Ratchet Control

Add rotation when controlling a limb to increase effectiveness.

Controlling the head or any limb is much easier and more powerful if you add some rotation. For the strongest rotational control, keep the lever bent at a perpendicular angle to generate the most leverage. We refer to this as ratchet control.

Types of ratchet control:

Ratchet control can be either internal or external, depending on the direction of rotation.

  1. Internal ratchet control is when you rotate a limb against its natural range of motion. Examples include Kimuras and heel hooks.
  2. External ratchet control is when you rotate a limb into its natural range of motion, which forces it to flare. Examples include Americans and knee flares.

While external ratchet control is useful, it is often more comfortable for the opponent and allows them to continue facing you while you attack. Internal ratchet control has the distinct advantage of forcing your opponent to turn away. This is why strategies such as the Kimura trap and backside 50-50 are so useful: they force your opponenet to expose their back.

Some examples:

  • When attacking an armbar, twist the arm as well as hyper-extending.
  • When attacking the kneebar, pull the heel toward you to add rotational force to the attack.
  • When pulling down on your opponent’s head, pull and twist the neck.

Ratchet control is effective because it attacks your opponent’s posture and/or structure (see Theory of Alignment). When your opponent’s skeletal structure is not properly aligned, it greatly reduces the ability to rely on musculature.

Adding ratchet control is one of the most effective ways to complete a submission when your opponent is using strength to defend.

On the podcast:

Ep. 124: Ratchet Control, feat. Matt Kwan

Further study: