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Single Leg Defense with Henry Cejudo

Single Leg Defense with Henry Cejudo

A single leg is one of the most common takedowns in wrestling, and just as every wrestler should know how to hit a single leg and take an opponent down, every wrestler should also know how to defend a single leg. In wrestling, there are certain stages of defense. The first line of defense is the head and hands and a good stance. Just by staying in a good position, a wrestler can block off most shot attempts and not even allow their opponent to get in on their leg. Unfortunately this isn’t always the case.

The second line of defense for a single leg is hip pressure and a whizzer. Once the initial momentum of the shot has been stopped, you can then use different techniques to work your way out of a single leg. In this video, Olympic gold medalist and UFC champion, Henry Cejudo shows how he likes to defend a single leg. 

The first thing you want to do when someone gets a single leg on you is to get a whizzer and move your leg from the inside to the outside and pressure back into your opponent. In the video, Cejudo shows a whizzer that isn’t as deep as a traditional whizzer. He calls it “raptor whizzer” because he is keeping his elbow tight to his side and making hook with his hand and wrist. Also, pay attention to Cejudo’s right leg. He has it blocking off on the outside of his opponent’s leg right above the knee and is using it to pressure into his opponent. Moving your leg to the outside is pivotal. By leaving it on the inside, your opponent can elevate your leg and put you in serious danger of being taken down. Also watch how Cejudo attacks the far wrist.

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Once in a good defensive position, the next thing Cejudo is doing is using his foot that is planted on the mat to drive into his opponent. When you have a single leg, it is extremely difficult to finish it if you are going backwards. Also note the position of Cejudo’s head compared to his opponent’s head. He does not have inside head position, but the heads are at the same level. If you can work to get yourself inside head position from here, that makes it even more difficult on your opponent. 

Once you have defended the initial part of the single leg, the next thing to do is to get your leg back down to the mat. So to do this, the hand that is down on the wrist is going to come under the chin and it will push up on the chin and you will turn and face your opponent. Watch how Cejudo ends up chest to chest with his partner. 

At this point, the only thing left to do is to break the leg free. To do this, all you need to do is go over your opponent’s arms, right above the elbows, lock your hands and pull the arms up as you kick your leg down and back. Pay attention to how Cejudo locks his hands, he calls it an “S” grip.

This defense to a single leg is something that every single wrestler should know because at some point someone will hit a single leg on you. One thing that does happen frequently is someone shoots a single and you get the raptor whizzer and put the shin on the outside, but your opponent is still moving you around and you are unable to come under the chin. That is okay, just continue to maintain the whizzer position. You may even need to let go of the wrist and use your hand to post down on the mat. Just remember to keep driving into your opponent and keep your head up. If you stay in this position long enough, your opponent may just let go because it is really tiring to stay here, or the referee may call a stalemate and reset you guys. No matter what happens, just remember to keep the whizzer and keep the shin on the outside of the leg. 

If you would like to learn more wrestling technique from Henry Cejudo, be sure to check out his four part video series titled “Gold Medal Wrestling by Henry Cejudo”. In this video, he shows the drills, setups, and takedowns he used to become an Olympic gold medalist.