Double Leg Takedown: Explained

Double leg takedown

To get your opponent to the ground, nothing beats an old-fashioned double leg takedown. It is a rudimentary technique but is still the most effective takedown you can do.

The double leg is taught throughout all forms of grapple and is a must know to progress within Jiu Jitsu. Here is a complete breakdown of everything you need to know about the double leg takedown.

We’ll take you through its origins, how it works and variations ways to set this takedown up. Then we’ll give you tips for how to make your double leg solid.

Double Leg Takedown

Who created the double leg takedown?

The double leg takedown has been around as long as humans have existed. Just about every ancient culture practiced grappling and there are numerous pieces of art and sculpture to prove it. Within many of these pieces is an ancient fighter performing a double leg takedown.

Every modern form of grappling teaches their own version of the double leg. They all know to get an opponent to the ground, you grab their legs and force them down.

How does the double leg work?

The way a double leg takedown works is just basic physics. If you use leverage mixed with a little force, you can take down your opponent.

When you step in, you go under your opponent’s hips to compromise their balance. Then you control their legs as you push forward and pull their legs to complete the takedown.

There’s obviously more to the details, but that is the basic gist of how the technique works.

Double Leg Takedown in Gym

Basic double leg

There are numerous set ups for a double leg takedown technique down, but here are the mechanics and a basic setup.

This set up starts when your opponent is chasing you on the mat. When they do this it leaves them open to be taken down.

Be in a good stance with proper posture and level change. The reason you level change is because you need to be under your opponent’s hips.

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Next, you need to do a penetration step with your lead leg. This is a step forward that puts your foot in between your opponent’s legs and in range for the takedown.

As you step in range, remember to keep your arms in. Keeping your arms in takes away your opponent’s ability to underhook. 

You will also need to keep your head up and either pressed on their side of body or the center of their body. When your head is down during your shot it is easier to defend and leaves you open for a guillotine choke.

So now as you step in range, grab behind your opponent’s legs or lock your hands together. Then to finish the takedown, drive forward as you pull your opponent’s legs and take them to the ground.

Snap down to double leg takedown

A basic set up for a spear double leg takedown comes from a snap down. It’s called a spear, because you lead with your forehead and press it right into your opponent’s sternum (Also called a blast double).

Start from your tie up and fight to get inside control of your opponent’s arms. Without inside ties this setup will not work.

As you have control of your opponent’s arms, use your control to snap them down. This motion breaks their posture and in that moment is when you go for your takedown.

Step in and press your forehead into your opponent’s sternum as you grab behind their legs. Then continue driving forward with force to take them down.

3 double leg takedown setups for MMA

Here are three different set ups for a double leg takedown for MMA. All three come off of strikes to get your opponent to defend and forget about defending the double leg.

  1. The first setup comes off of a 1-2-3 punch combination. When you throw punches to your opponent’s head this forces them to bring their hand up. Leaving their legs exposed. Once they raise their hands up, step in, level change, grab their legs, and finish the double leg. Remember to keep your head high, so you don’t get sprawled on.
  2. This technique is for when your opponent is standing in an opposite stance. A normal double leg won’t work here, so you need to set it up with a straight punch. Start this technique by throwing your back punch and stepping forward into your opponent. This puts you right in position to grab a double leg.
  3. This last set up comes from when an opponent is pressing you and throwing a high volume of punches. When they do this, it leaves them open for a takedown, but you have to be patient and set it up.
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Set it up by waiting to throw a straight/cross and parry this strike. As you parry this strike down, you immediately drop down and go into your double leg.

Double leg takedown in Gi

In Gi, the double leg is a little more tricky to set up. Your opponent generally has grips on your Gi and this makes it hard to go in for the takedown.

This is an easy push/pull technique that comes off a basic collar and arm grip. You start by taking a small step back and pull up on your grips and snap them back.

Doing this motion partially pulls your opponent’s Gi over their shoulder and forces them to be flat footed. When they go flat footed is when your drop down into a double leg.

So, do you a small stutter step back, then do a push and pull motion to go into your takedown.

Another Gi double leg set up

Here is another easy double leg takedown set up for when you’re in the Gi. It starts from the basic collar and tricep grips

With this technique, you really don’t need a lot of force. You are just walking your opponent forward to make their leg even.

When you see that their legs are even, at the same time you are going to open their collar and arm. Once you open the opponent’s arm and collar, you use these grips to pull yourself to their legs.

Grab behind their knees and pull them as you push your shoulder into their hips.

Single leg to double leg

Starting off going for a single leg to get the double leg is a really common and effective set up. A lot of times when you go for the single leg, your opponent may defend the dump or whizzer to defend.

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Or maybe you’re just faking the single to get the double leg. Either way, start off by pulling your opponent forward and attack their front leg.

Once you grab the single leg, your opponent will immediately go into single leg defense. From holding a single leg, simply step your outside leg in the same time as your inside hand grabs their knee.

In one quick motion go from a single leg and explode into a double leg takedown.

Tips for doing the double leg takedown

A double leg takedown is one of the first techniques you learn in grappling and it’s a must know. Here are some important tips for being successful with your double leg takedown.

  • Posture: Before you even go for a takedown, you have to be in a good stance and have good posture. Without these you’ll never complete the takedown.
  • Penetration step: Your initial step forward may be the most important step of the technique. It puts you in position for your double.
  • Foot between opponent’s legs: When you complete your penetration step, your foot has to be right in between your opponent’s legs.
  • Level change: In order to get the takedown, you need to get under your opponent’s hips. You do this by level changing to get under your opponent.
  • Arms in: Keep your arms in tight when attempting a double leg. When you’re arm are open, your opponent can easily defend by getting an underhook(s).
  • Head up: Keep your head up and against your opponent’s body. If your head is down, the takedown is easier to defend and gives your opponent an opening for a guillotine.  
  • Grab behind knees: To control your opponent’s legs, grab or hook behind their knees. This helps keep them close and from kicking their legs out during a sprawl. You can also lock your hands together if you wish to pick up your opponent.
  • Drive: To complete the takedown, you need to drive forward and cut an angle as you push and pull your opponent.
  • Commit: When you go for a double leg, you have to go. Any hesitation and you will fail your takedown.