Learn How to Defend Leg Riders Who Cross Their Ankles
Getting caught in a leg riding situation can be rather demoralizing. Hooked onto you like a vicious backpack, a strong leg rider can manipulate your body into various back exposures or pinning combinations with ease. Escaping the legs is not impossible, but it becomes more complex when your opponent makes one small adjustment: crossing their ankles. This takes away a lot of the hip space you need to get away while adding extra tension with the ride itself. However, this too is beatable.
A leg rider who crosses their ankles may seem like a dangerous opponent, but there are ways to get around this extra variable. In the video below, former Columbia University wrestling coach Hudson Taylor explains how you can defend the legs when the ankles are crossed.
Break the Grip and Hip Down
Taylor finds himself in a bad position at the start of the move, where his opponent has their left leg hooked in for the ride with the ankles crossed and a crossbody grip on his right arm. Their intent here is to break his posture and open his hips up more for further rides and tilts. Taylor first starts his defense by drawing his right arm down and under him in order to bring his opponent’s head to the mat. Doing so causes the opponent to break the grip either by the sheer force of the drive or on their own to soften the blow. Once he does this, Taylor brings his left hip down to the mat like he normally would to escape the legs.
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Strip the Leg
Typically, hipping down would be the focal point of the escape as your opponent’s base is beginning to be compromised. The ankles being crossed negates this by keeping everything locked in tight, so you will need to address that. Taylor does so by stripping the top leg (the non-riding leg) away from his body. He does not use his hands; he stresses this point specifically in the video as it is a failed exercise against stronger muscle groups. He does, however, use the leg closest to the ankle grip to pry it away. From there, Taylor can begin the last portion of his escape.
Switch Sides and Free the Other Leg
Once he has prevented the opponent from crossing their ankles, Taylor positions his body on the side opposite of the ride. This alleviates pressure from both the leg ride and any potential upper body locks. Freeing the leg is very systematic and deliberate from this point on. Taylor grabs the sole of the foot with his near hand to lift it high, steps on his opponent’s other ankle to prevent any chance of riding on the opposite side, pops his hips out across the far leg, and turns his body over to finish with a Navy ride. Ending in this position as he does gives you an opportunity for back exposure by grabbing the far ankle and lifting the opponent over your knee, or you can simply seek the pin to end the match.
Leg riders can be tricky to beat, but crossing the ankles adds some complexity to the equation. By neutralizing that lock, as shown by Hudson Taylor in the video above, you can get free of the ride and continue to victory.
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