you hooks in guard players might find this interesting.

There was a period in Rigan Machado's life where he obsessively studied leg attacks, training with Sambo practitioners, Judoka, anyone and everyone that could teach him about leg attacks he trained with and soaked up the information.  Subsequently he came back to the academy and shared with his four brothers Jean Jacques, Roger, Carlos, and John, as well as many of most famous practitioners of BJJ today!

As Rigan was opening up closed guards he was attacking rather then attempting to pass.  His training partners were baffled by how quick the submissions came and how defenseless they felt, to the point no one wanted to open their guard when rolling with Rigan!  So when sparring with Rolls Gracie (1951-1982), and Jean Jacques they started getting wise and when playing open guard they would tuck their feet into Rigan's thighs essentially playing a hooks guard.  Slowly the game developed as Rolls noticed you could lay down with hooks in or you would get passed.  Started sitting up.

This is exactly how Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, really all martial arts, evolve!  We bring a new technique or even just a new perspective of an old technique.  We try it in sparring.  Our partners get savvy and offer various defenses, which in turn we start to develop counters too, etc. etc.

Regardless I thought this was rather interesting historically and technically.  As a side note it should be mentioned that in 1993 (and I believe in 1994) both Rigan, John, and Jean Jacques won the Pan Am Sambo Championships!  As a testament to the above story here is a clip of the Machado's competing at the Sambo championship.  Check out Jean Jacques submission starting at 20 second mark:

Nuff' said!


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