The Double-Leg Takedown in MMA and Wrestling

In considering the many different kinds of wrestling holds, and the techniques prescribed for each, one cannot but reflect on the greater importance of some of them.

We stress the teaching and execution of a considerable number of wrestling holds, but we have developed a philosophy of wrestling that places a great deal of emphasis on the takedown.

It is our basic premise that getting a takedown is the most important phase of wrestling.

We try to instil the attitude that if our wrestlers can take their opponent down, they will beat him. Beating your opponent on his feet is a vital factor in the outcome of any wrestling match.

double leg takedown


We usually teach five takedowns. We concentrate on three of these five takedowns and teach a series of variations that can lead to each.

At that point, we reinforce each maneuver with intense drilling and situation wrestling, thereby trying to make each maneuver or counter automatic with each wrestler.


The double-leg takedown is probably one of our most successful takedowns, yet its degree of difficulty is minimal.

We begin our November practices with teaching the double-leg as a basic takedown technique because it is the most familiar to wrestlers and is simple to teach.

Most important, a young wrestler can achieve a fair degree of confidence and success by using it.

Our double-leg takedown is taught from three variations. In order to effectively execute the takedown from any of the variations, there are several cardinal rules that each wrestler should follow.


1. Approach should be an arm’s length away from your opponent. If you’re too far away, you’ll be vulnerable to a possible snap-down spin around, or even to a pancake by your opponent.

NOTE: We tell our wrestlers to be close enough for a tie-up, but still in good position to set up the opponent from a non-tie-up position.

2. Another paramount technique is the drop or penetration step. This is simply the exaggerated movement of either foot, enabling the wrestler to get under his opponent adequately. We drill the drop step every day for about seven to eight minutes during the first month of practice.

NOTE: We’ve found that proper utilization of the drop step has enabled our wrestlers to achieve better execution of both the double-leg and single-leg takedowns.

3. The last technique we emphasize is one that many novice wrestlers neglect—keeping the back straight (or, in more proper terminology, arching the back). By arching your back, you take away your opponent’s ability to sprawl, or to shoot a cross-face or a whizzer.


I use a very simple drill to reinforce this last technique. It’s called the “blood-and-guts” drill. I simply put one wrestler up and the attacking wrestler down, in a double-leg position.

On the whistle, both wrestlers react. The standing wrestler goes into a sprawl. The attacker must draw in his opponent’s hips, making sure that his back is straight.

NOTE: You can add such variations as not allowing top wrestler to use his hands, or allowing him to shoot only a cross-face, a whizzer, or perhaps a pancake.


We drill the double-leg takedown from three common varit iol is. Variation #1 is the simple over-the-shoulder technique.

After drop-stepping into your opponent, your outside leg (left) should always be up, for balance. Your right knee should he down and deep between your opponent’s legs.

Keeping your back straight and your right ear tight to the opponent’s hip, extend your hands (making two fists) deep :wound your opponent’s upper legs (behind the thighs is the desired position).

By using pressure and maintaining balance off your left leg, pull in your opponent’s hips and dump him over your right shoulder to the mat.

The next step is where many wrestlers allow the opponent to escape, thereby nullifying the takedown.

When taking your opponent to the mat, do not let him go. Maintain control of his legs, square off your hips, and don’t go off your knees.

NOTE: You can easily go into a pinning combination from this situation by using a crotch and half-nelson, or even a cradle.


the second variation is the leg-trip. We teach our wrestlers. Use this technique when the opponent sprawls, thereby making it difficult to pull in his hips and take him over the shoulder.

Should this situation occur, you use your outside leg (the left again) to trip your opponent’s right leg. In order to successfully complete this manoeuvre, you should pull in your opponent’s hips to simplify the trip.

NOTE: By pulling in his hips, you prevent yourself from overextending or losing your balance.

Take your opponent towards his back, remembering to let go of his legs as he is falling and to immediately break your fall by putting your palms down.

By doing this, you can maintain balance and control and very possibly go into a pinning combination.


Variation #3 is shifting to a single-leg takedown after initially executing the double-leg. We use this when our opponent gets a good sprawl and is about to counter with a whizzer.

We teach our wrestlers to release one leg (the right) and clasp hands around the left leg. This then is the single-leg takedown.

NOTE: If your opponent has the whizzer, don’t let him pull your right arm up his back. Always stay low on the leg.

To complete the manoeuvre, we have our boys sit through on their left hip, pulling the opponent past them and to the mat. From here, you bulldog or overhook his right leg, while still maintaining control by placing your right arm (the arm he whizzered) in his crotch.

This move may be difficult to teach young wrestlers, who fear going underneath their opponents. We’ve found that constant drilling, with emphasis on staying low on the leg, has produced a certain degree of success with many of our wrestlers.

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