By Elisabeth Clay
I want to start this out by saying this may seem out of place coming from me, seeing how I love playing guard and will jump guard a lot. Training takedowns in jiu jitsu seems to be overlooked a lot, not by everyone, but definitely way too much.
To put it in perspective, where I first started training we did them maybe three to four times a year for a few classes, and that was it. I used to get so nervous before competing because we started standing. I wasn’t even nervous about the actual competition, just the takedowns and how to get it to the ground. Even if I don’t regularly use the takedowns I have in my repertoire, I know I have them there if I need them. I am just much more comfortable standing now, so I can actually play my game more. If you are not training wrestling/judo, you are majorly missing out on an integral part of jiu jitsu, if your school doesn’t offer any, then find a wrestling club or judo club somewhere to learn takedowns. Whatever you need to do to just be comfortable doing stand up and falling.
Here are 10 reasons why takedowns are important:
#1: Comfort in Falling
Falling can be scary if you do not know how to fall without getting hurt. Even if you are very unlikely to get hurt, simply being apprehensive totally gives an advantage to your opponent. Additionally, the more nervous you are, the more likely you are to get hurt. At that point you do things that are not thought out, you are just reacting. Non-practiced reactions can end up being less than optimal, whereas falling practice leads to muscle memory that is safe and desired reactions/ falls.
#2: Knowing You Have Options to Get Where You Like/Want to Get
When you are trained in takedowns you have options:; you can use all kinds of takedowns or guard pulls/jumps. You know the different ways to get to positions in jiu jitsu. That gives you the choices you want so you can land in a place that works for your game or, if not, you have trained the paths to get to your position. It is not just the takedown or the ground game but also the transition that you get from practicing takedowns.
#3: Knowledge of Opponents’ Options and Counters
The more you train a variety of takedowns and transitions into and out of places you like to work, the better and more fluid it becomes. You also have the time to think what they are doing and how to counter to get to any number of places you are comfortable playing from. Knowledge plus comfort gives you the power of advantage. The last thing you want is to get into a position and have no options not because there isn’t one but because you didn’t train and entire portion of jiu jitsu.
#4: No Anxiety or Fear When Starting the Match
Comfort and security allow you to think and problem solve. When you know a variety of ways to get somewhere then you are not stressed or fearful. Fear keeps you from thinking in the moment. If you are not thinking, then you are at the mercy of your opponent until you get to a place where you are comfortable. If you love competing and want to do well, this cannot be an option because you will always start matches at a disadvantage, not impossible. This should not be a place you want to find yourself in.
#5: Ability to Approach Different Players/Styles
The more you know, the more choices you have, the stronger you feel and the more you are able to adjust to any opponent. That being said, this in an endless opportunity. There are always more things to learn and more options to give yourself. Start with a small goal. The more you do, the more you will enjoy the fruits of this pursuit.
#6: Less Predictability
Opponents don’t know what you are really capable of and you can catch them off-guard. As with anything, the more you know, the more options you have, which makes it harder for your opponents. Of course someone always knows more than you, but all you can do is be better today than you were yesterday. Then be better tomorrow than you are today.
#7 Knowledge Can Lead to Control
The more you know, the more options you have and the greater the chance you have of controlling the match, where it goes and how you get there.
#8: Takedowns/Guard Pulling
How you get to the ground is a significant part of the game. If you have little to no experience and/or knowledge of how to get to the ground then you likely will be at the mercy of your opponent.
#9: Throwing People is Fun
Maybe I am odd, but throwing people can be so much fun. I don’t even mind being thrown, which is good. Because that means it does not scare me or affect my game in competition, which should be the same for you. Have fun throwing and getting thrown.
#10: It’s Fun to Train Something That Isn’t Your Job
Training for your job results in you putting tons on pressure on yourself. Learning has it’s own rewards, but it is also fun to make part of your training also be your relaxing fun time. We all need that mental downtime that keeps us active and moving. This is a great way to do that because it also is productive and beneficial to you game.
As you can see, I came from being totally apprehensive of takedowns and now love to train them and have found them so personally beneficial. I hope that if this reverberates as true to you, you will embrace it and love it as much as me. Find your lion/lioness!