Double Leg Takedown – How to Do It & The Most Common Mistakes

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Double Leg takedown is one of the most reliable techniques in grappling martial arts in general. It is one of the best and safest ways to take the fight to the ground. When done correctly, it is a low-risk high-return move that lands you in a dominant top position on the ground. It requires very high technical knowledge of the move in order to use it against another trained grapplers so mistakes are very common. And Double Leg Takedown for BJJ is a whole another story.

Have you ever watched a wrestling match? Be it at the gym or in competition, there’s one move you’re going to see most of the wrestlers’ attempt. It is the staple of the takedown game and real wrestling classic. Not only that, but it is a large part of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as well. While it is more useful in No-Gi, it can also be brutally effective in the Gi too.

Double leg takedown technique takes years to master, in both wrestling and BJJ. There are a few main aspects that make this move a complex one. While the notion is easy, grab both legs from a lower-level position, getting there, staying safe and finishing takes experience and the ability to adjust. There are plenty of different variations of the move that often times need to be connected while attempting to execute it. All in all, here’s a reason why wrestlers spend countless hours polishing up one of the very basic techniques of the sport. As Jiu-Jitsu practitioners, we shouldn’t take this move for granted. We need to respect the king of takedowns and put the reps in to achieve mastery of the move.

The Wrestling Version Double Leg Takedown

Double leg takedown is as old as the sport of wrestling itself. The move can probably be traced all the way back to the first Olympic games. As effective a move as it is, it is not limited to wrestling, though, Historically, before the change of rules, this technique was also a part of Kodokan Judo as well, where it was known as Morote Gari.

For the DLT, a grappler needs to have both their arms around an opponent’s legs. The basic idea is to lift the opponent off the ground in order to take them down on their back. There are a few very important elements to the traditional wrestling double leg takedown. First and foremost, you have to change your level in order to be able to get to the opponent’s legs.  Going as low as possible without blocking your movement is highly advisable. next, you’ll need to “shoot in” towards the opponent, shortening the distance. The shoot is what gets you in position to put together the structural components of the DLT.

How to Do Double Leg Takedown Effectively

  1. Go below your opponents level.

    Keep your back straight slightly leaning forward. The position is similar to one when you’re doing squat.

  2. Propel yourself forward

    Shoot in with your rear leg pushing your whole body without being concentrated only on fishing for your opponent’s legs with your arms. After you shoot in, simultaneously drop down to your lead knee between your opponent’s legs because it’s the lowest position you can be and still maintain power. Of Course, if you’re doing double leg takedown in a street fight on concrete or any other hard surface don’t drop on your knee.

  3. Wrap your arms around your opponent’s thighs.

    After wrapping your arms try to squeeze your opponent’s legs as much as possible.

  4. Stay tight with your head and shoulders tight against your opponent’s torso.

    By staying tight you’ll be able to avoid guillotine choke and other counters with people pushing their arms between you and them.

  5. Step in pretty deep with your rear leg to the outside of your opponent’s legs and turn the corner.

    If you don’t step in deep with your rear leg you won’t be able to turn the corner to outside destabilizing your opponent. The whole stress will be on your lead leg and you won’t have the power to continue going forward.

  6. Drive Up, Go Forward and Pivot

    You don’t have to pick your opponent on your shoulders. Picking up an opponent in the air is only done when driving forwards gets countered. Once you get in position and turn the corner your opponent will already be destabilized what will allow you to drive them to the ground. So, once you’re in the position with a secured hold drive them to the side by using your legs and “wheeling them your head. You will simultaneously squeeze their legs into the opposite direction.

  7. DO NOT land in guard.

    Even if you land in your opponent’s guard you still have legs control to immobilize his hip movement and get to side control. This is especially important if they have their hands around your neck trying to apply a guillotine. You want to use the control of their legs to get to a position with a guillotine choke on the opposite side of you in side control.

Avoiding The Most Common Mistakes

Learning the double leg takedown is a definite must for anyone involved in grappling martial arts. That said, learning it mistake-free often presents a real challenge. However, if you are aware of the possible mistakes, while you’re learning the move, you have a much better chance of weeding them out before they become a bad habit. So, the most common mistakes when doing DLT are:

  1. Distance management

    We already pointed out the importance of the penetration step. Shooting in too short means that your opponent doesn’t even need to sprawl. They can just lay on top of you, as you won’t be able to reach their legs. A good rule of thumb is being at an arm’s length of your opponent.

  2. Bad posture

    Not only does this put you at risk of guillotines, but it also weakens your takedown efficiency. Good posture means no space and a firm structure to finish the move. You should keep your back straight slightly leaning forward. Just like when you’re starting to deadlift. You want to avoid being full straight because you will lose power once you make a contact. But also you want to avoid being too bent forward because it’s easier to sprawl on you. Once you shoot for Double Leg Takedown make sure your head is not pressuring down, but sideways. If your head is pressuring down it will be easy to manipulate with you, sprawl, push your head and eventually guillotine you.

  3. Fishing for the legs with your arms

    The usual thing that practitioners do is concentrating on grabbing your opponents legs with your arms without worrying about chest and shoulders penetrating into your opponent. Your main focus should be on your chests and shoulders penetration and your arms should be there just to trap your opponent’s legs.

  4. The position of the lead leg

    In terms of the penetration step, the position of the lead leg is where things can go wrong. Thumping down on your knee is only going to take all of the inertia away. You need to make sure that you use your knee to penetrate in, not stop the movement. Always aim to slide the knee in between your opponent’s legs, as opposed to going down on the mat with all your weight.

  5. The Power of shoot

    Unlike other positions in BJJ, takedowns require the component that is power. This means once you shoot, there’s no going back. You need to commit yourself to get it! That said, always look to go through your opponent when you’re driving forward, not just enough so that they fall. The goal is to make them fly back as far and as hard as possible.

  6. Not Committing to the double leg takedown

    Once you decide to go for a takedown make sure you’re “ALL IN”. This rule is important for all kind of takedowns in all sports. If you decide to go, you should fully commit to it without hesitation. This problem occurs when you start thinking too much about your opponent’s sprawling with you finishing in the turtle position. Or when you start thinking too much about any other counter. Don’t think just do it. As we said before, a lot of drilling will make sure you do this takedown without hesitation.

Double Leg Takedown For BJJ

If there’s one thing that BJJ athletes need to do to improve their takedown, it’s drilling. Wrestlers spend countless hours drilling any wrestling technique or its specific elements. In BJJ, people tend to be sloppy with a lot of techniques, diminishing its effectiveness. The first thing that needs focused attention is shortening the distance. The best way is to learn the proper technique behind the penetration step. This is a move that is designed to change the level, bring you in close and offer an opportunity to use inertia to your advantage.

In BJJ, due to the versatility and rules of the sport, DLT is much more important than in wrestling. When doing Jiu-Jitsu, this move can be done from both standings or from a bottom position, given the circumstances. From the top, the penetration step makes all the difference. Furthermore, finishing by going for a lift might be a better option here. When grappling with a Gi, allowing the opponent to establish grips can be very dangerous. The Gi opens up a lot more choking and countering options than just the Guillotine chokes, so you have to finish the move as fast as possible. All the other basics apply, just remember to get in fast and finish powerfully.

Double Leg Takedown from the Bottom in BJJ

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DLT in BJJ can also be done from the bottom, in a low-double variation. This takedown is accessible from a wide variety of open guards common to Jiu-Jitsu. Due to its mechanics, the Half Guard is the best position to attack from. A good underhook from the bottom half guard is crucial to transitioning into a low double. Finishing requires you to pick your opponent up or move in a circular motion to complete the takedown.

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