In a physical sport like wrestling, height plays a crucial role in winning. With that, what are some of the best wrestling moves for short wrestlers? Here’s the shortlist:
As a smaller wrestler, you can defeat taller wrestlers using your speed and explosiveness through hip tosses, duck unders, and fireman’s carry. Put them off-balance by attacking their legs through leg trips and single-leg takedowns.
Being short is not always a disadvantage. Do not let your height stop you. Here are some wrestling moves that suit your build.
1. Single leg takedown
The single-leg takedown is one of the most common and efficient ways to take your opponents down. This takedown is aimed at your opponent’s balance by attacking their legs.
To perform an effective single-leg takedown, first, you must shoot for the lead leg because it is the closest one.
One of the advantages of the single-leg takedown is its versatility. After you shoot, you can modify it to take your opponents down differently.
You can stand up by pushing your head or shoulder against your opponent’s chest and push them off balance. Wrestlers can use high crotch or inside trips to take their opponents and secure a dominant position.
Former two-division UFC champion Daniel Cormier often used the single-leg takedown during his UFC tenure. As a relatively short wrestler, he used this technique to drag or slam them into the ground, which granted him success throughout his career.
2. Fireman’s carry
The fireman’s carry, also known as Kata Guruma in Judo, is a good move for short wrestlers. This move uses the opponent’s momentum to slam them unto the ground.
As the name suggests, this move looks like what firefighters and the army do when they rescue their injured teammates or someone from a burning building.
Traditional fireman’s carry starts by securing the grip in the tricep area. After that, grab their lead leg by the knee and use their momentum to roll or throw them over your shoulder.
Fireman’s carry usually leads you to side control. This position is dominant because not only will it allow you to pin your opponent in wrestling, but this will also open submission opportunities in MMA and Jiu-Jitsu.
This move can be perfected with the right speed and timing. To further understand this technique for shorter wrestlers, Henry Cejudo explains the fireman’s carry and how to execute them in the video above.
3. Leg trips
As a smaller wrestler fighting someone taller, you must take advantage of your lower center of gravity. This means that you are more stable than most of your taller opponents.
Leg trips are commonly used after a takedown shoot or during the clinch. You should use your legs to off-balance an opponent to perform a trip.
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A single-leg into a leg trip is usually effective amongst short wrestlers. To perform this move, once you have stood up, holding the lead leg by the knee and with your head against their chest, you can use your leg to trip inside the opponent’s remaining leg.
In MMA, inside and outside leg trips are usually used in the clinch, whether in the center of the octagon or up against the cage.
One of the most known short and stocky body types in MMA, Alexander Volkanovski, uses a variety of leg trips to dominate his opponents on the ground.
4. Hip Toss
Hip tosses or hip throws are commonly used by short and stocky wrestlers rather than lengthy ones. This is because they can bend their knees faster and lower their hips.
The endomorph build tends to be stronger and sometimes faster than their opponents, so they can perform tosses and throws better.
To perform this maneuver from the over-under tie, you must use your hind leg to step over to the overhead position, turn your hips as leverage and explode to slam them to the canvas.
Executing this toss will help you get a dominant position on the ground and get the pin. The natural end position for the hip toss is in the side saddle, where you can put your body weight over your opponent.
5. Ankle pick defense
To become a good wrestler, you must not only focus on offense but also improve your defense.
Learning different sprawls and defenses will always come in handy in matches.
Ankle picks are one of the most used moves by taller wrestlers because it utilizes their long reach. They use it to grab your ankle after a clinch or tie to drag or sweep you into the ground.
To defend against an ankle pick, you must reach down to their arm on your ankle, make a hook or scoop out of your hand and grab his wrist. After that, pull his hand to your torso and do an under hook below his armpit to prevent him from attempting again.
6. Duck under
Ducking under opponents is a move that short wrestlers use because of their ability to move quickly and change levels. This move is appropriate for short wrestlers to go under and circle around opponents’ backs.
This move is beneficial during a match because you are taking your opponent’s back. This will lead to controlling them to the ground without them facing you. Because of their lengthy build, only very skilled wrestlers can counter.
First, you initiate the lock up and use your speed to move under before he reaches you. As he reaches your collar or neck, push his elbow upwards, change levels, duck under, and perform a back body lock to keep him down.
Duck under as a lift can also be performed. As you duck under, you position your arms in their crotch, lift them upwards and slam them to the ground.
Fun fact: UFC bantamweight contender Petr Yan uses duck-under as a transition move as he combines wrestling and boxing to improve his movement.
Joe Bloom is the lead author and editor of MMA Hive. Joe has been a passionate mixed martial artist in training since 2019, having studied Boxing and Muay Thai at BaliMMA and Soma Fight Club, as well as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with RitualsJJ.