Bloody Elbow Judo Chop: Sean Sherk and the Lost Art of the Double Leg Takedown

Bloody Elbow Judo Chop: Sean Sherk and the Lost Art of the Double Leg Takedown

3567200417_f4fed0a829_mediumNormally the Judo Chop talks about a flashy move that his been used to great effect, in most cases to finish the fight in spectacular fashion.

No, this installment of the Judo Chop is going to sing the praises of a simple technique: the double leg take down.

The double leg take down is a storied technique in MMA. A staple of free-style wrestling it was the lynch pin of the success of UFC and PRIDE tournament champion Mark Coleman. Tito Ortiz' still unmatched run as UFC LHW champion (5 title defenses) was predicated on the double leg.

Its a hugely high percentage move against opponents who don't know how to sprawl effectively. But every technique has its limitations and the flood of wrestlers following Coleman, Ortiz, et al into MMA brought with them the techniques to foil the double leg.

Nowadays, even MMA fighters whose base style is freestyle wrestling rarely bust out the old double leg, preferring instead the lower-risk arsenal of greco-roman and judo based takedowns that work from the clinch instead of trying to shoot from the outside.

Its especially frustrating to see a top fighter like Sean Sherk ignore the double leg. Sherk has a true gift for the move. He's got the timing, the explosiveness and most of all the power to put almost anyone on their back with it.

The photo shows him driving Frankie Edgar butt first into the mat at their UFC 98 fight. In the full entry Luke analyzes Sherk's beautiful technique and I bemoan the fact that he didn't bust it out until it was too late.

Takedown_mediumHere's Luke Thomas' analysis of Sherk's takedown of Edgar:

First, the timing on that is excellent.

Second, Sherk steps back first to make Edgar come forward twice. But after taking the first step back he widens his stance. After the second push forward from Edgar, Sherk's stance is further widened, but its the first widening that helped him to quickly shoot by not having to separate all in one go. He was waiting for it all along.

Also you'll notice the first time Edgar feints he takes two small steps and only raises his lead hand the second time -- it's on raising of the hand with one big wide step that Sherk shoots. Edgar thought he was gauging Sherk's reaction. Sherk did put his hands up buying the fake a little, but the second attempt Edgar opens further outside of his body with his lead hand, which is usually a tell they want to open for a punch. Its slight, but it matters.


And lastly Sherk gets under the punch from his crouched stance and was able to hit the takedown when most of Edgar's weight was shifted onto his front toes so he couldn't get his hips out or sprawl. Sherk does a good job of always following through to get the rear support leg, which is the leg that matters in double legs.

Sherk's always good at that and he keeps his head tucked tight to Edgar's body to avoid the guillotine, nice and inside and pummels immediately once it hits the floor.

Its a thing of beauty. Sadly, Sherk has apparently focused almost exclusively on his striking instead of perfecting his top-control game. Edgar was able to stand up almost immediately. Nevertheless, Sherk's double leg could have scored enough points to guarantee him a decision had he put them into the mix.

Its a frustrating thing to see a man ignore the gifts he's been given. Please Muscle Shark, come back! Lay and pray all you want, we'll never call you boring again.

This goes double for you Josh Koscheck.

King Mo, whereever you are, don't abandon the double leg. Build around it wrestlers, don't walk away from your bread and butter.

Notably one of the greatest fighters of our era, Georges St. Pierre has made the double leg a center piece of his style as a champion. Ironic since he comes from a karate base and never competed as an amateur wrestler.

In the hands of GSP, the double leg is the perfect weapon to enhance his dangerous striking and superb BJJ game. It allows GSP to determine where the fight takes place and always keep his opponents guessing.

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