WATCH: Defending the Football Tackle Using the Whizzer & Sprawl

Welcome to part five of our self-defense series with pro MMA fighter Sullivan Cauley. So far Sully’s shown us how to use the bear hug in a fight, how to use the push kick to create distance, and how to use the long guard and defend against a punch. Last week’s episode was how to escape from a full mount, in case you missed it! Today Sully takes a look at tackle defense using the whizzer and sprawl technique.

Even between untrained combatants it’s very common for fights to end up on the ground. While we don’t have the resources to study the numbers scientifically, I’d venture to say most street fights end up on the ground. Given the popularity of the UFC, more and more people are trying to take others down in everyday altercations. In a street fight scenario, being on the ground opens you up to serious damage from your opponent. Even spectators standing by may try to kick you in the head. Considering the tendency for people to gang up on a downed fighter, knowing how to defend a takedown with a basic whizzer and sprawl could really keep you out of trouble.  

Defending With the MMA Whizzer and Sprawl

The first key to this move is to meet your opponent’s forward motion of a football tackle with your hip and whizzer. Giving a little ground once you hip in and whizzer is OK. However, you don’t want to allow him to start running his feet. Next, you have to push his head down with your hand. Then cover it with your hips and square up to him.

Now, especially against a strong opponent, it’s important to keep your shoelaces down. Feel free to allow him to push you back once you’ve broken; he’s on his knees and you’re heavy on his head squared up with him, but don’t allow him to pull your legs any closer. If you’ve executed your sprawl correctly this will be a very exhausting position for your opponent. Continue to slide off the front of his head and neck until his grip on your legs is broken or severely weakened. Then stand up and disengage or go behind him and establish control. Again, practice makes perfect. Find a local wrestling club or MMA gym to properly learn techniques like this.

Watch the video above to see the move in action. Also, be sure to grab the most recent issue of Skillset Magazine at

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