One of the reasons why Jiu Jitsu remains the dominant grappling art is the tendency to evolve. BJJ doesn’t stop at some imaginary border, claiming it is a complete art. It has developed significantly since it’s conception, encouraging experimentation along the way. Moreover, Jiu-Jitsu turns to other arts in departments where it lacks in original techniques. One very important aspect where this approach has paid off immensely is the top game. Takedowns for BJJ have been modified over the years, but in essence, they originate from other arts.
Despite its unparalleled ground fighting prowess, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu never got too creative on the feet. Essentially, this is in part due to the fact that there are martial arts specializing in such positions. So, borrowing and modifying from them is a logical and understandable step. Furthermore, this “borrowing” approach results in a careful selection of those techniques that actually work best. Many martial arts tend to get caught up the tradition, staying loyal to a curriculum that contains very ineffective moves. In the department of throws and takedowns for BJJ, thankfully, these techniques are few and far apart.
Wrestling Takedowns for BJJ
When talking about dominance in the standing engagements, wrestling is a clear top contender. Wrestling’s expertise in clinch fighting and takedown setups is by far superior to every other grappling art. However, since many aspects of wrestling as a sport differ from BJJ, not every move is applicable. Here, we bring you a selection of the highest percentage wrestling takedowns for BJJ.
The Double Leg Takedown
The double leg takedown is the king of takedowns. Effective in wrestling, MMA, BJJ and every grappling situation available. It is a staple of the sport of wrestling and is tailor-made for BJJ.
Initially, the double leg takedown requires a level change and specific shooting movement with the legs. Next, proper positioning has to be acquired before continuing with the move. Head on the outside, straight back and arms placed around the knees and driving shoulder pressure in the opponent’s abdomen are the cornerstones of the position. To finish, a grappler should drive forward while turning slightly to obtain a dominant angle. It usually leads to top side control or the opponent’s guard.
The Single Leg Takedown
The Single leg is closely related to the double leg and can be interchanged with it. For this takedown, it is crucial to keep the head on the inside while controlling their leg between yours. “Running the pipe”, or stepping back in a circular fashion completes the technique. The outcome is generally top half guard.
The Ankle Pick
This is a personal favorite of mine, playing directly into a BJJ game. While utilizing a lapel grip on one side, the goal is to create an angle to place a second grip on the opponent’s front leg ankle. Finishing the moves can be done both forward and backward, most often ending up in top side control or a leg drag position. The best bet is to pair it with a fake guard pull.
Upper Body Tie-Ups
The clinch game in wrestling is a very rich one and only certain aspects of it are very effective in BJJ. Among the best, few are the Arm Drag, Russian Tie, Snap-down and Body Lock Takedown. They combine perfectly among themselves or whit other takedowns fro a complete stand-up game.
Judo Throws For BJJ
Judo has a greater contribution to the throws department compared to takedowns for BJJ. This Japanese art is based around manipulating the upper body with strong grips while setting up vicious sweeps or throws. While undoubtedly effective, Judo’s traditional background has made it fairly one directional, limiting the expansion of the art. The legs cannot be grabbed by the arms under Judo rules, restricting the art to certain throws. On the other hand, this kind of restrictions has resulted in a high level of specialization in throwing techniques.
Note that the point of a Judo match is an Ippon and not ground fighting. So, in BJJ, people often utilize techniques like the foot sweeps, collar takedowns and “under armpit” throws in order to get a throw without a risk of getting entangled in ground positions and giving up their back like ending up in Kesa Gatame position.
Since both Judo and BJJ utilize the use of a GI, the heavy grips use of Judo translates perfectly to Jiu Jitsu. Upper body control via lapel and/or sleeve grips is emphasized in Judo, especially with foot sweeps. Foot sweeps are a huge category and only a couple are enough for BJJ.
Uchi Mata / O Goshi
The Uchi Mata is the quintessential Judo throw. It’s devastating when done right and very applicable to BJJ. On the downside, it has a big learning curve and takes time to master. For a more basic and quickly attainable move, give the O Goshi a try. Just be careful not to show to0 much of your back to the opponent. This is the main reason why throws like the Drop Seio Nage are dangerous for BJJ.
Sumi Gaeshi / Tomoe Nage
Going underneath an opponent is very useful and can surprise even top quality opponents. The Sumi Gaeshi and Tomoe Nage are similar in nature but done under slightly different circumstances. The Sumi Gaeshi is an offensive move, while the Tomoe Nage is best utilized reactively, as a counter to a Single Leg Takedown. As far as BJJ throws go, they’re a must-have for your arsenal.
Drop Seoi Nage
Drop Seo Nage is one the throws that work very well in BJJ. It’s an advanced throw of Seoi Nage, a shoulder throw. One of the traditional 40 throws of Judo developed by Jigoro Kano. You can check the video below of Travis Stevens showing how to execute it.
Sambo Rolls For BJJ
While Sambo is not original in terms of takedown techniques, it is undoubtedly effective. Most of the moves used in Sambo are also borrowed from Judo or Wrestling, but there is some innovation included. Sambo’s heavy leg locking focus has provided innovative opportunities of getting to the ground.
The Victor Roll is one of the best takedowns for BJJ, provided it is done right. It is a fairly complicated move to master, but it leads directly into a powerful submission. Despite being very similar to Judo throws, it does include grabbing of the legs, which is a no-go in sports Judo. The end result, when done correctly, is a powerful kneebar. Useful, right?
A Sprinkle Of Originality
Seeing how BJJ is the ultimate ground fighting system, it has developed original ways to end up there. Opposed to the carefully selected arsenal of borrowed moves, BJJ has an original takedown approach. Well, sort of.
Despite being seen as a cheating move in stand-up terms, pulling guard is nothing if not effective. The point of takedowns for BJJ is to take the fight to the ground. Well, pulling guard does just that, albeit in a reverse position. However, since BJJ is as effective (if not more) from the bottom as it is from the top, it is a legit way to get to the ground. After all, everyone looks to play to their strengths, so why not take the most direct route to your favorite position?
Josh Barnett on Starting Rolls On The Knees: “It’s Useless”
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