If you’re looking to learn some of the easiest no gi takedowns for bjj and want to stop dishonoring your father by butt scooting, you’ve come to the right place.
As someone who has never wrestled, I had to learn takedowns in bjj at the ripe, injury-prone age of 28, and at this point these takedowns have become some of my staples.
Here is a video of me trying to wrestle in a competition when I just got my purple belt:
Why Do Wrestling Takedowns Matter – Specifically in No Gi BJJ?
There is a wrestling takedown for almost every scenario.
So before you put on a show depicting rag doll physics which includes you being hip tossed incessantly, for the sake of your shoulders and ribs (I know I’ve been there), let’s try to learn some easy no gi takedown.
Here are the 5 easiest no gi takedowns:
- Foot Sweeps
- Single Leg Take down
- Double Leg Take down
- Snap downs
- Arm drags
Some of these are common and some not so common, but after experimenting for years with take downs these are the ones that have lasted in my game, the ones that I’ve been able to learn the easiest and build off of as I get more wrestling experience.
For a longer, more detailed post on how to learn to wrestling for bjj check out our 5 step process here. I strongly recommend this process for anyone who like myself didn’t wrestle when they were younger.
1. Foot Sweeps and Why They Are Important
You may be asking: “What? why are foot sweeps first and double/single leg takedowns not?”
When I began implementing foot sweeps it opened up an entire new world for my wrestling game.
Foot sweeps can be used to:
- take an opponent down
- setup other takedowns
- distract your opponenet
- off balance your opponent
Just like Danaher said in all his Yoda-like wisdom “Why ignore 50% of the body” when it came to attacking the legs.
Using Foot sweeps is an area that is very under utilized and one where we may begin to see grow very quickly in the near future.
I recommend anyone who is learning takedowns to begin harassing your opponents feet immediately to at least off balance them and give them one more dilemma the deal with.
Additionally, unlike a single or double leg takedown there is very little risk in using foot sweeps.
In John Danaher’s Feet to Floor instructional he recommends using foot sweeps more as like a jab in boxing – using them to off balance and setup other techniques or takedowns.
Here is one of Danaher’s top students and training partners going over a footsweep takedown known as De-Ashi Barai:
Here is one more video on a common and very effective footsweep known as a Sasae:
2. Single Leg Takedown – Learning This Basic Takedown
Everyone teaches a single leg takedown as the most common and effective takedown for bjj, but before when get into the details of both single and double leg takedowns,
I strongly recommend spending some time working on your front headlock/guillotine defenses.
As you begin to play with single and double leg takedowns, you’ll quickly see no matter how safe you try to keep your neck it will be snatched up by your opponent very often.
So to address one of the feared outcomes of shooting on your partner get a fully understanding of how to survive someone going for a guillotine both standing or sitting.
A very simple but eye-opening video for how to defend these guillotine attempts was posted by William Tackett who is one of the most high level and active competitors today:
Now onto Single Leg takedown Basics
Singe leg takedowns are made by the setups. It is so versatile and very effective if the correct setups are used.
Some Key Points to consider especially when first learning the single leg takedown:
- use your head to drive into your opponent and by all means try to keep it inside their body and attached to their torso
- attempt to get their leg that you are grabbing unweighted – this can be done by getting them to step back usually either by pushing them away with your head or pulling them in so that they institutionally step back leaving their front leg unweighted
- with both single leg and double leg takedowns it may be best to take your go for them from a bit of a distance and not from when you both have strong grips or collar ties on each other
- some common setups to get the single leg effectively are pushing their opposite shoulder, using an underhook on the same side, or using an armdrag or throwby to expose their leg
Here is a basic setup that works from the beginner levels to advanced from Chewy of the Chewjitsu youtube channel:
3. Basic Double Leg Takedown
Generally, a double leg takedown is more effective than a single leg takedown, but it does involve more risk.
Please see the above video for headlock defenses if you haven’t already.
We’ll go over the other most common defense next and how to deal with it – surviving getting sprawled on when going for a single or double leg takedown.
