When I stepped onto the mat for my first takedowns-oriented no-gi BJJ class I wasn’t sure what to expect. I understood enough about grappling to be aware of and somewhat intimidated by suplex takedowns, so I wanted to know if you could actually do suplex takedowns in BJJ and if I needed to be aware of them.
The suplex takedown is not technically illegal in most competitions provided do not slam your opponent or drop them on their head. The risk of getting disqualified for executing a suplex is high and depends on referee judgment. Practicing suplexes is frowned upon in most BJJ schools.
I looked into some details on the suplex takedown and its use in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu grappling and wanted to share some of my findings and best practices.
What is a Suplex Takedown?
A suplex takedown is broadly defined as a takedown in which the attacking grappler establishes a hold around the waist and lifts their opponent and throws them backward or sideways down to the ground.
This is a pretty broad definition and there are many variants of suplex takedowns that can be found in many grappling disciplines including but not limited to Judo, Wrestling, and Sambo. The techniques have some variation and rule limitations depending on the discipline.
For example, in most wrestling disciplines you are not allowed to use a leg to trip or sweep your opponent as you see in many Sambo and Judo-styled suplex takedowns. The wrestler needs to accomplish the same movement with more power, different grips, and a more exaggerated back arch.
Let’s take a look at an example of a Judo suplex technique called an Ura Nage.
Note that the leg is used to trip and rotate his training partner.
Should I Train Suplex Takedowns for BJJ?
You do not need to train suplex takedowns for BJJ. They are not necessary to learn and finding a training partner to practice that style of takedown is challenging. There is also a high risk of injury and a high risk of disqualification in competitions that make it not a good risk to reward proposition.
Generally speaking, training suplex-style takedowns for application in jiu-jitsu is a controversial topic. There are increased risks of injury in these takedowns especially since most BJJ students will have very little exposure to the technique and will not be able to appropriately break their fall and reduce their injury risk.
If you want to learn more about integrating takedowns into your jiu-jitsu I’d check out my post comparing judo and wrestling style takedowns into your BJJ training here to learn more.
Most BJJ schools will discourage this type of takedown because they don’t want to have their students run the risk of injuring themselves at their school. It’s ultimately an unfavorable mix of risking a loss of income and exposure to legal actions with no real upside for the school owner. All this for a takedown that could get their students disqualified unfairly at a tournament. The risk to reward ratio for teaching suplex takedowns in BJJ is just not appealing for school owners.
The risk to reward ratio for teaching suplex takedowns in BJJ is just not appealing for school owners.
Understanding the basics of a suplex takedown and how to defend it and breakfall is prudent for any BJJ student. If you have a love of grappling some familiarity with it is fine but you should pay attention to your gym’s rules and ettiquette when learning it and also understand the risk of using it in a tournament or competition.
Using the Suplex Takedown for BJJ
If you are going to practice the suplex clear it with your BJJ instructor and get permission from your training partner first. You can also choose to practice safer suplex takedown variants.
Putting your opponent to the side is less likely to cause injury because if they land on their head or neck for they are likely to land on the stronger muscles in the exterior part of the neck that is somewhat less prone to injury.
Make sure that you select an appropriate training partner for practicing suplex takedowns. Wrestlers, Sambo Athletes, and Judokas are all more likely to be capable of practicing these takedowns with less risk.
You can go your entire grappling career without training suplex takedowns and be successful in jiu-jitsu. It is important to understand the movement and be capable of breaking your fall and defending the movement, but practicing it offensively has high risks and low returns.
Learning this dynamic style of takedown is without a doubt a fun undertaking but it is ultimately unnecessary and should only be done for the love of the techniques as it will be impractical for most BJJ athletes to get significant repetitions in training and also runs the risk of disqualifications in competition due to unfair referee calls.
For more check out Should I Learn Judo or Wrestling Takedowns for BJJ?