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.
Ever since I was paired up with Wilson Reis a few weeks ago and we were doing a single leg takedown drill, I realized that I was lacking in knowledge and skill (to put it mildly) in the area of finishing the single leg.
I finished a few single legs in tournaments but it’s been an annoying scramble every time, and I’m always thinking “damn it, Lex, why didn’t you just switch to a double when you had the chance”. The single leg just never made sense to me. It feels like I’m trying to control a lion by its tail. The analogy probably makes no sense to you, but it works in my mind at this late caffeinated hour.
So, given all that, it was great to see Jared Weiner put up a technique of the week video (see below) with an awesome idea for finishing the single leg. Why is it awesome? Several reasons, but the main one is that it uses the same kind of idea that I like to use in passing the butterfly guard (in gi). The gripping and the body mechanics are very similar, so I can’t wait to try it if I ever find myself with just one of my opponent’s legs in my hands.
I trained no-gi at BJJ United last night. As always, good instruction and tough training. Wilson Reis was running the class. He keeps the intensity up, from warm up to drills to live training.
As part of the warm up, one thing that stood out is the single leg defense drill that I remember doing a lot in wrestling. The opponent gets a single leg on you, and then you hop around for about 20-30 seconds. The surprising thing was how easy it was for the first 10 seconds, and how tough it was after that. Once the calves started burning, my will to continue hopping around quickly diminished.
He showed a cool (acrobatic) back take where you open up a guy’s turtle by flipping over to a bridge and bringing him along. In Wilson’s match against Bruno Tostes (included below), you can see him attempt it at the 0:55 mark. This is a great way to open up a defensive turtle.
We finished from there with a guillotine. He reminded me to do all the steps and to do them well as I was getting lazy on the hooks and the wrist control. It was great to have an instructor after me. As a result I kept the pace up and the technique sharp.