What’s different about how Rousimar “Toquinho” Palhares handles feet in Jiu-Jitsu?

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Jiu-Jitsu black belt Rousimar "Toquinho" Palhares celebrates yet another submission win at ADCC 2011. Photo: Dan Rod.

Jiu-Jitsu black belt Rousimar "Toquinho" Palhares celebrates yet another submission win at ADCC 2011. Photo: Dan Rod.

The only thing harder to do than figure out what’s going on in Rousimar “Toquinho” Palhares Rousimar Palhares, o Toquinho’s head is escaping one of his submission holds.

What’s so special about the way the BTT star does leglocks? Why is he so devastating in the UFC middleweight division?

The theories answering that are far-reaching and varied, and they’re pretty much all valid.

1. REPETITIONS

Ever since he first started training Jiu-Jitsu in Minas Gerais, under Iran Brasileiro, the rookie Toquinho had faith in the position , and he does repetitions of them to exhaustion to this day, now in the UFC. The fact that heelhooks are very conducive to injury means most folks forgo using them too often in training. Toquinho didn’t want to hear it, though, and he set about polishing up the technique, even if his matmates had to suffer some as a result…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YD4348F5lrA

2. MORE THAN MERELY THE RIGHT SQUEEZE, ROUSIMAR’S GOT POWER

Even in training, the desire and pressure with which Toquinho applies holds rarely allow his prey to escape. They either tap or lose a limb. “Even when he does it real slow, during training, it comes on really strong. If just because of his natural explosiveness,” remarks Miltinho Vieira, a training partner of Toquinho’s who recently got the call-up for the UFC featherweight division, now dominated by José Aldo. “The one who polished up Toquinho’s footlocks with him was the late Eraldo Paes, who was a specialist on the holds; he came from a luta livre background and was always using foot attacks,” Vieira adds. The man who beat Palhares in the final at ADCC 2011, in Nottingham, England,  André Galvão concurs: “That creature is real strong; that’s the thing that sets him apart the most, as I see it.”

3. ANATOMICALLY PERFECT JIU-JITSU MACHINE

At ADCC 2011 everyone was noticing: “Look at Toquinho’s torso; it’s shaped like a T! How would anyone be able to get their foot out once he fits it under his arm?” Indeed, the former cowboy’s powerful arms and even more powerful legs are a major boon in trapping an enemy leg. Fit in just right, his skill with the torque technique does the rest.

4. TRAP THE LEG, NOT THE FOOT!

As we mentioned above, most fighters are overly concerned about their foot being caught and don’t pay enough heed to the hold on their leg. “In MMA, as you get all sweaty, the hold ends up getting loose. Toquinho does a good job of adjusting the leg positions, and he sinks it in such a way that keeps the guy from spinning away,” says observant black belt Francisco “Sá”, a frontrunner in the Jiu-Jitsu scene in the Brazilian state of Ceará, in a conversation with our Junior Samurai.

5. DESPERATE OPPONENTS

Wracked with fear of Rousimar’s Jiu-Jitsu, his opponents try fleeing, to not stay stuck to him, as Rener and Ryron Gracie demonstrate below, 3:50 minutes into the video.

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