Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a fascinating and multi-layered martial art. Since the highlight of BJJ is to score submissions, many people think that it revolves around securing the tap. While this may be true to an extent, it is only a tiny part of the sport. In fact, most matches end with no submissions.
A significant aspect of BJJ and grappling, in general, is learning how to take someone down. Today, we’ll talk about some of the most essential takedowns you should know to stay competitive on the mats.
The Critical First Step
Learning a takedown or two is absolutely essential to one’s BJJ development. John Danaher mentions securing the takedown as one of the four tenets of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. All matches start standing up, and it is up to you to find ways to take them to the ground.
Unfortunately, many BJJ practitioners don’t put enough time (some even refuse) into training takedowns. This is a mistake because you are severely limiting your offensive options. Yes, pulling guard can be an option, but it is better to know at least a couple of takedowns to round out your game.
Benefits Of Learning Takedowns
There are many benefits to learning takedowns. Perhaps the biggest one is that it helps you dictate where the match goes. Being able to take someone down at will gives you the confidence to stay aggressive as you know that you can work your game regardless of where the match goes.
Many dominant ADCC champions of yesterday and today have high-level takedowns. In fact, many wrestlers found success in ADCC primarily due to their ability to take their opponents down and grind them out. Guys like Mark Kerr, a powerful wrestler and MMA fighter, secured ADCC gold by smashing his way to the top of his weight class.
With this, it’s time to explore the most essential takedowns for BJJ.
Single Leg Takedown
The single leg takedown serves as the foundation for most takedowns you can do. This technique is where you shoot for the opponent’s leg to take them down by unbalancing their body. It is an excellent takedown for all levels, and it does not require a lot of athleticism to pull off.
In this video, BJJ world champion Andre Galvao demonstrates the details of the move. He said that a simple way to safely enter the single leg position is to use a stiff arm against the opponent’s shoulder. He explains that while the traditional way of shooting for the single leg works, you are vulnerable to front headlocks and back takes. Using the stiff arm eliminates these threats as you are at a safe distance.
A fantastic benefit of using the stiff arm is that you can grab either leg without switching stances. The stiff arm works to unbalance the opponent, thereby making their front leg light.
Andre prefers to keep the captured leg pinched between his arms because it keeps everything tight. This is especially helpful for no gi grappling where things get slippery real quick. He also likes to wrap his arms behind the knee for additional control. It is critical to stay at an angle, around 90 degrees, relative to your opponent once you get the leg.
Doing so prevents many threats, such as the front headlock and kimura trap. He shows the running the pipe variation to finish the single leg. Use your bicep to push down the leg as you pivot to the side. This is a great technique and should be one of the first takedowns you should learn.
Double Leg Takedown
The double leg takedown is a move that’s applicable in grappling and MMA. This technique is where you grab both legs and finish either by running through or finishing at an angle. The key benefit of the double leg is its simplicity – it is a very straightforward technique and can work even in the highest levels of competition.
In this video, Lachlan Giles shows his approach to the technique. He said that a common mistake many people make is that they shoot their takedowns at a downward trajectory. This is bad because your neck is vulnerable to attacks. It also makes your takedown weak as you are not using your legs to finish the move. Remember to always shoot at an upwards angle to maximize the power of the double leg.
Another important concept is that your shoulder should hit your opponent before your knee touches the mat. Also, lock your hands right around the knee area to prevent the opponent from sprawling. The last step is to lift your back leg forward as you use your head and body to push towards the side for the finish.
The last essential technique is the snap down. The snap down is a simple way of taking the opponent down on the mat. It also creates opportunities for back takes and front headlocks. The benefit of the snap down is it does not leave you open for counters; therefore, you can use it multiple times with little risk.
Nick Rodriguez shares his way of applying the snap down from a farther distance. He mentions using a push-pull sequence before the actual snap down. Establish a collar tie with your lead arm and use your support hand to control near the shoulder and armpit area.
He recommends using the push-pull sequence in a series of 3 to keep the opponent on the backfoot. This sequence is highly effective because you use the opponent’s momentum against them. It also blends perfectly with the single and double leg takedown. You can use the push-pull snap to off-balance the opponent as you look for openings for front headlocks, singles, and doubles.
These techniques will definitely make you a stronger grappler overall. Developing your takedown game is an intelligent approach to improving your Jiu-Jitsu, as many BJJ practitioners neglect this part of the game. Keep in mind that you should always be comfortable in all positions to implement your game effectively.
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