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Basic Wrestling Takedowns: The Double Leg and the Single Leg

Updated on March 13, 2015
The more technical your shot, the greater your likelihood of finishing the takedown you attempt.
The more technical your shot, the greater your likelihood of finishing the takedown you attempt. | Source

Whether you are just learning how to wrestle or you are an experienced All-American, the double leg and single leg takedowns will likely be two of your most reliable offensive options. There are many other types of takedowns you can learn, of course. But, being able to rely on these two solid fundamental attacks can make your overall game much more formidable, whether you compete in wrestling, Brazilian jiu jitsu or any other type of grappling.

As a wrestler, you can choose from hundreds of different takedowns and takedown transitions during a match. All of these options are designed to help give you the advantage over your opponent. As you begin your wrestling career, however, you will often achieve the best results by relying on a few basic takedowns and drilling them until you can perform them flawlessly under pressure. In many cases, trying too many different elaborate takedowns that you do not feel quite comfortable with can actually put you at a disadvantage. Even at a high level of competition, fundamentals win matches. These fundamentals begin with the double leg and single leg takedowns.

Double and single legs are just two of a staggering array of different types of takedowns wrestlers can use.
Double and single legs are just two of a staggering array of different types of takedowns wrestlers can use. | Source

Double Leg Tips

By far one of the most well-known wrestling takedowns is the double leg -- so-called because it allows you to control both of your opponent's legs. To perform a basic double leg takedown, drop your weight below your opponent's hips and step your lead foot forward. Keeping your lead foot planted, drive your body forward until your lead knee hits the mat between your opponent's legs. At the same time, wrap both your arms behind your opponent's knees. If your left knee is down, step your right foot up to your side. Drive with your right leg, pushing the left side of your head into your opponent's side. Continue blocking his legs until he falls to the mat.

Angling sharply, or "turning the corner," once you get under your opponent's hips will substantially increase your odds of finishing your double leg.
Angling sharply, or "turning the corner," once you get under your opponent's hips will substantially increase your odds of finishing your double leg. | Source

Single Leg Tips

A single leg takedown is also a popular option; unlike a double leg takedown, it involves attacking only one of your opponent's legs. Begin by changing levels and closing with your opponent via a similar motion to that you used for the double leg takedown. This time, however, wrap your right arm around your opponent's thigh and your left arm around his calf, keeping his leg pinched between your knees. Your head should drive into your opponent's chest, rather than against his side. Once you have secured your opponent's leg, you have several different options for how to complete the takedown. The simplest is to take a step back and to you're left with your right leg, turning your body in a semi-circular motion. At the same time, bend your knees and lower your body sharply toward the ground. Your weight should drop on top of your opponent's leg, locking out his knee and forcing him down to the mat.

You can use a single leg to set up a double leg, and vice versa.
You can use a single leg to set up a double leg, and vice versa. | Source

Transitions and Defense Counters

Of course, there are many different ways to defend both single and double leg takedowns. In many cases, the simplest strategy to overcome your opponent's defense is to transition from one takedown attempt to another before he is able to adapt. For example, if your opponent defends the single leg takedown discussed previously, he will be forced to step his planted foot closer to you in order to maintain his balance -- his right foot, if you are holding his left leg. When this happens, let go of his left leg with your left hand, which should have been wrapped around his left calf. Instead, block his right leg by reaching in front of it and grasping his ankle. Do not pull on his ankle; simply drive your right shoulder straight towards it, through both legs and into the ground. You should land on top of your opponent with both his legs pinned beneath you. This completion is a modified version of a double leg takedown, since you used both your arms to control both of your opponent's legs. Try experimenting with other timings and transitions between these takedowns as well.

Which takedown do you prefer?

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