How to Use A Foot Sweep to Expose Your Opponent’s Back

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Think of judo and wrestling.​

In these grappling styles, two players aim to take each other down so that their opponent’s back will be pinned to the ground.​

If you take your opponent down and they fall facing down, it doesn’t count as an effective takedown.​

To some extent, this is the case in BJJ. You score points only when you take your opponent’s back to the ground.​

Following this mode of thinking, we typically practice taking our opponent down this way.​

But this approach has a problem, especially when it’s a submission-only match and there are no points involved.​

The problem is that the player who gets taken down might not worry about playing the bottom position at all. And the other player typically will have to deal with the bottom player’s guard to get to a better position.​

Earlier this year, I briefly wrote about a potential new trend that addresses this issue: using takedowns to create back exposure. Instead of taking down your opponent to their back, you make them fall forward, or you go around them so you can reach their back directly, bypassing their guard.​

Gordon Ryan and Giancarlo Bodoni did that at WNO last week, using a similar move.​

​Here‘s a video of Gordon Ryan’s back exposure sequence. Ryan executes this whole sequence masterfully.​

And see below for a quick breakdown of what’s happening.

​1. Before this sequence, Ryan has been clubbing Marinho and controlling Marinho’s head with a collar tie.

​2. Marinho makes a cross-post to create distance.

3. Ryan goes for sasae-tsurikomi-ashi, using his right foot to block Marinho’s shin, pulling Marinho’s head down and forward. This move trips Marinho.

​4. At the same time, Ryan uses his hand and bumps Marinho’s cross-post arm. This allows Ryan to go around Marinho and push him forward.

5. Ryan goes for the rear body lock.

6. Marinho’s back is exposed.​

If you have strong takedown skills already, consider using your skills to expose your opponent’s back instead of taking your opponent down in a traditional, proper way.​

If you are working on developing your takedown skills for BJJ/grappling, I highly recommend you to focus on takedowns that allow you to expose your opponent’s back. I’m sure your coach/es can help you narrow down what might be good options for you.

Although the setup is different, if you want to learn how to do sasae-tsurikomi-ashi (the foot sweep Gordon Ryan used) in grappling, take a look at this video featuring Owen Livesey.