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5 Best BJJ Takedowns – A Scientific Beginner’s Guide to Takedowns

Basic Jiu Jitsu Takedowns

Takedowns for BJJ are often something beginners struggle with – especially if they have no prior experience with stand up grappling martial arts like wrestling in judo. So in this post we try to breakdown the basic jiu jitsu takedowns so you can focus on only the best and most effective takedowns.

Please note that these statistics were taken from my own competition record where I have competed 37 times, and the include amount of times that I hit these six takedowns successfully

Once your opponent is down on the ground, they are unable to generate as much force in their movements which limits their ability to more easily defend and attack

Ultimately, if you are new to bjj and wrestling then this post is for you.

What Are Basic Jiu Jitsu Takedowns You Should Know

The basic jiu jitsu takedowns are that you should know are single leg takedowns and double leg takedowns. From my own training the highest percentage setups being from snap downs and arm drags or from a distance with no setup or a fake head grab.

These statistics were taken from observing a week of all the wrestling classes that my gym offers (4 wrestling classes total).

During these classes, I made note of the specific setups and takedowns that were hit successfully by the trainees.

With these details in mind it is important to focus on learning both single leg and double leg takedowns. While achieving these takedowns is definitely possible and highly successfully (as observed from the graph above), it is important to focus on use proper setups like arm drags or snap downs.

Achieving these takedowns without a setup relies more on your athletic ability in terms of if you can reach your partner’s legs before they sprawl or defend.

Using proper wrestling setups enable you to rely more on technique instead of speed or strength which is what Brazilian jiu jitsu is all about.

These techniques have few details to remember making it easy to remember and master. 

But keep in mind that it may take time for you to finally grasp the concept, but what is important is that you try and keep learning. 

Tips to learn takedowns:

  • drill your takedowns (they require more drilling than your average bjj techniques
  • practice them with some resistance with a training partner your trust
  • begin to incorporate them into your live training slowly by choosing one takedown to work each class

 Double Leg Takedown

Double leg takedown involves grabbing your opponent and wrapping both arms on their legs while making sure that your chest is close enough for you to be able to apply force to bring them down to the ground.

A good start for first learning the double leg takedown is by either:

  • first, learning to wrestle up to a double leg from the seated position
    • this will teach the mechanics of the movement without the risk of shooting from your feet
  • second, learn to effectively snap your opponent down then enter into your double leg takdown
    • a snap down is used like a jab in boxing, you should frequently be snapping your opponent down as well as faking shots

I listed down some of the key pointers to keep in mind to make sure you have an effective double leg takedown: 

  1. Squeeze your opponents knees together by wrapping your arms just below their but, this will make it easier to control their hips and keep them with a narrow base
  1. Position before execution is very important, make sure that one shoulder is by their hip and one of your legs’ in between theirs. 
  1. Watch out for guillotine choke! Double leg takedown position can make you susceptible to this attack, so always make sure you have your defense ready by keeping your forehead or temple pinned just below your opponent’s chest

Check out this video on how to shoot the perfect double leg take down.

Single Leg Takedown

Single leg takedown is the most popular and most used especially for the BJJ beginners.

Whereas a double leg takedown is harder to enter but easier to finish, a single leg takedown is easier to enter but harder to finish

Know that there are different variations for this attack. But for the mid level single leg takedown, all you have to do is shoot yourself to their leg, make sure that your forehead or template is to their chest and then you will grab the back of the knee.

From here, you will now be able to off balance your opponent and take them down. 

So what are the keep factors to remember? 

  1. Stance – make sure that you have a strong stance because this will be your foundation. Make sure it’s wide and sturdy. 
  1. When you grab their knee and lock your arms, make sure that you will put the knee grabbing wrist over, this will make your grip tighter. 
  2. Pinch your arms towards your body. This can avoid giving your opponent room to sprawl.

Here’s Andre Galvao of Atos Jiu Jitsu showing a solid option that I’ve been able to hit frequently in sparring.

