To hook or not to hook

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Words by Aaron Kagan Grapplersplanet Correspondent.

There seems to be an ever ongoing debate in Jiu-Jitsu regarding which submissions should be allowed or not.

Especially the Heel hook. I have been of the mind that all subs should be legal, at least at the high level but I’m starting to rethink the matter. There are highly qualified people one both sides of the debate so it’s not a clear subject.

On one hand we have the idea that all subs are part of the art so all should be allowed in competition and one should learn to tap. the other side is that certain subs are way more dangerous, ie heel hooks, spinal locks and neck cranks that can easily cause serious permanent damage in a split second.

Faster than one may be able to tap. That subject has already been heavily covered. What I would like to add to the debate as food for thought it the self defense aspect to submissions.

Ultimately the sport evolved as a replacement for live combat and removed the strikes for safety of practice but did keep the positional hierarchy in it’s point system to delineate which positions where more “valuable” in a street situation.

That being said shouldn’t the permitted submissions follow those same guidelines? Let me clarify. Let’s talk about the most basic of submissions, the arm bar. Used from the bottom is a very effective way of countering someone raining down punches as either a way to break their arm or sweep them to come on top. However, performed from top mount is extremely risky as it requires giving up the mount and possibly having the person come on top. Not very street wise.

As another example we have all the foot locks. Wonderful in sport but in a street context having your face near the person’s feet or giving up your back to roll for a knee bar and getting kicked in the head isn’t the smartest plan.

Ultimately we need to ask ourselves how much of the fighting roots we’d like to keep and then design tournament rules accordingly. Who knows, maybe competing with slaps should become the norm.

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