Wrestling’s Jab: The Basic Double Leg Takedown

I don’t really know why I’ve saved this one for so long before making it available to the public. I do that sometimes with techniques that have sentimental value to me. And this one does. I guess the technique itself isn’t all that unique. But whenever I watch it, and I watch it quite a bit, it reminds me of when I learned it from Coach Wells and to me

what was unique was how he taught the technique, which, for the sake of time, was basically, in a way that even a self proclaimed idiot like me could understand it.

On top of that, it wasn’t just the technique, it was the concept that he taught to me. That

the Double Leg is the Jab of Wrestling. A probing, long range technique used to measure the opponent’s responses and create openings for second and third beat techniques.

Sure it works as a stand alone technique, but when used in conjunction with a bigger, broader takedown scheme, it becomes something altogether different, better, more potent.

And thus began my quest to develop such a game. And under Coach Wells, it has been exceedingly easy. At least for me to understand… execution is an entirely different story, but as the old addage goes, only a poor craftsman blames his tools, and in the case of Coach Well’s takedown game, I know it’s not the tools that fail.

The quest continues to this day, as do my other pursuits. And

during a conversation with Coach Wells while we watched a couple of mutual friends fight at a recent MMA event, he imparted yet another idea that has hence forth brought about a second revelation in how I look at the takedown game in general.

I have for some time now attempted to develop “games” from every conceiveable position known to me. A “game” would constitute a series of at least 3 technique options for any given position/situation whereby at least one techniques covers any given opposing energy. This would be for escaping a postion, passing a guard, or in this case finishing a takedown.

As I spoke with Coach Wells I told him that I had felt that for the hips in, I was comfortable with his Takedown Trifecta “game” (Spiral Takedown, Knee Tap Takedown, Body Lock Takedown).

However, once hips were way, I didn’t feel like I had the same 3 or more options.

He explained to me that he had tried to offer me (and his other students) this in the form of an over hook series he had us working on and then I began to put the pieces together.

Days later,

as I shoveled the walks in front of my home, I contemplated this further and began to hypothosize that maybe what Chris had been teaching me would also answer another question that had been rattling around in the dusty, cavernous, emptiness of my brain. Why use and Underhook as opposed to an Overhook?

Why an Overhook as opposed to an Underhook? Was it a matter of personal preference? Was it a matter of body type or natural attributes?

Certainly, my hypothosis would include possibilities for the above, but what seemed to make just as much, if not more sense, especially after looking at the techniques that Coach Wells had presented (both for close range, hips in clinching as well as for medium/long range, hips out clinching) was that there was something consistent going on.

It would seem that the closer the hips, the more, the techniques favored the Underhook, which made sense mechanically, physiologically, and kinesiologically.

And conversely, it would seem that the farther the hips are away relative to each other, the more the techniques favorered the Overhook. Which too, made sense, as the farther the hips are back, the more your opponent is tempted to break the head, knee, toe rule in the frontal plane. In being situated in such a way, it would make sense that you would want to be able to exert presured downward to help him break this plane and the Overhook is a better tool for doing so than the Underhook in this situation.

I’ve been playing around with the idea of including a Flow Charting Program with the members area of DamageControlMMA.com and in light of this idea, I’ve thrown together a quick, dirty, diagram of how this hypothosis looks on paper.

Keep in mind, there are plenty of other techniques that could be filled in, different branches that could be added, exceptions, etc. etc., but my goal was to show the general idea of hips in and hips away and the correlating Underhooking/Overhooking Scheme and subsequent takedown options.

A Rapid Prototype Flowchart Drawn On A Whim To Demonstrate The Possible Connection Between Hip Distance and The Most Advantageous Arm Control (Overhook vs Underhook)

A Rapid Prototype Flowchart Drawn On A Whim To Demonstrate The Possible Connection Between Hip Distance and The Most Advantageous Arm Control (Overhook vs Underhook)

I’ve also added the other 3 techniques shared with us by Coach Wells, so that you can see the whole picture; i.e. the Double Leg Takedown as an entry into the Wellian Trifecta, The Spiral Takedown, Knee Tap and Body Lock (hips in, close range clinch *) game from Over, Under 50 – 50 Clinch Position.

The quest continues, as I am sure it will until my final days.

Remember, what I’ve presented here in terms of general principal (hips in = underhook vs hips away = overhook) is a hypothosis, which means, it is untested and unverified by those more qualified than I to make such generalizations. But at any rate, I hope it has at least given you some food for thought.

Best wishes and happy hunting!

15 replies
  1. KJGould
    KJGould says:

    I’m going to have to slightly disagree with this. From all my reading and talking with grapplers, the single leg is the favoured ‘jab’ of wrestling, especially when you look at high end collegiate and even Olympic competition.

    Something else I discovered recently are the cons of doing a blast double and a blast single. You might get the opponent off balance enough for a takedown, but it become difficult to control the position you and the opponent end up in (though not impossible). Then there’s the energy you expend in trying to get the takedown, especially against a resisting top quality counter wrestler with great takedown defence.

    Instead a less explosive, more technique and leverage driven approach to the single leg setup to takedowns should be considered.

