3 Tips To Improve Your Takedowns

Every class at Gracie Barra includes some training in standup techniques. Understanding how to get the fight to the ground is an important part of having well rounded jiu-jitsu skills.

It is one thing to drill techniques cooperating with your training partner, it is significantly more difficult to throw an opponent when is doing their best to avoid your takedown.

First, you want to understand the mechanics and details of a few high percentage takedowns that you feel comfortable attempting. The second step is you need to employ some strategy and principles that will make the takedown more effective.

Here are 3 tips to make your takedowns more effective:

1) Break your opponent’s balance first!
The term “kuzushi” in Japanese means the breaking of the opponent’s balance. This is one of the most important concepts of judo.

When your opponent is in a solid, defensive stance they are very difficult to throw. Most takedowns involve breaking the opponent’s balance in one of the 8 directions before trying to execute the technique.

Your opponent will more easily be able to counter you if they maintain their balance during your attack.

Understanding the importance of this principle will lead us to tip #2…

2) Use action / reaction
This might be the most important principle for not only takedowns, but in all of jiu-jitsu!

How do we break our opponent’s balance? By using their own reaction against them. For example if I push my opponent they are very likely to instinctively push back.

Anticipating that they will return my push, I am prepared to suddenly PULL the opponent at the same time that the opponent PUSHES. Taking advantage of their reaction I can use their own force against them to take them out of balance.

There are countless applications of this central underlying principle of judo and jiu-jitsu. Now we need to understand exactly how this will work on our favorite techniques…

3) Learn the classic combinations
There are “classic combinations” of throwing techniques that have proven themselves effective in thousands of competitions and training academies all over the world.

This excellent and concise video by Prof. Fabio Costa illustrates ALL 3 of our tips. Prof. Costa teaches how to set up the shoulder throw

First Prof. Costa creates a reaction by threatening a foot sweep on his opponent. The opponent reacts by pulling his foot back and his balance goes forwards.
Prof. Costa uses the reaction to switch to his powerful front shoulder throw catching the opponent off guard.

Beautiful use of : kuzushi, action reaction and a classic technique combination!

See also on Gracie Barra : 6 Takedowns Demonstrated By Gracie Barra Instructors

Credits: Mark Mullen
Gracie Barra Black belt based in Saigon, Vietnam
Instagram: @bjjmarkmullen