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Learn Dominate Your Opponent With Underhooks

Learn Dominate Your Opponent With Underhooks

Learning to dominate positions is a big part of getting better in wrestling. When you and your opponent start a match, you are both in a stance and have no contact. Neither wrestler has an advantage or disadvantage from this position, but once the whistle blows, the goal is to use hand fighting and pummeling to end up in a position that gives you an advantage and puts your opponent at a disadvantage. One great position that gives you a lot of advantage is an underhook.  


If you are not very familiar with what an underhook is, check out this video where MMA star Chael Sonnen goes over the basics of an underhook.



From an underhook, you can pretty much hit any type of offense like ankle picks, single legs, double legs, throws, inside trips, and front headlocks to name just a few. Because underhooks are so versatile and effective, they are very important for all wrestlers at all levels to practice. If you are new to wrestling and want to learn some good underhook takedowns or if you are a seasoned veteran and want to refresh your memory with some great attacks from an underhook, here are a couple videos for you to watch. 


High Crotch

In the first video, two time All-American Dan Vallimont show a basic high crotch from an underhook. A couple things you should take notice to in the video, first, look at his head position, it is on the inside. You can hit a high crotch with your head on the outside position, but it is a lot more difficult. Another thing to pay attention to is his underhook is not too deep and when he has it, his elbow is pointed down to the ground. Also, be sure when you hit this, your lead leg is on the same side as the underhook. When Dan shoots the shot, he uses an outside step, not a center step. Lastly, watch how Dan pressures into his opponent, and when he feels pressure back, he throw the arm hard but does not over extend his arm. It is very important to keep the arm tight to your body, if not, your opponent will hook your arm and use it to defend your shot. 


Ankle Pick

An ankle pick is a great takedown from an underhook. In this video, two time NCAA All-American Hunter Stieber breaks down how to hit an ankle pick from an underhook. A couple things to watch for in the video. First, he has inside head position and his lead leg is on the same side as the underhook. To hit the ankle pick, you need your opponent’s far leg to be their lead leg so you will probably need to move your opponent around, circling, pushing, pulling, and snapping them in order to get them in the correct position. You can even fake a single leg to the near leg and when they react, hit the ankle pick. 

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Another thing to watch is how he blocks the ankle and throws the shoulder forward as he drives through his opponent. Often times, guys will pull the ankle into themselves and leave the underhook in and this can give your opponent a whizzer to defend with. The way Stieber does this eliminates that possibility. 


High Single Leg

In this video, two time NCAA national champion and Olympian Ben Askren shows a high single leg from an underhook. A couple key points to this attack. First, Ben has inside head position and wrist control and this is ideal, but you can actually hit this same shot if your opponent has inside head position and has control of your wrist. You will also notice he uses an inside step with his far leg and uses the non-underhook hand to secure the leg then drops down with his underhook hand to secure the leg and drive it up. Make sure you don’t leave the underhook in too long or it give your opponent an opportunity to defend it. 



Knee Pick

A knee pick is another great option from an underhook and when you watch the video, you will see how this knee pick and the previous video on the high single leg go together because if you try to hit the high single leg and your opponent steps their foot back defending it, it puts you in the perfect position to hit this knee pick. 


A couple important things to point out about this knee pick. First, whether it comes from faking a shot or from you circling your opponent, their far leg needs to be their lead leg and they need to have a lot of weight on it. Secondly, you have to have a good angle to hit this, if you are facing your opponent, this won’t work. Another thing to watch is how Askren blocks down at the knee and drives through his opponent and shoots the other arm up into the air. If you don’t shoot your arm up into the air, your opponent will whizzer down on your arm and defend the takedown. Also, this is a great move for bigger guys. It keeps them from getting stuck underneath their opponent’s heavy hips. 



The absolute most dominant position you can have when you have an underhook is to have inside head position and have control of your opponent’s far wrist. In a real match, it rarely happens that you get all three and that is okay. If you have an underhook and inside head position, it is not a big deal if your opponent has your wrist, it really shouldn’t stop you from hitting your takedowns. In fact, you can still hit a lot of takedowns even if your opponent has inside head position and has control of your wrist. Be sure to mess around with these different scenarios in practice to get comfortable in them. 

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