Can you train heelhooks safely?

I was wondering if anyone knew about a way to train heelhooks relatively safely in sparring? I've heard of heelhook injuries happening WITHOUT the attacker twisting the leg - what happened is that the defender quickly twisted in the wrong direction in the heat of the moment. So even just cupping the heel (and not even twisting) with your hands seems to be a bit dangerous.

Here are some ideas:

- Only allow ankle locks and kneebars. When your opponent twists out of an ankle lock, the next submission you can flow to is often the heelhook, but often the next submission after the heelhook is the kneebar, so it's perhaps not so bad.

- Don't allow guys to even grab the heel. Instead, if they can get the standard leg position (over the leg and under the other knee) and hold it for a few seconds, you "win". Ok, maybe we should allow the attacker to grab the heel for a split second - like "slapping it" and letting go, but definitely not pulling on it and not even holding it. Just let go after 1/8 of a second. I'm not so sure about this one, but tell me what you think.



you can do it, but you have to be controlled in every movement while doing it. Both guys, not just the attacker.

But should the attacker "win" if he manages to grip the heel and immediately letting go (kind of "slappin" it)?

Of course, I'm talking about sparring and not competition.

it isnt really about winning and losing in training, but when I train it normally goes like this with heel hooks and tope holds.

Say I get heel hooked, I know he is going for it, and he knows that I know. So, he doesnt crank it, instead he slows down, and so do I. HE knows I will tap if I need to, and I dont push it. He lets me work slowly to get out while he is working to keep everything secure.

I really don't think you should even allow heel hooks at all in sparring until you are a mid level blue belt. Just my opinion though. Its all about the level of control and trust. If you don't feel comfortable with those type of movements, that should be talked about before you roll.


Personally I don't understood that kind of stance surrounding leg locks. If you don't plan on competing I could see an agreement not to use them for injuries sake. But from the first day I started they were done to me and I did them. Of course no one slapped them on and did a Shamrock/Djik either. It's all about mutual trust and control.

"kneebars are much more dangerous in training."


I've heard it from Stephan Kesting, the author of the Kneebar instructional video/DVD, a member of this forum and a competitive and respective BJJ brown belt (or is it black now?) under Marcus Soares, that kneebars are much safer than heelhooks.

Heel hooks are very dangerous done properly or improperly. They can crush you before you even feel a lot of pain and if you have a serious knee injury you won't be able to fight. Why put yourself at risk like that? You train with headgear not to get cut, you train with shin pads not to destroy your shins. So why would you train full bore with heel hooks?



Heelhook = one of my favorite techniques, so selfishly I am going to say Yes, they can be trained safely ;-)

Trained with them for years at Metro and there have been spare few injuries from them.

When I train heelhooks, I always get good position were my opponent can not escape and from there I SLOWLY put pressure on the heel, so not to cause an injury to my sparring partner.

If you are having to do the heelhook with speed because you are worried that your opponent is going to escape , then you need to go back to the basics and work on position.

I learned this the hard way after injuring a training partners leg.

After the injury my instructor refused to let any of us (regaurdless of belt rank) to do heelhooks until we learned how to control the person with technique, so they could not escape and the heelhook could be done slowly and with out injury.

some people have no self controll tho.

i was rolling with a much more experienced person on tuesday and i got a good cross heelhook and i barely put pressure on it because i know they are dangerous. He on the other handcouldn't tolerate losing to someone less experienced than him and grabs my heel and CRANKS it across his body launching me across the room screaming.

so now i've been limping ever since.

makes me very angry.

i have found that if you go 1/2 speed on leg locks and and the other guy is going 100% to get away that you arent going to get many leg locks, let alone heel hooks. in fact you will probably get injured yourself.

as far as belt level, i dont know. i dont take traditional brazillian jui jitsu and dont have a belt, nor do most of the guys i train with. the poster who stated above that it is about trust and knowing your partners is right. experience is key, maybe thats what you mean by waiting for a particular ranking?

i think you should test out your partners with heelhooks so they know their tolerance and yours. ease in to them but dont slack. i would be more concerned with certain neck cranks than heel hooks anyway.

the main thing is self control. If you havent learned how to control yourself you shouldnt be doing heel hooks

*Chuckles* So much fear and ignorance on this thread.

The problems with Heel Hooks come from two things:

1) People not wanting to tap. As soon as your isolated in the heel hook, you tap, period.

2) People using the same old escapes that their instructors taught them, a good majority that don't work and place you in a much more dangerous rehook.

Simply learn to tap.

I agree with Kai. It's one thing to have a partner twist your leg violently trying to tap you out for status. it's another if you don't want to tap and push it too far. I don't like guys who refuse to tap and make the other guy just give up the hold cause he doesn't want to injure them. Several times I've been caught in ankle locks and not wanted to tap and fought it off longer then I should. Then my achilles is raw for the next week. And you know what, I deserve it for being an ass. I also agree that neck shit like a crucifix hold is more dangerous than a heel hook.

i know when i get caught i tap, no big deal, just get them next time. some guys refuse to tap and then complain about soreness, they get no sympathy from me.

although after a few heelhook incidents in the past i am more careful about putting them on newbies.


That means that you have to be careful. When I get a training partner in something good, I tell him. I tell him to be careful if he is trying to escape. And I don't yank stuff on. YOu have to have sensitivity to be a good fighter and that means you should be able to feel when you got something and be able to warn your training partner.