Craig Jones: “The Whole Leg Lock Phase in Jiu-Jitsu Has Already Passed”

Gunnar Nelson is a professional Jiu Jitsu and MMA fighter from Iceland. Gunnar started training in BJJ under Ireland’s Joh Kavanagh and he placed fourth in the ADCC tournament (open weight division) in 2009. Gunnar Nelson was promoted to black belt by Renzo Gracie and became the youngest European to have received a BJJ Black Belt (21 years old, together with Marcin Held and Mads Burnell) and after only 4 years of training.

Nelson spent 2 years training at Renzo Gracie academy in New York in 2008. Whilst there he had trained a lot and learned from John Danaher who was back then, still an instructor at the academy.


In the latest episode of Craig Jones’ El Segundo Podcast, Nelson talked about how he had been training before the leg lock phase that is currently sweeping Jiu-Jitsu:

Nelson: “I never uh I never got into all that stuff (leg locks) anyway so um it’s more like recently like in the last few years that I’ve gone to know a little bit about the legs but I missed that whole phase you know. I’m just pass guards, mount, uh back choke. That’s all I do, side chokes and very Jiu Jitsu in MMA.

Craig Jones who is one of the best leg lockers in the game added something very interesting about leg locks.

“I think the leg lock phase has passed because it’s so hard to get them now. It was like, they were way too easy and
now they’re like diminishing because people are starting to know how to prevent them and then if they know that you’re good at it you just they just defend so well…”

The last two ADCC have seen a heavy shift towards leg lockers but who has been training in Jiu-Jitsu for more than 5 years knows that there are trends, and leg locks is just another one in a long lists of styles and techniques. Remember arm drags, rubber guard, buggy chokes, darces, anacondas, guillotines etc…. have all had their phases in Jiu-Jitsu.

What’s the first submission that comes to mind when someone mentions Gordon Ryan?
More than likely, chances are that it is the Leg Lock. Especially the Heel Hook.

But when and how did Ryan start using Leg Locks in competition?
He shared a part of the story on social media, emphasizing that his “Leg Lock journey” started with lots of criticism:

I burst onto the local grappling scene in 2014-15 having great success with leg locks. I then burst onto the international grappling scene in 2016 having great success with leg locks.

Since leg locks at a high level were still new to the sport and considered “cheap”, I fell under a lot of criticism for being a “leg lock” guy.
People said that if it weren’t for leg locks, I wouldn’t have any success, or at least nowhere near the amount of success I had with them in play.

For me, this got old because I knew I was better at classical upper body jiu jitsu than everyone else, but the public didn’t believe it.

So, he made an in-house decision with his coach, John Danaher, to not use Leg Locks for the upcoming EBI tournament (2016) – in which he won all 4 of his matches with a strangle.

He also made a point to use Leg Locks as little as possible until ADCC 2019:

Of course, I still used leg locks, I needed to keep people honest. If they made obvious mistakes, I would just leg lock them, but I made it a point to show everyone and anyone that I was undoubtedly better not only at leg locks, but in every position on the sport.

Even after 2016/17 when I was a 4x ebi champion and ADCC champion, people were still calling me just a leg lock guy, so I decided to enter the IBJJF no gi pans and no gi world’s (where heel hooks were illegal) just so I could win them once and never compete in them again.

I doubled golded at no gi pans (100% sub rate) and no gi world’s without using a single leg lock.

The post Craig Jones: “The Whole Leg Lock Phase in Jiu-Jitsu Has Already Passed” appeared first on Bjj Eastern Europe.

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