How Grapplers Over 40 Years Old Can Be Lethal Leg Lock Artists

By on June 23, 2014

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For older grapplers, winning can be difficult at times in BJJ, but not impossible. Today, I’m going to breakdown a few ways how you can succeed as an older grappler, while also winning in impressive fashion!

By using some basic approaches to the game, you will be making up for what you lack in terms of strength and size, and replace that will pure submission skills!

In particular, we’ll be looking at attacking with leg locks, which can be an extra tough spot to work from especially when competing against larger grapplers. The days of worrying about being “too old” or “too weak” are long gone.

It’s a new day.

Avoid Trying To Outmuscle Your Opposition

Many issues older, smaller grapplers face isn’t always skills based. Especially when competing against younger competitors, strength can come into play causing issues to be had. One place that this becomes a vital aspect is when you are trapped underneath your opponent.

Especially when they can be almost double your weight; opponents can be almost impossible to remove from this type of situation.

For instance, we’ll look closer at when you may find yourself stuck under z-guard. There are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind:

  • Create space from your opponent. You’ll want to get your hand near their neck which will keep them at bay. However, this isn’t a time for you to show off your strength; allow the structure of your arms to hold their frame up. When placed properly, you won’t have to worry about using your muscles against theirs.
  • Once you accomplish this, place your foot on their thigh. Again, this isn’t time to show off your lower body strength; allow your skeletal frame to dictate what they can and can’t do!
  • After you have done this, you should have created a space between their legs. Next, shift your hips, allowing you to get more underneath them.

At this point, you can isolate their foot, and either end the match via submission or use the hold to threaten a sweep, allowing you to gain the dominant position.

This sequence is ideal for someone who will be at a strength disadvantage going into the match, and can use their body as a tool to help gain the upper hand.

Executing The Achillies Lock With Ease


No matter your age of skill level, when you find yourself waging foot war with your opponent, things can get tricky. Then, once you do factor in those outside influences such as age, things can get far, far tougher to deal with.

In the 50/50 guard, you’re dealing with a tricky situation. From here, there are tons of leg locks you can look into, however an ideal one to go for is the Achillies lock. Now, this can be difficult if you don’t know how to approach it.

First off, you want to keep your knees tight so that the leg you have isolated can’t escape. By doing so, you have disallowed them from turning away and escaping, but also it allows you to align yourself properly which adds pressure to the hold.

As you begin to setup the attack, make sure that your knees are pointing in the same direction as the knee you are attacking! This will make adding torque that much easier, and doesn’t take into account how strong you are.

From here, choke back on the foot. What this will do is add pressure onto the foot, which makes your life a whole lot easier when it comes time to go for the submission! Now we’ll look to finish the hold by tucking our submission-side elbow underneath our own body.

What this will do is add pressure as well as hide their foot, making escaping from the hold almost impossible at this point. Lastly, add the torque needed until you get the submission finish!

This setup is great for those who want to focus on avoiding go muscle for muscle with their opponent, and use their skill to secure the submission victory.

dan legs

How To Leverage Your Momentum To Gain The Dominant Position

However, while knowing how to go about these submission moves are great, how impactful are they if you aren’t able to get your opponent down to the mat? Knowing how to score a takedown and also isolate their legs is the most important piece to the puzzle.

This can be a tough task to ask for, however, if you know how to avoid making this strength vs. strength issue, then getting them to the mat and having the match right where you want it to be is no issue at all!

For instance, as you pull guard, rather than pulling yourself under your standing opponent, you’ll want to approach it in a different manner. Allowing yourself to get directly under a much larger opponent can spell trouble for you, and could potentially lead to the end of the match if you aren’t careful.

Rather than doing that, you’ll want to place your focus on their lead leg. As you pivot away from them, pull on that leg. This will eliminate their base while also exposing their heel which opens the match up to your advantage.

Upon doing so, you’ll then want to swing through and behind your opponent, sending them to the mat while also making sure that their heel remains exposed.

From here, you can isolate the leg, and proceed to apply whichever hold you feel fits the certain situation.

What I like most about all of these specific setups is that is avoids making you use your strength. Simply put, it just won’t work out in your advantage if you try that route! For older grapplers, approaching the match with a smart, logical game plan is the key to victory, and if you stick to these types of approaches we discussed, then you’ll have no problem beating those bigger, stronger opponents.

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Dan Faggella

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About Daniel Faggella

I'm 130 pounds, absolute medalist, Brown Belt No Gi Pan Am champion, and total fanatic about lightweight BJJ technique and strategy. I've written for Jiu Jitsu Magazine, Jiu Jitsu Style, MMA Sports Mag, and others.

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