For a double leg takedown below are the general steps to keep in mind:
- using a setup like a snap down or arm drag to make sure their hips and legs are exposed
- taking a penetration step is when you step deep close to their legs usually in between them
- keep your head driving straight and eyes forward with you head in the center of their chest
- grab their legs directly behind their knees
- drive forward to complete the takedown with a strong grip behind their knees and your head as the driving point into their chest. This also means using your legs to continue driving
Here is a great video from Jordan Borroughs who has one of the best and most effective double leg takedowns:
Surviving Getting Sprawled on
One of the most feared outcomes of going for a singled or double leg is getting sprawled on and getting your face mushed into the mat.
Yes, this sucks but keep in mind you must learn to be comfortable in this position.
the person who takes the most shots is the one who wins.
Wrestling isn’t a game of hesitation and neither should takedowns be in bjj.
So you already have your headlock escapes down from the video posted above now lets look at some options if you get sprawled heard into the earth. Here is some good insight from the guys over at South Boston BJJ for surviving getting sprawled on from a single leg takedown.
Some key takeaways from their video are:
- always try to stay off to an angle and not straight ahead of your opponent when in on a single
- avoid them extending your body by using a false grip or locked hands
- when possible build back height while holding onto their single leg and stand up with it
- work toward backside single positions and chase their far leg for a knee tap
- switch to a cutback single and bring your head to their far hip to finish the takedown
- finally using a peak out if you are unable to build height or backside single or use a cutback single
4. Snap Downs
These next two – snapdowns and armdrags are not only considered great takedowns themselves, but can also be used as setups for other takedowns such as single or double legs.
Snap downs are another strong tool in your wrestling arsenal along with foot sweeps.
They can be used as tool for harassing, off balancing, and distracting. They also have very little risk and will definitely begin to tire your opponent. Overall, these lead to creating more movement and momentum to your wrestling game.
Some key points to focus on with snap downs:
- if you can get them stepping back either by faking a shot or harassing their feet with foot sweeps you can more easily snap them down
- when snapping down try to pull down on the crown of their head instead of being closer to the base of their neck – this will give your snap downs more power
- be sure to use a constant push/pull motion to build off of when going for snap downs
- finally, do not snap them down directly in front of you when you are straight on with them as this will give them access to your legs and their own takedowns usually in the form of single or double leg takedowns
For further info and more detailed instruction here is some info from one of the best grapplers of all time – Lachlan Giles:
Here is one more video from Tommy Gantt, an all American wrestler from North Carolina.
His instructional definitely made my snap downs more effective instead of feeling like they lacked any real power behind them.
5. Arm Drags
Arm drags are some of the most simplest but most effective techniques. They involve using both of your hands to control one of your partners arms.
They can be used for setups for single or double leg take downs or to expose your opponents back.
If you are attempting to use an arm drag to get to their back below are some key items to note (from Garry Tonon’s Instructional – Shoot to Kill)
- reach up deep into their armpit
- pull your head to the inside and turn your shoulder to block their tricep
- chase their far hip to avoid them from turning into you
If you are using an arm drag to get to a single or double leg – look no further than one of the GOATS, Marcelo Garcia.
In this video he also goes over some more details about reaching their back too:
Hopefully, some of these takedowns will come in handy the next time you get the urge drop your butt to the floor with all the enthusiasm of Super Mario.
These are some of the ones that have clicked for me personally and I was able to add into my bjj fairly quickly.
However, learning these takedowns will take time so don’t be discouraged.
One of the most effective ways to learn them is by drilling them (a lot) and drilling them with more and more resistance from your partner.
Again, from my experience and that of my training partners here are the 5 easiest no gi takedowns:
- Foot Sweeps
- Single Leg Take down
- Double Leg Take down
- Snap downs
- Arm drags
The goal is that one day one of these take downs will become instinctual for you, and you can create a highlight reel of all your flawless takedowns in competition scored to “Gonna Fly Now” from the motion picture, Rocky.
Keep grinding and see you on the mats – zack