Sweeps & Leg Trips

Within Swedish Combat we work with both hard and soft techniques. This becomes especially clear when we look at the sweep techniques.


We have three different sweeps: large, small, and shin sweeps.


The small sweeps are mainly based on timing and are considered to be softer than the other sweeps. It hits the opponent just before he puts his weight on the leg we are about to sweep. In the larger and shin sweeps we sweep the leg which he is resting his weight on, which makes the latter two sweeps more difficult to perform and execute. Even if the sweeps vary in weight and hardness it demands a high level of technical ability in order to make them effective.


The most important part is not to be able to specify each sweep and know its specific name. Rather it is important to understand why the sweeps work. However all sweeps does not work well for everyone and you need to find those ones working for you.


Shin sweeps

Basic principle

The heavy sweeps are based on the theory that you move the entire weight of the opponent to one of his legs. To succeed with this the sweep needs unbalancing. What we mean is that you only can execute a sweep if the impact is made as close to the ground as possible and that the opponent has his foot pointed towards the direction from which the sweep comes from. To explain this further we look as some examples below.


The shin sweep can hit four different target areas; inside, back, outside and front of the opponents ankle. The person who performs the technique can in turn be positioned in front, behind or next to his opponent. From these positions we can combine together a number of sweeps which are all based on the same principles. The different versions of the sweep are effective to various extent and all are not suitable to use.


Ex: Shin sweep against the front from behind

Imagine that you catch your opponent’s front kick, grabbing the opponent’s right hock with your right bend of the arm. You should then stand on his outside, which his right shoulder pointing towards your own chest. Unbalance him to the right and sweep his left leg with your right leg.


Ex: Shin sweep against the backside from behind

This is very similar to the above one. Catch the opponent’s right leg so that you have it in the bend of your arm. Unbalance him to the left and sweep his left leg with your left leg.


Ex: Shin sweep on the inside from behind

This technique is carried out more advantageous if you let your opponent kick past you with his right front kick. You take a small step past him and end up behind is back. Grab his left shoulder with your right hand. Take a step closer to his left leg with your left leg and the kick towards his hock with your right leg. Simultaneously you should unbalance him straight backwards so that he lands where you stood before he took the step to sweep.


Ex: Shin sweep against the front from the side

Unbalance your opponent so that he is leaning forward. Sweep the front of his ankle with your shin and increase the effectiveness by unbalancing.

Size of opponent

Since the shin sweep assumes that you have as much of the opponents weight as possible on the leg which you are about to sweep, this will require more unbalancing and strength, therefore the more the opponents weighs the harder it’s going to get.


The sweep should hit a target which is ”tilted” towards the direction where the sweep comes from. When executed correctly not only is the leg being moved into the right direction, but it will also slightly lift off the ground. When you hit a target area which is “tilted” away from the opponent you will drive the opponent’s foot towards the ground instead of away from it. The result will be that he will still be standing, but perhaps experiencing pain in his ankle/shin. Should the leg be in the wrong direction, this could require unbalancing or hitting from a different angle in order to get the desired effect.

Unbalancing is successful by pulling, pushing or manipulating the opponent where you want. In a fighting situation it requires timing to unbalance an opponent without him noticing what you are doing. Furthermore it requires timing to sweep while the unbalancing is right.

Target area

The target area is the ankle or the lower parts of the shin. We use these target areas to get a movement in the direction where the leg is bent instead of sideward movement when using the inside of the foot.

The sweeps are often heavy and we would like to avoid weight on the knees. It is also important to measure the distance so that you do not hit with the toes. The toes carry a high risk of getting injured if you are not careful or a bit unlucky.

Pull the leg back

Furthermore it should be known that the leg should be withdrawn back to the body as soon as you have reached the target. This is because we get a greater impact than if the leg would only move sideward.

Hook with the foot

At the moment of impact the forward part of the foot should hook the opponent’s leg or ankle in order to really get a thorough technique. Otherwise you risk that the attack will pass the target and the sweep will turn into a kick.

Large Sweeps

The large sweeps are based on the same principles as the shin sweeps. You want as much of the opponents weight balanced on the leg which you are to sweep.

Target area

The large sweeps are carried out with either the back of the leg or the heel. The movement is either high up with the knee or in a circular movement like a round house kick.


