Ankle Locks and Compression Holds

As with arms, legs have secondary joints at their extremities, namely the ankle. When performing ankle holds, similar to wrist holds or locks, the goal is to hyper extended or hyper rotate the ankle into a position where it wasn’t meant to be. This often includes a secondary type of hold, called a compression hold. To fully explain the straight ankle lock technique, let’s go over a short explanation of compression locks.


Simply put, a compression lock presses a sensitive tendon or muscle into a bone. This doesn’t seem like it would hurt by itself, but make no mistake, these techniques can cause similar lasting damage just as well as any of the previously discussed moves. It is actually a grappling hold technique, but it is rarely seen without an accompanying joint lock.



In the case of the straight ankle lock, an opponent’s legs are spread, and one leg is isolated using your own. Place a single foot into your armpit. From here, you position one of your forearms behind their lower calf, as close to the Achilles tendon as you can get. Gripping your own forearm with your other hand, exert pressure on the tendon by pulling your arms tight together and leveraging your hips forward. This results in a condition known as plantar flexion, and similar to the hyper flexion wrist lock, it is painful to experience. Similarly, it can be gradually increased in pressure until submission is achieved. The combination of the compression hold on the tendon and the ankle lock due to your leverage means that the opponent is often unable to escape.


Portland BJJ Technique: Armbar from Cross Choke


However, there is a major downside to ankle locks. Since you are typically applying these locks from an escaped guard or grounded position, if an opponent can manage to stand up, the lock becomes completely ineffective. In addition, the technique only controls one joint, which is fairly flexible in the first place, so an opponent may be able to withstand a great amount of pressure before submission. Lastly, the other leg of an opponent is still free to strike, and your hands are both occupied with the lock, meaning you have to rely solely on your legs to fend off strikes.