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Best Wrestling Moves for BJJ (Takedowns and Other Techniques Explained)

Why You Should Learn Wrestling Takedowns for BJJ

Why learn wrestling takedowns for BJJ?

Brazilian jiu jitsu is great for an overall, extremely effective martial art. However, when it comes to takedowns it may be lacking.

So we should look toward more take down focused martial arts such as wrestling to improve our stand up game.

There’s a reason why the history of all top UFC competitors start and end with high level wrestlers and there’s also a reason why many jiu jitsu practitioners struggle with take downs and prefer to pull guard 🙁

So as bjj practitioners what wrestling moves and takedowns should we focus on and try to include into our jiu jitsu game?

Today we will be exploring the below wrestling takedowns:

  • Snap Down
  • Arm Drag
  • Two on One Tie
  • Single Leg
  • Double Leg

And the below wrestling techniques:

  • Collar Tie
  • Bicep Tie
  • Underhook
  • Overhook
  • Front Headlock
  • Power Half Nelson
  • Cradle
  • Sprawling
  • Sitting Out
  • Granby Roll

Related: BJJ Takedowns for Beginners

Related: 5 Easiest No Gi Takedowns for BJJ (for those who never wrestled)

Related: Jiu Jitsu vs Wrestling

Table of Contents

    Snap Down

    Snap downs in wrestling involve you pulling on your opponen’ts head in a downward motion.

    It is very effective and can often be just like a jab in boxing to:

    • setup another takedown such as a double leg or single leg
    • offbalance your opponent
    • distract your opponent

    Since I didn’t wrestler when I was younger, I have focused on developing my snap down since it is such a low risk and effective technique.

    Below are the two simplest and most effect ways I’ve used a snap down is from my own personal experience:

    1. Snap down using an underhook:

    • achieve an underhook on your opponent
    • then grab a collar tie (or grip on their head or neck
    • square up your stance with them
    • begin to snap them down in short jerky motions until their hands hit the floor

    Here is a video showing this exact movement:

    2. Snap down using on over hook

    • achieve an overhook on your opponent
    • perform an uchi mat like movement to offbalance your opponent
    • after they stagger from the uchi mata their head will often be lower and then you can snap them down into a front head lock position and bring their hands to the floor

    Here is a video on the basics of the uchi mata:

    Arm Drag

    Let’s now take a look at the arm drag

    This is another wrestlign technique that can be used very similarly to the snap down

    • uses the strength of both of your hands on one of their arms
    • can be used as a setup to other take downs
    • can be used to reach your opponents back

    From the name itself, this attack involves dragging your opponent’s chosen arm and stepping forward. 

    Here is a break down of the arm drag from Kit Dale:

    Two on One (Russian Tie)

    A powerful movement called Two on One or Russian tie is a powerful grip that:

    • allows you to have a large amount of control over your opponent
    • also uses both of your arms againt their one arm
    • can open up a variety of other takedowns
    • can easily be entered when your opponent takes a collar tie on you

    This is a position where you can control your opponent while you decide on the next move that you would like to do. 

    In order to set this us, you have to grab your opponent’s wrist with your hand, while the other one reaches their shoulder. From here, you twist your body making their arm placed in front of you. 

    In addition, you want to make sure that your grip is secured by pulling up the grip you have on your wrist, while you drop your shoulder on theirs. 

    Aside from movement, you are already able to break their posture giving you a greater advantage. 

    Single Leg

    The single leg takedown is one of the most common and highly effective takedowns applied in wrestling and BJJ. This involves grabbing the opponent’s leg, commonly with both hands with the intention to bring them down to the mat.

    Keep in mind that the vital detail that you have to do is push forward the opponent by using your head placed on their chest. Thus, making their legs lighter and easier to lift.  

    Now, a great thing about this takedown is that it is so versatile that it can be used in gi, no gi.

    Double Leg

    If there is a single leg takedown, then there is also a double leg one.

    Unlike the single leg, this will involve lifting both legs.

    This movement is guaranteed to be more effective than the regular takedowns. However, it can be more risky. 

    Another vital detail that makes this takedown different from the single leg is that you actually place your head on your opponent’s hip. Thus, giving you the opportunity to drive across in a perpendicular fashion. 

    Controlling Wrestling Techniques  for BJJ

     Collar Tie

    What is the collar tie? This technique involves you grabbing your opponent’s neck or crown of the head with your palm. Now, note that this movement will allow you to control and limit their neck movement by shucking their head down.

    From here, here you can choose to either transition to another position or attack. Most commonly used attack from the collar is a guillotine choke, which is a highly versatile move. 

    Inside Bicep Tie

    Do know that in wrestling just like bjj, you want to be able to control the inside position. Now, the inside bicep tie is where you grab your opponent’s bicep from the inside. 

    Thus allowing you to control them by pushing, pulling to your advantage in order to setup other takedowns.

    Check out the video below introducing the inside tie.


