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Hand Fighting Tips with J’den Cox and Kyle Dake

Hand Fighting Tips with J’den Cox and Kyle Dake


Hand fighting is a huge part of wrestling. If you want to earn takedowns and score points, you have to put yourself in a better position than your opponent and create openings to score. This is done by hand fighting. There are many different positions that you can try to get to like an underhook, a two on one, an inside tie, or double overhooks. No matter what position you want to be in, your opponent is not just going to let have a dominant position over them. 

There are some major points when discussing hand fighting that can really help you get better out on the mat. The first being stance. Your wrestling stance is so important and directly relates to the type of hand fighting you will be doing. For example, if you look at a greco stance versus a freestyle stance, they are quite a bit different because the greco guys are going for throws and don’t have to worry about leg attacks. 

Another big part of your stance and hand fighting is how you make first contact. You need to be disciplined out on the mat and not just reach straight for the head. If you do this, a good wrestler will just post your arm up and have an easy double leg. Be sure to lead with the head and keep you hands down and attack wrists or you could post on your opponent’s head with the hand that is opposite of your lead leg and use that to try to close the distance. The big thing to avoid is walking straight in reaching for a collar tie. 

Check out this video by four time NCAA champion and world champion Kyle Dake where he goes over stance and first contact in depth. 


Another area to look at when discussing hand fighting is are you attacking high or low. You need to go in with a plan. If you like to hit arm drags or two on ones, you need to try to keep the hand fighting low. The best way to do this is to not go up high when your opponent does. If you keep your elbows in and you hands low, one of two things will most likely happen. First, you opponent will reach up to collar tie and if you stay low, you can use their reach as an opening for a shot. If they stay low and hand fight with you, then you will be able to look for you two on one or arm drags. 

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If you like positions like underhooks or collar ties, then use hand fighting down low to safely engage you opponent. Also, when you get an underhook or inside ties, make sure you are moving your opponent. Lastly, be sure to stay out of an ear to ear collar tie. This is a terrible position and it is extremely difficult to score from here. If you want to collar tie, pull their head right into your chest and keep your elbows down to block in case they shoot on you. 

Another important aspect of hand fight is to not let guys hang on you or control your wrists. If you take a step back and look at wrestling, it is a series of positions and you want to try and dominate as many as those positions as possible. So if you are hand fighting and a guy has your wrists, break the lock and reset and try to fight back to a better position. Another example is with collar ties. Do not let a guy hang on your head using a collar tie. Even if they aren’t in a position to score on you, it is difficult for you to score on them and if you carry their weight, it will wear you out faster. It is okay to clear ties and take a step back to reset then engage your opponent again. 

Here is a great video by world champion J’den Cox where he goes over some of his hand fighting techniques.


The best way to get better at hand fighting is to work on it in practice. Even guys who are on the Olympic team work on hand fight at every practice. If you can learn how to hand fight to more dominant positions, you will start to score more takedowns and it will be much more difficult for you opponents to score on you. 

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