My Takedowns Suck! What Can I Do About It?

After a BJJ tournament, competitors analyze what went right and enjoy their experiences. But even those with the gold medals are often surprisingly critical about what they need to improve.

“I need a lot better cardio! I was gassed half way through my first match!” is a really common one. “I need to work on my grip strength!” is yet another.

The most common complaint I hear (at least among the non-guard pullers) is “my takedowns suck!”

Double guard pull!

A tremendous amount of energy can be wasted when two competitors, who have little expertise with takedowns, are bent over at the waist and trying to muscle the other down to the mat.

Takedowns are no more exhausting than the ground fighting portion of a match; it is simply that most BJJ guys don’t spend much time drilling takedowns until they are comfortable.  They spend too little time sparring from their feet.

How do you fix this takedown problem if your BJJ school doesn’t train much stand-up grappling?

Judo Olympian Matt D’Aquino offers two valuable pieces of advice:

1) “I encourage all BJJ clubs to start a majority of their rolls on their feet, purely because this is also part of the art. At my academy we start most of our rolls standing and a few months ago we had a Purple belt who was shocked that we started standing and was immediately out of his depth against people who had only trained for about 6 months.”

2) “I think the best training method a BJJ guy can benefit from is the Uchikomi aspect of Judo. Which is the drilling a technique over and over again. Although I encourage people not to just drill a move, but drill a sequence of moves. For rather than drilling a sweep from guard, why not drill a scissor sweep, to mount, to kimura to straight arm bar. This way you are drilling a sequence.”

“Another might be butterfly sweep (opponent stands up), into X-guard, into X-guard sweep, into ankle lock.”

“So, the biggest key when drilling is to not drill a move in isolation, but to drill techniques that flow together. Now, at the beginning of your BJJ journey, you might have to drill a move in isolation, but over time you will gradually add in another aspect of the flow. This way you are drilling plus getting the situational awareness of the moves that surround that initial technique.”

Now go train those takedowns and don’t be a buttflopper!

Read also: Judo Training Methods For Bjj with Matt D’Aquino


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