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Hit the Honey Badger with Ben Askren

Hit the Honey Badger with Ben Askren


The chin-and-arm lace. The headlock bump. The honey badger. No matter what you call it, the emphasis is the same: bring your opponent from standing immediately down to a pinning position. If performed correctly, this takedown can be a very versatile part of your arsenal if you’re competing in wrestling or jiu-jitsu. By all appearances, it looks like a move based purely on muscle, but the honey badger has finite details that can mean the difference between a takedown and wasted time.

In the video below, former ONE and Bellator Welterweight champion Ben Askren describes how to hit his variation of the honey badger from an underhook and front headlock. In addition, other notes will be provided to explain how to properly set the move up from the neutral position. 

Establish Your Underhook

Before discussing Askren’s approach to the move, it’s vital that you know how to set up a proper underhook, as this will be crucial later on for the finish. To set up an underhook, you can hand fight with your opponent on the side you want to underhook with a cross-side grip. As they look to defend, you can slide your arm into the space you’ve created between their arm and their torso. Another option is to collar tie on your opponent and use your forearm to jolt their posture up. While they are prone, slide your underhook in. Regardless of how you enter, your underhook needs to be deep with a tight grip on the shoulder with a proper angle away from your opponent’s centerline. This angle is critical as it will give you the lateral movement you’ll need to bump your opponent over. Use your free hand to pressure their head away and maintain the angle. 

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Lower Your Opponent’s Posture

Simply going for the honey badger as your first offensive move will not work against experienced grapplers. You will need to chain it together with other takedown attempts (or, in this case, feints) to get them in a proper angle. Otherwise, they can posture high and square into you. One method of doing so is threatening the knee pick on the opposite side. You can get your opponent to move forward on their far leg by backstepping and pulling their far arm, just like you would for a traditional shot. As you do this, reach for their knee without committing to the full move. This will cause them to drop their leg back and potentially down block, but it also results in their posture lowering into a defensive stance. You can capitalize from there with the honey badger. 

Hit the Honey Badger

After getting your opponent’s posture low, you can hit the honey badger as Askren describes in the video. He brings his free arm over the opponent with a front headlock and pulls their chin to the far side. Doing so will make it harder for your opponent to resist the upcoming movement to that side. Rather than muscling his opponent over, he bumps his hip into his opponent’s hip and rotates at the waist to corkscrew them down onto their back. A key part of this is his underhook, which he extends from the shoulder towards their far hip across their back. This is called “picking the pocket” and further helps establish the angle you need. Keeping the underhook at the shoulder puts the force across two different directions and results in a sloppy takedown. After hitting the mat, you are essentially in a half-nelson pinning scenario. 

The Honey Badger from the Sprawl

This move also works well off of the sprawl. If your opponent shoots on you and you defend correctly, their posture should be low with their head on the mat. This fulfills one of the requirements needed above from the standing honey badger. From this sprawled position, you can switch to the front headlock and slide in your underhook with more poise considering your elevated stance compared to their defensive position. The same finishing principles apply: slide your underhook across to pick the pocket, turn the chin, and hip bump. The benefit of this move from this scramble position is that your opponent’s defense is relegated to their knees rather than their feet, making it harder for them to drive into you to defend. 

Your takedown game can improve with additional ingenuity, and Ben Askren’s honey badger can aid in that endeavor. By using an underhook and front headlock, you can twist your opponent to the mat and immediately finish the match with a pin in only a few seconds.

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