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Are You Familiar with These Three Important Takedowns? Let Travis Stevens Bring You Up to Speed!

Are You Familiar with These Three Important Takedowns? Let Travis Stevens Bring You Up to Speed!


Takedowns! Maybe the strongest part of your game if you have prior wrestling or judo experience.

Or quite possibly the bane of your existence if you don’t.

Choosing from the thousands of options to take our partner down at the beginning of a match is exhausting. Where do you start? We will obviously gravitate to different styles of takedowns and change up our game as the years go by, but it's nice to have a set of go to techniques that we can always refer to.

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When developing your game on the feet, do you tend to take on too much information? I’ve always had this problem. There are so many different contingencies where getting your partner to the ground is concerned, that we seem to obsess over every possible scenario and we attempt to provide an answer for all of them. This leads to confusion, and little success.

If you don’t have an enormous repertoire of takedowns from prior experience, I’ve always found it best to focus on just a couple. If you continue to implement them over and over again, and learn how and why they work, you will develop a solid game and begin to create your own contingencies for each unique situation.

Travis Stevens has some ideas for you. In this video he takes us through three take downs that he feels everyone should know. These are performed in a no gi setting, and look to be highly effective! Have a look at this!

The first technique is a collar tie to a back take. This is the perfect set up for an effective transition that gets us behind our partner.

Stevens begins with a collar tie and his lead leg forward. His wrist is being controlled by his partner, and this is the ideal scenario to bring this technique to life. Steven steps his trailing leg in between his partner’s feet and lifts his controlled wrist upward, creating room for his head to enter under his partners arm. He rotates toward the back, hugging the waste, and then weaves his front leg over his partners near leg and behind his far leg. Stevens then sits, while pulling his partner toward him, and with a small escape of the hips is able to secure the back.


  • Be sure that your collar tie is opposite of your partner’s lead leg.
  • Your partner must be controlling your wrist for this move to be successful.
  • Keep your head up as you complete the duck under so you can hold the space you need to transition, avoid the guillotine, and break your partner’s grip.

As Stevens states, with our partner controlling our wrist, it’s much easier for us to manipulate their arm. I hit this a few times in live training by feeding my wrist to my partner, and it felt great. Be sure to keep your posture in mind as you enter the space under the arm, and begin to rotate to the back. If you miss weaving the leg through for the back take, you’ve still secured a very favorable position over your opponent where you can lock the body, and explore other options as well.

Let’s move on to the next technique. This particular take down employs a Russian tie, and an ankle pick. Beginning in the same closed stance where both Stevens and his partner have their right legs forward, Steven’s partner posts on his head using his left hand. Using his left hand, Stevens sheds the grip, adds another grip near his partners armpit and secures his Russian tie. Note that has cupping the arm with both of his hands cupping the underside of the arm, like he’s carrying something very heavy.

With his lead leg, Stevens steps in between his partner’s base, and hooks his partner’s front leg. As he sets the hook, he steps forward with his trailing leg and pushes his partner off balance, causing him to lift his front leg. As this occurs, Stevens can easily scoop up his partners foot and feed it in to a straight ankle lock style grip. His other hand will now cover his partners knee, as he backs up in a circular motion bringing his partner down to the mat.


  • When securing the Russian tie, Stevens makes sure his thumb and upper grip are deep in the armpit for maximum control. At the other end of the arm, Stevens keeps his partners wrist (thumb up) tightly compressed to his chest. This Gives Stevens excellent control over the limb, and allows him to effectively move his partner and set the trap for the take down.
  • If your partner changes their stance don’t panic. They’ve just given you a single leg opportunity. Simply lift your Russian tie, drop your hips down, and look to scoop up the single leg.

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  • Be sure to get your partner moving backwards when you’ve decided it’s time to pick up the leg. Stevens places greater importance on this idea than the footwork itself. As your partner moves backwards the front foot will become more accessible to scoop.

Rounding out this series is the arm drag to a double leg takedown. I absolutely love the arm drag in any scenario, so I was particularly excited to see Stevens version of the technique. He begins by securing a tight grip on his partner’s wrist. In this case Stevens is gripping his partner’s right wrist with his left hand. Stevens then looks to reach into arm drag territory and cups the underside of his partner’s arm, while simultaneously pushing down on the grip he has acquired on his partners wrist. As he drags the arm across his body, the space he needs to take a shot opens up.

For the finish, Stevens steps in between his partners legs with his lead leg and connects his head to his partner back. He makes cupping grips on the back of his partners knees, securing the legs. He then uses his head to begin to begin forcing his partner to load his weight onto his left leg. This causes his right leg to come up off of the ground. I love the footwork detail here. Notice how Stevens steps his trailing leg in to meet the lead leg, and the then steps to the outside with the lead leg. He continues to lift the close leg and chops the far leg as he runs his partner down and takes the exchange to the floor.


  • At the completion of a good arm drag, we shouldn’t be touching our partner. Aim to drag the arm across the body and open up good access to shot.
  • Be careful to abandon the arm drag after you’ve done the job. As Stevens suggests, were just looking for a quick snap to get the arm out of our path. Hanging on to the arm for too long after you’ve used the technique can result in a re drag from your partner, and can leave your back exposed.
  • At the completion of the takedown, make sure your lead leg clears to the outside of your partner's leg. Don’t leave it in the middle, as it will hinder your ability to complete a strong finish.

There some great themes here, and these techniques are very applicable. Each one of these take downs can be applied by players at any level with some practice. They also provide lots of secondary options that will present themselves unprompted just by giving these a try. Great stuff here from one of the greatest grapplers of our time. Enjoy!

Keep things fresh by adding new elements to your BJJ game or shoring up the Fundamentals and Concepts that you need to be successful.  Check out Travis Stevens' great resource Fundamentals and Concepts that will help deepen your understanding of jiu jitsu.  You can get it here at BJJ Fanatics!





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