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Check Out These Two Techniques by Ben Askren
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Check Out These Two Techniques by Ben Askren

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Undoubtedly, every single grappler should be competent enough in wrestling that they can hold their ground in a self defense scenario. You don’t have to be a D1 level wrestler by the time your a black belt, but your should be able to take down an aggressor or you have done yourself a disservice.

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All one needs to be a competent in self defense in regards to wrestling is not get taken down, and know 1-2 effective takedowns they can use. Because of this, I wanted to share a couple techniques with you that are absolutely vital in order to achieve this goal.

Feel free to check They Shoot, You Score: Single Leg Counter Wrestling by Max & Ben Askren and Winning The High Crotch by Max & Ben Askren.

The Double Leg

The first technique I wanted to review is the double leg takedown. The double leg is the most popular takedown in wrestling and Jiu Jitsu because it is the most powerful. This great takedown can be used in the gi and without the gi, although you will definitely see it more in no-gi due to the lack of sleeve and lapel grips.

The entry to the double leg is by executing a simple move known as the level change or penetration step. This is undoubtedly the most difficult technical part of the move to master; wrestlers spend their whole careers improving this simple move because it’s so vital. If you think about, the penetration step is kind of like the hip escaping of wrestling in terms of importance.

Because the pentration step is the first part of the double leg takedown, the moment your opponent recognizes you executing it, they are going to step too far for you to finish the takedown. That is why it’s necessary to make our entries a little bit better.

Another way to get to the double leg is from the single leg takedown. Entries to single leg takedowns are easier but the finishes are harder compared to double legs. In the following video, UFC fighter Ben Askren illustrates how we can transition from the single leg to the double leg. See below:

One of the most important details I learned about finishing the double leg was rather than driving horizontally or downward, you need to drive upward towards the defenders abdomen and stand up at the same time. The issue with a horizontal drive is that the defender can sprawl much easier and therefore defend your takedown.

How to Sprawl

When you train Jiu Jitsu, you learn just as much offense as you do defense. The same is important when it comes to practicing wrestling. You need to be able to defend takedowns just as well as you can take people down. There is not going to be a lot of matches when you are the sole person attempting takedowns and you will eventually encounter someone trying to take you down. This is why its important to become competent in wrestling defense.

The number one defensive wrestling technique is the sprawl. If you cannot sprawl, you better be really good at taking people down or you might as well just pull guard. The sprawl is so effective and versatile that it can be used to defend many different kinds of takedowns and that is why you absolutely need to master this simple technique.

You may have learned the sprawl early in your grappling career, but it is unlikely that you have mastered it. It’s a hard thing to practice but it needs to be. In the following video, Ben Askren will show us how to properly execute the sprawl. See below:

As with all defensive techniques in grappling, timing is of absolute importance. Without good timing, you will be late, and if someone is trying to take you down, you have no time to spare. To develop good sprawl timing, you need to drill at reactively.

A drill we do at our academy that helps with this is having a partner shoot on you while you sprawl against them. You want to put yourself in the mindset to focus on timing here.

I hope you enjoyed these two techniques by Ben Askren. Ben is accomplished not only in MMA, but wrestling as well. Ben competed in the Olympics as a wrestler, so his advice shouldn’t be taken for granted.

When it comes to wrestling, you have to put in the work. In Jiu Jitsu, we can practice hundreds of different techniques. When it comes to wrestling for Jiu Jitsu, all you need is a few moves, and if you master those, you will have done more than enough.


John Danher is one of the few people to have athletes be successful at the highest levels in both Professional Grappling as well as MMA. He has systemized his approach to teaching,learning,and APPLYING his Jiu-Jitsu. Enter the System with John Danaher!

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