Knee Reaping in BJJ: A Risky Move or a Crucial Skill?

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a combat sport that emphasizes grappling and floor-based fighting. One of the techniques that has caused some contention in this sport is knee reaping.

BJJ knee reaping is positioning one’s foot across an opponent’s midline while applying pressure to the knee joint. Major competitions do not allow this move due to the potential of causing severe injury.

This article covers all the essentials of knee reaping in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. It breaks down the knee reap BJJ positions and provides helpful advice on preventing reaping and safeguarding your knee. Stay tuned!

Knee Reaping BJJ Explained

The Anatomy of the Knee

Before exploring knee reaping, examining the knee’s anatomy is necessary. The knee joint is composed of the femur (thigh bone), tibia (shin bone), and patella (kneecap), all held together by ligaments and tendons.

Source: Siebert Science

What Is Knee Knee Reaping BJJ?

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In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, knee reaping happens when one competitor’s leg crosses the middle of their adversary’s body, exerting stress on the outside of the rival’s knee.

This technique can strain the knee’s ligaments, particularly the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and the medial collateral ligament (MCL).

Related: Knee sprains and tears are frequent in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and combat sports. This is why athletes use knee sleeves or knee wraps to give the knees assistance and protection. Click here to learn more!

Knee Reap Jiu-Jitsu Positions

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Some of the well-known knee-reaping Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu positions include:

  • Ashi Garami: This position is usually associated with knee reaping, mainly when the leg on the outside of the body goes beyond the hip, and the toes face inward. This action twists the opponent’s leg inward and is generally viewed as a knee reap.
  • Single Leg X-Guard: Another position for knee reap is the single leg X-Guard. This occurs when the bottom player draws their outside leg inward, creating a bend in the opponent’s leg that is recognized as a knee reap.
  • 50/50 Position: Although the 50/50 position does involve your leg going over the knee line, it is not considered knee reaping due to the leg entering from the inner side rather than the outer side. Therefore, the opponent’s leg is turned away instead of towards the body, removing any risk to their knee.

Why Is Knee Reaping Controversial in BJJ?

The knee reap is a nasty maneuver that inflicts immense agony on the opponent’s knee. It occurs when performing a leglock submission, and it can result in severe injury.

Knee reaping in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has been a subject of debate because of:

  • The Risk of Injury: Knee reaping is controversial due to the potential for serious injury. Excessive pressure during the technique can cause tears in the ligaments and dislocation, leading to lifelong damage and even ending a martial artist’s career.
  • The Impact on the Game: Knee reaping can be hazardous to the health of a grappler, and it can also alter the flow of a BJJ match. It can be a fast track to a submission, but it can also impede the lively back-and-forth that makes BJJ an entertaining sport for both viewers and participants.

Can You Do Knee Reaping in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

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  • IBJJF Rules: The IBJJF, a major Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu organization, has a zero-tolerance policy regarding knee reap. Any participant found to be knee-reaping during a tournament will be instantly disqualified.
  • Other BJJ Organizations: The wide range of regulations on knee reaping among different organizations can create a sense of confusion and inconsistency in the jiu-jitsu sport. The IBJJF is stringent in its stance, while other organizations may have more relaxed standards or no restrictions.

How to Avoid Knee Reaping?

Knee reaping can arise by attacking the adversary’s leg or using the single-leg X-guard. Here are some tips to help you stay away from the knee reap and avoid disqualification in IBJJF tournaments.

  • Proper Foot Positioning: One of the most effective methods to prevent knee reaping is to position your foot inside your rival’s leg. This will stop your leg from going beyond the centreline and cause knee reaping.
  • Train Safely: Safety should be the number one concern when exercising. Do not attempt any moves or positions if you are not entirely confident. Consult your trainer for assistance whenever needed.
  • Awareness and Communication: Both opponents need to remain conscious of their postures and exchange words if one of them senses their knee is being hooked. Doing so can help avert injuries and ensure the contest is held reasonably.
  • Be aware of Knee Reap Positions: One of the most fundamental rules to remember is that you should never let your feet go beyond the midpoint of your adversary. Remember that this is especially important when executing single-leg X guard, leglocks, etc.


Knee reaping in BJJ is a complicated and hotly debated topic. While it may potentially cause harm, it is also a part of how the sport has developed.

By becoming knowledgeable about the principles, dangers, and regulations associated with knee reaping, practitioners can make considered choices and prioritize safety when training or competing.

Related: Use our top-rated Brazilian jiu-jitsu knee pads to protect your knees while rolling. They provide your joints with defense and safeguard them from damage, decreasing the probability of knee trauma, and alleviating pain. Click here to read more!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Knee Reaping in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

The knee reap is a BJJ position where the bottom player crosses one of their legs over the midline of their opponent’s body. This results in pressure on the outside of the adversary’s knee that may cause an injury.

Is Knee Reaping Dangerous?

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a sport where all movements can be risky without the right technique or submission. The knee reap is no exception!

Is Knee Reaping Legal in BJJ Competitions?

IBJJF and UAEJJF do not allow Knee reaping because of the potential for causing damage and harm to the knees. Nevertheless, there are competitions such as ADCC and other no-gi grappling tournaments that do allow knee reaping.

What Are Some Examples of Knee Reaping Positions?

Two well-known positions where knee reaping is possible are the ashi-garami and single-leg X-guard.

What Is the False Reap in BJJ?

The term “false reap” describes certain positions that may look like knee reaping. However, those positions are not officially categorized as such according to the different jiu-jitsu regulations.

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