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Leg Drag to Back Take (a BJJ Tutorial)

The mechanics and the history

The leg drag guard pass has been in vogue of late in sport Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition at all levels, from white to black belt, and both local and international tournaments. Why? Quite frankly, it's an indispensable part of any jiu jitsu player's game. Conceptually, the pass has been around for decades, but modern innovations have made it an extremely viable competitive BJJ technique, and the added incentive of giving your opponent a terrible choice of either allowing you to pass their guard, or giving up their back to you, makes this even more of a "must-know" move. Here are some of the basic concepts behind the leg drag pass, and a few different entries into the position.

Lifting entry

Starting with a standard De La Riva guard position, make sure your knee doesn't turn away from your partner in the very beginning, giving you a strong base from which to attack. If your partner's left foot is hooking behind your leg, grip their right pants (at the bottom) with your right hand, and cup the bottom of their heel with your left hand. Next, the idea is to lift your partner's leg up. This isn't going to be easy if you try to use arm strength, but if you use a standing, straightening motion to make your hip flat, you should be able to bring your partner's leg up. Now it's time to drag the leg across your body, and you're going to look for three staples. Staple 1 involves the arm that's dragging; your right triceps should be driving your partner's thigh backward so that they can't bring their knee back in front of them to recover their guard. Staple 2 is accomplished with your right knee driving across their left thigh (quick word of caution: make sure that your partner can get their De La Riva hook out before proceeding here!). Staple 3 would typically be a hand on your partner's biceps, like with this version of the pass, but here we're going to forego the pass finish in order to go for the back, allowing our partner to turn away (more on this below).

Hips back entry

This second entry into the leg drag guard pass is one of my personal favorites: "hips back." Starting with a similar DLR (De La Riva) guard position (don't start with a deep DLR guard!), and with the same grips as above, this time, move your hips back (think: twerk). While your hips are completely out of the way, instead of just dragging the leg across, use your grips like a hinge, keeping your left arm grabbing inside your partner's knee at the pants, and swivel your left hand across, bringing their foot to the other side of their body. Now just punch the grip back like before to complete the drag, once again focusing on using your triceps and armpit to block their knee from coming back in front. Now, on to the back take: make sure that you get under your partner's arm and grab their lapel before they have the opportunity to get completely to turtle. Now sag your weight to your left hip, sliding your bottom knee (or foot, if you're flexible enough) under your partner, in between their elbow and hip. Finish the back take as normal!

Duckunder version

This technique is also outlined in the berimbolo counter tutorial, and you can certainly use it against a strong DLR guard player, but you've got to act before they get any sort of sleeve grips. Take both arms and dive under their right leg, and then follow by ducking your head under. Circle your right arm back and grab their far side lapel, effectively (and once again) stapling your partner's knee and thigh with your triceps and armpit. From here, just allow your partner to start turning away, slowing them down once again with the lapel grip, until you can get the harness grip. Finish taking the back as usual.

Leg drags or berimbolos?

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Leg draggin'

Whether you plan to compete or not, these positions are well worth learning, as they can open new doors in your game. This is really just the tip of the iceberg as far as leg drags go, and just like the Kimura sequence, there are many rabbit holes down which you can travel. Enjoy the journey, and, as always, please let me know how these techniques are working for you! See you on the mat.

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