The Importance Jiu Jitsu Takedowns: 5 Basic Takedown Techniques


Okay, I’m about to tick some school owners off because they’re wrong. They’re just wrong. What are these school owners wrong about? Takedowns. They aren’t practicing takedowns. Why is this wrong? Literally every street altercation starts on the feet. If you’re competition oriented, then keep in mind every tournament starts on the feet as well. It’s amazingly useful to handle yourself on the ground. That’s the entire point of bjj, but you have to have a way of getting the fight to the ground in the first place. There are several ways to do this, but I wrestled for 5 years. Wrestling is my knowledge so I’ll cover this with what I can help with. This article will have a list of five jiu jitsu takedown techniques. They’re all basic, and they all work great once you learn to create openings for them.

I understand the concept of safety. Actually I broke my nose on 7/10/2018 trying to shoot for a takedown at the same exact time as my training partner. Coaches don’t want their team getting hurt I understand, but let me ask you something:

If the real reason why your students aren’t sparring for takedowns regularly is for safety, then why are you letting them choke and armbar each other? Dude. Coach. That’s really bad. Your students should be working from their feet regularly. If you want proof that they should be look at our team at LCCT. The people where I train go home with A LOT of hardware.

Now I wouldn’t be a loyal student if I went and told my audience all of my coaches secrets. However, one thing I’ll tell you is common sense. We spar for takedowns straight into rolling everyday. That’s just how we do it. If his necks open on the takedown hit your chokes, after the takedown roll into it.

We start on our feet and roll into it possibly more often than starting on the ground. Sure, I’ve stubbed my fingers multiple times and I busted my nose from doing this, but I’ve also broken an arm rolling on the ground before. Dangers are everywhere in BJJ. So honestly, cut the crap about “we don’t practice takedowns because of safety.” It’s just not a practical excuse guys.

The following article will focus heavily on wrestling style takedowns. Judo throws are absolutely great but they are not my forte. If you’re looking to learn some great judo there is a great online resource here. Here’s some content on the importance of takedowns for jiu jitsu:

Pulling Guard

jits art

I’m not going to start trash talking pulling guard. No, I don’t think this is practical in a street altercation, but there are some really cool guard pulls that move straight into a sweep or submission. I even like jumping guard. Let’s be honest with ourselves. Even if we’re the best wrestlers we can be, or if you have really good Judo..we are just not going to be able to take down every single opponent we come across. If you’re trying to set up your takedown and the dude is just being stubborn, he won’t engage back. He’s leaving his butt way back, so it’s time to pull guard and send him flying in the air for your sweep. There’s nothing wrong with guard pulling in bjj, but you should at least have some type of way to take your fight to the ground without giving up your top position.

Best Wrestling Takedowns – 5 Jiu Jitsu Takedow Techniques    

I LOVE wrestling. I wouldn’t have done it for five years if I didn’t. The thing I love even more about it is how adaptable it can be in the world of brazilian jiu jitsu and MMA. Granted, there’s also many aspects of wrestling that can get you hurt in BJJ, and MMA.

All the same, I’m going to focus on the positive aspects of wrestling in this post. Now, I’m not the greatest wrestler in the world, nor am I the most badass blue belt at every tournament. Nonetheless, as soon as I get a hold of a dudes leg; 95%  of the time they go to the ground.

This didn’t always happen for me though. I had to learn how to adjust my wrestling for BJJ. When I first started working with my takedowns at LCCT I would get choked out as soon as I hit the moment of leg engagement. To be 100% honest it still happens once in a while, just not anywhere near as often as it used to.

I want to help you guys. I don’t want to go to a tournament again and see another dude sit on his butt before we engage. I go to tournaments to have fun. I’m a wrestler. I find wrestling fun, but if you want me to cartweel around while you’re on your butt that’s fine with me too.I want you to get on your feet and dig your head into my cauliflower ear.

Let’s engage bro. So here’s a compiled list the best wrestling takedowns for bjj that I’ve had the most success with….if I don’t have to cartwheel or pressure pass a dude who’s scooting on his butt that is.

