Reilly Bodycomb Interview Regarding Leg Locks

Reilly Bodycomb is a practitioner of Sambo teaching down in Dallas, TX.  I have been following him for a number of years now and his DVD’s on Leg Locks are simply the best available on the market!  Not to mention he is one of the most down to earth, nicest cats in the grappling game today.
Here is an excerpt from an awesome interview by Reilly brought to us by US Combat Sports.
Click here for the entire interview!
What are some of the common mistakes/misconceptions practitioners make when learning/using leg locks?
Reilly: As far as the misconceptions, I would say the most common one I hear is that you abandon position when attacking the legs. I have controlled people in leg control positions for minutes on end, both in sparring and competition. Going to leg control is not giving up position, it is changing position. For most people, it is changing to a position they are not familiar with, so they lose it quickly. I equate it to when new grapplers take the back sloppily and then just end up on the bottom of full guard. Or, when they take mount but are immediately rolled over. Their instructors don’t discourage them from taking the back or mount, they just teach them more and more until the student can learn how to change positions smoothly and maintain control, even when his opponent is rolling around and defending. Leg locks are like this: once you really learn how to do it, you can stay in control of your opponent for quite a long while before submitting them. Sadly, there are few good examples of athletes in the USA who can do this properly. That number is growing steadily, however, and we are seeing more and more Americans who can control the legs as others control the back.

Keeping with the sparring theme from last post, here is a great list of tips from

Sparring tips:

  1. Size up your opponent before you engage. If he strikes first then you know he is anOFFENSIVE fighter. If he waits for your attack then you know he is a DEFENSIVE fighter.
  2. Find out what technique your opponent is good at by giving a fake. If your opponent moves his hands then you know he is a puncher. If your opponent moves his leg then you know right away that he is a kicker.
  3. Try to get your opponent to attack first, either by a fake or taunt. You will quickly learn what technique your opponent relies on, (every fighter has their favorite technique) then plan a counter for that attack.
  4. Do not telegraph your attack.
  5. Never show fear when sparring. Your opponent will sense fear and go on the attack, however, fear also can be used as a fake.
  6. When you and your opponent are in hitting range make sure you’re legs are never wider than your shoulder width. Wider stands makes your movements slower.
  7. Always set up your opponent before you strike. Set up high, strike low. Set up low, strike high. Most experienced fighters will never get hit unless you set them up.
  8. Always relax the body before you strike. Tension slows down attacks. Visualise a snake attacking it’s prey. Calm, relaxed, then strike with lightening speed.
  9. Close the gap between your thought and action. Don’t think too long or the opportunity is lost.
  10. The moment to strike an opponent is when he is about to launch an attack or as he is landing from his attack.
  11. Jabs and back knuckles are the fastest weapon for your hands which is done with the lead hand. Also practice round house and side kicks like a jab with the lead leg to set up or jam oncoming opponent.
  12. Always remember when your opponent attacks — a part of their body will be exposed for counter. This applies to your counter as well.
  13. If you are constantly clashing with your opponent then you must work on timing. If you don’t understand timing then go back to tip #10.
  14. Focus on the target in your mind without looking at the target.
  15. Don’t kick just to be kicking. Let each technique have a purpose rather than kicking or punching for the sake of just sparring.
  16. Don’t block unnecessary attacks.
  17. Pace your energy, kicking takes more energy than hands so use it sparingly.
  18. If your opponent is good with sliding kicks then the time to attack is when his feet comes together right before he tries to launch a kick.
  19. If your opponent has a great counter back kick with his right leg and you also fight with right leg back then you must switch your fighting stands with left leg back instead of right, this way you can move away faster and not walk into his back kick.
  20. Watch your opponents body movement, not just their eyes. Experienced fighters do not show emotion so you must focus on their whole body.
  21. Use back knuckle to set up opponent or to cover their vision.
  22. Don’t turn your back on an opponent.
  23. Don’t try to score on the first attack. Have in mind to set up and score on the 2nd or the 3rd attack.
  24. The most common technique used in sparring is round house kick. Learn various counter for the round house kick. Such as back kicks and spin heel kick.
  25. When cornered, jam your opponent’s attack before they can fully extend their leg or hand and slip out to the side.
  26. Every attack has a counter so learn them. You learned that playing rock, paper, scissors as a kid.
  27. If you get hit, never lose your temper and go after your opponent, your rage will make you more vulnerable for a counter attack.
  28. When fighting a defensive fighter, you must use fakes to open them up before attacking.
  29. Learn to side step when kicking in close distance.
  30. Do not use high jump kicks for sparring. Low jump kicks are okay at a higher level.
  31. Do not back up straight against a combination attack, move side ways or jam them before they can launch their attack.
  32. When you attack there must be no doubt or hesitation, you must commit otherwise you are open to counter attack.
  33. Do not always try to beat your opponent in the first round, especially if they are bigger. Cover up well, make them move, get them tired then move in.
  34. Never under estimate your opponent.
  35. No one person fights the same. Quickly adopt and assess opponent’s weakness.
  36. Sparring has 3 principles. RELEASE energy. RESERVE energy and REGENERATE energy.

