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Leg Drag Overview

Leg Drag Overview


The leg drag is one of the most popular passes in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu today.  Popularized by none other than the Mendes Brothers, the leg drag exploded in the Jiu Jitsu scene.  It is one of the most technical and effective passes you can use.  What makes it so good?

The leg drag is an extremely dominant passing position for several reasons.  You are immobilizing your opponent’s hips. You are misaligning their spine, and you are controlling their legs.  These are just the main details that make the leg drag such a high percentage pass; there are other minute details that play a role. 

The leg drag is quickly becoming one of the most powerful and effective passes for good reason.  When you are at the highest levels of competition you need to solidify total control over your opponent to get the pass.  any inch or even centimeter can allow your opponent to retain their guard.  With the leg drag there are no inches.  

Immobilizing the Hips

Immobilizing your opponent’s hips is one of the most crucial elements to having a successful leg drag.  How do you manage to do this so well with the leg drag position?  When you use the leg drag, you are forcing your opponent to be on their side while you use your leg and grips to sustain this position.

People almost always want to turn into you when you are about to pass their guard and by doing so they will have the opportunity to retain their guard.  When we get tight on the leg drag we become glued to our opponent and we do not even allow them the opportunity to use their hips to move.  The mobility of their hips becomes completely limited and they are not able to even begin retaining their guard. 

Not only is their hip mobility limited but depending on what we are going for, either a guard pass or the back, you can control where your opponent is allowed to go.  You can use their collar and your head to pin their shoulders to the mat so that they cannot even turtle and get away from you.  The leg drag may be the most dominant pass in bjj.  This is probably why we see this position being utilized more and more at the highest levels of bjj. 

 Their shoulders will stay flat on the mat when properly executed but their butt will be facing one way and their knees the other way, this severely limits their hip mobility.  This control also forces your opponent to turtle or makes them want to, ultimately, it’s up to you whether or not you rather them turtle or would just like to pass.  Check out this sweep to leg drag pass with 9x World Champ, Bruno Malfacine.

Misalignment of the Spine

This is one of the most paramount details to properly implementing the leg drag.  You want to misalign your opponent’s spine.  Spine alignment and control is very important for many passes.  That is why cross facing is such an important part of passing.  Check out our articles “Power of the Under Hook” and “Power of the Cross Face” to learn more on spinal control. 

When you are doing a leg drag since your opponent is on your side, you can use your hands to control their upper body.  This will allow you to keep their shoulders flat on the mat but have them on one side of their hip.  This is extremely uncomfortable.  Typically when you are on one side of your hip you also want to be on the same side shoulder.  If both your shoulders are flat on the mat but your hip or butt is not flat on the mat it is terrible. 

Think of it this way, if your butt is facing one way, your head should be looking away from your but so that your spine is still strait.  The key to a good leg drag is to turn your opponent on one hip and keep theri back flat on the mat.  This will severely limit their ability to move or do anything at all to try and retain their guard.  the leg drags is one of those positions that is almost impossible to stop if somebody gets all the grips and gets deep on it.   Look at the details below of this leg drag and see how the spine is not aligned. Jt Torres also shows us a back take from leg drag.

Controlling the Legs

Controlling the legs is another important part of getting into a leg drag.  When you leg drag, you want to drag your opponents leg across your body and control their hip, and legs with your knee, hook, and hand.  You want to control their leg in order to force them on their side so that their hip is not flat on the mat. 

This leg control will allow you to immobilize the hips and misalign their spine, ultimately, your opponent will be begging to turtle and you may be able to take their back.  Controlling the legs is also a big part of initially getting into the leg drag.  Getting into the leg drag is definitely the hardest part of the position.  you have to be able to force your opponents leg across your body. There are so many different leg drag set ups and it is up to you which you want to try and implement.  This move is learned easier through a conceptual approach and looking at the big picture.  Just know that you want to drag the leg across your body and keep it their.   Check out Gregor Gracie’s take on the leg drag.  It is a double leg drag pass.  

If you want to perfect your leg drag and add it to your arsenal of passes, pick up Atos Black Belt and Worlds Silver Medalist, JT Torres DVD set, Passing Back Takes and Finishes.  JT Torres has some of the best leg drags in the bjj community.  This is a GREAT resource for anyone who wants to learn leg drags.


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