Garry Tonon on Leglocks and Danaher System
This is a transcription of a video interview that Garry did in November 2015, at Stout Training Pittsburgh – Renzo Gracie Pittsburgh. We talk about strategy for attacking leg locks in submission grappling, Heel Hooks vs Toe Holds, John Danaher and what makes the system he teaches that Garry uses successfully in competition so special in jiu jitsu competition. It only has a couple of minor edits for clarity and readability. Enjoy!
Warren Stout: Hey guys I have Garry Tonon here in Pittsburgh at Stout Training -Team Renzo Gracie . Garry’s a great leg locker and has been very successful in competition with leglocks. We’re going to talk a little bit about leg locks and get into some of what makes his leglocks so successful.
So one of the first question I have is when you attack leg locks do you have a preference whether you attack from the bottom position or the top position? And if so, what makes one stronger or better than the other?
Garry Tonon Yeah it’s a good question, you know I think originally when a lot of leg locking was seen as something that you do from bottom position. You fall back or you know you’re in bottom position and you maneuver yourself underneath a person to attack their leg and there is certainly a very good way to go about your offense and about submitting people and it can work very efficiently.
I think that attacking leg locks from top position whether or not it’s superior……. I’m not sure….. but it’s certainly slightly more surprising. Because you usually wouldn’t be accustomed to thinking about “Okay well is the guy going to fall back on my leg from here” most of the time people are used to dealing with positional attacks, upper body submissions when someone is on top.
So it definitely a little bit more unexpected and in certain positions you get to add body weight you know. You see some people falling during a submission or whatever the case may be, so it’s kinda falling body weight on a particular submission. That can make it a little bit more controlling as well and with the set ups you have pinning pressure on your partner where you are physically able to pin your partner to mat with your body weight while you are setting up a move as opposed to from bottom position their body weight is on you so you have to find ways to maneuver yourself underneath them.
So I think that I prefer to attack from top position. It’s not always possible. I think it’s a bit unexplored and you know there is a lot of questions about it and there is a lot of more research to be done with attacking legs from top position as opposed to bottom.
Warren Stout: And then next question goes to *pause* Garry just did a great seminar here and if anybody…
Garry Tonon: It was alright
Warren Stout: If you get a chance to get him for a seminar definitely get in contact with him.
We did a seminar on some leg locks and one of the things we went over are IBJJF legal submissions . Oneof them is a toe hold (as opposed to a heel hook) and just if you want to say a couple words about the differences and the similarities that you went over in the seminar .
Garry Tonon: Yeah, sure I think and you know I do this a lot at my own school and seminars and things I like to introduce the outside heal hook as just a toe hold without the use of your hands. You are just using your body instead and I think this helps people kinda relate to this submission a little because certain people have never trained with heel hooks before and they’re familiar with a toe holds so it’s kind of a good way to help them wrap their brain around it. Because if not, it’s like a whole new submission but I think the toe hold is very much similar to that of an outside heal hook in the way that you are actually trying to twist the foot, the foot is in the outside of the hip just like it would be for an inside heel hook you have the same type of pressure. You are trying to twist the bones of the foot inward towards the butt. You know all that really differs is that the type of grip you are using you know with a heal hook you know you are pinning your partners toes with your arm pit with a toe hold you are grabbing the tips. With one you are wrapping your hand underneath the ankle with the other you are wrapping your wrist underneath the heal. It is just different support systems for ways you are going to twist the foot. I think by learning how to do a toe hold simultaneously with learning how to do that outside heal hook it can help newer student that aren’t accustomed to doing that outside heal hook wrap their head around it. “Alright how do I actually need to put the pressure on this heal hook to make it work?” You’ll see a lot of people doing a lot of different thing hipping in different directions with a heal hook and having pretty much no effect so I think it’s a good way to kinda get people in the right mindset for how they are going to finish.
Warren Stout: Yeah thanks for the recap.
The next thing and last question I’m going to talk a little bit about is kinda the leg lock system that you use and talk a little bit about one of your teachers that I know pretty well, John Danaher. He has, I think a pretty unique leg lock system that he uses.
Garry Tonon: Yeah
Warren: And I think Garry has some special insight on it because he’s used it against the best guys in the world. He’s actually tested this system out in competition and constantly keeps testing it as he encounters new defenses and things like that. I wanted to ask what do you think makes some of the key highlight differences between let’s say the system that you use that John has really been instrumental in creating and some of the other great leg lockers out there?
Garry Tonon: Sure
Warren Stout: Some of the ones that I’ve watched or competed against include Dean Lister, Davi Ramos, Rousimar Palhares. So what are some of the key differences that you see, maybe from what these people do.
Garry Tonon: Yeah so I think the main difference is like you just mentioned; It is a system. I think that the way John has taught us the moves and the way that John has created this system and I’m going to say the word again is the very systematic way that some view jiu jitsu or leg locking. It is, as you know, one technique then another technique or a series of techniques. We are trying to use different principals to back up what we are doing.
For instance with a given position how are we using leverage to submit our opponent or how to change when my partner moves. Its how we recreate that leverage. And it’s a very systematic thing it’s not just learning these say fifty techniques. Okay? It’s actually teaching us how to mechanically do each of the moves that we do. So we learn the mechanics of the heal hook, of an inverted heal hook, how they work, why they work ,and then some tactics along with those mechanics. So those tactics for example would be “What am I going to do when I fail at this? Where am I going to transfer to make this stronger?What other positions could I use? How could I? How could I better hold on to this?” whatever the case may be.
So these tactics and mechanics are what really separates, I think, his systems from other people’s system. It’s just a more in depth way of kind of looking at the submissions. You certainly couldn’t say that these other great leg lockers aren’t finishing outside heal hooks, inverted heal hooks whatever the case may be. I just think that using this system and kind of just kind of packages everything into an easier to understand and more technical way of looking at things so it’s easier to learn and there’s real principles behind it. It’s not just “Do this move.” And I think that’s all of John’s Jui JItsu really us this way. And, I think all great teachers in general have at least a little bit of that. I think that John is very rigid in the fact that he doesn’t do something just to do it. He doesn’t just do something because he saw it. He certainly watches film but he likes to figure out why something works. Why this works and I think that’s really the key detail
Warren Stout: Thanks Garry that was really insightful.
Garry Tonon: Thanks a lot guys