How to Heel Hook Someone in 3 Simple Steps

 Dan Faggella is a BJJ Academy Owner, No Gi Pan Am Champion at 130 pounds, and recognized expert in the area of leg locks. Dan writes or Jiu Jitsu Magazine, Jiu Jitsu Style, MMA Sports Mag, and more – get his Free Beginner Leg Lock Mini-Course


It’s Footlock Friday, ladies and gentlemen, and you KNOW what that means…

Lets take a look at another leg lock match breakdown from a NAGA Expert Division finals last summer. The reason I wanted to take a look at this leg lock is because its a setup I’ve used tons and tons of times (on opponents my own size, and opponent’s twice my size), and in this case it’s applied VICIOUSLY.

… and that’s my favorite kind.

Let it be known that I’m a huge fan of not just pulling guard, but of taking initiative and immediately either hitting a submission or hitting a sweep, period. Even if your initial attempt is unsuccessful, you have the opponent on his heels and it’s your move, not his.

The basic concept of the setup is simple enough, but hitting it RIGHT off of a guard pull adds in a few elements that are important to bring up. Lets dig right in:

(1) The Patented “Vicious” Guard Pull

Okay so it might not literally be patented (yet), but during this particular guard pull I essentially leap into Z-guard, a variation of 1/2 guard with my knee in the opponent’s hip. When I jump guard I’m looking to shove my knee under his ribs and knock him back a bit – forcing his tendency to put his weight back into me and fight my initial forward motion.

(2) Redirect and Get Under the Hips

Especially when you get the “drive in” reaction from the opponent, it’s very easy to hit this second part. My goal from here is now to drive my hips and bottom knee under the opponent, essentially letting his forward pressure cary him over my a bit. When this happens, his weight leaves his near leg, and a grab it – not by hooking under it (a-la X-guard) – but by grabbing over top of it. This helps feed into the heel hook in a bit.

(3) Grip it and Take it Home…

Now, we finish. In order to set up this heel hook correctly, your shifting of his weight must have taken you far enough under him to then turn your hips to face his head, thus reaping his knee with your leg that previously slid under his leg. Reaping quickly will expose the heel (see video) will expose his heel for your grip.

If you have any specific matches you’d be interested in breaking down – always feel free to contact me at the links below, and look forward to more good stuff next Footlock Friday!


-Daniel Faggella

PS: If you like heel hooking people and are interested in the Free DVD where I cover the heel hook setups of the most vicious leg locker in the UFC, make sure you check out




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