A sweep can be defined as using your leg/foot to take out your opponent’s leg from under them. They have a variety of applications. For example, they can be used to take an opponent to the floor, or simply to disrupt an opponent’s balance to create an opening. They can attack either the opponents front or back leg and can come from the front, side or even rear of your opponent. In almost all cases, the sweep alone will not end the fight. It is important to practice follow-up techniques to finish an opponent or you may find that your nicely executed sweep did little more than disrupt your opponent’s balance for a second or two.
Equally as important as following up, is setting up your sweep. The ideal time to sweep an opponent is when they are in motion, shifting their weight from one leg to another. Because of this, timing is extremely important when sweeping an opponent. A poorly timed sweep will leave you standing on one leg while your opponent is comfortable rooted in a fighting stance. It is also possible to force your opponent to shift their weight thereby creating your opportunity to attack. Please see the below video for various methods of execution as well as demonstration.
In this video, Nate Scarano provides some short instruction on executing sweeps followed by many real life examples of execution.
In this series of four videos, the sweep is dissected, analyzed and explained from many different points of attack.