Sometimes referred to simply as a ‘Foot Lock’, the Toe Hold Ankle Lock is a submission that is applied via the twisting and applying torque around one’s instep and the axis that runs along the centre of the foot.
It is easy to apply and worlds safer than the Heel Hook; as such, it is the second most frequently used ankle lock (following the Achilles Lock) and probably one of the most popular leg locks used.
The submission is applied using both your arms. In the case of applying the submission to your opponent’s (who has his/her back to the ground) right leg, your right arm grasps his right foot with your hands placed over his toes (your fingers should be curling in below his foot). Your left hand should move in front of his shin and wrap around his leg (thus encircling it with your arm) and then grab on to your right wrist using a five finger ‘monkey’ grip. Using the left arm as a fulcrum, apply pressure by pushing down on the foot/turning your body and twisting the toes towards your opponent’s groin.
Here it is explained by Bas Rutten in his 'Leglocks & Legbars' instructional video:
Key Points to Remember:
- You’re not grabbing his toes, you’re encasing them.
- The monkey grip may feel awkward at first but it is a lot more secure than a standard ‘four fingers + thumb’ grab. Given the size of leg muscles, you’re going to need a secure grip!
- Make sure to pay attention to his free leg, the fight may end badly if he lashes out with kicks.
Here are a few of my favourite transitions to the Toe Hold Ankle Lock:
- Whilst passing your opponent’s guard
- From an incomplete Omoplata set-up, or ‘Jiu-Claw’
- From just about any X-Guard sweep
- Whenever you’re in a scramble!
The submission however presents some simple escapes/counters and as such is relatively difficult to use against experienced practitioners. The most common escape is simply turning your body in the direction of the torque; an attempt I made some days ago was countered by my partner stacking/rushing into me and applying a neck crank. My personal preference is to counter the lock with a heel hook.