Obviously it’s relatively easy to enter into a leglock position if someone is lying flat on their back with their legs dangling in the air to the outside of your body.
But if the other guy is using butterfly guard with his feet on the inside of your legs then it’s it’s harder to get into positions like standard ashi, outside ashi, the 411, or any of the other dominant leglock positions (click here for a breakdown of the 12 main positions of modern leglocking).
This problem is made even worse by the fact that many good grapplers these days will use the butterfly guard to set up their own leg attacks from the bottom. Because they have the inside line they can simply shoot one leg through and achieve some very dominant leg entanglements that put you in danger.
Now although the butterfly guard does provide the other guy with some measure of safety there are still things you can do if you want to enter into a leglock position.
Notice how we’re talking about ‘leglock positions’ and not ‘leglock submissions’.
That’s because in the modern approach the emphasis is much more on first achieving one of about 12 dominant leglock positions where it is difficult for your opponent to escape, defend, or counterattack.
Plus if you get a really good position like the 411 then finalising the actual submission is almost child’s play.
Here’s 3 move combination that world class leglocker Oliver Taza showed me.
It takes you from the butterfly guard to the reverse heel hook (the most powerful leglock finish) from the 411 position (the most dominant leglock position).
You know it works because he’s honed it in some of the toughest no gi competitions out there!
Check out the leglock setup, entry and finish vs the butterfly guard here…
The Strategy: Give Something to Get Something
Sometimes it’s better to give your opponent an opportunity than trying to shut everything down, because now you know exactly what he’s going to do.
And if you know what he’s going to do then you can have a pre-programmed response ready to take advantage of that opportunity.
When it comes to leglocking someone who is using butterfly guard one good strategy is to offer them the shin guard (aka instep guard)…
If you step forward with one of your legs towards an opponent sitting in butterfly guard then 90% of the time he’s going to tie up your leg with his instep against your instep and his hand on the back of your knee (pic 1 above).
Then he will typically try to offbalance you to the side by elevating your entangled foot (pic 2).
If you’re the guy on top you don’t want to get caught in the single leg X guard. But knowing what’s coming allows you to shut this transition down completely.
Step 1: Give Him the Shin Guard and Then Take it Away
Let’s look at the first step in setting up your leg entanglement vs butterfly guard.
We’re going to start by giving him a good position (the shin guard) and then completely nullifying it…
Step 2: Free Your Foot and Fake a Knee Cut Pass
Having gone one way in step 1 you’re now going to change directions, go hard the other direction, and threaten a knee cut guard pass.
You might think that this direction change will completely undo your first movement and ordinarily you’d be right. But the trick is that before changing directions you’re going to free your trailing foot so that it is now inside rather than outside his leg.
The adjustment to achieve the inside line is a subtle one but it makes all the difference!
Step 3: Backstep into the Combat Base (Top Position Saddle)
Now that you’ve achieved the inside position with one leg there’s just one more step to go before you get to the saddle position…
Attack from the Dominant Leg Position
In the entangled leg combat base position you have your front (right) leg between his legs and you have his left leg entangled between your own.
This is essentially the deadly ‘Saddle’ or ‘411’, the favorite leg entanglement position of the vast majority of high level no gi grapplers.
From this position you have a ton of options. You can pass the guard. You can go for a rolling Kimura. Or you have several routes into the reverse heel hook, the most powerful known leglock.
Oliver Taza covers all these options (and more) in his No Gi Leglocks instructional but let’s cover the simplest entry into an actual submission from the combat base position…
I hope this article and video gave you a new tool you can deploy in no gi sparring to put all of your training partners into the saddle no matter what kind of guard they use on you.
Just please, please, please go easy on the final leglock!
If you go too hard you can definitely destroy your training partner’s knees with that submission and that is definitely not cool. Don’t break your toys.
Good luck with your training,
The No Gi Leglocks Instructional with Oliver Taza
Check out The No Gi Leglocks Instructional that I did with Oliver Taza.
It’s the easiest, fastest way to learn his competition-proven leglocking secrets and it comes in online streaming, DVD and app formats.
And finally if you need some more leglock inspiration then here’s Oliver Taza in action on the No Gi Leglocks instructional – he’s so bloody smooth!