There are many reasons for strikers to cross-train in grappling. Doing so will allow the striker to defend takedowns and keep the fight in an area advantageous to themselves. Cross-training grappling will also give strikers a better understanding of the clinch and how to strike when caught in grappling situations. Grappling also trains aspects of athleticism and physicality that can benefit a striker’s strength, speed, and stamina. Today, Evolve University is pleased to share a simple grappling cross-training guide for strikers.
Sprawling is the most basic defence to defend against takedowns, but it is amongst the most effective methods. Before you sprawl, you should attempt to defend the takedown with your head and arms. You can lower your centre of gravity and stuff your head into your opponent’s shoulder to stop a takedown before it’s secured. You can also use your hands to create a frame against your opponent’s shoulders and head to prevent the takedown. Both of these techniques should be down from a stance with a much lower centre of gravity than a traditional striking stance. If your opponent is able to bypass these initial defences, this is where the sprawl comes into play.
The basic motion of a sprawl resembles that of a burpee exercise, with your hands on your opponent’s back or arms, while your hips drive your weight downwards. There are many subtle details that make this technique more effective. As your opponent grabs your legs for a takedown, you want to sprawl with your legs away from them, keeping your hips directly facing the direction they are taking you down. You then roll your hips, keeping your weight on your opponent, to break their grip on one or both of your legs. At this point, it is important to control your opponent’s head so they do not use a knee slide to take an angle on you and finish the takedown. Ultimately, you want to end up with your opponent’s head and back under your chest and neck area. This position allows you to keep your full weight on your opponent while keeping your legs out of their reach. Once you have successfully sprawled, you can either take their back to attempt a submission or return to your feet to force your opponent to strike with you. Watch the above video that explains how to sprawl in detail.
The single-leg takedown is one of the most fundamental and widely used takedowns in MMA. The benefit of a single leg vs a double leg is that the double leg takedown leaves you more vulnerable to a guillotine choke counter. To start, you will need to choose a leg to target. For the purpose of this explanation, we will use the opponent’s left leg as the target for the single leg. To shoot for a takedown, square your stance slightly, as this will make it easier to drive forward. Start the takedown by pushing off your left foot and stepping your right foot to the outside of your opponent’s left foot, you want to be toe to toe with them. At this point, push off your left foot again to “turn the corner” on your opponent’s leg, giving you an angle on them. Your right knee will go on the floor, behind your opponent’s leg, while your left leg sweeps around the side counterclockwise. Your left knee should be off the floor at this stage. Place your head against the left side of your opponent’s chest to apply pressure and prevent them from placing all of their weight on you. Lock your arms around their leg and use your left leg to drive upwards, returning to a standing position. From here, there are numerous ways to finish the single-leg takedown. Two simple, but effective options are to run straight forward to drive your opponent to the ground or to reverse the momentum and pull them by their leg to the ground.
The double leg takedown is another staple for any combat athlete looking to up their grappling game. The double-leg takedown is an extremely explosive and effective way to take down your opponent. There are many variations, and we will touch upon a few here. The first type of double leg takedown is where you remain standing and your head goes on the inside, or by the rear leg, of your opponent. This is commonly known as a football tackle. To perform this takedown, start by changing levels. You then step forward with either leg, while grabbing your opponent’s legs behind their knees. Once you have their legs secured, simply run forwards. The momentum created from driving forwards is difficult to stop or counter, and will often lead to your opponent on their back. This variation works well in MMA where fighters tend to stand taller than in pure grappling arts.
The second variation is almost identical to the first, but you start the takedown by dropping to one knee. To perform this variation, shoot your lead leg in between your opponent’s legs while dropping your lead knee. Place your head on the inside, as in the last variation, as you sweep your rear leg forwards, effectively switching stances. As you do this, secure your opponent’s legs behind the knees. Once you have their legs, push off your new lead leg to stand back up. As you drive forward, lift your opponent’s legs to the opposite side of your head to finish the takedown.
The next variation is different in that you place your head outside, or by the lead leg, of your opponent. This variation also works very well in an open stance matchup, where you and your opponent have mirrored stances. To perform this variation, change levels and step your rear leg forward, to the outside of your opponent’s rear leg, creating a stance switch. Place your head on the outside of your opponent’s lead leg. Grab their legs behind their knees and finish the takedown by lifting your opponent’s legs towards the side your head is on while driving forwards.
The last variation we will cover will have your head on the outside, with you and your opponent in a closed stance matchup. Change levels and step your lead leg in between your opponent’s leg, while placing your head on the outside. Secure their legs behind the knees and lift them towards the side that your head is on while driving forwards. Watch the above video demonstration on the variations of a double-leg takedown.
The above techniques are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to grappling, but they will give you an edge and help you keep the fight standing where your striking skills can shine. Drill them by yourself or with a partner and try them in your next sparring session!
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