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Dan Faggella – Grapplers Quest Toe Hold Breakdown

For this blog, I will be having BJJ Black Belt Dan Faggella contribute an article that I think you all will learn something from. Dan is a No Gi Pan Am Champion, and has some great leg locks in his arsenal, which he will be breaking down below. If you are interested in learning how he developed his skills, you can check out his page below:

Skill Development with Dan Faggella


Ready for more tales of my days competing in NAGA tournaments?! No? Okay, well do I have a treat for you! This entry is about one of my throw back competitions at a Grapplers Quest event in Wildwood, New Jersey.

This particular match took place WAYYYY back in 2009…yeah, remember 2009?

It was a simpler time…alright, enough of my “old guy reminiscing” shtick and back to business. While this may not be a NAGA entry, this does, in fact, have to do with leg lock variations (surprise, surprise.)

Unlike my last few entries, my competition in this was more my size, and less “Giant” to say the least. However, as we have already established, size matters none when you get on the mat and tangle.

Give ‘Em Inch, They Take A Mile

You know that old, cliché saying? Well, this seemed to be the trend for both my opponent and I from the start. We engaged in some hand-wrestling, both doing whatever we could to seize our opportunity and take advantage of the match. This feeling out process lasted for close to two minutes! Back and forth we went till finally I pulled guard and was able to lure him in. It didn’t take long before the two of us began trying to solve the puzzle of leg locks we found ourselves in.

He was extremely aggressive while in pursuit of the submission. At one point, around the 2:30 mark, I go for some kind of…submission? Sure, we can call it that. I began to twist his ankle, trying my best to get him to forfeit the grip. Somehow, it worked!

He had a triangle locked on pretty tight, making any sort of off defense extremely difficult. I was, however, able to lock on a foot lock. This was a momentum swing, as he was enjoying the upper hand up until this point. My opponent was able to lock on a pretty mean heel hook, and I can’t lie, it almost had me. As I began to defend it, he seemed to just have given up the hold! What a break for me! This seemed to hit the reset button, and I was able to slap on a MEANT toe hold!

We began rolling, and even wound up near the scorer’s table. I continued to add some serious torque to the hold, and was looking for the tap. Not feeling my opponent pat my leg, I began fearing the worst and even looked at the ref as I heard a popping noise. I even asked the ref, “Do you hear that sound?”

The Body Doesn’t Bend That Way

Seconds later, the ref called the match. This took a lot out of me, as this guy seemed to be just as much of a leg lock fan as I was! The continuous back-and-forth, with no lull in the action, can really take its toll on you, and it sure did with me.

Even without the win, I took home an important lesson about “toughing it out” and being careful with leg locks on people with inhuman flexibility.

-Dan Faggella

Dan is a No Gi Pan Am champion and #1 Bestselling Martial Arts Author on Amazon. He blogs at www.ScienceofSkill.com.

For more on Dan’s BJJ Skill Development insights, click here!

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