Add These Four Takedowns to your Game Right Now
One trend you will notice among the most elite grapplers in the world is that they all have a strong wrestling skillset, even the ones with no previous wrestling experience. Even grapplers who almost play guard entirely have a strong stand up game. So in order to become a great grappler, its necessary to develop some sort of baseline takedown game that is competent enough to at least prevent oneself from getting taken down.
If you are a grappler that also prefers the top game such as passing guard, you absolutely have to develop a great wrestling game. You may get away without some good takedowns against guard pullers, but what about when you are contending with an opponent that likes the top game as well?
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More so, another reason to have a good stand up skill set is that by properly executing certain takedowns, we can end up in side control or mount straight from a stand-up exchange and avoid having to deal with guards.
Unfortunately, many grapplers still ignore this element of Jiu Jitsu. Some students feel like wrestling isn’t necessary, which is silly because wrestling is clearly grappling. Others feel like wrestling is a waste since you can always just pull guard, which is clearly wrong since you shouldn’t pull guard in a self-defense scenario or MMA match.
When looking at the different kinds of takedowns that can be used in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, you will immediately notice the differences between judo-style and wrestling takedowns. In judo, the primary emphasis is on throws and trips. In wrestling, the most common style of takedowns are double legs and single legs. In order to be good at Brazilian Jiu Jitsu stand up, its best to learn elements of both wrestling and judo.
An issue grapplers face have to deal with when trying to take down an opponent is excessive defensiveness. The grapplers that are most defensive tend to be bigger grapplers that prefer the top position, which makes it even more difficult. Learning how to wrestle with these grapplers requires the attacker to understand proper weight distribution.
When looking to determine what the best takedowns for Jiu Jitsu are we are looking for a few attributes. The first is how well a takedown works in terms of efficacy and efficiency. The second thing we look for is where we might end up if a takedown fails. Since grappling does not stop after the takedown in Jiu Jitsu, we don’t want to end up in turtle or worse after a failed takedown attempt.
Countering the Collar Tie
If you have ever been in a wrestling exchange in Jiu Jitsu, you might have ended up in a collar tie. The collar tie is grip used in a wrestling clinch that is extremely powerful. Although it is really just a clinch, its use and efficacy can make it seem like a position on its own.
The collar tie works by breaking your opponent’s posture. Done correctly, it allows the person utilizing it to set up a wide variety of takedowns, hence its popularity. The collar tie can also be used defensively to slow down one’s opponent and even completely stop a takedown.
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Because the collar tie is so powerful, every single grappler uses it, even grapplers that never learned it. Defending against the collar tie can be exhausting. The most common reaction people have against a collar tie is setting up their own collar tie. This can lead to a battle of grips that can be difficult to win.
In the following video, four-time NCAA wrestling champion Logan Steiber shows a slick takedown you can setup when you get stuck in a collar tie. See below:
People that utilize the collar tie frequently tend to be stubborn about it and reluctant to let it go once they set up. As we know from Jiu Jitsu, trying to force certain techniques can be a bad idea if the defender knows how to appropriately counter it.
To set up the collar tie counter, your opponent should be moving forward. When someone has a collar tie, they tend to either pull back and push forward alternatingly. Once you feel them moving forward, you can proceed to set this move up.
Uchi Mata Takedown by Satoshi Ishii
Satoshi Ishii, Japanese mixed martial artist and winner of the 2008 Olympics in judo, is a master of combining judo and Jiu Jitsu. In the following video, Satoshi will illustrate the uchi mata takedown. You can use this takedown effectively when dealing with very defensive grapplers. See below:
If you are too hesitant when attacking an uchi mata, the defender will defend with a single leg, which can make the uchi mata very difficult to finish, although it is still possible. Because of this, it is important to be confident in your attacks. The best way to develop this confidence is with a lot of practice and use in the academy.
Without properly learning this takedown, one might think that in order to finish it, you have to throw your opponent a lot. Rather, the correct way to finish the uchi mata is by rotating a lot. You can couple your uchi mata attacks by combining it with either a leg scissor takedown or forward roll like Garry Tonon does depending on what the defender does.
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Single Leg Takedown
One of the most popular wrestling takedowns that is utilized in Jiu Jitsu is the single leg takedown. The reason this takedown transitions to Jiu Jitsu so well is that its versatile. The many options of the single leg are perfect for the unique scenarios that we end up in during a Jiu Jitsu match.
Because takedowns aren’t the end-be-all in Jiu Jitsu, it’s important to use techniques that won’t lead us to bad positions if they fail. Preferably, you want to use takedowns that result in the same starting position or better if they fail.
The single leg takedown is a move that is versatile, effective, and very low risk compared to other takedowns one can use. If a single leg fails, you usually just end up separating from your opponent rather than getting sprawled on.
In the following video, Bekzod Abdurakhmnovov illustrate a quick and simple single leg takedown from the collar tie. Bekzod is an Uzbekistan wrestler and fighter with international acclaim. See below:
If you have ever seen an ankle pick, you might recognize how similar this set up is. The reason the ankle pick is great is because of its low-risk nature. If we transfer that low level of risk to the single leg, we can make it an even better takedown.
Furthermore, Bekzod goes on to explain that her prefers a low grip on the leg rather than the traditional grip on the thigh and hamstring you get with the classic single leg. The reason he does this is to prevent the defender’s arm from sneaking in, which Jiu Jitsu practitioners do a lot.
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Cool Variation on the Ankle Pick
Other than incorporating elements of Judo and wrestling to your takedown game, you also want to utilize different kinds of takedowns in regards to their power and speed. The double leg, which is a powerful, driving, technique contrasts with the ankle pick, which is quick and sneaky.
As I mentioned in the previous section, the ankle pick is one of the safest takedowns you can use in Jiu Jitsu. Furthermore, it is also one of the coolest and most effective takedowns as well, which is why you see a lot grapplers get good at it.
The ankle pick can be done both gi and no-gi really well. Other takedowns tend to only work most in one style, which is limiting. The ankle pick became very popular after Gui Mendes used it to take down some of the greatest grapplers in the world with ease. Due to its popularity, however, every grappler is now very wary of it.
There are many different ways to attack the ankle pick, but the one that works best in Jiu Jitsu is the inverted ankle pick. This is because we can utilize grips that don’t exist in wrestling like sleeve and lapel grips. In the follow video, Hudson Taylor, an instructor at Marcelo Garcia’s academy, shows us how to execute this technique:
The ankle pick needs to be done quickly so as to surprise our opponents. If done slowly, the defender will easily see it coming and step back. In order to develop the speed needed to attack this, it needs to first be drilled to perfection while progressively doing it faster and faster.
I hope you enjoyed this piece. If you are a new student, you might be hesistant to try takedowns, but at one point or another, you need to try. You might also be a blue or purple belt that wants to expand their game to include effective takedowns, and I think the four mentioned above are easy ones to add to your game.
You might also be a grappler that is doubtful of the need to be good at takedowns. Even if you don’t wrestle often, theres always a chance you end up in a tied match where you are standing, and you need to get a takedown to win. Also, you could end up in a self-defense situation where you have to takedown an aggressor. All in all, takedowns are just as much a part of Jiu Jitsu as guard is, and so to be a true martial artist, you have to practice all the elements.