The Leg Drag is a grappling position commonly used as a way to control an opponent’s hips before advancing to a guard pass. In Brazilian jiu jitsu‘s sporting environment, the Leg Drag started being seen in its rudimentary form during the 1990’s, as an alternative to the toreando and stacking guard passes. It was later enhanced by competitors such as Fernando “Terere”, Leo Vieira or Vitor “Shaolin” in the 2000’s era, though the groundbreaking technical advances currently seen on today’s BJJ tournament circuit are attributed to Rafael and Guilherme Mendes‘ efforts during the 2010 decade.
The Evolution of the Leg Drag
Similar positions to the leg drag are seen in older grappling styles, including wrestling’s navy ride (see here). Though it is likely that the Leg Drag occurred also in early judo exchanges, particularly under nanatei rules, we could not see any positions resembling the LD on the (limited) video content available of old tournament footage.
In jiu jitsu, the first nuances of the leg drag started occurring as early as the grappling style established a competitive setting. These were, however, more rudimentary forms of the Leg Drag, as seen in 1996’s match between Royler Gracie and Marcos Aurelio (below) during the quarter-final of the 1st World Championship.
After CBJJ (Brazilian jiu jitsu federation) was established in 1994, jiu jitsu’s technical growth was noted on a large scale throughout many different aspects of the game. One of those being guard passing, and leg dragging in particular. A technique made popular by a handful of athletes from which Fernando “Tererê”, Leonardo Vieira and Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro were the most prominent.
An example of those technical advancements can be seen on the gif below, where you may recognise Tererê’s superior control in 2003, when comparing with the aforementioned 1996 example:
Tererê Leg Drag Guard Pass @World Championship (2003)
The Leg Drag torch dimmed out considerably once this generation of grapplers stepped out of the competition arenas, coming back with force a few years later, through athletes such as the Mendes Brothers (Rafael and Guilherme), who almost single handedly revolutionized the sport in the early 2010’s.
The two brothers truly implemented the Leg Drag as one of their key weapons. Through the success of the two brothers, many more followed, adding their own “flavor” to a position which is known today as one of the foundations of modern jiu jitsu.
Subject of banner photo: William Burkhardt of BJJ Pix.
- Rafael Mendes
- Guilherme Mendes
- Caio Terra
- Isaac Doederlein
- Mikey Musumeci
- Paulo Miyao
- Joao Miyao
- Gianni Grippo
- Gabriel Moraes
- Lucas Lepri
- Fernando Tererê
- Leonardo Vieira
- Vitor Shaolin
Mendes Brothers Leg Drag Highlight
Leg Drag Passing Concepts by Philipe Furao
Leg Drag From Stack Pass by Cobrinha
Leg Drag to Back Control by JT Torres
Leg Drag Passing by Caio terra (gi + no-gi)
No-Gi Leg Drag Passing by Marcelo Garcia