How to Get Good at Takedowns

Table of Contents

Taking an opponent to the ground is paramount in all grappling arts and doing so can be challenging for many as trying to do so on a resisting person can be extremely challenging.

There are many amazing grappling styles that have great solutions to take your opponent down and you will see many common themes within each style that if practiced and drilled correctly, will lead you to achieving successful takedowns and throws.

It All Starts with a Proper Grip and Initial Position

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link and in this case it all starts with getting a proper grip and body position to start the takedown sequence. It is paramount to understand all grip positions and your own body position needed to really attain a proper grip. This can include where your hands need to be placed, where your head, feet and hips need to be placed in comparison to your opponents and where to place pressure with the grip.

Some common grips and positions that you should get to know are:

  1. Gable grip
  2. S grip
  3. The claw
  4. Wrist and elbow
  5. Collar and elbow
  6. Over under
  7. Pinch grip aka Over under bodylock
  8. Double underhooks
  9. Single underhook
  10. Russian tie
  11. Front headlock
  12. Inside tie
  13. Outside tie
  14. Whizzer
  15. Baseball bat tie

Practice just entering these grips and positions, holding proper body positioning and moving with some resistance while holding on the grips provided above, always remember there are small details that make a world of a difference in maintaining these grips and positions.

Work on Removing Grips and Breaking Positions

After you are good at placing and holding proper grips and positions, now it is time to work on how to break and disturb them as many takedowns start once a grip/position is broken. A great example is breaking an opponent’s collar tie into achieving a Russian tie for yourself.

Let’s Talk About Footwork

Proper footwork is the 2nd thing grapplers should focus on when trying to improve takedown ability and this means both your footwork and your opponents placement of feet in comparison to yours. Generally speaking, if your footwork is not done properly, it can lead to you not being able to use full penetration and body leverage on the first actions of the takedown thus allowing a better defensive effort from your opponent.

Always work on shifting your weight properly, moving your feet, using your back foot properly to push off of and being able to turn and pivot properly.

The good news is you can practice footwork solo and with a partner with different drills

Some great drills to if you are alone are:

  1. Line drills, practice the full movement over and over while moving forward in a line, always start form a proper stance
  2. Shadow wrestling – remember to use as much movement as possible for offense move forward, back ward, circular motion etc…
  3. Duck walks, great for penetration development
  4. Skipping

Here are some great partner drills:

  1. Work off of all grips and body positions
  2. Work on setting up takedowns from beginning to end, work with minimal pressure to start but make sure your partner is always in the proper position.
  3. Focus on placing your opponent’s feet and hips in proper position through pressure in order to attain proper takedown positioning, This can be done by pulling, pushing and lifting – all dependent on the technique you want to practice on.

Learn How to Initiate Attacks and Create Openings

No opponent is going to easily allow you to take them down, especially in competition. You will need to learn how to open up their defense in order to attack properly.

Some great examples of this are:

  1. Snap down to front headlock
  2. Snap down to opponent resisting upwards and shooting for a double leg
  3. Attaining certain positions that allow you control your opponent’s foot placement
  4. Russian tie to drag to get to the back

There are hundreds of variations, strategies and techniques that can help you create openings and initiate attacks with a higher % of success than without.

Focus on High Percentage Takedowns

Unfortunately through the internet, access to many competition videos on YouTube and either poor coaching or no coaching at all, many are trying flashy yet ineffective takedowns and throws that lead to both unsuccessful and dangerous outcomes.

Certain takedown techniques and throws have a much higher chance of success than others, generally speaking the most successful ones are not the flashiest but they have a noticeably high success rate.

It generally comes down to the basics and knowing how to tie them together in a chain (known as chain wrestling) in order to be successful. A great example would be going for a single leg, causing the opponent to bring the leg back and then hitting a shoulder throw opposite side to the leg.

Build Your Game

Having many go-to moves is a must for those who want to dominate when standing but make sure you have a properly thought out takedown roadmap.

A great way to build a proper takedown game is to make sure your takedowns can answer the position of your opponents hips in comparison to yours.

Another aspect is to make sure you have a takedown for every grip and position you that is common, this does not mean having hundreds of takedown takedowns but to know how to perform variations of the technique from different positions and grips.

You do not need a lot of techniques but you do know how to use that technique form different positions, for example you can hit a single leg from a collar tie, inside tie, snap down, russian tie, arm drag and more…all of these are just setups to the single yet have very different body movement to get you to your goal of attain that leg and finishing the takedown.

Increase Strength, Speed and Flexibility

Being stronger, faster and more flexible is always going to help when trying to get good at takedowns. Strength will help you with lifting and holding positions, speed will help you get the takedown faster and being flexible will help you with your range of motion and being more effective at placing your body where it needs to be without risk of injury.

A proper strength and conditioning program as well as a good emphasis on flexibility will only help you become a better athlete and you will feel this positively when trying to take your opponent down.

Final Thoughts

All athletes and fighters can get better at takedowns if they follow a logical plan and if they are willing to put the work in. Having great takedowns is one of the biggest assets in grappling and there is no reason why you cannot improve yours with the tips in this article.


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