    The underhook has two different variations, the single and the double. But the main idea to remember here is that the arm is hooked under the opponent’s arm arm. 

    • Single underhook- One arm is under the opponent’s arm, while the other arm is holding the upper body (commonly the neck.) 
    • Double underhook – Both arms are under the opponent’s arm. This a highly dominant clinch that can transition to a bear hug. 

    Keep in mind though that your opponent will always try to counter this clinch by breaking your position. 


    The overhook is also known as the whizzer. This involves placing the arm over the opponent’s arm and encircling the body. Just like the underhook, you can choose to do this movement with one overhook or a double over hook. 

    Typically used as a defense to counter the underhook of the opponent is this overhook. Moreover, just like the underhook, this too can transition to a bear hug. 

    Check out this video differentiating underhooks vs overhooks.

    Front Headlock

    A highly powerful grappling control technique. This position involves you, cupping your opponent’s chin in one hand, while the other hand is controlling one tricep. 

    Now, the key detail here is to snap down your opponent and keep circling. From here, you can go transition to a back mount or drive them up to end up in a side control. 

    Power Half Nelson

    Another wrestling movement that can be used in BJJ is the power half nelson. This involves you underhooking one arm while the other faces palm up, while resting on the nape while your opponent is facing down.  Now, the grip being used can vary from an S grip, cable grip or palm to palm grip. 

    The goal is to push their head to their chest and break their posture by applying their pressure. Now, you can either make them tap out because of how tight and uncomfortable it is or by attacking them with a choke or another of your choice. 

    Check out this video on how to dominate BJJ using Gordon Ryan’s power half nelson style.


    Cradle is actually a movement best used as a passing technique. From the name itself, it will appear like you are cradling an infant in your arms. 

    This involves grabbing the neck of the opponent with one arm and wrapping the elbow of the other arm behind the knee of the opponent.

    Key pointers to remember if applying this catch wrestling move in BJJ is to make sure your grip is a finger or S grip. Moreover, as you pass using this movement, you apply pressure on your opponent with your chest.

    Other Defensive Wrestling Techniques for BJJ


    One of the most basic and used movements in BJJ and MMA is sprawling to avoid takedown attempts. This technique is most commonly used to avoid single or double leg takedowns. 

    Now, do know that a basic sprawl involves scooting the leg backwards. Thus, resulting in you landing on the other person who attempted the takedown’s back. From here, you can now choose if you want to attack or transition to another dominant position like taking their back. 

    Sit Out

    Sit out is also known as the sitting out escape is one of the movements new wrestlers learn early. This defense technique is highly evident in high school or college level. Although simple, it is highly effective for both wrestling and BJJ. 

    Now, how does this move and when can it be used? If your opponent catches you in a bottom position, so you roll over on your shoulder to face the mats as you get up and walk away from them. 

    Granby Roll

    Your opponent caught your back? Well, wrestling’s Granby shoulder roll can do the trick. 

    This movement allows you to escape a back controlling position by rolling on your shoulder while lifting your back foot up and using your front foot as a base. Note that it is important to use your shoulder to roll over and not your neck to avoid injuries. 

    Moreover, this movement can be used from different variations like: turtle, guard recovery or even standing.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How do wrestlers do in bjj?

    Wrestling is actually one of the oldest forms of grappling sport out there. Hence, some of the movements of BJJ were actually fathered by wrestling. 

    Now, both martial arts are considered grappling sports. But what happens if a wrestler cross trains or transitions to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

    Notably, you can see that it can be quite easy for those who are wrestling to be comfortable on the mats. This is due to the fact that the movement and techniques are very similar for those. Therefore, we can say that wrestlers actually do very well in BJJ if they decide to try it. 

    Moreover, do know that there is a high chance in advancing in BJJ rank faster if you have prior grappling background. This due to the fact, that there is adaptability and understanding of common principles.

    Is supplex allowed in bjj?

    What is suplex and is it allowed? Well, this is when one picks up their opponent and slams them to the ground. 

    Now, this move is banned by IBJJF and most grappling competitions? Therefore, it warrants immediate disqualification if caught using the illegal technique. This due to the fact that is can most likely cause negative outcomes to the competitor like: 

    • Back Pain 
    • Paralysis 
    • Shortness of pain 
    • Others

    This video is showing how a supplex knocked out a BJJ athlete in a BJJ competition resulting to a DQ.

    This is a highly dangerous move and as we all know BJJ is the gentle art. Therefore, this is something avoided.

    What moves are wrestlers susceptible to in BJJ

    If a wrestler spars against BJJ then expect that there are certain movements that they are highly susceptible to.

    These mostly are:

    • guillotines
    • triangles
    • strangles from the back

    Now, if a wrestler tries to take a shot, expect that they can be caught in the front head like chokes like, guillotine. 

    On the other hand, wrestlers are trained to give up their back or drop in a turtle position if they are taken down. Therefore, making them prone to a chokes from the back. 

    Hope this has been a good read! 

    Catch ya til next time! 

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