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What Is Knee Reaping? (Full Guide for BJJ)

knee reaping

What Is Knee Reaping in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Photo from IBJJF

Knee reaping is a somewhat common position in Brazilian jiu jitsu especially in leg entanglements such as Ashi Garami (also known as Single Leg X).
The reason why knee reaping is so infamous is that IBJJF tournaments and others disqaulify competitors for knee reaping.

In some cases knee repaing can lead to devastating knee injuries if not addressed properly.


  • as leg locks conitnue to rise in popularity
  • and since IBJJF now allows knee reaping and heel hooks for advanced competitors at brown and black belt

We are seeing knee reaping become more popular and accepted with it being being addressed with more knowledge and more technique by competitors.

Since knee reaping is a common cause for disqualitification, especially at the white belt level, its important to understand the rules of the bjj tournament you are signed up for.

Related: Click here to see our other top tips for your first bjj tournament

This knee reaping position, based on IBJJF standards, is described as:

  • When one of the practitioners places their thigh behind the leg of their opponent and passes their calf on top of the opponent’s body above the knee.
  • Then, placing their foot beyond the vertical midline of the opponent’s body and applying pressure on the opponent’s knee from the outside while keeping the foot of the leg at risk stuck between his hip and armpit.

 Here are the 5 conditions to remember that make a knee reap valid: 

  1. Thigh placed behind the opponent’s leg
  2. Calf on top of opponent’s body above the knee
  3. Foot beyond vertical midline of the other person’s body
  4. Applying pressure from outside
  5. Keeping the leg of the foot at risk trapped 

Now, if done correctly against an inexperienced opponent, the opponent will be at high risk for injuries. This can cause ACL, MCL and other knee injuries that are often difficult and long to recover from. 

Related: Leglocks Explained for Beginners

Related: Leglocks in MMA

Table of Contents

    Why Is Knee Reaping Used in BJJ?

    Knee reaping is actually a common technique applied when attempting to expose the heel of your opponent and entering a heel hook position, or a leg entanglement that leads to a leg attack. 

    Nowadays, leg attacks are actually gaining a lot of popularity already due to its effectiveness on the mats.

    Therefore, having experience and knowledge about getting into the position proplery and controlling your opponent from there is integral for any leg lock enthusiast.. 

    Nowadays, leg attacks are actually gaining a lot of popularity already due to its effectiveness on the mats. Therefore, setting up and getting into the position is highly important. 

    Like we always say in BJJ, position before submission. Another great thing about knee reaping is that, if your opponent is not that skilled to escape, there is a great chance of you achieving a sweep or transitioning into another leg entanglement.

     Is Leg Reaping or Knee Reaping Legal in IBJJF?

    If you are a white, blue or purple belt in BJJ, then know that knee reaping is considered illegal in IBJJF tournaments. 

    However, if you are an advanced level (brown or black) do know that as of 2021, both knee reaping and heel hooks are already legal for No Gi competitors. 

    As a takeaway, if you are joining an IBJJF competition, or any BJJ competition at all, make sure that you read the rules and regulations before the event to avoid disqualification.

    Image from IBJFF Rules and Regulation

    Is Knee Reaping Dangerous?

    The knee reaping technique can be considered a dangerous position because it can damage the other person’s knee. However, the potential danger will also depend on the situation and the trapped person’s knowledge and skill in BJJ. 

    Now, if the person who finds themselves trapped in this position is a beginner, there is a higher chance of reacting incorrectly. They may resist or react explosively. Thus, putting more pressure on the tensed knee, resulting in intense uncomfortable pressure. 

    How to Escape and Avoid Injury When Defending the Knee Reap

    Image from

    Do not fear the knee reaping position! Just like any movement or attack in BJJ, there is always a way to escape and avoid injury when defending. 

    But the main thing that you have to keep in mind is do not go against the pressure. Another way to put it, is do not drive into the position. Your goal is to flow with the reap and find a way to position your knee back in midline. 

    Now, picture yourself, entangled in a 4/11 position. Now, your inner knee is trapped already. Instead of forcing yourself to bring your knee outwards, turn your knee inwards. Thus, bringing it back to alignment. From here, you can decide which next movement you would like, you can either run or push against your opponent to free your leg. 

    Check out the video below to get a fuller understanding of the different variations on how to escape the knee reaping position. 

    Should You Train Knee Reaping and Other Leglocks?

    Never limit yourself! You should definitely train using knee reaping and other leg locks. These will highly level up your BJJ arsenal because leg attacks and positions are so powerful.  

    But make sure that you do this in a safe and controlled environment. Moreover, with a training partner whom you trust and is also knowledgeable or skilled in BJJ. 

    If you are a beginner, you can definitely start exposing yourself already to leg attacks and positions by watching videos and observing your higher rank teammates. Moreover, as you go along, you can try and practice some already in a safe controlled environment and with guidance of someone with experience.  

    Moreover, by challenging yourself to train knee reaping and leg locks, you are slowly building yourself as a BJJ athlete. 

    What is False Reap in BJJ

    A false reap is a very tricky and unforeseen entry position in BJJ. Although rarely used, there are different variations and ways to find yourself to use this guard position. 

    In addition, the false reap is actually very dangerous because it lures people to move into a knee pass. However, the knee pass will not work. 

    Now the key detail to remember in this position is that, a palm to palm grip behind the knee of the leg ready for the knee cut. From here, as your opponent tries to pass, you will invert and find your way to leg lock attack. 

    Check out these videos below to see different variations on how to use the false reap. 

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Can Blue Belts Do Knee Bars?

    Can a blue belt do knee bars? Well, in most competitions like IBJFF, UAEJJF and others actually deem the following illegal for white and blue belts: 

    • Heel hooks
    • Knee bars
    • Toe holds

    Although, white and blue belts are allowed to perform ankle locks. Now, if a blue belt finds themselves in a street fight scenario, if necessary, they can do a knee bar against their opponent. That is if they know how to and have practiced it already.

    Are Calf Slicers legal in IBJJF?

    If you are talking about painful submissions in BJJ, you can list calf slicers on the top of your list. This attack is so effective and extremely painful that if applied correctly, your opponent will immediately tap out. 

    Why? Well, there is so much pressure from your shin being applied to the weakest point of their shin, causing extreme pain. 

    Now, to answer the question, despite being extremely painful, calf slicers are legal in IBJJF competition for the advanced ranks. Therefore, brown and black belts can use this attack in both Gi and No Gi IBJJF events. 

    Hope this read was helpful!

    Catch ya next time!

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