Greg Lawson is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt under Mauricio Tinguinha and instructor at Lincoln BJJ in Nebraska. He studied under Tinguinha while completing his graduate studies in California. His approach to BJJ is what you would expect from a scholar and the details he shared were on point.
While this was primarily a Tinguinha affiliate event, people came from many different teams to learn new techniques. 9 black belts attended along with every other color of the belt spectrum rainbow. There is a friendly vibe at the gym and all were welcomed like family.
I have attended some seminars where you learn 8 or even 12 techniques in an hour or two. This often doesn’t allow for sparring time, which is always fun when you get a broad variety of training partners, and it also is tough to retain the technique. Greg opted for a more in depth approach showing just 4 techniques. I think this approach helped people retain the information and allowed them to focus more on the details of each move which are often missed in a seminar setting.
Straight Ankle Lock
The best footlock instruction I’ve seen always starts here. It leads into the other attacks and is important to help you understand how to control the legs. People are often intimidated by footlocks which I think is both a result of being unfamiliar with them and also from not understanding how to set them up in a controlled way that increases the success %.
The key details I liked in this were the adjustment on the ankle making sure toes were in the armpit and the blade of the forearm. Also, he showed how to lie on the arm to make the entire thing much tighter. Additionally, he shared 3 leg placement variations that were really cool and all had different pros and cons.
The next technique was a knee bar when your opponent stands in your closed guard. It doubles as a sweep which was a bonus. Again, Greg focused on the details of how to control the leg he was attacking and the placement of the shin across the thigh to help push weight against the knee and force the standing opponent to the ground.
From the sitting guard he showed an entry into one legged X and went straight to an attack. The gem of this technique was a knee grip that ensured the foot got light enough to come off the ground to set up the toe hold.
The final technique was a heal hook heavily inspired by a private lesson with Shawn Williams. So many people have seen Gary Tonan and Eddie “The Wolverine” Cummings pulverizing leg locks and the 2 key things I see them doing that Greg showed in detail were controlling the leg, and getting a very tight bite on the foot that actually puts more pressure on the foot and ankle before hurting the knee making it more painful, but safer to apply.
There was time for about 4 or 5 rounds of sparring after and people stayed even longer to beat each other up. Tinguinha gave a nice closing speech. He took a moment to point out the black belts in attendance and how it should set an example for students to never stop learning.
It was clear that Greg is a good teacher. He spent a lot of one on one time with students answering questions and helping them get the positions. His attention to detail was fantastic and I walked away with several adjustments that I plan on integrating into my game. Leg locks are often misunderstood, but by learning the controlling points as you would with an armbar or any basic position in BJJ, you increase your ability to apply the move with success and safety. I would encourage everyone to round out their jiu jitsu with leg attacks and if you have the chance to train with Tinguinha or Greg you won’t be disappointed.