Poll: Should Lower Belts Be Allowed to Perform Heel Hooks in Competition?

by Caleb on November 1, 2008


Today’s BJJ Poll is based on a thread that was posted recently on a popular Brazilian jiu-jitsu forum.

Some people are against heel hooks as a submission technique for Brazilian jiu-jitsu white and blue
belts as the margin for error in applying the submission is very small, as is the margin for error in knowing when to tap when someone applies a heel hook on you. Further, when something does go wrong during a heel hook, the damage to the grappler’s knee is often severe enough to warrant surgery.

Others argue that heel hooks are not that different from any other submission grappling technique and that with good instruction and under supervision, white and blue belts can safely perform the technique.

What do you think? Cast your vote above, and if you have more to say on the topic, leave us a recorded message for us by calling 877-247-4662! I am guessing there are some FightWorks Podcast listeners who have personal experience in this arena.

Also, if you have a question you think would make a good poll, you can email me at caleb @ (this website) .com.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Matt November 1, 2008 at 1:32 am

Too dangerous. Keep it in the curriculum, train it under control in class, and compete with it when you know enough restraint.
I certainly don’t need my knees exploded by an overzealous, recently minted blue.

Having said that, the shooto guys that share my gym have no qualms with heelhooking the shit out of each other and nobody’s knees explode that often.

Ricky in SLC November 1, 2008 at 10:03 am

There’s a big difference between white and blue belts. We don’t let white belts do foot locks or heel hooks, but by the time they are blue belts they should have the control necessary to start practicing them. If your blue belts don’t have the control to do heel hooks, then your not teaching them very well, or your training a bunch of knuckleheads that shouldn’t be allowed in the gym in the first place.

Daniel November 1, 2008 at 1:15 pm

Not in competition with white or blue, however I think blue belts should start learning heel-hooks, kneebars, ect, before they make purple. They should also only be able to use them on higher belts only.

My BJJ instructor doesn’t teach any heel hooks or knee-bars and doesn’t even allow them in the gym while we roll.
However when i train in no-gi at my mma gym thats a whole different story. Someone tries a heel hook at least once a week.

slideyfoot November 2, 2008 at 7:44 am

I’m not so sure there IS that big a difference between white and blue belts, particularly if we’re talking about newer blue belts (e.g., me). I think that Ichimonji on the aforementioned NHBGear thread put it best:

“I train BJJ as a HOBBY and do not consider myself a professional fighter. Tomorrow I need to go to work. I do not trust Joe white belt to understand the intricacies of a heel hook and understand how far he can crank before my ACL gives up.”

I don’t trust his older brother Joe blue belt either. My knees are precious: pretty much any time anybody goes for anything on my legs, I tap way in advance. In class, that works out fine, but in a competition, with some pumped-up opponent super-keen to win, I’d be far more worried about dangerous submissions like heel hooks.

I think its sensible for blue belts to be taught how to defend against heel hooks, but not be permitted to put them on in sparring, and definitely not allowed in competition. Perhaps people should have enough control by blue belt, but that doesn’t mean they actually do.

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