Gordon Ryan Clears Up IBJJF Legal vs. Illegal Leg Locks

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Confused about what you can and can’t do to your opponent’s legs on IBJJF competition mats? You’re not alone. Fortunately black belt Gordon Ryan just had a 3-hour certification talk with some top officials to clear up cross ashi garami.

In the two videos below Ryan goes over legal and illegal leg positions, so make sure you watch both. (Big love to badass Nathalia Santoro for being the demo partner this time.) The audio on the videos is a low quality, so if you’re reading this within 24 hours of being posted click on Ryan’s Instagram story for a clearer explanation. Here are some highlights from that:

“The leg that you control as long as you don’t have an achilles grip, where the trapped foot is under your armpit, is 100% legal. If you try to do a leg lace…that’s illegal. If people do a toe hold on the trapped leg…that is legal, because you’re not controlling the knee.”

“Hopefully the refs know the rules,” he finishes.

Takeaways: You cannot ever trap the ankle of the trapped leg, transitioning to straight ankle locks is safer if you don’t want to get called, and this issue is still really confusing. Might want to bookmark this page for assistance in arguing with local refs at future competitions.

Part One:

Part Two:

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Kimberly Kaye

Kimberly Kaye is a blue belt under Plinio Cruz now training BJJ and Muay Thai out of NOLA MMA. When she’s not being choked or kicked by large Louisianians, she’s a student of integrative medicine/nutrition at FCMA and rehabilitator of deaf bully breed dogs no one else wants. Kimberly coexists with the rare disease CIPO, and is an advocate for disabled individuals in the martial arts community and world at large.

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