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Bring Your Opponent Back to the Mat with Hudson Taylor

Bring Your Opponent Back to the Mat with Hudson Taylor


Top position is your chance to finish the match in as little or as much time as you prefer. Some wrestlers prefer to go immediately for the pin while others like to “cook” their opponent by scoring points with tilts and back exposure. Regardless of the scenario, there will come a day where your best offense meets a strong defense, such as a stand-up from bottom position. Once your opponent stands, you only have a few seconds to bring them back to the mat before they clear away and force the match back to neutral. With that type of pressure, how do you not only bring them down, but put them in a worse defensive position? 

Bringing your opponent back to the mat doesn’t have to be just a back trip. To illustrate this point, former Columbia University wrestling coach Hudson Taylor shows you how to use a turning mat return when your opponent is standing. 

Hand Positioning

When your opponent works for a stand-up, you need to immediately consider your hand positioning. Sticking with a tight waist and elbow grab from the top position will not be effective, as they have more room to rotate and cut away. Taylor relies on an S-grip (you can also use a Gable grip or other variations) around their waist. This is ideal as it maintains hip connection, which you will need to bring them back down. 

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Lacing the Leg

Taylor proceeds to bring his left leg on top of his partner’s left leg and lacing under their right leg, with his ankle behind their knee pit. It may seem counterintuitive at first considering he is essentially giving up a post he could use to drive on, but he’s creating an angle and further establishing a connection. Once he is in position, Taylor extends his left leg while dropping to his right knee. Extending the leg takes away their post and leaves them susceptible to falling towards their right side. Taylor also emphasizes not to drop onto your hip but rather your knee. Dropping to the hip may provide extra momentum, but you will lose a post necessary for the follow-up. 

Turning Your Opponent

After bringing your opponent back to the mat, they should land on their side with your lacing leg between their legs and under their bottom leg with your other knee behind their hips. Keeping the lacing leg between their legs prevents them from turning over to their stomach or attempting a hip heist. You will have to let go of the lock around their waist if you are participating in folkstyle (though it is legal in freestyle). You can, however, lock around their head and near-side arm and work for back points by lifting their frame and falling over your prone knee. As Taylor demonstrates, your opponent will be between your two knees, which you can pinch to maintain control. Once your opponent’s back is exposed, hold the position to get your back points. From there, you can bring your legs in for a leg ride or simply switch to a power half-nelson.  

Even if your opponent stands, you can always bring them back down to reality with a turning mat return. Hudson Taylor’s variation of the move leaves their base disrupted and puts you in a prime position to score extra back points before you’re ready to finish the match.

Magic Mat Work by Hudson Taylor is a wrestling GOLD MINE. Throughout the 4 DVD set you will be taken on a vision quest to the techniques that helped Hudson reach the highest levels of wrestling.  It's TIME to add some MAGIC to your game!