    I’d strongly recommend watching Billy Robinson’s approach to the single leg takedown on his WAR Catch As Catch Can dvd seminar from Scientific Wrestling. In it he hooks the single leg and allows the defending opponent to dictate what move to do next based on how he reacts. If he tries to force the hooked single straight down, there’s one move, if he tries to force the hooked single straight forward there’s one move, and if he forces it straight back there’s yet one more move and all use technique and mechanical power over muscular power.

    I’d like to see this approach in more detail from a guy like Billy Robinson, and it may be in the certified catch wrestler DVD set he did a bit later (also from Scientific Wrestling, but I’ve not had a chance to check this out yet).

  2. Dr Sick
    Dr Sick says:

    Everyone is going to have a preference. It’s analogous to debating whats better, the left hook or the straight right. There’s a time and place for everything and a technique that will suit one fighter better than another.

    I’m not saying that I disagree with you KJGould or that I wouldn’t like seeing Coach Robinson’s approach, however, I personally perfer Coach Wells method. Now I say that with the understanding that I take what I can from his instruction, in this case, the form, the principle of using the Double as an entry, and the habit forming mechanics developed by popping immediately up after the initial shot. Then I add other elements that I have picked up and find valuable from other instructors like Sean Sherk, Sensei Erik Paulson, Ajarn Greg Nelson, Coach Ricco Chiapparelli and Khuen Khru Will Bernales and can use this technique with a high level of comfort and confidence.

    In the end I use my takedowns primarily from an MMA standpoint and the striking set ups taught by those mentioned above can really do a lot to dismantle any takedown defense and really, the point of the Double in the case of Coach Well’s isn’t to fight and expend a lot of energy for the takedown. It’s to use the Double to get the clinch and depending on your opponent’s energy use the appropriate clinch takedown… again with as efficient use of energy as possible.

    We’ve filmed a series of MMA Takedown combinations for the membership area of our website which include the striking, misdirection and footwork set ups for the initial entry.

    I thank you for your continued support, input and unique perpsectives KJGould and I look forward to reading more of your view points.

  3. KJGould
    KJGould says:

    I’m not saying one should be used over the other, just suggesting another resource to develop your overall takedown game, and my comment about the single is more to do with the probability of being able to grab one leg compared to two, even if the purpose is to close distance to clinch.

    In Billy Robinson’s demonstration the single leg actually comes from when you’re already in the clinch and you fight to get that position (which he shows), so it would supplement Coach Wells series in recovering a failed double / single after you’ve clinched.

    Wells shows how you can get the clinch if the double / single fails, Robinson shows how to recover single leg position from the clinch which can result in a double, a single with back heel trip, or a rotating / ‘spiral’ single with trip where the takedown is essentially from behind.

    It can all supplement each other to achieve the desired goal; a successful, controlled takedown.

  4. Dr Sick
    Dr Sick says:

    Oh, I think I’m getting the picture here KJGould. I’m in total agreement then. Coach Wells also shows a single series off of a failed Double. And you’re right, supplementing existing options with variations and takedown chains is key for success.

  5. KJGould
    KJGould says:

    Ahh, you’re gonna hate me. I’d not seen the Billy Robinson clip for a while and just rewatched it to make sure I’d remembered correctly. Billy Robinson is showing takedowns from the front-facelock (grovit) position, not the over-under clinch. I’m sure you could possibly work for a grovit from the clinch and then the takedowns off of that, but I must apologise for the error. 😀

  6. unown mma lover
    unown mma lover says:

    a jab is still a jab to me in grappling or mma, but in grappling i just tap there face , make them blink. lots of grapplers do it to me when i roll

    as for ME IN MMA the take down that “directly” translates to a jab is the high double for me because you don’t get a hip in the back of your head. when my high double gets sprawled on
    1. i can go into clinch and throw him from there
    2. i can strike him because im standing
    3A. i can drop into a low double and use Dr sicks prefered options
    3B. i can drop to my single and use KJGould prefered options
    3C. i can switch over to Dr sicks prefered option and if your opponent is strong in the clinch then you can break off and and fake a double to a single using KJGoulds prefered method.

    Sooo much to learn i have been wanting to work on take downs for a while and you guys gave me so much options to try out and research.

    i just started getting into this site and this site is great
    thank you guys for your opinions.

  7. Naturalbornfighter1
    Naturalbornfighter1 says:

    I love the flow chart idea Dr Sick! The one’s in Eddie Bravo’s books are excellent for setting up submissions.
    I’ve done some wrestling in the past but it’s a weak point I’d like to work on, This kind of thing would help me out to no end. another great article, thanks man!

  8. BallPtPenTheif
    BallPtPenTheif says:

    Great flow chart. I’m probably going to ask one of my wrestling buddies to write one for me on the single leg. My mind works better when I understand the system of moves rather than individual moves.

    They really help me to understand my intention when going for a clinch and just what game I am trying to play.

  9. Ty Hatfield
    Ty Hatfield says:

    Chris on your double when you drop your level, need to talk about drop step, and then I dont drop my knee your losing 2 feet on your shot. I also really like moving them creating misdirection and few other timming stuff.

    Thanks Ty

  10. Guest house knysna
    Guest house knysna says:

    I think this is one of the most vital info for me. And i am glad reading your article. But should remark on few general things, The web site style is ideal, the articles is really great : D. Good job, cheers


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  1. […] practice, but I haven’t had the chance to apply them much in sparring, so when I encountered a double leg takedown post on Damage Control, I was curious. It’s worth a […]

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