Takedowns are an integral part of BJJ. Good takedowns allow you to stay ahead of the game, boosting your confidence in the match. It can be game-changing for sure, especially when you are in the later stages of a match and need to get that extra point off your opponent. More than the ability to take the opponent down, it gives you the benefit of moving to a dominant position and finishing with a submission. Today, we will talk about 9 of our sport’s best takedown artists.
The 9 Best Takedown Artists In BJJ
While BJJ is not a standup-dominant grappling martial art like wrestling or Judo, its practitioners must still train their takedowns proficiently. This list comprises grapplers with exceptional skills in applying takedowns to dominate their competition. Consider learning from these athletes if you want to level up your Jiu-Jitsu.
1) Nick Rodriguez
Nick Rodriguez, aka “The Blackbelt Slayer” or “Nicky Rod,” is a former Division III collegiate wrestler and one of the most dominant grapplers of the current generation. Nick became prominent in the grappling scene after winning the ADCC Trials with only a few months of BJJ training under his belt. This allowed him to compete in the ADCC World Championship, beating world-class black belts and earning 2nd place on the podium.
Aside from his apparent strength and athleticism, Nick is also an excellent guard passer known for cart-wheeling his way around the opponent’s open guard to get to the top position. Explosive on his feet, Nick typically relies on techniques like the single and double leg takedowns. He is also a big fan of the snap down and arm drag.
2) JT Torres
JT Torres is one of the most accomplished grapplers in today’s grappling circuit, having won the ADCC World Championship twice and medalled in multiple IBJJF tournaments. He is known for his electrifying style of fighting, which he uses to outpace his opponents. From the standup, JT likes to take his opponents down using takedowns like the arm drag to a double leg, where he initially shoots for a double leg and transitions to the inside trip. He is also known for his ankle picks, single leg takedowns, and clinch work to get to the body lock.
3) Andre Galvao
Andre Galvao is one of the greatest grapplers to ever compete in the sport. He is a multiple-time ADCC and IBJJF World Champion and is the head coach of ATOS Jiu-Jitsu. Andre worked on his takedowns for many years, and it became one of the strongest parts of his game. According to Andre, drastically improving his wrestling skills was the key to winning ADCC 2011 and is the missing piece of the puzzle when compared to his younger version.
Andre is known for finishing his single leg by “running the pipe” and setting up his double leg using a lot of fakes and forward pressure. Andre beats his opponents with relentless pressure, keeping the match at a high pace. A simple yet genius approach by all accounts.
4) Lucas Lepri
Lucas Lepri is among the most accomplished grapplers in the lightweight division. With numerous IBJJF World Championships (7 gi and 3 no-gi) under his name, many consider him an icon of the sport. He is famous for his wrestling ability on the feet, as well as his wrestle-up tactics from the seated guard. Lucas sets his takedowns from the arm drag, which he uses to attack his opponents with the single leg and inside trip.
5) Yuri Simoes
Yuri Simoes is regarded as one of the best grapplers of his generation. He has won 3 ADCC World Championships and is currently signed under ONE Championship. To take his opponents down, Yuri likes to attack with the Russian tie to trip his opponents. He also likes to smash through his competition with the blast double leg.
6) Travis Stevens
Travis Stevens is a black belt in Judo and Jiu-Jitsu. He is a former Olympic silver medalist in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Judo and has trained under John Danaher in BJJ. With his expertise in Olympic-level Judo, Travis is a master at taking people down using various grips.
7) Leandro Lo
Leandro Lo was one of the best grapplers to ever compete, having won 8 IBJJF World Championships in five different weight classes. Leandro was known for his rugged fighting style, pressuring through the opponent with his relentless offence, whether on the standup or the ground. He usually sets his takedowns by grabbing below the opponent’s lapel, driving through them with his single leg, and using the double leg to lift them up for the finish.
8) Claudio Calasans
Claudio Calasans is a Judo and BJJ black belt and former ADCC and IBJJF World Champion. Claudio was a training partner of other legends like Andre Galvao, the Mendes brothers, and Gilbert Burns. Using his physical prowess and technique, Claudio usually takes his opponent down with throws like the drop seoi nage, O goshi, tomoe nage, and single and double leg takedowns.
9) Erberth Santos
Erberth Santos, known as “Dino” because of his stalwart appearance and strength, is a top Jiu-Jitsu competitor and former IBJJF World Champion. His brown belt run was the stuff of legends, winning his division and the open weight class in some of the most important tournaments in BJJ, such as the IBJJF Worlds, Pan American, and Brazilian Nationals. Using his stature, Erberth incorporates throws and trips to take his opponents down.
We recommend studying at least a couple of takedowns to round out your arsenal. In today’s day and age, having a solid takedown game is simply a must to stay competitive; this is especially true if you compete in no-gi grappling. Remember that getting good at takedowns requires countless repetition and time. So don’t be discouraged if you don’t see immediate results. With enough repetition and practice, you’ll surely see a lot of improvement in your game.
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