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The Controlled Flying Scissors Takedown

By Prof. Gene Roos

The flying scissors takedown is found in many martial arts systems including karate, many Kung Fu systems and jujutsu. At one time it was also part of judo, known as Kani-basami, but due to many injuries it was banned as a throw.

The technique -- in which you jump up and use your legs as a scissor, one across the chest, the other behind the knees, to take down an opponent -- can take an opponent by surprise, and take him to the ground quite effectively. But there can be problems. If the opponent isn’t trained in falling, often the head will impact the floor or other surface.

This technique is most often performed by quickly launching the body into the air to attempt to entangle and take down the opponent with the scissor action of the legs across the body and legs. But, if execution is poor the technique just might not work if the opponent is in a strong, balanced stance. The defender is then vulnerable to counterattack.

If poor execution results in a leg scissor attempt that is applied too low on the opponent’s body, one heel of the foot can hit into an opponent’s groin. While perhaps effective as self-defense, this outcome is not a good one if you want to keep a good relationship with your training partner.

Likewise, if the defender is smaller and lighter than the opponent, the scissor takedown even if well executed might not work. In some cases the defender’s legs just slap hard around the opponent, but then the body often just slides off.

Even if the defender is successful using this technique, upon taking down the opponent, the defender is confronted with another problem. His leg has become trapped under the attacker’s leg.

There is a simple way to insure more control in this technique, however. A simple modification will allow for simpler, more controlled takedowns. There are also several alternatives you can exercise on the attacker after the throw has been completed.

The Modified Flying Scissors Takedown

Attacker's left hand punches at the defender.

The defender takes a right foot (arc) step and both hands block the attacker's left arm.

Defender's hands push the attacker's left arm to the left rear at 45 degrees (off balancing him).

Defender leaps at the same angle towards the attacker's hip. The defender's right leg goes in front of the attacker's hip and left leg behind the attacker's left knee

The key here is twofold. First, control of the offensive action, here a punch. Then unbalance the opponent before the scissor takedown is attempted.

Here the attacker attempts a left hand punch. As the punch is executed, the defender takes a right circular step to the right to slip the punch while using both hands to control the attacker’s punching arm -- pushing it 45 degrees to his right rear

The defender’s hands push the attacker’s left arm 45 degrees to his right rear. This off balances the opponent (to his left rear). Holding onto his arm it is now easier to execute the technique (you have controlled his balance, his distance, and his position).

The defender, with legs spread, quickly leaps at an angle toward the opponent’s hip (guiding himself with his hold on the opponent’s arm) – the right leg in front of the opponent’s hip, the left leg behind his knee.

Instead of just scissoring, the defender then just rotates his legs and hips clockwise. This creates a takedown of the opponent who lands at a 45 degree angle. In practice, this movement allows the opponent to have an easier fall.

Once On The Ground

Defender rotates his legs and hips clockwise and throws the attacker to the right rear

Defender's right foot axe kicks the attacker's groin.

Defender's right leg pushes the attacker's left leg (which frees his trapped left leg).

Defender's right leg rotates over the attacker's head to behind his neck (photo shown on opposite side for easier viewing).


Defender continues turning which causes the attacker's elbow or shoulder to dislocate.


If this is a real self-defense situation, and you have taken your attacker down onto a hard surface, he will often strike his head upon impact. This either stuns the attacker or he sustains a concussion. In this case it is advisable for the defender to just retreat. Law enforcement will understand the consequences of this self-defense move if it is limited at this stage. But if you continue to strike, kick or otherwise embattle an unconscious opponent, you too just might face legal action.

If the attacker’s is not stunned, however, there are several alternatives. First the defender can use his right foot in an axe kick to the opponent’s stomach, groin or other target.

As an alternative, the defender can also use his right foot to push the opponent’s left leg to the side (releasing his trapped leg). Still holding the attacker’s arm, the defender can then rotate his left leg clockwise over the attacker’s head to the back of his neck. If you continue this motion, the rotation puts tremendous pressure on the attacker’s shoulder and this can lead to a dislocation.

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About The Author:

Prof. Gene Roos, 10th dan Ju Jitsu, and 4th dan in judo, is a member of the Board of Directors for the America Ju Jitsu Association. He is a frequent contributor to In 1958 was awarded Shodan (Judo) and won the Regional Judo Champion. In 1958 & 1959 was Judo State Champion. His instructors include: Harold Brosious (Ketsugo), Dennis Palumbo (Hakko Ryu Ju Jitsu, 8th Dan), George Kirby, & Shizuya Sato (Ju Jitsu), Wally Jay (Small Circle Ju Jitsu), Dr. Sacharnoski (Hard Style Ju Jitsu & Ki) and Master Mochizuki (a student of Funakoshi, Kano, & Ueshiba). He is also the author of a series of upcoming books on Aiki jujitsu as well as a number of videos including: "Aiki Jujitsu" (a three video tapes series with manuals); "Deadly Attacks" (defense against 30 knife, gun, stick and empty hand attacks); "Deadly Attacks- part II" (defense against an additional 30 knife, gun and empty hand attacks); "Deadly Attacks III" and "Devastating Throws and Other Deadly Attacks " (defense against 30 advanced combat throws, knife attacks, stick, and a rear shotgun attack), For more information see:

To find more articles of interest, search on one of these keywords:

takedowns, throws, scissor throw, jujutsu, jujitsu, self defense

Read more articles by Prof. Gene Roos

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