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How to Do a Tripod Sweep in BJJ

Andrew Smith is a 3rd-degree BJJ black belt based out of Richmond, VA (Revolution BJJ). He runs BJJ Path, a video tutorial website.


Tripod and Sickle

The tripod sweep in BJJ is highly effective against a standing opponent. For a more advanced approach to sweeping in the same situation, check out How to Spider Guard Sweep a Standing Opponent. As we move through the basic mechanics of the tripod sweep, we'll need to follow up with a common reaction from our partner, setting up the sickle sweep. These two moves constitute a powerful one-two combination that can be really difficult to prevent once you get that initial grip.

The Tripod

Start with your left hand around your partner's right ankle, ensuring that they won't remove that foot from the equation right away. Cross grip your partner's right sleeve with your right hand. Meanwhile, your right foot can be used to maintain distance until you're ready to sweep. Just move your right foot behind your partner's left ankle, propping their foot so they can't step that back now either.

The mechanics of the sweep are simple and predictable: just pull forward with the hook and hand, making sure that your partner can't step back. Just push their hip back, and the sweep occurs. Following up on top can be tough if you don't maintain sleeve control, so keep this so that you can help pull yourself up on top. Once you get there, you have a relatively broken open guard to deal with, as your partner scrambles to recover some semblance of the type of guard they want to play.

Into the Sickle

Even once you have the initial grips, a common defense against the tripod sweep is for your partner simply to step back away from the hook. When this happens, just move your free foot (the one you were trying to hook with) to your partner's near-side hip, freeing up your other (left) leg. Now use your left leg like a sickle, sweeping your partner's far leg, propping it while you push with the near-side foot in their hip. Your partner has unwittingly fallen into an even easier sweep position, as your non-sickle leg has tremendous leverage in this position.

Full Speedish

With the semi-full speed video, you can see how easily the two techniques blend together. As soon as John steps back, Daniel immediately follows up with the sickle sweep. This transitional flow has certainly been responsible for a large number of sweeps over time at our gym. Flowing from position to position is the name of the game in jiu-jitsu, and it can be difficult to understand at first when to move on from one technique to the next, but in this case, it should be obvious. No matter how strong you are or how hard you push, a tripod sweep simply does not work without the three points of contact you need. Fortunately, you can create three other points of contact with the sickle sweep.

Avoiding Leg Spaghetti

Finishing the sickle sweep can be a little tricky, particularly when your left foot falls off of their hips from the outside. Instead of leaving your legs in a weak "unfair 50/50" position, you can be sure to step on their hip with your right foot, then hook behind their knee with your left foot. This allows you really good leverage to finish the straight ankle lock. Alternatively, retract your foot before you come up on top to avoid the whole situation. If you come up with your partner's leg across as Daniel does at the beginning of the video, watch both the back take and the Vaporizer from this position, along with leg drag guard passes.

Wrapping Up

Like any moves you first learn, it can take a while before you start hitting them on a resisting opponent, but once you get the basic mechanics of the tripod sweep down, the sickle sweep is an easy follow-up.

Note: Basic De La Riva guard also involves a sickle sweep, as do many other positions. Having these basic open guard entries will serve you well as you look to other, more complex positions to work from. As always, please let me know if any of this stuff is working for you! I'm always glad to be of some service.

© 2017 Andrew Smith