The first takedown most wrestlers learn is the double leg backheel. It’s an effective yet gross motor movement. Like most basic movements in grappling it’s effective even at the highest level of competition. This includes not only Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but Judo (now illegal if a level change is involved I think), wrestling of course, and MMA – where it is highly effective. A double leg simply involves taking a drop step (lowering your knee and aiming it between your opponents knees while moving forward), pushing your shoulder into your opponents hips, and wrapping up both legs forcing your opponent to the ground. Despite the overall simplicity of the move most people ignore it’s two biggest aspects: setting it up and following through with it. These facets are exemplified by those most proficient in the movement such as Olympic wrestlers, international Judo athletes and a few notable MMA athletes like GSP and Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Check out wrestlejitsu’s most recent breakdown which systematically examines the masters of the double leg (some of the footage is a bit dated but double leg specialists are rare):
Optimal double leg setups open up both of your opponent’s legs. It all goes back to the “equal and opposite reaction” rule. If you can cause your opponent to react enough to reveal an opening for your next move, coupling your move with their reaction enhances the probability of finishing that move. In wrestling where stances are low it can be hard to get under them. Faking a shot by changing levels can open up enough space to take the shot. Beware however, as faking a movement more than once is usually futile since your opponent quickly becomes privy to your intentions, or most of the time in individuals who continuously fake shots, the lack thereof. In other words, when your competing against someone who keeps faking a takedown, you know they’re probably afraid to shoot. That can be a great feeling if you’re a few matches into a tournament, extremely fatigued, and buying time is part of your strategy.
The snap down is also another great set up. After locking up, snapping your opponents head down and then going for the double leg can and often does open up the shot. In addition, an often ignored strategy is the ability to shoot after your opponent snaps your head down. Jordan Burroughs, one of the best American double leggers, often does this.
BJJ players often avoid the tie-up specifically, especially at the more advanced levels. Other setups for the double leg that avoid the tie-up include posting on the head and then shooting as well as using a Russian Tie/2 on 1. When your opponent attempts to free their arm from the 2 on 1 the shot often opens up. In MMA, optimizing your double leg can be accomplished by shooting after a punch is thrown. You’ll also notice that like Judo, in MMA stances are high enough to negate the need for a wrestling dropstep and the legs can simply be wrapped up without changing levels.
Follow through is the most important aspect of a good double leg. Confidence is key to good follow through. Grabbing the legs and running like hell forward while elevating towards the side you’re attempting to collapse exemplifies good follow through.
Having confidence also means having a good back up plan. If you know how to handle not finishing the double leg you’ll be much more confident in your shot. Some of the best specialists do a number of things to achieve this. Some Olympic wrestlers shoot with their head in their opponent’s center mass to focus their pressure. This is great for BJJ as it avoids guillotines, or as Marcelo Garcia would say “guillochines”. Being prepared for the sprawl also helps with confidence in your double leg. If your opponent manages to sprawl there are a number of options. You can try to do what’s called “coming out the back” which involves peaking your head out. This can be done standing or on the knees. Another great option to sprawling is the sit-out. Sit-outs work marvelously well in BJJ tournaments since Jiu Jitu players are often unfamiliar with this movement. For a video of how to sit out when your opponent sprawls click here. The last bail out works well against opponents who pressure in with their knees and afford you space under their base. You can still wrap up the double and fall back. You can get the idea from this video.
A number of problems can arise besides sprawling if the double leg is not done correctly. For example, keeping the head as tight as possible and forcefully dumping your opponent is necessary to avoid guillotines. Another issue arises if and when you lose one of the legs and your head remains on the outside. If you don’t switch to an inside single in time your opponent can spin to your back.
With a good setup, a confident shot, upright posture, powerful forward movement, and a handful of emergency responses, you too can have The Perfect Double Leg. Oh, and practice. Practice is important.