Martial Arts Terminology: Sweeps

In martial arts, a sweep is a way to take your opponent down, or if you’re on the bottom in a grappling match, reverse your positions. In a Kenpo standing leg sweep, the fighter knocks his opponent’s foot out from under him. In order to do this, the fighter must set up the sweep by disrupting her opponent’s balance in some way.  This can be a leg kick, a hand strike, anything to take the assailant’s base away and upset his center of gravity.  This video of the TV show, The Human Weapon, demonstrates one type of standing sweep.


In grappling, like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), sweeps are performed on the ground, usually disturbing your opponent’s base and reversing positions so that you end up on top. Check out this video, which clearly demonstrates not only the sweep, but how useful BJJ is for small people.  And I love her hot pink Gi!

Two different styles, two different techniques, but both result in the other person going to the ground or the bottom.

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