“Although some exercises help condition and others speed improvement, there’s one all-important activity that assists both. That activity is sparring. There is no substitute for sparring. You must spar regularly and often to become a well-rounded scrapper, regardless of what other exercises you may take. Sparring not only improves your skill, but it also conditions your body for fighting by forcing your muscles to become accustomed to the violent, broken movements that distinguish fighting from any other activity.” – Jack Dempsey

Plain and simple… to improve at your sport of choice you MUST train with uncooperative resistance on a VERY regular basis!  Now days I have a different attitude for those of us in a “hobby” where we take massive ammounts of trauma to the brain.  That said if you are boxing/kickboxing you need to work sparring.  Not necessary to hit and get hit with 100% power, but you do need to receive and give strikes.

In regards to any grappling you should certainly be “rolling” at some level every class (which at NWJJA we do) with uncooperative partners.

Food for thought for those of you out there in the combat sports.


Reminder… no class Oct. 26 – Nov. 1st.  Classes will resume Wednesday the 2nd.


Here is yet more info on the infamous Kimura whom Helio named the lock after in which Kimura used to “break” Helio’s arm.  Thanks to

This is what “Bad-Ass-Mofo”
looks like in 1900’s Japan!

Masahiko Kimura (1917-1993), judo 7th dan obtained at age 29, is undoubtedly the greatest Judoka to ever live. He stood 5’6″ (170 cm) tall and weighed 185 pounds (84kg).
ULTIMATE FIGHT IN BRAZIL – 1951   Kimura became the All Japan Open Weight Judo Champion at age 20. He maintained this title for 13 years without suffering a single defeat during this period. In 1950 he left judo to become a professional Judoka and wrestler. In July 1951 Kimura and two other fellow Japanese Judoka were asked to compete in Brazil. Kimura at age 34 was accompanied by a 240 pound (110kg) college champion Yamaguchi (6th degree black belt at the time) and Kado (5th degree black belt). It was to be a Judo/Jiu-jitsu fight.
Kado accepted a challenge from Helio Gracie – Brazilian champion for 20 years. The loser was determined by tapping out due to a choke or armbar, or by being knocked out of commission. Ippon (clean powerful throws) or osaekomi (pinning) would have no effect on the results of competition. During Kado’s fight he threw Gracie several times. Gracie, who was in excellent condition, demonstrated ukemi, braking the throws with little injury. After 10 minutes of frustration, Kado decided to apply a choke. However, the masterful Gracie applied his own choke rendering Kado unconscious. With Kado’s passing-out, Gracie was declared the winner and became a national hero of Brazil!
Weeks later, Gracie challenged the remaining two team members, either Yamaguchi or Kimura, to a match. Yamaguchi refused for fear of injury, however Kimura accepted the challenge. There were 20,000 spectators present. A coffin was brought in by Gracie’s followers. Presumably, Kimura was to be killed by Gracie. On the day of the match, the President and Vice President of Brazil attended at ringside.
During the fight, Kimura threw Gracie repeatedly with Ippon Seoinage, Osoto-gari, and Haraigoshi. He also included painful suffocating grappling techniques such as Kuzurekamishihogatame, Kesagatame, Sankakugatame. Gracie proved to be a formidable opponent refusing to surrender after 12 minutes of grueling fight. Kimura then took Gracie down with an Osotogari followed by Kuzurekamishihogatame. During the battle that followed, Gracie bridged out of the pin and right into Kimura’s ude-garami (arm bar). The arm bar must have been painful but when Gracie refused to surrender, Kimura applied yet more pressure, and as a result Gracie suffered a broken left elbow.

Even with the broken elbow, Gracie still refused to give up, so his comer “threw in the towel”. Kimura was declared the winner by TKO. Although Kimura won the actual fight, it was acknowledged that Gracie had the greater fighting spirit and will. Kimura later applauded Gracie’s tremendous will to win.

Kimura was born on September 10, 1917 in Kumamoto Prefecture in Kyusu, Japan. He started to practice Judo at age 10. By the time he was a senior in High School, he had reached 4th dan. In 1935, he won his first title, the All-Japan Collegiate Championships. At the samc time he was promotcd to the 5th dan by defeating eight (8) consecutive opponents at Kodokan.

