Get Any Match To The Mat With This Takedown Entry From Andre Galvao
How Did We Get Down Here, Anyway?
In case you hadn’t heard, Jiu Jitsu is a sport that usually takes place on the ground. We toss our mouthguards in, slap hands, and silently agree to come down to the floor before grappling. One player might even give up their back and allow the other to begin in a dominant position so he or she can work particular escapes.
While these practices make sense for focusing on Jiu Jitsu technique, they have the unintended consequence of taking our attention away from takedowns. In fact, we train from a seated or kneeling position so often that takedowns can sometimes feel like a foreign language. It’s easy to overlook the details of the very moves that could get us to the mat in the first place. When it comes to setting up the takedown, we could all use a little advice from an expert.
The Voice Of Experience
Andre Galvao has learned a thing or two about takedowns in his two decades as a professional Jiu Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts competitor. With an impressive record in both grappling competition and the UFC, Galvao can claim to be a multiple-time ADCC and IBJJF Worlds champion at the black belt level. He retired from competition in 2018 to focus on training the next generation of athletes, such as the current UFC Middleweight Champion, Israel Adesanya.
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In this video, Andre Galvao discusses a little-known setup and entry for the popular single leg takedown. His use of this technique in competition speaks for itself; take a look below:
An Alternative Solution
Most of us were taught to initiate the single leg takedown by dropping down to change levels and “shooting in” with our lead knee. If you’ve ever tried to do this, you know it’s anything but a natural process. Shooting for takedowns is a specialized wrestler’s skill that doesn’t feel like a Jiu Jitsu move, which means many practitioners don’t have it readily available in their toolkit.
In the video above, he breaks down a high-percentage way to set up and enter the single leg position in a way that relies much more on principles of Jiu Jitsu and can be grabbed from a standing position.
Breaking It Down
For those who struggle with traditional single and double leg takedowns, the idea here is appealing: Instead of going down to get the leg, this entry provides a way to bring that leg up to us. This is preferable for many reasons, but the primary benefit is that you won’t have to risk getting caught in a sprawl if it fails. Note that this can be initiated from striking distance, making it viable for both grappling and mixed martial arts.
The first step is to lock out the rear arm in order to stiff-arm the opponent. The goal is to off balance the other player by putting their weight on the back foot. Once the opponent's rear foot is based out behind them to catch their shifting weight, their forward leg is naturally light. Capitalizing on this small shift in weight distribution will allow you to set up the single leg takedown much more effectively.
Next, you’ll need to drag the opponent's leg towards you as they continue to spin away from the momentum of your stiff arm. In the video, Galvao compares this motion to a traditional arm drag, where you pull your opponent's arm across their own chest and force them to twist a little. Using this drag in combination with the previous stiff arm will bring their leg to your center and allow you to trap it between your own legs.
From here, you can secure the single leg set up by controlling the other player’s movement. Be sure to pinch your knees together tightly in order to secure the other player’s knee against any lateral wiggle. It’s easy to lose focus on the control as you prepare to shift your energy to a takedown.
Now you’re in the single leg position and ready to finish the takedown!
- Lock out your rear arm
- Stiff arm the opponent
- Scoop up the forward leg of your opponent with your free hand
- Secure both of your hands under the opponent’s knee
- Drag the leg to you
- Pinch your own knees together
- Drive through for the takedown.
With these steps in mind, you’ll be more prepared to set up and finish your next single leg takedown. If you want to learn more about takedowns, or if you enjoyed Andre Galvao’s style of teaching, be sure to check out his awesome instructional “Takedown Dominance” to improve on every aspect of your wrestling game. In it, you’ll learn valuable tips for both traditional types of takedowns and creative options like this one. Remember: your Jiu Jitsu game is only as good as your ability to get to the ground.