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Chapter 3: Single Leg

I never wrestled in high school. I didn’t do Karate. I wasn’t even allowed to play football because it was too dangerous in my parents’ eyes. The closest I got to violent contact was slide-tackling a center forward, one of the few opportunities for heroism available to a right full back. Even then, I was far from a physical specimen. My high school soccer coach used to joke that I was a pirate’s dream because, being so skinny, I had a sunken chest.

When I started jiu-jitsu after high school, I struggled with any sort of explosive attack. Being smaller than most of my training partners, my game revolved around using my guard to slow the pace and suck my opponent into a battle that was mostly based on wits and not any sort of athleticism. My attempts to learn to shoot or to set up throws were unsuccessful. Launching myself into a takedown and then having to continue driving to bully my opponent to the mat if he sprawled or defended in some way never didn’t click for me.

It didn’t make sense to me the way that playing guard made sense to me, so I avoided takedowns through white belt and through most of blue belt. If I competed, I pulled guard, and in the gym, I gladly flopped to my butt at the start of every roll.

From the Ground Up

My wrestling coach Paul Reihner, a friend and MMA fighter that I helped prepare for bouts, taught me the basics of taking and setting up shots, but executing those techniques in a live situation was still out of the question for me.


As a blue belt, I revisited the way I played the stake out position, a seated guard variation and last technical remnant of my Eddie Bravo years. I previously used the stake out exclusively to secure the lockdown. As my competition became more advanced, my success with the lockdown dwindled, so I started to use the stake out as an open guard sweeping position. In that process, which you’ll see detailed later in this chapter, I found myself attacking with a single leg.

By shooting into the single leg from the guard, the transition felt much more natural for me. I could ease myself into learning the pieces of the takedown, starting from a point of comfort. As I grew more accustomed with the process of entering into a single leg position and fighting for the finish, my confidence grew. And then I started working on arm drags, which gave me a route to enter the single leg from standing.

Looking at the single leg 3-dimensionally gave me a takedown game. While I still have a lot of work to do when it comes to takedowns, I’m on my way, and I hope that 3-D Jiu-Jitsu will help other timid grapplers to develop their takedown games as well.