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    Friday, October 23, 2020

    #FinisherFriday (10/23/20): First Lock of the Blue Justice

    Yuji Nagata in NJPW

    Welcome to another edition of #FinisherFriday! This is Wreddit_Regal bringing you another analysis of a submission finisher from an NJPW great.

    When you talk about the NJPW veterans, a couple of familiar names come to mind: Minoru Suzuki, Tomohiro Ishii, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Hiroshi Tanahashi, and Katsuyori Shibata to name a few. But one cannot end a discussion like that without mentioning the name of Yuji Nagata.

    The Blue Justice is literally the embodiment of the chant "You still got it!" in NJPW. With a wrestling career spanning almost three decades, his way of working the ring still knocks the air out of the audience's lungs in excitement and admiration. A two-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion and one-time GHC Heavyweight Champion, Nagata also holds the record of being the only wrestler to have won Japanese professional wrestling's three biggest singles tournaments; New Japan Pro Wrestling's G1 Climax, All Japan Pro Wrestling's Champion Carnival, and Pro Wrestling Noah's Global League.

    Years of experience inside the squared circle has led Nagata to arm himself with a variety of finishers, namely:

    Drive Screw

    Backdrop Hold

    Nagata Lock IV

    Nagata Lock III

    Nagata Lock II

    and this article's focus for the week, the Nagata Lock I

    Breaking down the move into chunks, we see:

    1. The attacker stands over the opponent with the opponent face-up and grasps a leg of the opponent (the left leg in this example)
    2. The attacker grabs the other leg, straightens it out, and crosses the left leg under
    3. The attacker then turns 180 degrees, facing the opponent by straddling his left leg over the opponent's right side
    4. The attacker falls back-first to the mat, causing the opponent to flip over into the prone position. The attacker uses his right leg to secure the figure-four, and his left hand to keep the opponent's left foot hooked onto the inside of his thigh.

    Now for the juicy technical details. The average human eye sees this maneuver as a reverse figure-four leglock, but people well-versed in the grappling and submission arts see a high-level move in this...

    ...and that is the inverted/reverse heel hook:

    and its destructive counterpart (not as much as the inverted variation), the classic heel hook:

    Quoting words from a BJJWorld article:

    The heel hook is a twisting submission that places immense pressure on numerous structures of the leg. Despite their name, most of the damage of heel hooks happens in the knee. Primarily damage occurs inside the knee joint, particularly in the ligaments. It acts very much as a wrench in terms of mechanics. Twisting the foot while pinning the hip joint and controlling the knee joint transfers force upwards to the knee. That is why the structures of the knee are the first to give way.

    However, the damage extends past the knee joint. The heel hook also causes damage to the ligaments of the ankle joint, causing a painful break. The reason why this is rarely seen in competition is that the damage to the knee occurs very fast and well beyond that of the ankle joint. With the inverted heel hook, this effect is even more pronounced.

    Doctor Kickass explains the mechanics in detail on his Instagram post (which also explains why the inverted heel hook is far more dangerous than the regular heel hook), but to give a summary of it, since the subtalar joint has less range of motion when rotated outwards (eversion), the attacker can simply begin to rotate the ankle to a halt, and all twisting motion will then be transferred to the tibiofemoral joint.

    Remember Rousimar Palhares, the guy who got kicked out of the UFC because he held on to a submission long after his opponent tapped out? Guess what that submission was:

    There's a reason why the heel hook is banned in many grappling events. To give you a small clue as to why, take a look at the GIF below:

    Using my trusty Regal Rating, I would give it a

    8/10 for execution. Like the Venis Flytrap, it's a no-frills submission, but it can't be executed quickly either, which gives an opponent ample time to get out before the attacker completes the hold.

    10/10 for damage. Once the hold is applied, the unfortunate recipient should lower his ego and just tap out. Seriously, it's one quick yank and your leg goes limp. One defeat via heel hook wouldn't hurt your fighting record a bit (unless the guy who gave that defeat was Palhares).

    And that's it chaps, a detailed dissection of the Nagata Lock I, and heel hooks in general! Do you have suggestions on what finisher to be featured next week? Let me know in the comment section below!


    Wreddit_Regal is the resident sports kinesiologist of Reddit's wrestling forum, r/squaredcircle. From the most basic of punches to the most intricate double-team maneuvers, he can explain them within the realm of human anatomy and physics, because when doing absolutely nothing wrestling-related, he also happens to work as an operating room nurse.

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    Item Reviewed: #FinisherFriday (10/23/20): First Lock of the Blue Justice Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Wreddit_Regal
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