Stop the Single Leg by Using a Down Block with Ben Askren
Having a functional stand up game is essential wrestling. Every match starts on the feet, and it is in the beginning of the match when you have an opportunity to set the tone. This means having both good takedown technique, as well as good takedown defense. You can begin to shape the rest of your game off of this.
When talking about single leg defense, there are many strategies depending on the situation. If your opponent gets ahold of your leg, you are going to defend differently than if you were blocking the shot. There will inevitably be times where your opponent gets your leg in his shot, but the goal is obviously to prevent that from happening.
To do that you can work on defending the shot itself. When a wrestler quickly changes levels and shoots for a takedown, he is carrying tons of power and momentum behind his shot. You are going to have to match that with good positioning in order to defend against the shot.
In this video, Ben Askren demonstrates a down block technique for defending against the single leg, check it out below!
The first thing that goes into successfully blocking a single leg shot is awareness and timing because these shots happen so quickly. You need to be able to gauge when your opponent is about to change levels and go for the shot. If you are just slightly too late, you are going to be in a whole different fight of trying to free your leg instead.
It is easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment and focus most of your energy on getting a takedown rather than defending against one. It is obviously important to focus on your offense, but being aware is key. Being aware also means being able to calculate your timing. Get a feel for how your opponent is moving and start to anticipate what is going through his head. If you do this quickly you will likely be the one landing the takedown, but just doing it in general improves your chances of defending it.
Upgrade your defensive wrestling with the Askren Bros!
Ben explains that this down block technique was not around when he was wrestling in college. It has really become popular over the past 5 years or so and he likes it a lot. Just like the evolution of most things in life, this technique is a much better alternative to what existed previously.
As your partner shoots for the single leg, your first action is going to be to sprawl as you would naturally. The key here is that you want to get shoulder to shoulder with your partner so you are strong enough to stop his momentum. Often when someone sprawls on a single leg like this, they don’t get low enough and end up blocking their partner's shoulder with their arm. You are not strong here and your partner is going to run right through it and get the single leg.
When teaching this to kids especially, it is really important to get this shoulder to shoulder concept into their heads. Ben says oftentimes when he is training younger wrestlers he will have them spar and shoot really hard and do this to get them used to feeling that shoulder on shoulder force.
If you properly time your sprawl and change levels quick enough to get shoulder to shoulder, you have stopped the takedown. To paint the picture a bit, if your partner shoots for your right leg, you are going to use your right shoulder against his same side shoulder. From here it is time to start thinking about counters to begin your attacks.
Once you are in this position and your partner has shot on your right leg, you are going to take your left arm and reach across and grab the tricep of your partner's arm. You are going to utilize a sort of arm drag from here to help you cut the corner and get around your partner to the back. Establish your grip around the waist and start attacking. If your partner sees what is happening and you have to chase him, there is a good chance when he gets up there will be a single leg there for you to attack.
About Ben Askren
Ben Askren is a retired professional mixed martial artist and wrestler. Prior to his arrival in the UFC, he was the former Bellator and ONE Welterweight Champion. He has had an impressive MMA career with a professional record of 19-2, and he is currently scheduled for a boxing match against Jake Paul in April 2021.
Ben’s wrestling career speaks for itself as well. In college he was a two time NCAA Division I National Champion and four time finalist, as well as a two time Big 12 Conference Champion and four time finalist. He was also a US Olympic team member and Pan American Champion in freestyle wrestling.
About Ben’s Instructional
This instructional is entirely devoted to single leg counter wrestling. Included you will find techniques such as not getting lifted, going to far ankle, churella, chamizo, basics of single leg in the air, and so much more.
Ben Askren has gained his experience from countless hours of training and competing at the highest levels. Improve your timing and technique to have the most proficient single leg defense and counters in the game, check out his instructional here!