Here Are 3 Takedowns You Can Perform With The Underhook

In grappling sports like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, wrestling, and MMA, mastering various takedowns can provide a significant advantage. One fundamental aspect of establishing control in these sports is securing an underhook. An underhook is a controlling technique where you manage to place your arm under the opponent’s arm and secure your hand on their back, which can help you manipulate their posture and balance. This position is not only a gateway to numerous control techniques but also opens up various takedown opportunities. In this article, we explore three effective takedowns you can perform when you have secured an underhook.


The Power Of Controlling The Opponent

Contrary to popular belief, grappling is not all about taking people down and submitting them against their will. A significant part of grappling involves using a more holistic approach, where you use grips and positional techniques to gain an edge. You can use many techniques to do this, and obviously, the underhook is one of the most common ones. In order to be an effective practitioner, it is a must to not only have a repertoire of submissions on hand, you must also be adept at forcing the opponent to defend, and the classic underhook is one of the most versatile techniques you can do to accomplish this goal.

BJJ and grappling, in general, are all about an exchange of offensive and defensive cycles between both parties. Limiting the opponents ‘ offensive options should be the primary goal because a fully resisting opponent will do whatever it takes to not get taken down or submitted. Therefore, gaining the upper hand at the onset, using tools like the underhook, is absolutely important.

By securing an underhook, you gain leverage, which can be pivotal in both offensive and defensive scenarios. This control is essential because it limits the opponent’s ability to strike or escape, providing you with various options to execute takedowns or transition to more dominant positions.

Now that we understand the value of using the underhook, here are 3 recommended takedowns you can do from the underhook position.


1) High Crotch Takedown

The high crotch takedown is a timeless technique in wrestling that proves just as effective in BJJ and MMA. It begins with securing a deep underhook on one side while using your other hand to control your opponent’s leg. Target the thigh of the leg opposite your underhook and lift using your legs and hips while pulling down on the underhook to off-balance (Kuzushi) your opponent. Rotate towards the underhook side to bring your opponent to the ground. This takedown is particularly effective because it combines the upper body control of the underhook with a deep leg attack, disrupting the opponent’s base and making it difficult for them to defend.


2) Knee Pick Takedown

The knee pick is a technique that emphasizes precision and timing, making it a valuable addition to your grappling arsenal. With an underhook in place, use your free hand to grasp your opponent’s knee on the same side. This takedown involves a dual action of pulling the knee towards you while pushing your opponent away with the underhook. The opposing forces create a significant imbalance, leading to an effective takedown. It is best not to stop at the initial push; taking multiple steps as you trap the knee is recommended to limit the opponent’s defenses. The knee pick is less about brute strength and more about exploiting the right moment when the opponent’s weight is on the targeted leg.


3) Snap Down

The snap down is an excellent technique to employ when you have secured an underhook and wish to quickly bring your opponent to the mat. By controlling the back of your opponent’s head or neck with one hand and maintaining the underhook with the other, you apply a forceful downward motion. This action breaks your opponent’s posture and balance, making it easier to move behind them or drive them forward onto the mat. The snap down is particularly useful for setting up back takes or transitioning into dominant grappling positions because it severely compromises the opponent’s ability to defend. We recommend using the cow catcher once you secure the opponent’s head, as it is a high-percentage technique that anyone can use.


Integrating Underhook Takedowns Into Your Strategy

Knee pick takedown

The knee pick takedown is one of the most commonly used takedowns in BJJ that effectively disrupts your opponent’s balance and leads to a dominant position.

Learning to effectively integrate underhook takedowns into your strategy requires practice and a deep understanding of the mechanics involved. Training these techniques consistently helps develop the muscle memory and timing needed to execute them effectively in competitive scenarios. It is also important to drill these moves with varying levels of resistance, allowing you to adapt to the different reactions an opponent might present.

As with all techniques, it is encouraged that you take time to study the intricacies of the move for a sustained duration. Doing this will enable you to see the applications of the technique consistently; this is also the time for you to troubleshoot scenarios that may come into play in actual sparring or even in competition.


Training Considerations And Drills

Effective training of underhook takedowns involves specific drills that enhance your ability to secure the underhook and transition into takedowns smoothly. Partner drills, where one person works on securing and maintaining underhooks while the other provides realistic resistance, can be particularly beneficial. Additionally, incorporating situation-specific sparring sessions that start with one competitor already having an underhook can help practitioners understand how to capitalize on this advantageous position.



The underhook is a versatile and powerful tool in the arsenal of any grappler. Whether you are competing in BJJ, wrestling, or MMA, mastering takedowns such as the high crotch, knee pick, and snap down from the underhook position can give you a significant competitive edge. These techniques not only enhance your ability to control and dominate matches but also improve your overall game. As you continue to train and refine these techniques, you’ll find that the underhook becomes not just a part of your strategy, but a foundational element that shapes the way you fight.


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