Sweeping the leg may have been illegal at the All Valley Karate Tournament in The Karate Kid, but in competitive high school wrestling, it’s not only legal, it’s a valuable technique to help take down an opponent.
Although the rules of mixed martial arts and high school wrestling are hardly the same, the goals are similar: to take down an opponent. Sweeping the leg is one move that athletes in both sports can benefit from.
Matt Larsen, creator of the Modern Army Combatives program, trains his soldiers in a variety of martial arts and wrestling techniques to provide them with a solid foundation for hand-to-hand combat. “The combatives program draws from many different martial arts,” Larsen says. “What we really try to do is blend the training methodologies together.”
When attempting to take down an opponent on the mat, a leg sweep may be effective if your opponent decides to close the gap between you. “The defining characteristic of a warrior is the willingness to close on the enemy,” Larsen says.
Below are some tips to pull off the Leg Sweep successfully.
Don’t kick. When attempting a sweep, the goal is to use your upper body to push over your opponent while cutting his leg from under him. The key is to sweep his leg in the opposite direction of his upper body. Kicking from the side will not be as effective.
Sweep it up. Let your toes brush lightly against the ground as you sweep, like the motion of a broom. Lightly touch the ground while sweeping, with the momentum coming up, aiming to sweep your opponent’s ankle.
Push over. Once you’ve swept the leg, use your upper body to disrupt your opponent’s balance and force him to fall onto his back.