Foot Sweeps

If you are not that comfortable yet applying single leg or double leg takedown to your opponent, then you can make foot sweeps your go to takedown.

Foot sweeps involve less risk than other takedowns, but will require you to effectively off balance your opponent and have impeccable timing to hit properly.

What I like the most about foot sweeps is the accuracy and effectiveness of it. To add to that, you can note that they highly rely on timing. 

So what are foot sweeps? often down from the outside of your partner’s legs or inside of them in a sweeping motion.

But the main goal is to catch the foot of your opponent just before it lands to the floor or just when they are picking it up and sweep them from there.

Thus, making them caught off guard and landing to the ground. 

I recommend learning foot sweeps especially those who are just begging BJJ.

Uchi Mata

Uchi Mata throw from an over hook is one of the Judokan throws that have been incorporated into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

What I like about this throw is how it’s a throw that is so effective even for no gi. 

There are several ways to get into position for this throw.

Often your opponent will be working to get an under hook on you – this is when you get your over hook on them

Many people see getting an under hook as the goal for takedowns since it can open up a variety of attacks such as single leg takedowns.

However, if you are ready for their under hook attacks you can then effectively work towards your uchi mata throw from your over hook.

So what are the steps you have to do in order to finish this?

  • First off, you have to pull your opponent’s arm across towards you (while controlling their other arm
  • From there, with your inside leg you will drive it up and across to raise their legs
  • Using his leg as leverage. You will be using a motion to get him down to the mat with the directionality of force being across your body* and not just in front of you.

Watch this video to for more detail on the Uchi mata

Arm Drag to Back Take

An arm drag is a very powerful movement – especially when your opponent is stand more upright.

It involves you grabbing one of their arms with both of your hands.

It is done in a quick fashion and is used to either expose their legs to a take down usually in the form of a double or single leg takedown or get them to rotate in order to reach and attack their back.

What I like about this is that anyone can do it, even the beginners in BJJ. It is another technique that relies on timing and precision. 

So what is an arm drag and how do you go from here to a back take? Keep in mind that of course, there are different variations on how you will go from an arm drag to a back take. But today, we’ll go over the basic standing arm drag. 

  • First, reach for your opponents same side wrist with a thumb down grip
  • From there, pull their wrist close to you and with your other hand reach deep to just below their armpit to grab around their arm near their tricep
  • Now that you have two of you hands gripping one of their arms, you can pull them in and across to expose their back
  • If they give a large pullback reaction, this will usually expose their legs and then you can go for a single or double leg takedown

If you are able to reach your opponents back you can then, lock your arms just above their hips. From here, you bring them down to the ground with a mat return or a foot sweep.

Keep in mind that taking an opponent down from their back is a lot easier than entering into attacks when they are facing you.

 Why you should learn takedowns

Takedowns have proven its effectiveness in the martial art and of course as a form of self defense. So why must you learn takedowns? 

  1. No match starts on the ground – You will find yourself on your feet every time you hop in a competition (this does not mean you shouldn’t pull guard though) or when if you find yourself in a street fight knowing how to take down your opponent will give you either the room to get away from them or continue defending on the ground. 
  1. Takedowns do not rely on strength but technique – You may be smaller and lighter than your opponent but that doesn’t make them vulnerable to a good take down. Remember, BJJ was designed by the Gracie’s for the smaller ones to be able on opponents who are bigger and taller. 
  1. Dominant position – If you are able to take down your opponent, then this means that you will find yourself in a dominant position. You can either control your opponent through different positions and by applying pressure while pinning or you can apply your different attacks for them to become defenseless. 

Moreover, do not fear takedowns. Remember, your opponent may be bigger or taller than you but by creating movement and off balancing them you can successfully hit these takedowns.

Just keep learning and exposing yourself out there in order to learn what works best for you and what takedown you can apply in different scenarios. Keep in mind that there is always room for improvement and that you will soon master all these techniques!

Hope this has been an informative and great read for you!

 Catch you next time!