Ankle Pick! [Updated]

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The ankle pick is a quick, powerful takedown that can be set up in a myriad of ways. It is used a great deal in wrestling and Judo, often in combination with other techniques. It relies on using the leg as a lever to apply torque to your opponent’s body, forcing their hips downward to the mat. Let’s take a look at how some of the great grapplers use this technique and then build it into our takedown combinations.

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The first place we need to look for the basic details of the ankle pick is Cael Sanderson, who built a brilliant career, possibly one of the greatest of all time, off of the ankle pick and low single leg takedown. These two moves work well together, but let’s isolate the ankle pick for further study.

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Cael Sanderson – Ankle Pick

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I really like how Cael emphasizes moving your opponent around to get them to bring their leg forward, but not in an obvious way. The transition from wrist control to the ankle pick is a nice short movement. This method of hitting the ankle pick tends to work well when both athletes are in a lower stance facilitating a short transition from wrist to ankle.

In Judo the ankle pick tends to be used in combinations with foot sweeps. Sweeping or blocking the foot with your own foot can off-balance your opponent and can help to collect the ankle. Judoka refer to these techniques as Kibisu Gaeshi and Kuchiki Taoshi, depending on which leg is being attacked. First, let’s check out a new video of US Olympic Judo coach Jimmy Pedro showing how he uses an inner leg trip, Kouchi Gari, to assist with the collection of the foot.

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Jimmy Pedro – Judo trips and ankle pick

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One of the things I like about this video is that Pedro emphasizes why he’s attacking the legs in this manner – mainly that his opponent is too stiff for a successful throwing attack. Many Jiu Jitsu players are nervous on the feet due to lack of experience, and this technique is a way to take advantage of this. The Jiu Jitsu competitor that exemplifies this technique is none other than Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza.

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Jacare Souza – ankle picking you through the mat

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One of the cooler setups to this takedown, and one that is uniquely situated for Jiu Jitsu, is the fake guard pull to ankle pick. Many Jiu Jitsu schools do not practice an abundance of takedowns or even methods of getting into the guard (shocking, I know). Often times you see a slow, foot-on-the-hip style of guard pull in competition. This technique takes advantage of that expectation. First we have Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes showing how to do the ankle pick takedown from a fake guard pull.

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Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes – Fake guard pull to ankle pick

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Some Jiu Jitsu players aren’t a big fan of the ankle pick because they feel that it leaves the arm exposed to attack. However by controlling the leg you can prevent your opponent from being able to initiate armlocks or chokes. It can also lead right into several guard passes, including the X-pass and the Terere pass, the latter of which is shown above by Tanquinho.

Several Jiu Jitsu players use this method of setting up the ankle pick in competition. Two notable competitors who do this are Sergio Moraes and Guilherme Mendes. In the two videos below watch how they fake their opponent for the ankle pick. Both occur fairly early into the match.

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Sergio Moraes v. Eduardo Santoro

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Guilherme Mendes v. Eduardo Ramos

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Guilherme also performed this technique is the video posted on The Jiu Jitsu Laboratory last week when he was rolling with Joseph Capizzi. If you haven’t seen it yet it’s worth the watch.

The final ankle pick attack we will look at is from guard. I use this all the time from open guard when my opponent steps forward a bit too much. It works well in combination with the collar drag. Dragging your opponent forward will often initiate a backward pull, setting them up for a quick ankle pick. Alternatively, Caio Terra shows an interesting ankle pick variation from sitting half-guard.

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Caio Terra – Ankle pick

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Filed under Jiu Jitsu Technique, Judo

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