An earlier post on Saddle entries in the gi prompted queries from several readers as to the legality of the position. It is to be remembered, that reaping isn’t really just about a strict position being assumed (foot across the hip), but the act of endangering the knee is the main determinant as to whether a penalty has occurred. For example, DLR guard is usually always legal, but the moment someone starts underhooking the DLR-ed leg and torquing, a penalty has occurred. There’s no need for the foot to pass across the hip for the DQ to occur.
With that in mind, I thought it would be interesting to take a trip down memory lane, to see how the Saddle was already part of gi play even 5 years back and beyond. And while this area of the skill tree for the gi (saddle position) has been relatively quiet in terms of evolution, with all the influx of no-gi techs coming into the knowledge sphere, the saddle could well become the next hot bed of gi innovation.
Check out this 2015 Worlds sequence. Even way back then, the commentators were aware of the term “Leg lace” and acknowledge that this position is a grey area in terms of the IBJJF rules. The ref allows play to go on though, not calling a reap.
Next we can see a straight up saddle & lace attack , right out of the no gi playbook(no gi version here). This entry from the SLX is pretty standard now for would be Saddlers and you can see the ref again letting the action play out, not calling a reap. For some reason people think the leg lace/Texas Clover Leaf is illegal in the gi, but this attack has been going on for quite a while already, and is within the rule set.
Ps: in case you missed this in my first post on the Saddle in the Gi – Here’s Puopolo getting a sub from a Leg Lace/Texas Clover Leaf right off a Saddle (clearly legal).
Finally, the next vid shows no submission, but just the control position of the Saddle being assumed on the opponent for an extended period. As you can see, controlling someone in the Saddle, provided you are careful to not torque the knee, is legal. Here mere fact of passing the foot across again, does not trigger a penalty, rather where the action is going (endangering the knee or not) is the key. We even see Andris pass through a Sambo Knot and trapping his opponent there briefly. Note , as he keeps his hand control on the leg above the knee, the ref can’t call a penalty/DQ. At the end though, ironically isn’t a saddle but him holding too low down the leg while trying to slide his foot in from SLX that ultimately leads to the DQ.
Leg lock meta the next big wave of innovation in the gi maybe? All depends on how clear official guidance from the IBJJF on reaping is though. Keep watching this space.