If you’re looking for an effective takedown technique for BJJ, try looking into the Fireman Carry takedown. Why? Well, it works in wrestling and it works in Judo. That makes it Gi and No-Gi, plus applicable under any rulesets on top of the move obviously being a staple of two oly[pic level grappling sports. That’s all the pedigree you need when looking for effective moves to broaden your BJJ horizons.
What Is the Fireman’s Carry Takedown?
The Firman Carry position is one that is not just common in grappling martial arts, but also in the army and first aid circles. It is an effective way of carrying around a person’s weight without straining yourself. This automatically should put it on your radar as an effective Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu move to add to your arsenal.
The Fireman’s Carry wrestling move has you picking a person up and putting their torso along the length of your shoulders, leaving their head hanging on one side, and their legs on the other side of your body. The anchor points are usually one arm and one leg of the opponent, but as you’ll see in the variations depicted in this article, these can change according to your setup preferences.
After picking someone up in the position, which is essentially the tricky part, slamming them down is really not that difficult. there are directions that are optimal for both you and your opponent. Our step-by-step approach will ensure you understand just how easy it is to pick a grown person up on your shoulders and slam them to the ground at your convenience.
Step-by-Step Fireman’s Carry Wrestling Setup
While you might think there is shooting for the legs involved in a Fireman’s Carry throw when looking at people executing it, it is actually not true. The legs literally just happen to be in a position that helps bring attraction and direction to the throw, but the setup is all about upper body manipulation and angles.
This is why the move is easy to master – you only have to think about establishing grip and engaging one of the opponent’s arms, which is then going to open up entries and opportunities to pick them up and “run with them”. That leaves your mind to focus on just one task, as opposed to thinking about grabbing the arms while also shooting for the legs.
1. Engagement And Grips
As with every other throw and takedown, the Fireman’s Carry begins with grips and specific engagements. The initial control you need for the throw is of one of the opponent’s arms. There are different ways of gripping to set up the Fireman’s Carry wrestling takedown, but one you should avoid is the overhook, as it is going to telegraph your intentions to people that are aware of the move.
An inside biceps tie grip is common practice in wrestling and works perfectly in Jiu-Jitsu too. Gripping the triceps, Judo-style with the Gi, or directly in No-Gi is also a great alternative.
2. Creating Openings
Once you have the grip, you’re far from guaranteed a Frieman Carry throw. Entering into position to bait the opponent on top of you so you can lift them is where the magic happens.
Before you enter into a position, though, you’ll need to create a door to enter through, i.e. an opening. Elevating the arm you are controlling is the opening you’re after.
While lifting the arm directly might work against the less skilled opposition, you’ll need to play the action-reaction game against seasoned grapplers. Snapping the head down (or pretending to do so) is going to cause an upward motion of the opponent’s upper body, leaving little to do for you, as they’ll raise their arm for you, as long as you provide the correct direction.
3. Entry (Level Change)
The all-important part of any throw or takedown in grappling is entering into a position that will off-balance the opponent and allow you to execute the move in question. The entry for Fireman’s Carries is what makes them effective and attractive-looking.
It is actually much easier than it seems, once you’ve sussed out the grips and created an opening. Your aim is to get down deep underneath the opponent’s center of gravity. The entry is relatively straightforward – drop your knee between the opponent’s legs, opening up your body towards the side where you control their arm. A simple drop to both knees will do the trick.
4. Off-Balancing Your Opponent
No takedown (or sweep) will work without off-balancing an opponent first, the concept known in Judo as Kuzushi. Once you’re deep underneath the opponent, use the control you have over their arm via the grip to pull them on top of your shoulders, making them bend forward in the process.
Gravity will help you here, all you need is to drop quickly into the entry, holding on to the initial grip tightly, and the opponent will have no choice but to bend over in a last-ditch attempt to stay on their feet.
5. Controlling The Leg(s)
The one part I mentioned is not a big deal during a Fireman’s Carry takedown is controlling the legs. They are, however, helpful in giving you a direction for the throw, and helping you further off-balance the opponent.
When the knee drops in between the opponent’s legs, one arm usually sneaks in with it, opening up different controlling opportunities in terms of the legs. At the end of the day, all you need Is to grab them in order to flip the opponent over, which you can do by hugging the thigh low, right above knee level.
6. Finishing The Fireman’s Carry Takedown
The all-important finish of the Fireman’s Carry wrestling (and Judo) throw depends heavily on your understanding of which is the best direction to throw the opponent toward.
Remember that you don’t have to stand up to throw someone with Fireman’s Carry. In fact, it is much better if you remain on your knees, as you aim to topple the top person over.
There are two main directions where you can “dump” the opponent. One is to throw them to the side where their head points, which is the Judo version (a.k.a. Kata Guruma). Wrestlers often favor throwing the opponent forward, so they land in a much more precarious position that is easy to control. Ultimately, the direction is going to be a matter of choice and reading the situation and the opponent’s reactions.
Fireman’s Carry Technique Variations For BJJ
Apart from the step-by-step action described above, there are variations of the Fireman’s carry takedown you can use, depending on preferences and your own understanding of upper body tie-ups when standing.
Russian Tie Variation
The grips do not have to be either an inside biceps tie or a triceps grip. The Russian tie is an excellent way to set up a Kata Guruma. When you have the Russina tie position set up, you’ll need to circle your head inside the opponent’s trapped arm, so that you end up in a position for the Carry.
The tie-up is so powerful, though, that there’ll be no need for you to reach to control the legs. Throwing the opponent toward the direction of the head is optimal in this case.
This variation of the Fireman’s Carry position works without leg grips, which helps mitigate the dangers, however small, of the top person entangling you into a crucifix position as you’re attempting to finish the throw.
Once again, you can use the Russian tie or any of the other grip options to set everything up. When the time comes to throw the opponent over, if inertia nad the grips have not done the trick, you can use the shoulder that this in between the opponent’s legs form the level change to ensure you get an extra push to finish the takedown.
Inverted Legless Variation
Here’s a variation coming from Sambo. It starts with a collar and sleeve control on the same side. Instead of elevating the arm before dropping for a level change entry, you push it across the opponent’s body with the sleeve grip, essentially entering the Firaman Carry position from the outside of the opponent’s body rather than the inside.
Head & Legs Fireman’s Carry Variation
There is also a wrestling version of the Fireman’s Carry where you enter into the position off of a front headlock instead of any type of arm control. While it requires a bit more dexterity and precision, it does offer a much more powerful off-balancing and is perfect for setting up forward finishing carries.
One more variation that allows you to adjust a Fireman’s Carry throw on the fly is the armpit variation. In this instance, the opponent’s arm ends up underneath your armpit as they reach for inverted body lock control to try and prevent the takedown.
This means you’ve lost the initial grip on their arm, but can re-adjust by grabbing their wrist and switching the direction of the throw. Instead of trying to throw the opponent forward or to the side of their head, you’ll throw yourself backward once you load them up on your shoulders.
The Fireman’s Carry is going to change your life after you give it a try and implement it in your takedown game. After all, you can go for the same move regardless of rulesets and in both Gi and No-Gi. That is what high-percentage grappling is all about.