2021 IBJJF Jiu Jitsu Grand Prix

Grappling Bulletin: Is This Legal Ankle Lock A Heel Hook in Disguise?

Grappling Bulletin: Is This Legal Ankle Lock A Heel Hook in Disguise?

Following Victor Hugo's big win in the final of the IBJJF Jiu Jitsu Heavyweight Grand Prix, questions have arisen over the legality of the attack.

Nov 15, 2021 by Hywel Teague

Following Victor Hugo's big win in the final of the IBJJF Jiu Jitsu Heavyweight Grand Prix, questions have arisen over the legality of the attack due to the torque applied to both the knee and the ankle. 

Under IBJJF rules, twisting leg locks that attack the knee such as heel hooks are not permitted in gi competition, and some coaches and athletes are asking why this ankle lock variation is still permitted.

Checkmat founder and head coach Leo Vieira posted a detailed breakdown of why he feels the ankle lock as used by Victor Hugo is an illegal technique, yet exists because of a loop hole in the rules. 

Read on for a translation of Vieira's original post in Portuguese: 

First of all, I'm a fan of the sport and its evolution, I believe IBJJF does a great job not measuring efforts in the practice and development of global sport, I also believe it is my duty as team leader to point out updates that should be given due attention.

Then I'm a fan of these two athletes, Mahamed Aly and Victor Hugo. I always saw them compete before they were black belt and they're great examples of athletes and people we have in the sport.

That said, there is a criticism of the fact and the situation we are in, where the rule is not clear enough for athletes and judges and this compromises good performance in the fight. Where the same weight has more than two measurements and everything is relative.

We cannot have rules based on relativism, but on objective and concrete so that it is simple and easy to judge and make decisions.

I was already preparing these photos when I opened Aly's live and he said that judges said that “it's illegal but it's ok” or that other fighters are doing the same thing to take advantage of an ILLEGALITY that is VALIDATED.

Dear IBJJF, if you guys tolerate "validated illegality" or "illegal but allowed" the fight takes another turn where those who respect the rules will be harmed. 

Straight ankle lock - should cover the entire foot, if not it becomes a heel hook. 

The rule is clear about twisting the knee as a very serious foul: #17 “lock that twists the knee”

I hope this reaches the general public of good jiu-jitsu and that the rule and judges are updated and make more coherent decisions, where the rule is not a surprise for just one of the fighters.

There are two issues that Vieira addresses with the attack. 

  • The first is that there was a period in the match where Hugo turned and rolled toward Aly's free leg. This is not permitted when attacking for a straight ankle lock, although again there is a grey area. If Aly had initiated the roll, Hugo could follow, but Hugo would have been DQ'd if he had started the roll. 
  • The second, more serious issue– and details are hard to see on the video– is that the attack allows the heel to slip out, therefore creating rotational pressure on the ankle joint and knee. The argument Vieira makes is that this is against the rules, and yet as it closely resembles a straight ankle lock referees are either unaware or unable to see the position of the foot and are not acting to punish it.

Taking absolutely nothing away from Victor Hugo's impressive submission win, Vieira's call for clarification around this submission attack was met with support by others in the jiu-jitsu community. 

Jiu-jitsu is an art in a constant state of technical development and evolution. Whatever the resulting decision is, it will only serve the community to know exactly how leg locks should be applied under the rules of the tournament. 

Grappling News round-up

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Buchecha fights again in December

  • Brazilian jiu-jitsu legend Marcus 'Buchecha' Almeida meets knockout artist Kang Ji Won in an explosive heavyweight matchup on Friday, 3 December in Singapore. 
  • Buchecha's journey into the MMA world continues with a return to ONE Championship. This is his second MMA fight and follows a first-round submission win back in September against kickboxer Anderson Manael da Silva (not the former UFC champ).
  • Kang Ji Won (26yo, 6' tall and 265lb) was touted as an opponent for Buchecha earlier this year but the fight fell through. He's 5-0 in MMA and has finished all of his fights via KO/TKO in the first round. 
  • Checkmat founder Leo Vieira will be there at ringside to coach Buchecha for the fight, which takes place just one week before the IBJJF World Championships.

Galvao returns to MMA

  • Andre Galvao has signed an two-year, six-fight MMA contract with ONE Championship, and he anticipates fighting as soon as February next year. 
  • The ADCC superfight champion, 39, fought seven times between 2008 and 2010 and is 5-2 in MMA. 
  • Galvao explained his desire to return to MMA: "I always had a dream to get a belt in MMA. A lot of people don't know I fought MMA before. My no-gi jiu-jitsu wasn't like I have nowadays. I'm a better wrestler, and jiu-jitsu has evolved so much. I felt like I will showcase my jiu-jitsu in MMA."
  • His last fight was a TKO loss to Tyrone Woodley in 2010. Of Galvao's five wins, three were via submission and one via TKO.

Simoes wins RAW Grappling Championship

2019 World Champ Confirms Weight Class

  • Matheus Gabriel says he'll return to the featherweight division for Worlds. 
  • The Checkmat star, who took gold at the IBJJF Brazilian Nationals this year at lightweight and the Pan No-Gi Championships at middleweight, was persuaded to drop to the weight class by his coach Lucas Leite. 
  • Gabriel conquered gold in 2019 in his first World Championship as a black belt competitor. His teammate and training partner Samuel Nagai is also going to compete in the same division.

Gi Star Hints at Move to No-Gi in 2022

  • Tainan Dalpra hinted to us that he is thinking about qualifying for ADCC by competing in the South American Trials. 
  • Dalpra is focused on Worlds first. He won gold at the 2021 IBJJF Pan Championships, and most recently won the IBJJF Middleweight Grand Prix last weekend with wins over Renato Canuto and Jonnatas Gracie. The plan is to continue that success at Worlds in December. 
  • We've not seen Dalpra compete in no-gi since he was a blue belt way back in 2016, but he was part of Art Of Jiu-Jitsu teammate Cole Abate's training camp for both WNO Championship and ADCC Trials.

Who's NOT doing Worlds

  • A few notable names told us they’re skipping the IBJJF World Championships this year. Gianni Grippo will miss his first Worlds since 2006 as he said he’s been too focused on no-gi to flip-flop between the two styles. He competed every year without fail from 2007 to 2019. 
  • Haisam Rida said the same thing, as he’s invested more into no-gi throughout the last 12 months that he’s been in the USA.
  • Horlando Monteiro of Kimura shared with us that he will be unable to compete at Worlds in December. The Brazilian, who took over 40 students from his Hawaii gym to compete in Las Vegas, is dealing with a number of injuries and hasn’t competed since December of 2020. 
  • World Master champion Vitor Oliveira was spotted in Las Vegas with his arm in a sling. Can you believe the veteran black belt had to sit out this year’s tournament because he tore his bicep playing disc golf? And they say jiu-jitsu is dangerous.

Quick Hits

  • The "Giant Slayer" Estevan Martinez of ZR Team won the Hudson Valley Invitational 135lb pro division with 5 wins and 3 submissions. Watch the event replays here
  • IBJJF World No-Gi champion Jena Bishop won her second MMA fight, returning to the ring exactly three weeks after her pro debut. She moves to 2-0.