Riz's Martial Arts Training

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The Heel Hook

The Heel Hook is a leg lock technique affecting multiple joints, applied by transversal foot twist (rotating the heel). The rotation torques the joints (and ligaments) of the ankle and more so, those of the knee - the submission is simple to apply from a wide variety of positions. It's also one of few techniques used in Karate that translates seamlessly into the BJJ method of groundfighting.

Its versatility and effectiveness has made the heel hook popular with submission fighters from a variety of disciplines. However, the technique has a high risk of injury and has been banned in many competitions. Resulting injuries from a heel hook can be very severe and can quite literally end a fighter's career. Consequently, the submission is banned in a lot of clubs - be sure to find out whether you're allowed to use it at yours. Use the move with caution (if at all!). Here's a video of the inverted heel hook explained by Bas Rutten:

Key Points to Remember:

  • Lock your opponent's foot tight under your armpit (I find the Gable Grip is the best to use).
  • For maximum effect with the submission, be sure to twist your entire upper torso, not just turn your arms (though this is sometimes enough!).
  • Finally, remember this is an extraordinarily simple move - it can be applied from almost any position with relative ease.

Here are a few of my favourite transitions into the Heel Hook:

  • From the single-leg takedown.
  • While attempting to pass your opponent's guard.
  • From the basic X-Guard sweep (Toe-hold ankle lock works really well from here too).
  • As a counter to someone trying to get his butterfly hooks in (though this has a low success rate, it will frustrate people to no end!).

If you're ever caught in a heel hook, make sure to tap as soon as you feel it. The pain caused by the submission is relatively bearable until after you are already injured - at which point, you'll curse yourself for being born with legs. True story.

Using the heel hook is like selling your soul to the devil - the offer is incredibly alluring. Once you nail that submission and realise how easy and effective it is, you develop a thirst to go for it again and again. And by the time you realise how dangerous it can be - you have probably already hurt someone.

Personally, I often avoid using the heel hook as a submission - even though, it is one of my favourite and most natural-feeling techniques - I tend to just position myself to apply the submission without fully cranking the technique (just tightening your grip will result in a few submissions) before transitioning to something else. 
Be sensible. Don't be a heel hook slut.

On a side note: If you want to see someone who was absolutely merciless (read: "showed absolutely no concern for his opponents' wellbeing") with the heel hook, here's a clip of Ken Shamrock in his glory days against Leon Dijk:


Post a Comment 1 comments:

Adrian said...

Absolutly brutal application of that technique

July 5, 2009 at 5:52 AM

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