Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu is a comprehensive grappling martial art that includes both stand-up techniques and ground-based techniques. I watched some BJJ matches and saw a variety of throws and takedowns being practiced, but after several weeks spent no time learning any throws, so I asked myself if BJJ really included the throws and takedowns I was expecting.
BJJ does include throws in training, primarily stemming from its parent martial art Judo. However, throws are not often practiced in most BJJ classes since the emphasis of the martial art is ground-based submission grappling techniques.
Let’s take a look together at how practicing throws fits into the overall picture of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu both in terms of normal training and competition training, and how to find additional help to maximize the usefulness of your throwing techniques in the context of BJJ.
How Common Is It To Practice Throws in BJJ Class?
Most BJJ classes do not involve practicing throws or takedowns. If takedowns are included on a given day, Judo throws are likely to be included. Typically takedowns are practiced leading up to a competition or at a frequency of about once a week.
The majority of hobbyist BJJ athletes do not have the right fitness levels or practice time to regularly practice throws safely, which has naturally resulted in this form of training being deprioritized in the majority of jiu-jitsu schools.
If you are selecting a school with the expectation to practice throws regularly it’s important to ask your instructor how it all fits in before joining so you know what to expect. Also, lean towards MMA schools or instructors that have a background in Sambo or Judo.
What Are the Best Simple Throws To Use in BJJ?
Simple throws and trips can be implemented into your BJJ game. I think that the foot sweep, arm drag into an inside trip, and the drop Seoi Nage are all great candidates for throws to learn for jiu-jitsu.
- Foot Sweep: foot sweeps work by off-balancing your opponent and attacking your opponent’s foot with a low trip or sweep while they are either off balance or in the process of rebalancing. I personally like conceptually simple foot sweeps like this one that Travis Stevens covers here.
- Arm Drag with an Inside Trip: this takedown is somewhat easy to execute takedown that a relative novice to stand-up grappling can learn to execute due to its relative simplicity. In this technique, you execute an arm drag and trip your opponent’s leg from the inside position and push forward into the guard or half-guard. It works best if you chain the takedown immediately into a guard passing technique. Take a look here for an explanation by BJJ great Andre Galvao.
- Drop Seoi Nage: This is probably the most advanced throw on this little list. In this technique you grab your opponent’s same-side lapel and same-side arm, you will turn your hips and fall to your knees with your back underneath their body (similar to a turtle shell), then continue the throw by continuing the pull eventually putting them over your head. Your opponent will land flat on their back with you in top control. Take a look here for a video that is a good example of a drop Seoi Nage.
How To Get Training To Use Throws for BJJ
If you’re not learning enough about throws in your BJJ classes, you might want to think about looking outside of normal classes for additional lessons. This is usually in the form of private lessons or attending Judo or wrestling classes.
Here are some methods you can use to learn more about throws you can use in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu:
- Ask your professor if they have advice on how to find good opportunities to learn throws within their school. If they have a black belt in Judo or Sambo you might be able to learn from them directly. They could also refer you to another resource such as a student or an affiliated instructor that they trust.
- Consider getting private lessons from a BJJ or Judo instructor. while your knee-jerk reaction might be like mine at paying for private lessons, it actually is not that financially inefficient. It takes a lot less time to accumulate skills than in traditional classes, I consider one private lesson to be worth 3 normal classes. Look within your school first and talk to your instructor for possible options.
- Cross-train with Judo. cross-training is not only helpful for throws specifically, but can improve your transitions quite a bit because it introduces you to other movement patterns that you might use in your normal jiu-jitsu rounds. Cross-training martial arts can have a large impact on your overall quality of movement and your training as a fighter.
Some Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu schools will include enough about throws to give you some serviceable throwing techniques to use in your arsenal of techniques. If you have trouble there are options for cross-training other martial arts that can fill that hole in your skillset. I personally take private lessons with a black belt Judoka and it has opened up my game significantly.
Incorporating simple throws that are more compatible with BJJ is a very fun part of the game and one that I particularly enjoy training. I feel that it is a worthwhile pursuit if you have any aspirations to do BJJ competitions at any point in your training.
For more check out Should I Learn Judo or Wrestling Takedowns for BJJ?