The Unstoppable Knee Tap Takedown

Last updated on 04.02.2023 by

If you’re not the best at takedowns, there is one simple takedown that you really should add to your game. The knee tap takedown.

A high percentage takedown that has easy entries and won’t put you in a bad spot if you miss.

What is a Knee Tap Takedown? 

Knee Tap Takedown

The knee tap is a takedown that Jiu Jitsu adopted from wrestling. A really effective takedown that is set up from a clinch or tie up that doesn’t waste a lot of energy.

You don’t need to shoot in on your opponent like you would with traditional single or double leg takedowns. Instead, all you do is force them to put weight on the knee you’re targeting, tap it, and drive-in to finish.

Its simplicity is what makes it so effective and why many BJJ athletes have adopted the knee tap into their games. They can get their opponent to the ground effectively without wasting a lot of energy, and start using their Jiu Jitsu.

One person that I would strongly recommend you go study is UFC legend Georges St. Pierre. During his prime, he implemented the knee tap takedown into his game and took everyone down with it. 

GSP’s knee tap was so good, it was considered world-class by top international wrestlers. There was even talk at one point of Pierre joining the Canada’s national wrestling team.

Knee Tap Takedown Setups 

Generally, all the setups for the knee tap takedown start from some type of clinch. Here are the details from some of the most effective knee tap takedown setups.

Knee Tap From Collar Tie 

The simplest version of the knee tap is from the collar tie. Collar tie your partner with one arm and force their weight onto their outside knee.

In one motion, you’re going to step to the outside of that knee and tap it with your hand. Forcing your partner’s weight to that knee and tapping their knee as you move into them trips them to the mat.

Generally it won’t be that easy, because when you grab a collar, your partner will want to grab a collar tie. If they grab a collar tie, it will block you from doing the knee tap. 

You will most likely have to hand fight a little with your opponent before going into the knee tap. Monkey paw their arm and push it down. They’ll naturally react by bringing their arm back up, and that is when you move in for the knee tap takedown.

The other most common set up for the knee tap is from an over/under position. Take an underhook on your partner along with wrist control on their other arm.

Be sure to be staying in tight on your partner at an angle with the top of your head against their chin. It’s very important to win both the hand and head fight to be successful with the knee tap or any takedown.

You’re going to be using these controls to push and pull your partner off balance. They will react by trying to circle to defend.

When they do this, you’re waiting for them to go heavy on their outside foot. Once they do, this is your cue to go.

Take your initial step in as you punch up with your underhook to knock them off balance. All of their weight will go to their knee, and you’ll finish the takedown with a knee tap.

Defensive Knee Tap 

This knee tap is actually a defensive counter when your partner has a deep underhook on you. To counter this underhook, you’re going to react quickly by knee tapping the inside of their knee with your knee.

As you step in, your overhook hand pushes on your partner’s pack as your knee taps the inside of their knee. These motions together knock them forward and give you an opportunity for a snap down of head control.

Fake Overhand To Knee Tap

If you practice or compete in MMA, a fake overhand punch to knee tap is a great setup. Set up your takedown with a couple jabs, change levels and step in like you’re throwing an overhand.

But instead of an overhand, you switch at the lat second to a running knee tap. Check out Erik Paulson demonstrate this technique in this video.

Knee Taps to Other Takedowns and Vice-Versa

You can even use knee taps to set up other takedowns and vice-versa. If you go in for a knee tap and your partner blocks your initial entry, this opens up an opportunity for other takedowns. You can easily go into variations of single and double leg takedowns.

Knee taps are even an option to finish initial single and double leg takedowns. For example, if you get in on a double leg, you can finish it by knee tapping their back leg.

Tips For Finishing The Knee Tap Takedown For BJJ 

Knee taps are simple to execute, but the steps have to be on point. Here are the tips for finishing a knee tap takedown for BJJ.

Head/Arm Control

To set up your knee tap, you’re going to need to establish control of your opponent’s head and arm. Without establishing this control, you can’t set up the knee tap.

Shift Opponent’s Weight

Before going for the knee tap, you’re going to have to force your partner to shift their weight. All of their weight will have to go to their outside knee before you go in for the knee cut.


Once your partner is in position, you have to commit 100% and drive in to finish the takedown.

In Conclusion

If you’re looking for an easy takedown that’s also effective, the knee tap takedown is an excellent choice. No matter if you train in the Gi, No-Gi, or both, this takedown will work. You’ll be taking opponents down in competition and getting your two points.