A Single Leg is Hard to Finish

I tweaked my hip yesterday and was limping all day like an old wise judoka. Add to that a lack of sleep due to a bunch of deadlines and stress at work, and I was a damn mess (and missed the usually very good competition training session at Marco’s). When I’m mentally drained in that way, I’ll drill at home and watch some instructional videos on the same several positions I’ve been working on over the last year. Here’s one: the single leg.

Look at 5:50 in the following video. It’s two minutes of AJ Agazarm trying to finish a single leg on Victor Silveiro in a brown belt match-up at the 2013 Pans.

I see this kind of battle a lot, especially at the lighter weights, and especially in no-gi, but it really spans all weight divisions and styles. As is often said in wrestling, the way to win this battle is early aggression. It’s best to attack in combinations before the opponent gets a chance to establish good balance on the one foot. For this reason, I don’t like the single leg in training. If the training partner doesn’t want to go down, there often isn’t a nice and controlled way to put them down. I like to work technique that don’t hurt people, because I want to get a lot of reps in, and it’s easier to get reps in when the other person isn’t being destroyed in the process.

A lot of jiu jitsu guys (Marcelo Garcia is a great example) like the “running the pipe” finish. I think it’s effective, but it never clicked with me the way the “sweep the leg” finish has. Kolat shows a good version of it:

Here’s a nice set of 9 videos on finishing single leg takedowns:

The way to finish a single leg is simple: (1) keep them moving, (2) combine attacks, (3) aggression. All that is a lot of work. I like to think of the single leg finish as almost a position in itself, and like any position my goal is to make sure that I’m expanding less energy than my opponent. I think I’ve often fallen victim to that adrenaline rush that goes with the feeling that I’m very close to taking the guy down. There is no “almost” in grappling or life. You have to do the smart thing up until the very end. Don’t throw technique and sense out the window just because you’re “almost” there.

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