Ashi Garami – Leg Lock Which Will Enable You To Win A Losing Game

November 1, 2017
ashi garami

Garry Tonon vs Elek Gracie


ll of us make mistakes sometimes. We get taken down or an opponent gets into a mount position. But the fight isn’t over! With the assistance of ashi garami, you will be able to defeat the opponent mounting you and controlling the fight all the time. When everybody sees you tapping out, you can make a surprise by performing a brutal ashi garami and forcing your opponent to tap!

Despite the technique is prohibited in judo, it has a wide appliance in MMA, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and Sambo. Sambo is known for leg locks, and some of the best Sambo and MMA fighters use this technique to defeat aggressive opponents on the ground.

What is it

It is also known as the leg entanglement. Ashi garami is one of four Kinshi-Waza techniques. Despite this technique is forbidden, it is excellent for street defense and a counter for a successful ground and pound fighter.

The idea of the throw is to let your opponent take the initiative and make him think he is better. Many of us will relax when the opponent lays on his back and constantly gets punched or elbowed. However, one moment of non-attention can turn the fight in the opposite direction. The attacker can become a loser in a split of a second! Especially with ashi garami, since it can be applied from half-guard or full guard. If an opponent has mounted you, the only thing you should do is release one leg and he can have a hard time when your legs trap his leg. Or you can lift him in the air by using your hips.

In judo, this is a technique that forces your opponent to go down with you. Despite it is not a fully sacrificing throw, it has a goal to take your opponent down and surprise him. This is maybe one of the most surprising throws in judo. In Sambo, this technique is called leg lacing.

The nature of the throw requires amazing speed, an outstanding technique, and good foot positioning. If your foot goes few inches to the left or right, you will have a very big problem. Attempt ashi garami off the throw only if you are 100% certain. On the ground, this is a technique which can save you from the aggressive opponent!

You may perform many techniques and counters off the ashi garami too!

Executing the technique

Ashi garami can be used as a counter or as a defense, depending on the situation. If you fight against a bully who constantly goes towards you, this is maybe the easiest way to defeat him. Just use his force to take him down. On the other hand, the technique is defensive when you find yourself on the ground with your opponent – MMA and Sambo.

In judo, you will have to create a momentum towards your back (in the direction your opponent is facing). Here is a good demonstration video.

Step 1. Both tori and uke stand in the guard. Let’s assume both fighters are in the right stance. While uke stands in place or goes forward, tori places his left leg behind his right leg, locking it. Tori rotates his left leg 90-degrees counterclockwise to trap uke’s right leg from movement.


Step 2. Lower the center of gravity and squat down on your left leg, pulling uke down all the time. Keep holding uke while he is in the full guard position. Here is a good video – this is a chance to end the fight if tomoe nage goes wrong.

Step 3. Wrap your left leg around uke’s right thigh. Place your right leg on the inner side of uke’s knee and push forward, extending your right leg. Make sure to kick his left leg hard! If his legs are more apart, you will have bigger chances of winning the fight via tap out.

  • If you want more efficiency in your throw, rotate on your right side quickly when you kick his left leg. It will enable better control of the position and the escape will be nearly impossible.

After the throw

This is a very tricky part since the technique is prohibited in judo. But in the Sambo or MMA, everything is allowed when it comes to leg locks. You can wrap around your opponent and wait for him to tap out. But many opponents know how to defend, so here are few suggestions:

  • Keep holding your opponent until he taps out, pulling his left arm towards you.
  • If the tries to slip out, you can easily finish the fight via ankle lock or Achilles lock.
  • You can switch to heel hook if you are fast enough.
  • If the opponent is able to defend the locked leg, you can try a transition to the knee bar, but it is very risky.

Other things to mention

There is no better way to avoid an opponent who tries to mount you than ashi garami. It is a brutal technique when an opponent is on the top of you. The technique is good in judo, but if you are an MMA fighter who has a good wrestler as the opponent, this technique may save you from his brutal ground and pound.
This wonderful video shows 20 entries to ashi garami. You will see in many of these variations that the person who attempts ashi garami is on the back, and the opponent is in the dominant position.
You need to learn to use your hips to lift your opponent. The only thing you will need for this is the perfect timing and hard training.
You can attempt it from the following positions (with high probability to end the fight):

  • Full guard, top position;
  • Taking the opponent down enabling him to be on top of you;
  • Full guard, bottom position;
  • Half guard, top position;
  • Half guard, bottom position;
  • Full mount, bottom position;
  • Butterfly guard, bottom position;
  • Opponent standing above you trying to punch you while you are in the full guard on the bottom;
  • Kimura reversal;

  • On the back of your opponent;
  • As a counter for opponent’s attempt of a rear naked choke;
  • North south position;
  • As a defense for guillotine choke;
  • After a double leg takedown;
  • After single leg takedown;
  • As a defense from double leg or single leg takedown;
  • Side control, bottom position (catch the moment when your opponent tries to go for the full mount);
  • After low single.

When you upgrade your grappling and master ashi garami, you will be able to attempt it off at least 70% of situations. This is one of the most used techniques in Sambo and MMA.

Countering ashi garami

The technique is a counter by itself, but it can also be a superb attack. Generally, the best way to counter it would be to prevent the takedown attempt. When your opponent tries to take you down, quickly sprawl and fall on your knees. You can catch him in a guillotine choke or an anaconda choke after both of you are on the ground.

You can also quickly move backward the leg which your opponent tries to trap. You can try some kind of leg lock if you succeed to avoid his leg. Or just lift the leg which goes to the hip and counter via extremely fast ankle lock.

When you are on the ground, this video shows few good ways of escaping and countering ashi garami. You can move his toe to the side and rotate around him to the side control position. Always move in the direction opposite of the direction of trapping.

For example, if the opponent traps you with his left leg, move to his left and backward. When you are in the side control position, you may attempt various submissions, but the most often ones are triangle choke, kimura, and Americana.

Wrapping it up

You will find yourself many times in the situation when your opponent is more aggressive and more powerful than you. But that doesn’t necessarily mean he is going to win the fight.

Ashi garami is designed to use the power of your opponent, to use the technique against his strength. The leg is always weaker than two hands and the opponent’s body. If you are fast enough, your opponent will have a very hard time, even if he is in the full mount position. Ashi garami is an excellent way to destroy aggressive grapplers and wrestlers in an MMA fight.

And for the end, enjoy the way Gary Tonon performs ashi garami!

Robert Sterling

Teaching, Friendly, Young, Passion. Always wanna go up & down. Hey, you gotta live, do you?  

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