What is Knee Reaping In BJJ?

What is Knee Reaping In BJJ?

Knee reaping or “Game Over” is a technique/move, somewhat controversial in almost all BJJ tournaments including IBJJF and UAEJJF. According to IBJJF, knee reaping is defined as “When one of the athletes places his thigh behind the leg of his opponent and passes his calf on top of the opponent’s body above the knee, placing his foot beyond the vertical midline of the opponent’s body and applying pressure on his opponent’s knee from the outside.”

Most fighters and practitioners think it was introduced in the BJJ fights for the wrong reasons. As you know, it is difficult to avoid knee-reaping positions. Fighters tend to exert so much pressure on the knee that may cause serious irrecoverable injury.

1. Knee Reaping

Knee Reaping
Photo credit: @graciemag

Knee reaping in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a potentially dangerous technique. It focuses on isolating the joint in the chain and can cause maximum injury.

For a fighter, it is important to know the IBJJF rules of knee reaping. In any BJJ tournament, where knee reaping is illegal, fighters perform this technique illegally, which may cause disqualification from the match. Most of the time this happens at the white belt level, where the BJJ athletes are unaware of the mystic reaping techniques and their mechanics.

This disqualification phase occurs in the ashi garami position when a fighter has entangled the opponent's leg and is planning to perform a straight ankle lock. At this point, all the positions are legal but the moment when the rested leg on the hip of the opponent goes beyond his thighs with toes pointing inward. This position is illegal causing excruciating pain due to less ROM for the knee. If more pressure is applied in a dangerous manner, it causes damage to the ACL and other key ligaments in the knee joint. A more fatal injury may occur if a defender tries to defend the position.

Play ashi garami safely, try to place your foot on the hip but do not attempt to take it far from the hip. Such leg entanglements can be played at all levels.

1.1. 50/50 Guard

50/50 is a leg entanglement technique that tends to place your leg over the knee line. It is completely legal as the leg enters from the inside rather than the outside. The opponent’s leg is torqued from the outside which is safe to play for both of the BJJ athletes.

1.2. Caio Terra Ankle Lock

Caio Terra ankle lock is another form of leg lock. But it is safe to apply and considered legalized because it does not apply any extreme pressure on the knee.

1.3. Bear trap

Bear trap is also a quite complicated leg entanglement technique. From the bottom with the X-guard position, you can entangle the opponent's leg to sweep or submit the opponent.

If you decide to put the opponent on the floor avoid touching its ankle otherwise it will be marked as a reap by the referee. Nobody can DQ you at this stage because you didn't attempt to control the ankle.

So, do not fear the reaper, the only point of precaution is to avoid DQ by keeping your toes away from the center bodyline.

2. IBJJF Reaping Rules Gi

At the end of 2002, some changes were incorporated in the rule book of IBJJF regarding knee reaping and heel hook for brown and black belt Gi competitors. Such rules are more beneficial for the high-profile MMA fighters who rely heavily on leg lock games.

According to the new rules defined for leg entanglement,  the black and brown belt competitors are allowed to apply outside pressure on the toe holds. When the straight foot lock is applied this pressure will turn toward the non-attacked leg. The rest of the fighters competing under master divisions, white, blue, and purple belts will compete under the already existing rules for reaping and heel hooks.

IBJJF will grant two scores to the competitor fighting against the fleeing partner.

2.1. What Gordon Ryan Shared Regarding Leg-Reaping Rules?

Gordon Ryan gives a clear picture of the IBJJF rules for knee reaping. He clarified ashi garami/single leg X position in a better way, He said, if the controlled leg is in Achilles' grip then you will be disqualified. To save yourself from DQ. you need to trap the arm under your armpit without attempting to attack from the bottom.

3. False Reap IBJJF

The following videos explain the false reap procedures.

4. Why is Knee Reaping Illegal?

The knee-reaping technique provides control of your opponent through leg locks. The BJJ fighter with the controlled leg places his knee below the knee of the opponent pointing in the same direction. This will exert pressure causing injury to the knee.

Knee reaping is legal under some Brazilian Jiu-JItsu federations but illegal for ADCC.

It's not any magical position as different leg locks require different escapes but knee reaping tends to enhance the chances of injury.

Many fighters give the opinion that knee reaping is legalized for no-gi competitions under brown and black belt ranks. Of course, it seemed dangerous for lower belt levels.

In sambo and MMA, knee reaping is completely allowed and considered safe just like heel hooks.

5. Knee Reaping Injury

The knee reaping technique is considered dangerous because it may totally damage the knee. If a fighter is a beginner or a white belt, they may apply this technique unruly resulting in a serious loss.

At this time, when the new rules are incorporated, it's the duty of the coaches to train BJJ fighters for knee reaping to defend themselves. In this way, the chance of knee injury can be minimized.

The point is to enhance your learning, do not get afraid of leg locks and knee reaps, instead develop techniques to effectively defend yourself on the mat.

6. Bicep Slicer

The Bicep slicer is a compression lock that is legal under IBJJF/UAEJJF rules only for the brown and black belt BJJ athletes for both Gi and No-Gi competitions.

The technique to execute a bicep slicer is to take a bony part of the opponent's shin or forearm and wedge as deep as you can in the elbow crease of your opponent. Then push the forearm toward the opponent's bicep. This will exert extreme pressure on the bottom forearm tendons. Touch the arm with the shoulder to force the opponent to tap out.

6.1. Armbar

An armbar is the perfect example of a bicep slicer. You can attempt a bicep slicer if you need to perfectly apply the armbar. Take your opponent's leg on their chest and place it over their forearm. Apply the triangle choke and your opponent will definitely tap out. If not, then squeeze your opponent to tap out.

7. Conclusion

The leg entanglement positions and other locks in BJJ are more dangerous than knee reaping. One must not get afraid of knee reap unless and until you are trained enough to apply it safely on the opponent. The application of a technique in an unruly manner may worsen the situation. If a local council allows knee reaping then make sure you are trained enough to prevent injuries or to disqualify early.

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