In October 1937, Kimura competed in All Japan Judo Championships. In his semi-finals, he won with Ippon using Osoto-gari in only a few seconds. Nakashima, a two-time champion was his final opponent. The match was scheduled for 40 minutes. In the first 15 minutes no one scored any decisive points. In the second pcriod Kimura scored a Wazari with Seoi-nage. Kimura felt that he had won the match, but Nakashima countered with left Uchimata. Thus, the second period was a draw. In the last 10 minute period, Nakashima was taken down where Kimura applied Kuzure-kami-shiho-gatame, After the 30 second pin, Kimura was declared the winner.

In 1938, at The 8th All Japan Judo Championship, Kimura made it to the fourth round match easily. His opponent was Tashiro. Tashiro was known for his excellent Kani-basami (now banned from use due the fact that even if applied correctly with speed and force, it most often results in a broken leg).
When the match started, Kimura threw Tashiro with Osoto-gari. The throw was so powerful that Tashiro hurt his right shoulder and was unable to continue. In the final match Kimura won by Ippon with Kuzure-kamishiho gataine over Ogawa.

The following year at the 9th All Japan Judo Championships, Kimura again made it to the fourth round easily. Here he defeated Tsuzimoto with Tsurikomi-goshi. He warned his final opponent, Tokizane, just prior to the match that he was going to defeat him using Osoto-gari. Ironically, Tokizane’s specialized favorite was also Osoto-gari. However, even his expertise was no match for Kimura. Tokizane took an extremely defensive posture at the start of the match. Kimura circumvented these defenses with an Osoto-gari and Osoto-otoshi combination. With the winning of this title, Kimura had won the last three All Japan Tournaments. For his winnings he was awarded the Championship Flag. He is the only person in the world to ever posses the flag.

TEN-RAN SHIAI   Kimura’s next major win was in 1940 at the Ten-Ran Shiai. This was a special tournament held in the presence of Japan’s emperor. Kimura won the first match with Ippon using Ushiro-goshi. In the next two matches he won with Osoto-gari. His semi-final opponent was Hirosei. Hirosei was the champion in 1941. (Kimura was not present at that tournament, but in previous meetings, Kimura had won by Wazaris using Osoto-gari.) His first five attempts to throw Hirosei were unsuccessful. However, Hirosei tired, and Kimura defeated him by Ippon using Osoto-gari.

His final opponent Ishikawa was the champion in 1949 and 1950. (Kimura had defeated him with Osoto-gari and Tsurikomi-goshi in the past meetings.) This time Kimura defeated him decisively with Ippon Seoi-nage just 42 seconds into the match. The night before the final match Kimura could not fall to sleep easily. He was pondering on how to defeat Ishikawa as quick as possible. Kimura considered to apply osoto-gari or sasae-tsuri-komi ashi.

ALL JAPAN JUDO CHAMPIONSHIP-1948   Yasuichi Matsumoto (187 cm,80 kg) became the champion on May 2, 1948 in Kodokan’s All Japan Judo Championship. The first round he won by osoto-gari, second round by osoto-otoshi, and 3rd round by osoto-maki-komi. In the quarterfinal round he won by osoto-gari. In the semifinals he fought to a draw with Yoshimatsu (winner then decided by a coin flip). In the final match, he beat Tokuharu Itoh by decision in three overtimes. Kimura was not invited due to his refusal to return the prized championship flag.

On Nov. 1, 1948 at the 3rd National Athletic Judo Tournament held in Fukuoka, Yoshimi Osawa 6th dan (5’5” 68 kg), defeated Yasuichi Matsumoto, by ura-nage. Osawa is considered to be one of the best technicians post WW II. He is currently 9th dan. Osawa is famous for ashi-harai and tsurikomi-goshi.

