How to Do The Flying Scissor or Kani Basami in MMA & Grappling

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If you are an OG MMA fan you will remember when Ryo Chonan caught Anderson Silva with a flying scissor heel hook in Pride Shockwave 2004.

At the time, nobody has ever seen that move in action, it was a technique taken from Judo and sambo, but even judo rules prohibited competitors from using it because of its danger. So the technique stayed on the shelf for decades until it surfaced in the MMA and BJJ world again.

kani basami flying scissor

The flying scissor or Kani Basami as Judo players call it is an extremely dangerous move. The International Judo Federation has banned it from being used in competition. IBJJF also has banned the move in competition.

Why is the flying scissor so dangerous?

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Unlike other simple takedowns and throws, Kani Basami targets one knee by throwing the whole body weight on it, which can cause the ACL to blow easily. The ankle is also exposed to the same risk.

In my gym, there have been at least 3 cases of ACL injuries because of uncareful use of the flying scissor.

As an instructor, I don’t like limiting my students’ knowledge, so I try not to ban any moves for advanced students. But one thing you should be certain about, this is not a technique for beginners.

So if you are training in a gym where dangerous techniques such as Kani Basami are allowed, make sure to be extremely careful and gentle with your sparring partner.
Don’t ever use it on your sparring partner without telling them what you are going to do so they can adjust their knee and prepare it to support your weight.

Reasons to use Kani Basami

Kani Basami can be used as:

1. A takedown

This is the original use of the flying scissor. It is a high percentage takedown with very low risks of getting countered with a sprawl or a guillotine. It can also be used as a counter to the single-leg takedown -Keep reading to understand the breakdown of this counter-.

2. An entry for leg locks

The leg lock game was a lost art until it got revived by fighters like Masakazu Imanari in Pride and Palhares in the UFC.

Leg locks were considered a dirty game during the 80s and 90s in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. BJJ players would get booed if they attempt a leg lock in a competition in Brazil.

Now everybody is doing leg locks and there are BJJ experts who specialize in the leg lock game.

If you are in love with the leg lock game then Kani Basami is a technique that you should master.

It is considered as one of the best dynamic entries you can use to surprise your opponent and take their leg from under them for a heel hook, ankle lock, toe hold or kneebar.

In this video listen to Gary Tonnon himself explaining the flying heel hook technique that he did in ADCC 2019

Flying scissor as a counter to the single-leg takedown

Grapplers and MMA fighters especially in the UFC should learn from sambo and other lesser-known martial arts.

I don’t understand why in a UFC event there are the same counters to the same attacks over and over again, on the other hand, fighters in other organizations overseas such as in Russia and Asia get very creative with their counters.

Sambo expert Reilly Bodycomb explains this move perfectly.

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How:

  1. Let’s start with this situation: Your opponent shoots for a single-leg takedown, they manage to grab your leg and put it between their legs or elevate it to their hip level
  2. Now you have two choices: a) Go for a classic single-leg counter as wrestlers do and the best outcome would be to get away from the takedown b) Throw a Kani Basami at your opponent and surprise them with a takedown or a leg lock of your own
  3. If you decide to throw a Kani Basami, here is what to do: One of your legs is already in your opponent’s hands between their legs or at their hip level, so they have already done half of the job for you, now all you have to do is to throw the second leg you are standing on behind the knee of their lead leg.
  4. It is important that you throw your leg behind the knee of their lead leg, why? It will serve as a tripwire and their knee will bend once your whole weight gets on your opponent’s knee.
  5. Now apply the scissor motion: Push forward with the leg behind their knee and push backward with the leg your opponent has between their legs or at their hip level.
  6. If you want to make the move more effective make your opponent carry your weight by grabbing them with a single collar tie. A single collar tie is when you grab your opponent from the back of their neck just below the head. This will make your opponent carry your whole body weight and will prevent them from posturing up.
  7. Use your other hand as a support mechanism to stay at a right angle with your opponent. Once you are in the air your body should be completely horizontal forming a 90-degree angle with your opponent’s body.
  8. The use of the hand as a support mechanism is very important. Why? Sometimes the opponent sees the flying scissor coming and tries to back down while your body is still in the air. The hand will serve as an adjustment mechanism, you can use it to push yourself even further for a couple of inches.

Very important tip: When you are executing Kani Basami, make sure to leave no space between your groin area and your opponent’s leg or hip. You have to be glued to them if you want the technique to succeed.

There are two versions of the flying scissor

1.Two legs flying scissor

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The flying scissor can be executed in two forms, the first form is when you target both legs of your opponent. This is the most used version in judo and sambo.
This version of Kani Basami is more geared towards being a takedown than a leg lock entry.

How:

  • The first leg goes high in front of your opponent’s hips
  • The second leg goes behind both knees of your opponent. Sometimes it’s difficult to hit both knees from behind but it is mandatory to hit behind the knee of your opponent’s lead leg.

2. One leg flying scissor

This version of Kani Basami is exactly the same one Ryo Chonan used against Anderson Silva. This version is meant for leglock setups.

I personally prefer this version as it is more effective and has a high percentage of success. I recommend it to my students even if they only use it as a takedown.

Going with your whole body weight and both of your legs against one leg is the way to go, your opponent stands little to no chance to do anything against such a big force.

Always target the lead leg

When you want to go for a flying scissor don’t ever target your opponent’s rear leg, it is so far away from you and it is impossible to wrap your legs around it.

Instead, target the leg that’s next to you, their lead leg, that’s why you have to drill Kani Basamiwith both stances in order to adjust your stance according to your opponent’s stance.

How:

  • Let’s assume that your opponent is standing in an orthodox stance where their lead leg is their left leg
  • In this case, you will have to adopt a southpaw stance where your lead leg is your right leg. With you standing southpaw your body will be facing the same direction your opponent’s body is facing
  • This is a game of switching stances, so adjust your stance according to your opponent’s stance.
  • Don’t telegraph it, always hide your stance switching with a jab or a kick if you are in an MMA fight, or a single collar tie if you are doing grappling

What happens once you have taken your opponent down with the flying scissor?

Once your opponent is down you are free to do whatever you want with them, go on top if you are a ground and pound fighter or if you are top game grappler. Or go for a leg lock, and that’s what I always recommend for my students.

When you execute Kani Basami perfectly you end up in a perfect inverted heel hook position, with your opponent’s heel just under your armpit. Why would you lose such a golden opportunity?!

Make a gable grip with both hands and turn your opponent’s heel to the opposite direction -If you don’t know what a gable grip is, check my article where I talked about all kinds of grips used in grappling and MMA-.

If your opponent manages to escape the inverted heel hook, which is extremely rare and difficult you can switch to a kneebar or a toe hold.

The flying scissor is only a transition towards a finishing move like a heel hook or a kneebar, it is not the ultimate target. That is why the prerequisite of this move is to be already well rounded in leg locks.