Leg lock mastery and the percentage principle

Leg Lock Mastery

When I was a beginner in jiu jitsu leg locks had a subversive and mysterious aura to them. There were some people who were considered experts in the field. The criteria by which people were judged as expert was typically THE NUMBER OF LEG LOCKS THEY KNEW. If one person knew ten leg locks and another knew one hundred, the second man was the expert. Consider the work of my students - NINETY FIVE PERCENT OF THE VICTORIES MY STUDENTS HAVE HAD IN COMPETITION AND IN THE GYM - AND NO ONE HAS HAD MORE LEG LOCK VICTORIES OR AT SUCH A HIGH LEVEL - HAVE COME FROM TWO LEG LOCKS - the outside heel hook and the inside heel hook. Probably one of the biggest effects upon leg locking that I have had is to change people’s perceptions about what constitutes leg lock mastery. Rather than see it in terms of the number and variety of leg locks known and performed, I SEE IT IN TERMS OF MASTERING ONLY THE MOST HIGH PERCENTAGE MOVES AND FOCUSING UPON THEM - EMBEDDING THEM IN SOPHISTICATED SYSTEMS OF OPERATIONS THAT TAKE AN ATHLETE FROM THE BEGINNING OF A MATCH TO THE END. Thus mastery is about the DEPTH OF THE SUPPORT SYSTEMS AROUND A FEW HIGH PERCENTAGE LEG LOCKS, RATHER THAN NUMBER AND EXTENT OF THE LEG LOCKS THEMSELVES. I really only teach five ashi garami based leg locks in a serious fashion, along with a few non ashi garami leg locks, and of those five, the overwhelming majority of my time is spent on just two - and from those two came a success rate that changed the direction of jiu jitsu over the last five years. I could teach you a hundred interesting and exotic leg locks - and it would do little or nothing to improve your performance on the mat - or I could teach you two bio-mechanically sound leg locks embedded in systems that could get you to those locks and keep you there against strong resistance - the second option will make you a real master of leg locking - the first will not.