MMA 101: Mastering the Heel Hook

In 1989, Roan Jucao Carneiro started training jiu-jitsu under the legendary Carlson Gracie in Brazil, eventually moving on to study under Murilo Bustamante, the Nogueira brothers, Ricardo Arona, and Paulo Filho. Now, the UFC veteran and BJJ black belt is the lead instructor at American Top Team: Atlanta.

With the help of Jake Jo, Jucao shows readers how to secure the fight-ending HEEL HOOK that Rousimar Palhares used to submit Mike Pierce at UFC Fight Night 29. NOTE: Heel hooks are dangerous submissions to practice, so don’t apply any pressure to the hold or you could cause permanent damage to your practice partner.


Heel Hook


1) Jucao has Jake’s left leg elevated, as he is trying to finish a single-leg takedown.
2) Jake pops his hips back and gets his left foot on the mat.


3) Instead of transitioning to a double-leg finish, Jucao squares his body with Jake.
4) Jucao drops to his butt and wraps his right arm around Jake’s left leg. Jucao brings his right knee behind Jake’s left knee.
5) Jucao lies back and brings his left leg over Jake’s left hip. It is important that Jucao continues to control Jake’s left leg with his right arm.


6a & 6b) Jucao figure-fours Jake’s left leg. Notice that Jucao uses a figure-four where his right leg is on top of his left leg.
7) Using the downward pressure of his right leg, Jucao turns to his right side and forces Jake to the ground.


8) Jucao begins transitioning to a heel hook. He turns his shoulders to the right to expose Jake’s heel.
9) With his right forearm, Jucao continues working his grip under Jake’s exposed heel.


10) Jucao has now secured his grip. His right forearm has trapped Jake’s heel, and his left hand is grabbing the back of his right hand. Jucao drops his chest toward the ground.
11) To secure the finish, Jucao rotates his shoulders (and Jake’s heel) to the left. Pressure is applied through the heel into the knee. Jake must tap or risk knee injury.

Follow Jucao on Twitter: @jucao
For more information on American Top Team: Atlanta, visit


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