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SPRAWL!
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SPRAWL!

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You’ve probably heard this word a million times in Jiu Jitsu but have yet to really learn and understand it. The sprawl, as we all know, is a basic defense to many takedowns. This technique works very well, but only when done well. Many students see the sprawl as this crude maneuver in which the person sprawling throws there legs behind them and flops down. The correct sprawl is a very technical move that needs to be done perfectly, especially when going up against a decent wrestler.

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Even if you don’t like wrestling, you need to learn how to sprawl. There will eventually come a time where you have to sprawl, and if you can’t do it, you will lose. If you are in a competition matched and are tied up with your opponent but have to wrestle, you should at least know how to sprawl well so that you might end up in top turtle or something. If you are in a self-defense scenario and the aggressor tries to take you down, you absolutely should be able to sprawl correctly.

So what is the sprawl, in technical terms? The sprawl is a defensive wrestling technique in which the defender drops their hip on to their opponent to prevent a takedown. The big thing to take away is that you are not dropping your body, but actually slamming your hip onto your opponent. The sprawl needs to be explosive or else the attacker will just hold on to your leg and continue the takedown. 

In the following video, Ben Askren, current UFC Welterweight Champion after submitting Robbie Lawler, explains the technical way to sprawl. Ben is also a very accomplished Olympic level wrestler, so his advice should not be taken for granted.

Realistically, the sprawl itself isn’t a difficult technique to execute. The hard part about using the sprawl to prevent takedowns is getting the right timing. Timing is 90% of having an effective sprawl. So how can you improve timing of the sprawl? Practice! You need to practice sprawling live as much as possible. I like to do timed drills in which someone is shooting a double leg at me and I sprawl quickly. This drill helps build the timing because it teaches you what to look at when you are wrestling with someone, specifically small movements that predict a takedown attempt.


UFC and Bellator MMA veteran Tom DeBlass has reached the top of both BJJ and MMA. Drills are part of what he credits with his success. Thankfully he has compiled a BLUEPRINT for both solo and partner drills to help you be successful TOO!

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