Single Leg Takedown for MMA

During the wrestling instructional I’ve watched it suggests that you shoot outside leg to outside leg, but when striking and leading with your non-dominant leg that makes it nearly impossible to smoothly transition to such a take down. Since in mma there is always a lead leg, and mostly it’s not used for fishing, is it alright to shoot for this leg?

Yes. If you are shoting a single then typically you are going to go for the closest leg. The exception to this is if you are doing something like trying to sweep the lead leg from the clinch, causing the guy to step back to defend allowing you to ankle pick the rear leg into a single.

Thanks cockney. That’s what I was thinking, but I wanted to be sure before I told a group of guys, “this is how it’s done.”

You can do both… it depends on how strong your wrestling is.
its easier by far to go for the near leg.

There are thousands of ways to do this- so there is no one way, but its easier- and faster to use the closest leg.

the main thing with the single- ( or any take down in MMA) is your set ups, not learning
to set up a take down is wasting a shot.

the steps should always be

set ups
drop a level

at each of those steps are hundreds of variables
the set up, level change and penetration are a given how you finish is the real question


Thanks kmc. What would you suggest for set up from a striking range? Today I just had them double jab, then drop, penetrate, and had them run the pipe using an inside foot sweep (don’t know if I’m using the right terminology when it comes to the foot sweep).

First thing I taught was the dropping levels and then penetrate, I did stress the need to set it up, but kind of failed to give proper instruction on how. Suggestions?

Also, can anyone suggest good video’s online to watch that teaches you the basic’s of clinch grappling? I know this is a big part of MMA as well, and one that at the lower levels is pretty well overlooked.

I think it’s really important to find out what set ups work for you. Just work your combination’s, and find constant openings that flow naturally from your strikes. Then drill those split second moments into you’re head, do lots of reps, and voila.

It really is hard to marry the two (wrestling and striking) The two do complement each other, as well as counteract each other in ways.

I rarely go for a single when we’re doing MMA unless I see an opening for it in a scramble. Generally my best setup for a single leg is to shoot a double (setting up that shot off of a jab or two as I change levels,) make contact for a bump with my shoulder (following thru on the double,) come up with a left hook to a straight right and then hook the single with my left hand as I’m stepping around to the left/changing levels. Other then that, if I see an opening to grab a leg I’ll take it.

I stand orthodox (for striking, southpaw for wrestling)

how many of you use single-legs vs. double legs? personally, i don’t like them…however, i’m also a pretty crappy wrestler (which is more than a little embarrassing, being from Iowa).

two setups i’ve seen in MMA that work good are the Hedno heel pick-overhand right, or throwing a jab, wait for the counter right and throw a double.

kicks in general don’t work to set up shots.

also, any takedown should be done from striking range, because if you can’t hit, you can’t shoot.

also, i picked up most of Mark Hatmaker’s books, which really explain the clinch/wrestling game to me…i’d suggest them to anyone who trains.

just my .02


Those are some good points, thank you Cycobush and slimjim…

In rethinking this I would argue that working from the clinch is a more sound method- utilizing underhooks
and pummeling even to revert to a double or single vs throws.
and that doubles do have more success over singles there is less opportunity for someone to get away-
if its a good one.

Sakuraba has by far the most efficient single in MMA- but it often looks like a desperation move
you see it allot when people are hurt or taking too much damage.
they resort to a low single.

GSP is so good at it because of his timing. he is impeccable,
I would think about set ups- in the following way- using feints , and being patient.
its more about opportunity vs initiative unless your wrestling is very strong.

The Hendo example is a really good one.
Slims point about scrambles is really good too there are lots of opportunity there

I watch Karo Parisyan allot- and I know he does not use more wrestling oriented take downs- he attacks
when he is side by side vs head on- he always uses strikes then wrist control
Its a better method , less likely to be battered with strikes or sprawled on.

I like Jon Bones- too his greco is freaky he is very random and super unorthodox.


I see and agree with all three of you; cyco, slim, and kcm.

Slim I don’t fully understand what you’re saying about how you set up your take down, I get the working your way in and changing levels and penetrating, but you lose me when you started with the left hook. Are you talking about if the shot failed? Or are you saying you fake the first shot, come up with a left hook, and then throw a straight right hand, go in for the single?

Cyco I agree that the single isn’t the most effective, but I’ve seen guida use it like a pro. I personally feel good about a single because I feel it give me opportunity to scramble on the feet, if I lose the leg, or if I get the take down I’m not stuck in guard. Also I feel it gives me a greater capability to scramble on the ground, and my scrambles are where I feel I gain the most advantage.

I also agree with kmc and cyco on clinch work being where it’s at. I just don’t know any greco guys who could teach me the stuff. I’d love to pick up that book, but I’m poor.

I tend to go for takedowns from the clinch more than from the outside. Single leg is a great takedown but can leave you open for strikes. You have to commit your hands to the grip. You will get the takedown but you will likely eat a couple of shots for it.

When you talk about penetration, the toughest thing that I find is getting people to lead with their chest instead of their head. I train this by getting people to do striding penetration steps across the gym, keeping low, knees grazing the ground. Also I get people to shoot against a padded wall, if they lead with their head, they will pretty quickly stop doing that.

The other tip that I have found useful is that when you shoot, your chest should hit the guy at the exact moment your knee hits the ground, this ensures that you drive through the target.

As for good resources, Kevin Jackson and Mike Van Arnesdale have a great video set. A bit old but really good.

Yeah I had a lot of trouble with guys leading with their head, or shoulders last night. I kept stressing the need to move through with the hips and chest (your center of gravity vs theirs, lowest one wins). I’ll have to remember to have them shoot against a wall, and I’ll keep them doing the strides for warm-ups.

Thanks for the link, maybe one day I’ll have the money. Haha.

yeah, I am sure that at least bits of that instructional might be available free of charge from other sources if you know what I mean.

Sorry, yeah a failed double. I don’t plan on failing, but if I notice a guy that is really prone to sprawl and ‘catch’ your shot by keeping his hands low I like to use the shot to bring his hands low, hit him a couple times to get his hands up, then come around the outside for the single leg.

Fuck it, use the double:

Morote Gari - Rhadi Ferguson - YouTube

Wolf… isn’t he doing everything technically wrong?

[quote]Beershoes wrote:
Wolf… isn’t he doing everything technically wrong?[/quote]

Who? Rhadi?

Rhadi’s double might not be “pretty” but it works-
the height is pretty sick…
but he does not really shoot- I don’t think he needs to either.

here is the deal with any shot whether it be mma grappling or what ever-
you are always shooting past the opponent, they are just something in your way
it does not matter if is a single or a double

you need to have alot of power behind the shot-
both to get there faster and to keep the momentum going when you do reach them.
sherk is a perfect example - when he applies good set ups.

if you want some good clinch work- Randy has a a few very good ( but dated ) dvds.


Thanks once again KMC! You’re always there answering the tough ones when we need ya!

Wolf, yes I think his names Rhadi.

To KMC, I see what you’re saying, and I’ve seen it a LOT in mma. That the dropping levels at the knee’s is good to practice, but just like in any fight, when it comes time to go… you go with what works. I’m just impressed with that guys power! He just picks up this big ol guy like he’s a sack of potatoes! JEEZ!

Thanks for the vid Wolf.


where do you train at in Kansas? if you’re anywhere near Ft Riley, i’m pretty sure they have an Army Combatives team there, so you might want to link up with them from time to time. Army Combatives is bascially the Army’s MMA style, so it might be nice for you and your buds to roll wiht them from time to time.