Footlock Friday! – Mastering the Kneebar with Dan Faggella

 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 – find more of his leg lock articles and resources at 


I’ll never forget my first tournament kneebar, because for a long time I had assumed the kneebar to be the “strong man’s leg lock.” Think about it, you need to control his entire leg with your body, not just an ankle or a heel.

For this reason, I avoided the heck of them in my first year or so doing Jiu Jitsu. Having had the fortune of training with leg lock masters from Ryan Hall to Toquinho has given me a different perspective on kneebars in general, specifically on making them perfectly tight so that they finish with ease.

Here are the MOST important details to finishing kneebars effectively. 

1) “Stomping” is the Key Pressure

It’s not just about extending at the hips that generates TONS of kneebar pressure. You need your heels digging into your opponent’s tailbone or sacrum when you’re getting the tap as well. This not only allows you to “stomp” off of the opponent, it also keeps his hips pulled tightly into you.

Here’s a funky “inverted” setup where I apply this exact pressure.

2) High and Tight is Where the Leverage Is

Grips need to be as high on the foot as possible to ensure the tap. Most people hug around whatever part of the foot is closest to them (the middle of the calf, often times), but in fact you want to be directly under the heel if not gripping the heel itself!

World’s best kneebar-er Davi Ramos shows this detail in spades at 45 seconds into this video below:

3) The 90-90 Rule

This pure body mechanics – and if you ask any weight lifter they’ll tell you the same thing: power comes best from hips and knees bent at a 90 degree angle. If your legs are extended by the time you get to the kneebar, or your hips are already pressed forward, you have a much more limited ability to force your pressure into the knee. Set up with the 90-90 and you power is concentrated enough to tap out almost anyone.

I hope these submission details come in handy, be sure to stay tuned right here – and good luck locking knees!


-Daniel Faggella


For more great articles, please keep coming back to this blog right here! To learn more specifically about leg locks on larger opponent, you can find Dan Faggella’s other instructional resources online at

TechGasp Comments Master

About the author