Some Thoughts on Takedowns in BJJ/Grappling

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I’ve been working more on my takedown skills since about a year ago.

As a consequence, I’ve been thinking a lot about takedowns. Here are some of my recent thoughts on takedowns in the context of BJJ & grappling.

  1. Hand fighting is often neglected in BJJ classes but super important.

    Hand fighting and getting into a good position play significant roles when you execute a takedown. But I sense that typical BJJ classes hardly emphasize how to hand fight and create a situation you want to be in. This is the case when it comes to guard passing as well.

    On a related note, I feel hand fighting for takedowns is equivalent of guard passing… but this one is hard to articulate for now.
  2. Use wrestling against people with Judo experience. Use Judo against people with wrestling experience.

    I’m not talking about people with high-level Judo/wrestling background, but regular folks with decent experience. I find it easier to wrestle against Judo folks and do Judo against wrestling folks. It’s probably because their behaviors are often guided by the ruleset they are used to, even when we are grappling in the BJJ/no-gi context.
  3. You actually don’t have to take your opponent down in a strict sense.

    Scoring two points for takedowns is nice (under standard BJJ rules), but it might make more sense to use takedown attempts to create openings for back attacks or other submissions.

    Of course, it’s better to learn how to take your opponent down properly, but keep in mind that you don’t necessarily need to take your opponent down in such a way that you get scores.

    Instead, you want to create opportunities for further attacks by improving your position through takedown attempts.
  4. Taking down your opponent can bring more trouble to you.

    Sometimes you end up having to deal with some tricky guard after taking your opponent down. Or even worse, you get caught in triangle choke or something along that line.

    So you have to be mindful of where you are likely to end up after taking your opponent down.
  5. The front headlock is probably the best bang-for-the-buck position.

    You can go behind and attack the back. You can set up traditional takedowns. If you just focus on getting to the front headlock, you can become decent at it.

    I remember Travis Stevens recommending the front headlock as the best position to learn for grapplers. It was a reply to a comment on his YouTube video. The comment asked Travis what would be the best takedown for grapplers to learn, and Travis mentioned the front headlock as the best option.
  6. Low single is somewhat similar to guard pulling.

    I like using low single, and it occurred to me recently that guard pulling and low single are similar because both moves require drastic level change and excellent timing. When you pull the guard, you fall back, but with low single, you fall forward.
  7. One of the most valuable concepts I learned is the “two highs & two lows” concept by Georgi Ivanov, who represented Bulgaria for freestyle wrestling in the 2016 Olympics.

    He explains this concept in his Fanatic Wrestling instructional series on hand fighting. Its basic idea is that as long as you control one “high” point and one “low” point, your opponent won’t be able to attack you successfully. This concept is so simple and easy to implement right away.
  8. The concept of wrestling up will probably become really important.

    This is when you get into a takedown position from the bottom and take your opponent down eventually by coming up on your feet. Of course, it’s not a new concept, and people have been doing it for years… but I feel that combination of wrestling and BJJ will become popular again (if I’m not mistaken, it was popular like 20 years ago).

    And it’s damn effective if you can come up on your feet and finish your sweep/takedown anyway.
  9. The ground fighting concepts you learn in BJJ can be translated into takedown skills. Some concepts are pretty straightforward, like the importance of controlling your opponent’s head and the importance of attacking from a certain angle.

Does any of these resonate with you/catch your attention? If they do, let me know what you think.