Home Science Education Basic High Crotch Defense Every Fighter Must Know

Basic High Crotch Defense Every Fighter Must Know

Photo via Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports

Screen Shot 2014-01-10 at 3.21.14 PMScreen Shot 2014-01-10 at 1.35.27 PMThe high crotch is just another wrestling takedown that’s used in mixed martial arts. It’s very similar to a single leg accept that your head goes on the outside of your opponents hip when you shoot it, not the inside. One fighter who does a particularly good job at utilizing the high crotch takedown is UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez. He uses it with great efficacy by setting it up with his punches.

Even if you don’t plan on scrapping with Velasquez, knowing how to defend a high crotch can be very useful in an MMA fight.

Let’s go over the basics of high crotch defense:

1) Sprawl and Push the Head Down

Photo courtesy of Jeff Beshey, The Guillotine
Photo via Jeff Beshey, The Guillotine

Whether it be a single leg, double leg, or high crotch, sprawling and pushing the head down is the basic defense for all shots. The idea is to hip into your opponent as hard as you can while extending your legs as far away from him as possible. Use one hand to attack an arm and the other to push his head down. Your goal will be to get him on both of his knees with his face into the mat. This is a bad position for him. From here, you should try to circle around him while keeping your legs extended and maintaing hip pressure. Don’t forget to keep applying pressure on his head with your hand. Once you’ve become perpendicular to his body, try to grab his nearest ankle and elevate it while hipping into him. It would also help to crossface him at this point. Whether you’re in a grappling match or a mixed martial arts bout, doing this will knock him off balance and allow you to get behind him to secure the takedown.

2) Crotch Lift

Photo courtesy of Darren Miller, University of Iowa Athletics/themat.com
Photo via Darren Miller, University of Iowa Athletics/themat.com

If you’re a dude, the crotch lift can be one of the most uncomfortable positions to be in. This move might not be as painful on the ladies. Performing a crotch lift successfully comes down to hip positioning and leverage. When your opponent shoots in and captures one of your legs, pivot the leg he’s captured to where the inside of your thigh is against his shoulder. Reach one arm over his back and the other around his hip and lock your hands through his crotch while simultaneously dropping to the side of your own hip. Do not sit on your butt; you need to land on your hip so you can scoot around him. Begin pulling on your lock against his crotch while scooting your hips around him. Your goal will be to slide your captured leg under his shoulder so you can continue scooting around him while pulling against his crotch.

Photo courtesy of Dave Mandel/theballetofviolence.com
Photo via theballetofviolence.com

Here, Lyoto Machida is performing a standing crotch lift on Mauricio Rua against the cage.

3) Switch 

Photo courtesy of Larry Slater/themat.com
Photo via Larry Slater/themat.com

The switch is a basic collegiate wrestling move. It’s normally used to get a reversal from the bottom of referee’s position, but it can also be used to counter a high crotch. There’s nobody who did this better than Anderson Silva in his bout against Nate Marquardt at UFC 73 in 2007.

Let’s break down Silva’s amazing standing switch against Marquardt:


UntitledFirst, Marquardt captures the leg with his head on the outside. He is now in high crotch position. Silva maintains balance while staying tight on Marquardt’s body. Notice that Silva’s left arm is over Marquardt’s back because he hasn’t started the switch yet.

Screen Shot 2014-01-10 at 3.21.14 PMScreen Shot 2014-01-10 at 3.29.49 PMScreen Shot 2014-01-10 at 3.29.49 PM

Now Silva has begun going for the switch. He has removed his left arm from Marquardt’s back and reached for his inner thigh. Next, he will hit his hips down and try to slingshot himself around Marquardt by pulling on his inner thigh and shifting his weight onto Marquardts upper body causing him to fall forward.

Screen Shot 2014-01-10 at 3.37.40 PM

Here, you can clearly see that Marquardt is off balance and beginning to fall forward. Meanwhile, Silva is swinging his hips under and around him while pulling on the inside of his opponent’s thigh.

Screen Shot 2014-01-10 at 3.45.39 PM

As you can see here, Silva is now fully behind Marquardt. Not only has he avoided being taken down by his opponent’s high crotch, he has also gained a significant advantage by getting behind him.

4) Push the Head on the Inside and Defend It Like You Would a Single Leg

Photo courtesy of wrestlingpod.com
Photo via wrestlingpod.com

When your opponent captures your leg with a high crotch, his head will be on the outside of your hip. If you feel more comfortable defending from a single leg position, push his head to the inside of your hip while slapping on a whizzer and obtaining some wrist control. For an in-depth breakdown of the basics of single leg defense, click here.

There are many other ways to defend the high crotch takedown; these are just the basics.