Even before MMA rose to its level of success, shooting for the legs was fairly common. Although a staple in both wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu it is natural to try and take the legs out from under your opponent. Watch any schoolyard fight or drunken brawl and you will see someone trying to go for the legs. However, MMA has really popularized the shoot, so you need to know how to defend against it.

Using the Sprawl to Defend Against the MMA Shoot

First, although we are discussing the sprawl, it is important to acknowledge the other methods mentioned in the video. Remember all of your tools. In the case of the shoot, you have your head, hands, and hips. They all work together to gain an advantage. When an opponent is shooting on you, you have a multi-tiered line of defense.

Although he demonstrates the head first, I personally like to start with the hands, because they have a longer reach. It is kind of like three levels of defense. Long-range, mid-range, and short-range. If the attacker breaches your long-range—hands—then you transition to the mid-range—head. If he breaches your mid-range—head—then you transition to short-range—hips.

Basic Sprawling

The truth is most people trained in martial arts will not just attack you without provocation. So, unless you’re fighting in the MMA the odds are the shoot will not be quite as quick and clean. As a result, it will probably come straight on, and you will have time to deal with it.

In this case, throwing your legs straight back and dropping your weight on your opponent’s back will prevent him from getting your legs. It’s important that you don’t drop to your knees or put your hands on the ground to hold yourself up. You want to make him hold all of your weight, with your legs sprawled straight out to the rear. Also, make sure to spread your legs and don’t have them straight out behind you. This is important for balance, leverage, and mobility.

From here you can either grapple with him or start punishing his back and kidneys with elbows and hammer fists. Or you can shove him straight down into the ground and get back to your feet. It will depend on the situation and the skill level of the attacker.

Sprawling From an Angle Shoot

If you are dealing with someone with a little skill, they may angle out on you. In this case, trying to sprawl straight back will be ineffective and potentially disastrous, so you will need your hips.  When you perform the sprawl, you will want to twist at the hips and upper body. As a result, you will be in line with the attacker’s body.

Next, to break his grasp on the closest leg, roll the opposite hip into him, forcing the forward hip out. Then, cover the head by placing a hand on it and pushing it down. This prevents the attacker from pushing forward or spinning around and gaining an advantage. At the same time, rotate the hips back towards the attacker, placing you in line with his body again.

Throughout the entire series make sure that you are keeping all of your weight on the attacker. If you let up, you give him a chance to take control. Your knees should always be off the ground, and he should always be holding you up.

Keep in mind that this all happens very fast. You will not be able to just lay on top of him trying to decide what to do next. You need to start working an offensive immediately or he will determine the next steps.

Keep it real and stay safe.

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