Every grappling martial art is unique from each other. A common distinction is that some grappling martial arts, like BJJ and Judo, use a gi, whereas others do not. This fundamental distinction affects how grapplers approach matches and how techniques are performed.
What separates BJJ is its reliance on attacking using the gi with the additional utility that the lapel and collar offer, convenience sides with choking techniques, and especially with sweeps and takedowns. Today, we will talk about one of the best and most reliable takedowns for BJJ, the collar drag.
The Collar Drag
Kuzushi (in Japanese) – is a term commonly used by John Danaher to off-balance opponents. All BJJ matches start from the standup; while it is not illegal to some ruleset, grapplers can directly go to the ground and pull guard. It relates to why wrestle-up is prevalent in the BJJ meta nowadays, as takedowns and sweeps can be so versatile that they allow you to take the top position from disadvantageous positions.
You can perform the collar drag in the standup (as a takedown) and on the ground (as a sweep). It is a simple yet highly effective technique to swiftly reverse your position when playing guard to come on top. By getting a cross-collar grip and blocking the opponent’s far leg while maintaining distance, you can drag them down to the mat as you move your hips forward.
The cross-collar grip allows you to pull opponents to the side, giving you a rotational motion while disrupting their balance. Doing this will enable you to take the opponent’s back, wrestle up, sweep, or enter leg entanglements by forcing the opponent to put their leg up.
How To Perform The Collar Drag
The collar drag is easy to learn and doesn’t rely on strength as it uses your body weight to pull the opponent. It is a low-risk and high-reward move as the opponent lands on your side, which is enough for you to see their back. As John Danaher said, if you can see the back, you can take the back.
The collar drag works similarly to the arm drag. Usually, an excellent way to set it up from standing is by getting the same side sleeve grip and using your other hand to apply a cross-collar grip (your right hand gripping the opponent’s left collar). Pull your arm back to your hip with your cross-collar grip and throw the other arm (same side grip) over your head. As you pull, move your body to the side while your right foot blocks the opponent’s right foot.
The Collar Drag Sweep
Here are some details to help you become more successful with the collar drag sweep from the seated guard.
When grabbing the opponent with a cross collar grip, pinch between your fingers and your thumb, and rotate the opponent’s collar in to make a handle to hide the ball of your thumb. Doing this will make it difficult for the opponent to break the grip and make them commit to breaking the grip, giving you time to attempt the sweep.
As the opponent starts grabbing your cross collar hand to break the grip, you can base to the side with your free hand and shift your hips as you step on their knee to block them. This allows you to drag and shift the opponent’s weight forward, forcing them to post their hands on the mat. From this position, a common reaction is to take the opponent’s back. But as you perform this technique against experienced grapplers, they’ll realize their alignment is broken and will most likely try to regain a solid posture.
Assuming that you’ve posted your right foot on the opponent’s right knee for the sweep, an experienced opponent will likely post their left leg up the mat to prevent the off-balancing and to use their knee as a shield to hide from the back attack. Grab the opponent’s left leg rather than reaching for the back and go for a single leg.
Post your head on the opponent’s left shoulder as you do the single leg while maintaining the cross-collar grip. This will force the opponent to keep their weight posted on their right hand. From this, withdraw from posting your right foot on the opponent’s right knee and perform a technical standup while driving your head forward on their shoulder and keeping the cross collar grip. Driving forward lets you pass the guard in one motion and land on side control. This is because you’ve controlled the opponent’s shoulder and leg, both levers to the hip.
Collar Drag Duck Under Takedown
From the stand-up with you and the opponent having equal grips (you gripping the opponent’s right collar with your right hand, and your left hand grabs the opponent’s left tricep), start by anticipating the opponent’s feet from moving forward by stepping back and pulling their collar. As you force the opponent to step forward by pulling their collar, lift their left arm above laterally with your tricep grip and trap their left leg using the S-mount tripping position from your right leg.
As you pull their collar and lift their arm, quickly duck your head under their left arm and change level as you trip their left leg with your right leg. This lands you in a controlling position, allowing you to wrestle up and come on top. Doing this takedown requires quickness, timing, and precision as the opponent is forced to take a step forward from the collar drag.
The key with this duck under takedown variation is to go underneath the opponent’s left arm. You must do so to avoid landing on your back and half-guard, a vulnerable position, as the opponent can smash your guard and pass.
The collar drag is an efficient and one of the easiest takedowns to learn in BJJ. Mixing it with other throws like the Osoto Gari, Seoi Nage, and takedowns like the single leg can be a solid way to build your takedown arsenal. Keep drilling, and you will soon effortlessly drag your opponents to the mat!
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