  1. Double Leg Takedown-Dude. My favorite to look at. Honestly if you don’t hit this thing perfectly there is a very high probability of getting choked. Even if you don’t get choked there is an even higher chance that you’re going to waste a lot of energy. This is why your set up for the takedown and your timing need to be on point. When you pull this takedown off perfectly it’s truly a beautiful sight to watch. Dude’s go flying and end up perpendicular to the mat in mid-air. I’m truly grateful I wrestled for five years because I understand several components to this takedown that the average blue belt just isn’t going to understand. It’s a classic and will always be effective in martial arts as long as you’ve put in your 10,000 hrs of practice putting this takedown on the map for yourself.
  2. Single Leg Dump- This is known to be the absolute most effective takedown in the world of folkstyle wrestling. The truth is no different in BJJ. In folkstyle wrestling it is typically taught to leave your forehead in the opponents diaphragm. You can use this to bump him back proactively making his leg lighter and easier to pick up. However, if you leave your head hanging out there too long in BJJ; he’s going to choke the crap out of you. You’re going to have to leave your head glued to his leg. This way he can’t choke you. He can only squeeze his own leg and your neck a little bit. The beautiful thing about single legs is it’s also an opening for SEVERAL more takedowns depending on how your opponent reacts. My favorite go-to takedown is one of this up next
  3. Single leg tree top- God I love this takedown. A lot of other blue belts haven’t trained a whole lot of takedowns. So when I pick up their leg nobody has taught them to “whizzer” or to put it simply grab a hold of my arm so he doesn’t fall. It’s uncomfortable for your opponent and if he starts running away from you or just won’t go down from your single leg dump it makes this takedown even easier to pull off. When it comes to me personally, I’ve had more success with this takedown than any other takedown in Jiu Jitsu. It doens’t take a whole lot of energy, your neck is safe from chokes, and single legs have the capability to connect to so many other types of takedowns. It’s extrement hard to stop.
  4. Ankle Picks/Knee Picks-Ever want to make your opponent look like an idiot? Then picks are for you. Now I’m gonna let you guys in on a little secret: have you ever heard a coach tell you to NEVER collar tie with your opponent? He’s wrong. It depends on what type of stand up guy you are. There is an entire world of takedowns you can set up with a collar tie. If your opponent engages back with a collar tie and is stronger than you don’t worry. It’s extremely easy to separate yourself from this tie up if you know what you’re doing.

Step 1: Frame with a collar tie. Make your opponent think it’s safe to shoot. In the picture I’m pointing to the ankle that will end up in front. I’m baiting my opponent with my front leg.Step 2: Opponent took his shot and you successfully framed with a collar tie to stop it. Grab either the knee of the ankle. Push with the hand that’s framing with the collar tie and pull the ankle toward yourself. In the picture I’m picking at the knee. It’s up to you what the preference is. Knee’s take a tad more strength, but if you time it well both ways should require 0 effort. It’s all timing.

Step 3.) To be honest the picture could look better. When you hit this takedown live your opponent should be immediately flattened out. You push the head and circle around to side control.

Step 4: Make sure the camera capture’s your handsome face. Have a broken nose in this picture. Coach says it’s a good look for me.

The Importance of Getting the Fight to the Ground

I didn’t even realize how many takedowns I had in my arsenal until I started writing this article. Wow. I could literally list about 10 more and that’s just a few that are in my go-to game. Learning takedowns is something I started learning at a young age. They can be sparred for and practiced safely.

As for the professors out there who don’t practice takedowns at their schools. First of all, Oss. Second of all, if you care about your students you need to make a change. I understand you think you’re keeping your students safe but you’re doing the opposite.

More and more MMA guys are stepping into BJJ tournaments now. More and more BJJ schools are starting to practice takedowns again. You’re not keeping them safe by keeping them away from this part of the game. What you’re doing is sending them into a gun fight with a knife. I literally just recently watched a guy bust open his knee cap at a fight 2 win pro match because he was all tensed up with his opponent on his feet: not shooting, not changing levels, not really moving much at all.

As soon as his opponent pushed him and snapped him, his whole dang knee cap poppped out. Pulling guard is great but it’s not always the best time to pull guard. Students need a mix of “when to do what when.” Whether it’s teaching them more judo, or it’s wrestling I don’t care. I’m just telling you guys it’s important.

It’s important for all belt levels including white belts. If there was no safe way to spar this way: highschool wrestling rooms wouldn’t be filled with young kids pounding the crap out of each other from their feet in a room filled with 100 other kids all doing the same thing simultaneously. Period.