ALL JAPAN JUDO CHAMPIONSHIP -1949   At age 32 Kimura competed in the All Japan Judo Championships for the last time. He won in the first round with Ude-garami. In the next round he pinned Osawa with Kuzure-kamishiho-gatame. In the semi-finals, he won by decision with Ippon-scoi nage. His final opponent was Takahiko Ishikawa, 6th dan and rival. Kimura was more aggressive, doing all the attacking.
However after three overtimes with neither scoring at least a Wazari, Mifune (10th dan), the referee, declared both of them champions.WINS AGAINST FUTURE GREATS   In 1947 at West Japan Judo Championship, Kimura went up against Yoshimatsu. Yoshimatsu was 5’11” (180 cm) and weighed 250 lbs (115 kg). Future three time All Japan Champion in 1952, ’53, ’55 was little challenge for Kimura. He defeated Yoshimatsu with Osoto-gari and Ippon-Seoi-nage, by Wazaris. Yoshimatsu later defeated future Olympic Champion, Anton Geesink, in 45 seconds with Uchimata in the 1st Worlds Judo Championships (1956). Anton from the Netherlands stood 6’7″ (197 cm) and weighed 213-264 lbs (97-120 kg). He was World Champion in 1961 and 1965 and also won the Gold in the Tokyo Olympics (1964).SAN BAI RO RIOKU-TRIPLE EFFORT   The secret to Kimura’s success is called San Bai Ro Rioku. Under this belief, Kimura did 300 pushups daily in High School, In his University, Taku-Shoku, the number increased to 500. After obtaining his first victory, Kimura decided to start doing 1000 non-stop pushups to ensure his future victories. However, pushups was just a small part of Kimum’s hard practices. During his prime, he practiced 4 times a day, at least 6 hours every day. He trained at Taku-Shoku University, Local Clubs, Kodokan, and Police Academies, Quite often he would practice against a tree, always at midnight. One instance, Wushi-Zima, a two time champion, was aroused by a commotion in the nearby woods. When he checked out the noise it turned out to be Kimura doing uchikomi against a tree. On another occasion when he observed Kimura’s strangely improvised uchikomi, Wushi-Zima asked “Are you still trying to kill that tree?”
TRIBUTES   Masahiko Kimura Sensei, the greatest Judo Legend passed away on April 18, 1993 of Lung Cancer at the age of 75.

Toshiro Daigo wrote “I had the opportunity to fight Kimura once at the 1947 Kyushu vs. Kansai individual meet… he let me attack him in the beginning, but threw me with Osoto-gari and pinned me. He was a powerful player.”

Yoshimi Osawa wrote, “I competed against Kimura at the 1949 All-Japan, his last All Japan facing him in the second round, he beat me with Kuzure-kamishiho gatame. …I remember during practice sessions he would regularly throw me outside the mat onto the hardwood floors.”

Japanese famous writer Tomita (son of Tomita, 8th dan — one of the four Kodokan Guardians in the early Kodokan) praised Kimura as the best Judo player in the Showa era. Tomita wrote “Kimura No mae Ni Kimura Naku, Kimura No Ato Ni Kimura Nashi.” Meaning: there never was a player like Kimura before or since.

Approximately 25 years ago I wrote a letter to Kimura Sensei. To my surprise he replied immediately and also included details on how to master Osoto-gari. To me there is no doubt that he is the greatest and most humble Judo Legend of all time. We all miss him.

imageMuch thanks to the Valente Brothers and for the retelling of the infamous fight between Masahiko Kimura (a protege of Jigoro Kano, creator of Judo) and Helio Gracie (infamous patriarch of the Gracie clan) that took pace October 23, 1951.

Arguably the most interesting and relevant story in the history of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

