IBJJF Unveils New Heel Hooking and Leg Reaping Rules

In late 2020, the IBJJF announced rule changes to allow leg reaping and heel hooks for brown and black belt no-gi competitors. The IBJJF has now released the details of its updated 2021 rules.

For some in the Brazilian jiu-jitsu community, the rule changes are overdue. With the addition leg reaping and twisting leg locks at the highest level, the IBJJF has essentially modernized its no-gi competitions to match the current leg lock-heavy metagame. Moreover, the rule changes will likely attract a new crop of high-level competitors that specialize or rely heavily on the modern leg lock game.

In addition to twisting leg locks and leg reaping, the new rules also allow competitors to apply outside pressure on toeholds and turn toward the non-attacked leg when applying a straight footlock. The new leg entanglement and submission rules apply only to the adult brown and black belt divisions. All masters divisions, white, blue, and purple belts will continue to compete under the same reaping and heel hooking rules.

It’s hard to imagine the rule changes won’t entice a number of elite grapplers to compete more often in IBJJF tournaments. First and foremost, Danaher Death Squad members like Gordon Ryan, Garry Tonon, and Nicky Ryan — all of whom are well-versed in heel hooks and advanced leg entanglements — would probably find fast success at the top IBJJF tournaments, should they choose to compete. Additionally, look for leg locking specialists like Craig Jones and Lachlan Giles to make a splash in the IBJJF scene.

The IBJJF also introduced a rule change for intentionally fleeing the mat, which will now result in a two-point score against the fleeing competitor.

See the IBJJF’s severe foul rules update tutorial below.

Ben Coate

Ben has been involved with grappling, whether through wrestling or Brazilian jiu-jitsu, essentially his entire life. After wrestling throughout his childhood, Ben found Brazilian jiu-jitsu as a young adult and quickly fell in love. He has been training for over ten years and currently holds the rank of brown belt, and remains involved in both the MMA and BJJ scene. Ben has been writing about combat sports since 2017. He has interviewed and profiled some of MMA's biggest stars, including multiple UFC champions.

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