Training Takedowns Safely?

I understand there's a certain cost of doing bidness, but does anyone have any advice on how to more safely train judo and wrestling take downs?

Ankle, knee, and other assorted annoyances seem to creep up the most during training these elements. :(

A VERY good question. I've been wondering about this myself. I tore my ACL in judo a few years ago and it was from me not wanting my opponent to get ippon, i.e. I tried to prevent a fall from an uchimata (inner thigh throw) by posting out a straight leg and collapsed over it.

So here's my limited input: Since it matters much, much less in BJJ than in judo if you get thrown or not - don't prevent throws so much! If you feel like you're about to fall, just breakfall and try to get to guard as soon as possible. And relax your muscles instead of stiffening up.

I have a related question: How can you do the "Gracie trip" (aka. Kosoto-gari from a bear hug, aka. outer trip from a bear hug) and minimize the risk of injury for both guys?

I was thinking about teaching this to some friends, but I'm always a bit uneasy about doing this throw, mostly for the thrower, actually, since the thrower is essentially falling face-down.


Thanks jonpall, but my question is about practicing, not competing. In competition, I may only be engaged standing a few times for a few minutes. However, to train that aspect can take hours of class reps.

Accidental injuries happen in competition, but I'd like to minimize the daily grind as much as possible in between.

Well I was actually talking about practising. (AND competing for that matter.). The main thing I'm suggesting is that when you feel you are about to be taken down, don't fight it so much. Just let him take you down and go to guard quickly. Or if your only doing stand up, just stand up and continue with your takedown practise.

Another thing: I've heard that wrestling takedowns are a little bit less dangerous than judo takedowns because they don't emphasise throwing your opponent on his shoulders as much and the amplitute is often less. Don't know if it's true, but I've heard it.

MarsMan: Thanks for the input. And I feel for ya on the uchimata! That shit hurts! But actually not as much as having to go through surgery and take time away from training. But that's my only real injury so far.

Practice jumping to guard or half guard instead :)

Seriously though, I think there's an inherent danger with takedowns. Just wanted to add the emphasis on warm ups before takedowns to MarsMan's comments.

practice drop steps solo for a while nice and slow until you get to the point that you are gliding across the mat quickly w/ drop steps. Like it is no problem to drop step. The takedown is always easy. the setup is the hard part. Get them to be comfortable w/ inside ties (hand control on the inside of opponents arms. like "wax off" from karate kid w/ both hands. lol, i know. anyways, do this, slowly pummel, and then start incorporating circular/lateral movement around the training partner. then throw the drop step in w/ it. Don't just show an outside single and have them figure it out. have them learn ALL parts and drill separately and then do all at once.

Hey guys, as a judo guy in Japan, I think should probably chime in here.

1. As others have said, learn breakfalls- this is the simplest way to avoid an injury if you are the guy being thrown.

2. Use a "crash pad" when you drill the bigger throws. A few falls on a hard mat don't matter but when you are drilling hard, those falls really mount up.

3. Know your limits. Stop drilling takedowns when you are tired. Getting sloppy because of fatigue is a really common cause of injury.

Jonpall, I'm not sure why the thrower would get injured on a kosoto gari (gracie trip). Sure you go all the way to the ground with the guy but A) you land on top of him, and B) you turn your head sideways (into the opponent) to help with the throw. You won't be going face first. That help at all? I don't use this throw much but it's definitely not a very painful one for eithe party.

Also, something that I forgot to mention... in judo we do a lot of repeitions of the actual throw but as someone mentioned it's the setup that's hard, not the completion. To that end we do hundreds of reps of uchi-komi every practice (at least 200 at an elite school). Uchi-komi are entries/fit-ins where you pop in for the throw and give a slight lift/bump and then swing back out. That way you can practice the entry dozens/hundreds of times without the wear and tear of constant throwing to completion.

I hope this helps.

Go Duke,

With the "bear hug" kosoto-gari (outer trip, Gracie trip, etc.), at what point should you release your double underhook grip? I'm guessing just before you land, in order to break the fall yourself and not hurt your head. Or maybe you shouldn't release your grip until after you've hit the ground?

I like the practicing and crashpad ideas the best. Crashpads will save you given loads and loads of repetition.

Also, if you have access to a gymnastics room, the floor is a great place to train throws. The landing is nice and soft.


Get used to doing them. Get used to falling. Train correctly.

If people are getting injured from doing takedowns more than 1 minor injury (Sprained Ankles, bruised toes) every year, then the training is faulty or the facilities are faulty.

All I know is that we don't have the best facilities where I'm instructing a few wrestlers and others in the basics, and we do takedown drills for an hour most days... Just to the takedown... And no one gets hurt, Despite the fact that people are getting thrown hard and taken down hard.


Remember that you are used to falling, so much so that at this point, it is second nature. It sounds like people are getting hurt because they are fighting the throw and are not used to falling. If someone does not know how to fall on a kosoto, his head will most likely bounce like a basketball off the floor. Plus, in jonpall's scenario, the guy with the bear hug most likely will not release it and actually pull the thrower (tori) on top of him.

Jonpall, I would not release the undergrips until you hit the mat.


Hi guys,

As an ex judo guy and a BJJ newbie, the thing that I get most nervous about is the takedown drills, as BJJ guys just drop you (hurts a lot) whereas in Judo, in hip- or seoi- type throw where the thrower ends up standing after the throw, the thrower would pull up the partner at landing to soften the impact. The benefit for the thrower, I guess, is to emphasize your base at the end of a throw. As a bonus, throwee's elbow gets extended as he lands - that's a good setup for the next move from there.

Also, I practiced a lot more breakfall in judo - front, back(not back roll), side, front jump roll(not just front roll) etc. I don't know if you guys do all these in BJJ, but the more your practice breakfall the more relaxed you can be when being thrown. That's important to avoid injury.

When your partner made a good entry to throw, there's little point resisting, so I would just let my partner throw me cleanly. Resisting a throw that's more than halfway setup is like refusing to submit to a sunk choke to me.

Safe training,


Excellent points by arb10, thePetester, and BackDrop.

After Judokas successfully throw, they don't let go of the sleeves or lapels to facilitate or help proper breakfall by the uke. Uke, after a while in randori or sparring, do not resist the throw and focus on proper breakfall.

When drilling techs, it's usually 9 uchikomis (entering, off balancing, and fitting in without completing the throw) with the 10th being a completion of the throw. It's not unusual to go through 30 uchikomis per side per tech in a session and you usually go through at least 3 or 4 favorite techs.

Uke never gets thrown until the coach is confident of proper breakfalls. However, a lot of blackbelts can toss you but make you feel like a baby being safely laid down. It gives the beginners a feel for high amplitude disorientation without real pain or too much danger.

Everyone has made some great comments on this topic.

I started out in judo then moved to bjj while continuing my judo training. When I teach bjj class I always include some throwing training adapted for the demands of bjj competition.

If you and your opponent haven't learned to fall properly and relax when being thrown there is a dramatic chance of injury. My suggestion is that every class begin with breakfalls as part of the warmup.

As for the kosoto gake (aka outside Gracie trip) from the bearhug position, there are a couple of reasons that your head might be in danger. First that throw is not meant to go straight backwards. If you have your head under his armpit (side bodylock) you will ram your head in to the ground by hooking and driving straight backwards.

Instead stay tight, hook the leg and lift it up, then rotate you and your opponent toward the "hole" where is leg is supposed to be. Your opponent should land on his side with you on top.

The straight dash in version is possible but you can't do it safely with your head on the outside. Bodylock with your head against his chest.