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First Time Competitors and the Fear of the Take Down Game: Don’t be Scared, Be Prepared!
Face your take down fears and gain the benefits
One of the most common fears of the first-time competitor is the take down game. Unless you were previously exposed to wrestling or some other form of take down art, the prospect of having to have an entire game from the feet as well as the ground can be overwhelming and a little bit scary.
You’re not alone. The ground is such a large part of BJJ, and when we train live our time on our feet is usually somewhat brief. So were not gaining that crucial experience like we are from the constant combat we experience on the ground. In order to become proficient on the feet, or at least gain an understanding you’ll need to implement some focused training.
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Like the ground in BJJ, the game from the feet can be quite extensive. You’ll find yourself down a rabbit hole of information and conflicting opinions if you’re not careful. At first, you’ll want to drown out the noise and keep things simple.
I would suggest learning some basic wrestling skills first. And by basic, I mean basic. Start with the fundamentals, and build from there. Here are a couple things to focus on that will help you get started.
- Learn a basic wrestling stance and movement. Simple ideas such as not crossing your feet while moving, and learning to track your opponent’s movement can be very helpful.
- Learn how to do a penetration step. Many of the takedowns you’ll encounter in wrestling will begin with a good penetration step. This will be essential in closing the gap between you and your partner and gaining the leverage necessary to bring a takedown to fruition. Here’s a simple breakdown of a wrestling stance and a penetration step. Check it out!
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- Learn 1-3 simple take downs that you can drill incessantly. I would suggest a single leg to start. I feel the single lends itself best to a BJJ scenario. Here’s a nice single leg adapted for BJJ. Give it a look.
- Learn how to navigate tying up. When we engage on the feet we need to know how to move our partner and control the scenario. This calls for learning how to pummel, duck under, arm drag, and so forth. Gain an understanding of what happens when you connect with your opponent. Eli Knight gives a good set of pummeling drills here!
- Learn to sprawl. We’ll have to know how to defend an incoming attack as well. A good sprawl can get you out of a lot of trouble, and create opportunities for some offense as well. Here’s a quick lesson on how to sprawl. Check it out!
Remember, the key to reducing your anxiety is preparation. If take downs are a source of anxiety for you, make time to give them some attention. You don’t have to be an Olympic wrestler to be successful on the feet in BJJ. Learn some basic principles, ask your Professor for some guidance, and get a friend on board to help you along the way. Keep it simple! Get to work!
Having additional resources to give you techniques to work on can be beneficial. One of the best take down resources at BJJ Fanatics is Hudson Taylor's Wrestling for BJJ available in DVD or On Demand formats. You can get it here!