By the Valente Brothers   Sixty years ago, on October 23, 1951, arguably the most important fight in Jiu-Jitsu history took place in Rio de Janeiro. The fight was held at Maracanã Stadium, the largest in the world at the time, built to host the 1950 soccer World Cup and with a capacity of over two hundred thousand people.Understanding the magnitude of Gracie vs. Kimura requires a look back at Helio Gracie’s victories against Japanese champions and the Gracie brothers’ resistance to the imposition of judo practiced as a sport in place of training Jiu-Jitsu as martial art.   At the end of the 19th century, Japanese immigrants began to travel the world and spread the ancient fighting system denominated Jiu-Jitsu. This initial dissemination was done in a disorganized fashion, as Japanese practitioners took part in exhibitions and taught their own style to international students throughout the world. As the Japanese government realized the tremendous international interest in their national martial art, they appointed the founder of the Kodokan Institute, Jigoro Kano, to organize Jiu-Jitsu as a sport and take control of the international dissemination of Jiu-Jitsu, which had recently been renamed “judo” by Jigoro Kano.   Brazil represented one of the greatest centers for Jiu-Jitsu dissemination since a vast number of Japanese citizens migrated from Japan to Brazil. This exodus of Japanese immigrants occurred after a treaty was signed by the Japanese and Brazilian governments to bring Japanese workers to help at Brazilian coffee plantations in the state of São Paulo. Today, Brazil has the highest number of Japanese people outside of Japan. In order for the Japanese Jiu-Jitsu fighters to maintain their supremacy abroad, they needed to dominate local practitioners on the mat. In Brazil, this was made very difficult by a young and skinny Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter named Helio Gracie. Between 1932 and 1936, Helio fought the best Japanese fighters to visit Brazil and remained undefeated. For instance, he defeated Masagoishi by armlock and famous Japanese champion Taro Miyake by choke.   These victories caused a delegation of Japanese masters including Sumiyaki Kotani, one of the highest authorities in Japan, to come to Brazil and promote Helio Gracie to fourth-degree black belt in judo and attempt to convince him and his brothers to follow the Japanese modern sportive system – judo. They also invited Helio to participate in a judo tournament in São Paulo in order to introduce him to the modern rules, which included a point system. This represented a substantial alteration of the original system they had learned from Mitsuyo Maeda, which predicated that a match could only be decided by submission or loss of consciousness. The new judo rules kept the matches standing and minimized the importance of ground fighting.   In addition, the new Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, which they called judo, de-emphasized self-defense techniques and favored the practice of Jiu-Jitsu only as a sport. The Gracie brothers did not feel that the Japanese were technically superior to them, given their observations and Helio’s victories, and were very successful teaching their own modernized and efficient method of street self-defense. Consequently, they decided to maintain their independence from the Japanese and continue to teach their own method of Jiu-Jitsu. As the Japanese colony in Brazil tried to promote the sport of judo, they ran into resistance from the Gracie brothers, who accused them of hiding the martial secrets of Jiu-Jitsu from international students. The Japanese felt that the only way to quiet the annoying opposition by the Gracies was to find someone who could challenge and defeat Helio Gracie, who had retired in 1938 due to a lack of competent opponents.   So in November of 1950, Helio Gracie was asked by a Japanese emissary if he would accept an offer to face a Japanese champion from Japan. When he responded, “It would be a pleasure,” he suspected that soon he would be surprised by the visit of a Japanese champion. This occurred on July 18, 1951, when local Japenese-language newspaper “São Paulo Shimbum” announced that the World Champion, Masahiko Kimura, who is still considered by many to be the best judo fighter of all time, was coming to Brazil to fight. The newspaper invested the equivalent of more than US$ 100,000 to bring the Japanese team over. One week later, on October 25, Kimura arrived in Rio accompanied by sixth-degree black belt Yamaguchi and fifth-degree black belt Yukio Kato, who he described as being the second and third best judokas in Japan. On that Wednesday afternoon, Helio Gracie was teaching class and received a phone call from the largest Brazilian newspaper, inviting him to come meet the Japanese champions who were on their way from the airport for an interview. Helio Gracie rushed to the headquarters of “Diario da Noite” and arrived in time to meet Kimura. Both fighters accepted the idea of a match as proposed by the journalists. Kimura was supposed to go to São Paulo the next day for a series of demonstrations and HelioKimura, Helio would first have to face Yukio Kato, a 22-year-old weighing 154lbs. They argued that in the case of a defeat against Kimura, Helio would use the weight difference of more than 70 lbs as an excuse. Against Kato, who was only 15 lbs heavier, the Japanese fighter would be able to establish the superiority of their method beyond any doubt. In light of the Japanese demands, Helio accepted the challenge and a match was scheduled for September 6 in Rio de Janeiro.   On Thursday, September 6, 1951, Helio Gracie and Yukio Kato met at Maracana stadium, and the match was declared a draw after three 10-minute rounds. Kato was more aggressive in the first round and attempted to knock out Gracie with powerful throwing techniques. Helio demonstrated great defense and started to take the offensive in the second round by bringing the fight to the ground. Although Helio had sustained a broken rib two weeks before the fight, he dominated the third round and only narrowly missed victory (instead of the draw that the match was declared) because Kato escaped off the mat three times to avoid Helio’s chokes. Kato became so impressed with Helio’s techniques that he said after the fight that Helio could consider himself a world champion in groundfighting since he felt that even at the Kodokan he wouldn’t find a fighter of his weight who could defeat him on the ground.   Not satisfied with the result, Kato challenged Helio to a remach in São Paulo. This time the match would take place in a ring with ropes to avoid any escapes. On Saturday, October 29 Kato and Gracie fought for the second time, at Pacaembu Gymnasium. Fighting in a ring, Kato could not escape and, after a couple of spectacular throws, attempted to finish the fight on the ground with a choke while passing the guard. Gracie felt the pressure, as he admitted after the match, but managed to roll out of it. Using his flexibility, Gracie recovered the guard and applied a front choke from his back that rendered Kato unconscious eight minutes into the first round. The result of this fight repeesented a glorious moment in Helio Gracie’s career, as he proved that his Jiu-Jitsu could not be considered inferior to the Japanese.<iframe width=”420″ height=”315″ src=”” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>