Throws are an area of BJJ (and MMA) that most players neglect until tournament time. Because some BJJ players focus so strongly on the ground game they neglect takedowns from standing.
In this article we identify how to learn Judo takedowns and provide an overview of the basics of the best throwing techniques to learn to improve your standing game.
Like any technique, throws and takedowns need to be practiced before they can become effective. Take 5 or 10 minutes of mat time to work on each one and you will be sure to improve stand up game. Most importantly, find someone who knows how to correctly perform a takedown, ideally someone with a few years of judo or wrestling experience.
If you want to pursue throws seriously, we highly recommend learning Judo for BJJ due to the mutual benefits of such training..
Whether you need to add a few quick techniques or want to study the standing game more in depth, we recommend that you focus on just a few initial takedowns.
Identifying the easiest takedowns is somewhat subjective. This will depend on your skill, height, weight, etc. In BJJ (and MMA) there is an aversion to giving up your back in a fight. This makes performing some Judo techniques riskier than in Judo because of the difference in rules between the two arts.
In our opinion, the following techniques are great for BJJ. They are easy to learn with simple mechanics. They also have a (relatively) low risk and high reward application in BJJ.
O Soto gari translates to large outer reap in Japanese. This is a bread and butter throw in Judo. In Osoto gari you step forward to your opponent’s side with your left foot. You need to control and push them at roughly a 45-degree angle.
As you step in to get behind them, you simultaneously lift your other leg in the air (this leg will be next to their side). Once you are behind your opponent, you swing (or reap) this leg behind their own in order to lift their leg off the ground. This motion combined with your control of their body will force them onto the mat.
While it can be somewhat difficult to apply directly head on, Osoto gari is a great technique to apply when you your opponent is slightly out of position (usually too close to you) because of your movements on the mat.
The Double leg takedown is a fundamental technique in wrestling. It is also a Judo technique, but it was essentially banned in 2009/2010 when Judo’s rule set changed.
To perform Morote gari, you shoot in low against your opponent, usually on a knee. You then grab your opponent’s legs tight while staying very close to their waist area. You proceed to life your opponent up and to the side to throw them off the mat.
The Double Leg is perhaps one of the easiest and most effective grappling techniques to learn. It is especially useful for BJJ players because of its explosiveness and low learning curve. In competition it is useful because it will help keep your opponent’s honest with their distance. This technique can be used anytime your opponent is close to you and not hunched down in a defensive posture.
Deashi Barai is a favorite of many grapplers, if not for its actual success rate by itself but for its usefulness is setting up further attacks. If you watch just about any grappling, wrestling, judo, sambo, or BJJ match and you will see someone at least an attempt a version of Deashi Barai. The main idea is that you use your feet/leg to swipe the foot/leg of your opponent. The timing for Deashi Barai has to be perfect to effectively use it.
The secret to deashi bari is predicting where exactly your opponent will go next. You must predict and time when your opponents is about to lift their foot off the ground (or place it down on the mat) and attacked exactly before that happens.
This technique is the perfect set up technique for other attacks because it requires your opponent to move. If you attempt deashi bari, you opponent has to move somewhere. They cannot stand still otherwise they will be tripped.
Sase Tsurikomi Ashi is a Kodokan judo throw which translates to lifting pulling ankle throw. The foot mechanics are intuitive. You must pull your opponent towards you while simultaneously stepping out of their way. To do this, you must step to the side and pivot your body to become parallel with your opponent, whom you are still pulling. As you pivot, you leave behind your foot to block your opponent’s oncoming step. They will essentially fall over your blocking foot onto the mat.
Sasae is one of those techniques that can be attempted at nearly anytime in some form. This throw is an excellent way to move your opponent and set up combinations. It is a very low risk technique that will generate movement on the mat.
The Fireman’s Carry is a famous technique where you pull your opponent onto your shoulders and then launch them for a throw. To perform the fireman’s carry you must enter very low below your opponent’s waistline. This is typically done by shooting in forward with your (right) knee while holding your opponent’s arm/wrist on your opposite (left) side.
Once you are in low, your right arm will scoop up underneath the back of your opponent’s knee. To shoot in this way, your trailing leg will need to have turned around a full 90 degrees in a circular motion so that you are forming a T with your opponent. Both of your knees will now be on the ground. Your opponent’s momentum should lead to him or her being on your back. You then make a wheel motion to pull their front side down by dropping your left shoulder and pulling with your left hand. You will push their back side up with your right shoulder to assist in the throw towards the mat.
Use the fireman’s carry anytime you can get low and shoot in.
Tai Otoshi is performed by pulling your opponent forward and you simultaneously stepping to their side. As they come forward you spike your leg in front of them so that your leg blocks their advance requiring them to fall over your leg.
We’ll let Judo expert Neil adams explain when you and why to use Tai Otoshi (one of his favorite technqiues).
The valley drop is a sacrifice throw where you and your opponent fall together.
It’s a bit difficult to explain by text, but the basic details involve you stopping your opponent’s attack, usually by pulling them downward. They must be at your side as you stop them. You then must bend your knees to get lower and proceed to scoop them upwards. You will (optionally) stick out your non-weight supporting leg to block their advance. As you scoop them up you throw them on their back simultaneously fall with them.
Tani otoshi is great to use if someone has failed at a throw and given up their back to you in standing (such as in a failed seoi nage).
We hope this article was helpful. What are your favorite judo throws and takedowns for BJJ?
Let us know in the comments!