There’s dangers in this martial art and we have to accept it, we just need to not run into each other on the mat. The less knowledge you have the more in danger you actually are. Happy rolling guys. Send some dudes flying, and thanks for reading!

Feel free to leave some comments on what your favorite takedowns are! Let’s have a discussion! Feel Free to like, and share. Sharing is caring!


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Jonathan Schalberg

I'm Jonathan. I've trained BJJ for 4 years and I wrestled for 5. I want to share my passion for this martial art and also help you guys sift through the crap and avoid the jiu jitsu junk and get the good bjj gear you desire. I will be doing reviews on products that I think are good and companies who are trustworthy so you guys don't get ripped off again.

8 thoughts on “The Importance Jiu Jitsu Takedowns: 5 Basic Takedown Techniques

  • July 31, 2018 at 2:11 am

    Great article. Having come from a wrestling, judo, and Kodokan Jujitsu background, I always wondered why BJJ chose to abandon such a rich history of takedowns. Maybe it’s injuries, but it also is a search for identity. I won my world title with the IJJf (predating IBJJF, and IFJJ), and the BJJ movement was, in part, to spend less time with tachiwaza and more in newaza. BJJ eliminates time limits on the ground, and significantly slowed the games down, which made for more technical ground fighting, but a less exciting match for common fans. Rulesets like FICW, or combat wrestling, make for a great genesis of styles, with champions in the USA and world from Judo, Wrestling, sambo, Jujitsu and BJJ. It’s all about being a complete grappler, and takedowns should be given equal time in the game. Thanks! Good article!

    • July 31, 2018 at 2:20 am

      I completely agree, and wow that’s a lot of great information about other grappling styles. Thanks for your input. I do think that schools started shying away from takedowns because of injuries, but these can be practiced safely. At LCCT we spar for takedowns pretty much every class. If we don’t do that then we spend time drilling takedowns before we start the ground portion of class. Injuries have rarely happened, however I did break my nose a few weeks ago shooting at the same time as my training partner lol.
      More schools definitely need to make use of takedowns. I don’t know why so many completely ignore that part of the game now. Nothing is worse than going to a superfight and watching two guys tense up on the stage and the fight never goes to the ground. At that point it’s no longer jiu jitsu.

  • July 31, 2018 at 7:02 pm

    I agree that it makes sense that you should train on your feet since like you said most fights do begin with you standing.

    However if there worried about safety maybe have something softer underneath the people, or use more padding?

    Either way it’s a dangerous sport and whether or practicing wresting or take downs it seems there’s going be risk no matter what.

    • July 31, 2018 at 10:35 pm

      Yes, this is true. There are some mats that are more stiff than normal the ones I have at my gym. Some mats that are going to hurt more when you fall to it. Funnily enough. I usually find those mats at the competitions themselves!

      There are also techniques like break falls and knowing exactly what to do the second you hit the mat. Also what “not to do” really matters because if you post your arm out mid fall there’s a good chance you’re going to hurt your elbow or shoulder.

  • August 1, 2018 at 11:11 pm

    Great article. I trained at a mixed school dojo. We were taught bits and pieces from several disciplines: karate, bjj, Taekwondo, Muay Thai, etc…safety was always a big thing. He would say that you might start on your feet, but will end up on the ground. So it was important you know both parts.

    In the military we practice takedowns, because we know where we will end up. So I agree with you that safety is important, but on the street, its about survival and you need to know how to survive.

    • August 1, 2018 at 11:40 pm

      Completely Agree! On the street it is 100% about survival. I’m a big supporter of other martial arts as well but clearly Jiu Jitsu is my favorite lol. Thanks for reading!

  • August 5, 2018 at 11:42 am

    Hi Jonathan, Great article, I started doing kung fu red boat a while back and was learning a lot of wrestling moves, which were great, including how to take down opponents from standing.
    It is really hard work, but it is amazing how many different techniques you can use to take an opponent down.
    What belt are you at the moment? Thanks for sharing some great techniques.

    • August 7, 2018 at 1:07 pm

      I’ve been training for 4 years. I wrestled for 5. I’m a blue belts at BJJ. It’s been an amazing journey and there is truly nothing else like it.


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