In my opinion one of the most devastating submissions are neck or spine cranks. These submissions can put someone in a wheel chair for the rest of their life. Nevertheless this rarely occurs due to the amount of force that it is needed to break someone’s neck or spine and usually people are allowed to tap if they feel any pain, thus preventing any major injuries.
If you have seen some of Bruce Lee’s or Steven Segal’s movies, you probably have seen them grab someone’s head, torque it and break the neck killing the person. The problem with this submission is that if the guy doesn’t tap he dies or ends up paralyzed at the very least. Please, never use this; no matter what the circumstances may be. That move is illegal in all levels of competition while neck cranks aren’t.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Submission Wrestling are dedicated to the submission of an opponent, but a line must be drawn somewhere in order to let practitioners compete at the highest level and improve without facing death or a serious injury. It is always hard for people to draw lines when it comes to what is a serious injury!
In Judo, for example, this line was drawn very safely only allowing chokes, and arm bars. Over the years very efficient fighting techniques were left out of the martial art turning mainly into an Olympic sport.
In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at first everything was allowed, but as the sport grew so did the limitations. Many inexperienced fighters were causing each other lots of serious injuries by using risky submissions, especially neck cranks and leg locks. They decided that some risky moves were only going to be allowed to be done at higher belts; when the fighter has a better understanding of the sport and is hence more responsible.
At the top level people don’t care a lot about going unconscious, braking an arm or a leg and because of this people do submissions with the intent to break those body parts. It is the responsibility of the opponent to tap in time. Here is Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, one of the best in the world, winning a World Championship by not tapping to an arm bar (as a consequence his arm breaks) applied by Roger Gracie, also one of the best to ever hit the mat scene:
By not allowing it until later belts BJJ sacrificed how early practitioners will get good at these submissions. Brazilian practitioners do not like leg locks usually for two reasons:
1- ) It’s an easy way to lose positioning .BJJ is all about submitting an opponent, but it is based on the principle that positioning is always more important. They may refer to it as “Fools Gold”.
2- ) Leg Locks are considered cheap moves because they are usually surprise moves that don’t prove great understanding of the art. They feel that passing the guard, taking the back, and submitting from there is way more honorable.
Nevertheless leg locks can be very efficient. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners in Japan love leg locks because of the influence of Shoot Wrestling. Sambo practitioners on the other hand, love leg locks to the extent that they hunt for the legs with lack of positioning.
Finally in Submission Wrestling (also know as No-Gi Grappling or Submission Grappling) leg locks are allowed at advance level of competition. Such level can be achieved very early in someone’s career as a grappler. Anyone can say “I am advanced” at a NAGA or Grappler’s Quest and the officials will take your word for it. Neck and spinal cranks are allowed depending on the tournament. ADCC and ADCC Trials (the highest level of Submission Wrestling) allows them.
One leg lock in particular which is incredibly dangerous is the heel hook. It torques the heel while keeping the knee in place. It is similar to that neck hook Bruce Lee does in movies where the lower body is kept in place while the head is moved sideways. They both do not cause much pain on an opponent until a serious injury has occurred. If you don’t think heel hooks are effective watch the following clip of Imanari:
There is a reason why he doesn’t wear any gloves.
Now heel hooks are every effective but if you only go for them against someone that has a good understanding of positioning you will get destroyed. It is important to find perfect balance and as a ground fighter this may be the hardest thing to achieve.
Some of you will be doing competitions and developing good defense is essential, especially when you can get heel hooked and be out for a year if you are lucky. Please study the anatomy of the knee and the surgery available for a ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament), PCL (Posterior Cruciate Ligament), LCL (Lateral Collateral Ligament), MCL (Medial Collateral Ligament), or Meniscus ( Lateral and Medial) that has a tear. Here is a link:
If you are stubborn and don’t want to tap you could also end up hurting your ankle:
This should encourage you to learn how to defend these dangerous submissions.
Here is a basic one heel hook:
Basic Inverted Heel Hook
How to Lock the Heel Hook
Just so you get the main idea. To be a good offensive player you must believe in your defense. By now you probably see that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is not a game.