The heel hook is one of the most devastating leglocks you can apply!
Instead of attacking the big muscles of the leg (like the quads, hamstrings, or glutes) the heel hook targets the small ligaments of the knee and the ankle.
This means that you can really screw up someone’s leg if you apply it in anger.
The heel hook is banned in most clubs and illegal in almost all gi tournaments. But even though it’s not legal you should still learn and practise that move!
First of all, the heel hook is a giant killer technique.
A person’s ability to withstand the heel hook doesn’t really increase with size. So if you’re facing some gigantic guy he’s still only got relatively small ACL and PCL ligaments. Don’t pit your strength against the power of the big muscles of the leg; instead attack those small ligaments and you can do some serious damage very quickly.
Secondly, learning this move could keep you safe on the mats.
Imagine that some idiot who has watched too much MMA and doesn’t know it’s illegal tries the heel hook on you. Would you see it coming? Would you recognise it early enough to tap out?
The best way to learn how to defend against any technique is to first learn how to apply it yourself. Once you’re familiar with the setups and mechanics of an attack then it becomes much easier to reverse-engineer the defense.
Thirdly, the heel hook is really important move for self defense.
On the street you might not have the luxury of passing the guard, stabilising the top position, and then methodically setting up your choke.
Instead in a streetfight you might need to end the fight right NOW!
In this sort of time-sensitive situation the heel hook might be the perfect tool. It comes on very quickly, and almost all untrained grapplers leave their legs completely available to you.
Finally by damaging a person’s leg you’re really impairing their ability to walk and run. This could give you the time you need to get away before they go and get a knife, a gun, or reinforcements.
Hopefully you now agree that you need to learn the basics of the heel hook.
To help you with that, my old training partner Denis Kang and I filmed a Youtube video that covers both how to apply the heel hook, and how to train it relatively safely with your class mates.
Check out the video below:
P.S. Did you know that I’ve produced an entire series of instructional apps for your smartphone or tablet?
These apps use video instruction to break down different aspects of jiu-jitsu, ranging from submissions, to pin escapes, to the gripfighting, to the spider guard. I hear from tons of people saying how handy it is to have this level of BJJ instruction accessible on their phone at all times.