Try to hit the opponent’s leg as close to the ground as possible. The sweep is often made against still standing opponents during a heavy unbalancing. Therefore the risk of injury is low, not only for you but also for the other person.

Thoroughgoing movement

The most important part of the large sweep is that the movement goes far through the leg which you are sweeping. Compare this to a punch, where you aim to punch through the target. The longer the motion is through the target the more powerful the sweep will get.

Small sweeps

Small sweeps are often based on you moving the opponents supporting leg before it reaches the ground. To be successful one should aim to pull or push the opponent in any direction so that he is forced to take that step in order to regain his balance. While his foot is in the air he will not have any substantial stability and you can therefore with an easy movement sweep his leg and make him lose his balance.

This sweeps are small, fast and hard to detect, but they are not as powerful as the other sweeps. These are largely based on timing and flexibility.

Attack area

When you perform a small sweep you use the inside and outside of your foot. If you hit with your inner malleous you can damage yourself so try to take advantage of the more tolerant parts of the front sole of your foot. There you’ll also get a better feeling for carrying out the sweep with a good timing and precision.

Impact area

Aim to hit the opponents leg as close to the ground as possible. Then it becomes easier to influence the movement. The sweep should be made just before a step in any direction is made and just before the foot reaches the ground. This sweep can also be carried out against static opponents but then you will need powerful unbalancing.


Ex: Small outer shin sweep from the front

Unbalance the opponent forward to the left (10 o clock). When he moves his right leg to remain his balance you put the inside of your left foot on the outside of his right ankle and sweep. He will then lose his balance and fall.


Ex: Small inner shin sweep from the front

This sweep works just like the above one, the only difference is that your foot hits the inside of the opponent’s ankle instead. Sometimes the technique is easier to perform if the hit is close to the opponent’s heel.


Leg trips

Leg trips can be carried out as large and small. These are variations on the sweeps, but they are more static in the execution. Instead of doing a circular movement with your feet or leg, which sweeps through the opponent, you simply place your foot stable and unbalance the opponent. Leg trips can be done in two parts, which are merged into one movement. First you place your foot as close as possible to the leg which the opponent is supporting his weight on. If he does not have his weight on that leg you unbalance him so that he does. When you have placed your foot it is important to remain some slack in the leg in order to get more rotation and power in the technique. Let’s look at some examples on leg trips below.


Ex: Large outer leg trip from the front

The opponent is standing with both feet on the ground. Push his right shoulder diagonally forward to the left; he will then lean backwards tilted to the right. Put your right foot with toes on the ground as close to his leg as possible and keep your leg slightly bent. When you put your right heel on the ground and stretch your leg, your movement will force away the opponent’s leg. He will then lose balance and by unbalancing him, you can then push him to the ground.


Ex: Large inner leg trip from the front

Place your right foot with toes on the ground as close as possible to your opponent’s left leg. The technique is very similar to the previous one. Push his left shoulder diagonally forward so he leans back to the left. Put down your heel on the ground and stretch your leg. You can then push him down to the ground by unbalancing him.


Another of this technique is to place the front sole of your foot on the ground but to keep the knee close to the ground so that your shin is pointed towards the opponent’s leg. Instead of putting down the heel on the ground you aim to stretch the leg as you move diagonally upward through the opponent’s position so that you push him away.


Ex: Small outer leg trip from the front

When you carry out the small leg trips you are vulnerable to counter attacks where the opponent knees you in the groin for example. Be aware of this and careful when performing the technique. There is also a great risk of falling on top of the opponent when carrying out this technique. This could be used to your advantage if you choose to land hard on him. If you try to resist the fall and he pulls you down with him, you can end up in a disadvantageous position. Put down the front sole of your right foot so that your calf is behind his left calf. You are now positioned in front of him but with your leg behind his and you unbalance him at the same time as you put your heel down on the ground. His leg will then move and it will result in him falling. If you want to keep your balance it is important to protect your groin in case of counter attacks.


Ex: Small inner leg trip from the front

This technique is carried out just like the above one. The difference is that you start the technique from the inside of the opponent’s legs instead of the outside. ‘



Another variation on this leg trip is to put the inside of your left foot against the outside/backside of his right foot. Your leg should be between your opponents’s. Use your knee to push on the inside of the opponent’s thigh, close to his knee. He will then be forced to the ground in an uncontrolled way.