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Don’t Just Sit There! Single Leg Mastery with Giancarlo Bodoni

Don’t Just Sit There! Single Leg Mastery with Giancarlo Bodoni


Get up and Get After it!

The single leg takedown is one of the most common methods of taking a standing exchange to the floor in a wrestling scenario. This take down also translates quite well to BJJ, probably more so than many other takedown options derived from traditional wrestling. Done properly, the single leg keeps us from getting into danger during the descent and allows us to secure good position as we hit the mat. You’ll see the single leg being performed over and over again at the highest levels, with many elite athletes continuously proving its worth. 

Though we may associate the single leg with standing exchanges, as this is where they are most commonly used, there are also ways to implement this dynamic takedown from other positions. Many times, when engaged on the ground, we don’t seize enough opportunities to simply get up. We become content to “play” our guards and work from the floor. But let’s not forget, the opportunity to get up is one that should be taken and if you can snag a takedown in the process, even better. There are moments when we’re on the bottom where we may feel a lapse in forward pressure or a stalling in the top player’s movement, its during these moments where we may have the opportunity to get up and pursue a takedown or reversal. We can also create opportunities by observing common reactions, such as a passer trying to regain posture. This type of movement can be used to piggyback all the way up to the feet if we can become efficient with the timing.  

Giancarlo Bodoni has some insight for you on this exact subject. Bodoni recently turned in a phenomenal performance at no gi Worlds, winning his division and finishing 3rd in the open class. He’s also recently released an instructional with BJJ Fanatics, detailing his incredible closed guard work. This first installment is entitled, Submission Arsenal: Closed Guard, and it’s available now.

Bodoni’s got a wicked single leg and in fact he’s just shot an entire instructional detailing all of his single leg blueprints. In this video, Bodoni is going to show you how you can pursue a single leg beginning from a seated guard. This is highly applicable and if you ever play the seated or De La Riva guard, it needs to become an option that’s on your radar. Take a look! 


Beginning in the De La Riva guard, Bodoni sets his DLR hook, posts his opposite foot on his partners leg, and secures a grip on his partner’s pants at the ankle. To initiate a passing sequence, it’s highly like that the passer in this scenario will attempt to take a grip on Bodoni’s posted leg to begin trying to stuff the foot underneath his body. Securing his partner’s sleeve, Bodoni removes his foot from the thigh. With a simple kicking motion that offers some push-pull mechanics, he easily removes the grip and now has control of the sleeve. 

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Repositioning the foot on the hip, Bodoni now pushes his partner away as he sits up to a seated guard position. Keeping his foot on the far hip to maintain distance, Bodoni hugs the leg closest to him, still maintaining the sleeve grip on the far arm. As Bodoni describes, its likely here that the guard passer will begin to posture up, looking to separate from the bottom player. As this occurs, Bodoni sweeps his legs back into a S-style configuration, while simultaneously punching his grip on the sleeve to his partners belt knot area. As he drives forward, placing his partners weight on his rear foot, he begins to get up from the mat. As he arrives at his feet, he’s secured a single leg set up position. Notice, Bodoni still has control over the far sleeve at this point. He advises us to take a grip on our own collar or simply cup our bicep area to further encapsulate the leg. 

Its important to take a moment here and observe a critical detail. This may be where many of us are failing to finish this takedown. As Bodoni explains, keep your eyes forward and your back straight. Its common here that when we pick up the single, we begin to bend forward at the waist and compromise our posture. This can lead to all kinds of problems, including neck attacks and an increased ability for your opponent to sprawl and defend. Remember, eyes forward. 

For the finish, Bodoni keeps his partner guessing with a little bit of trickery. He sways his partner to the front, off balancing him in this direction and then brings him to the rear, dropping his level and finishing the takedown. As Bodoni steps back in a circular motion, he drops his chest toward the leg, creating immense pressure on the knee. If you’ve ever felt this kind of technique, it is incredibly difficult to answer. It almost feels as if a knee bar is being applied to your leg. Don’t leave this detail out. It lends itself to a much easier acquisition of the takedown. 

As they arrive at the mat, Bodoni is in perfect position to begin passing from a “headquarters” style configuration. 

Don’t forget to take advantage of what’s at work here. Bodoni is not forcing anything. He’s simply working off of his partner’s intentions to regain posture and riding the wave. Getting up when you’re on the bottom must involve, some element of deception, after all we are on the bottom and if the top player wishes to keep us there, more than likely they can. The ability to get up from the bottom must be granted by the top person… without them knowing it. Great stuff here from one of the elite brown belt competitors in the circuit! Bodoni’s collection of single leg applications may already be available in the BJJ Fanatics online store by the time you’re reading this! 



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