It’s often said that the biggest area for improvement in Jiu-Jitsu is the standing grappling phase and John Danaher has a useful approach for speeding up the learning process when it comes to takedowns. This perceived lack of skill in standing grappling isn’t really unfounded. When looking at the early stages of the sport, athletes competing at white and blue belt will often have very little to offer in the standing phase. Even at the very top levels of the sport, the majority of BJJ athletes would not be able to compete with Judoka or Wrestlers of a similar level when it comes to standing grappling.
The rules of the sport, especially when it comes to the IBJJF, do not actively encourage a proficiency in taking the fight to the ground. While takedowns are rewarded with points, guard-pulling is not penalized and if followed up with a quick sweep, both approaches end with the attacker on top and two points ahead. Seeing as the sport is relatively evenly split between guard-players and those who prefer working their top-game, it makes sense that guard-pulling is very common in the sport as a whole.
This is of course because our sport focuses much more on groundwork and it’s why even the best wrestlers and Judoka on the planet routinely struggle in more open rulesets that allow guard-pulling and submissions. Regardless of the different focuses of each sport, it’s important for any grappler to improve where they can and takedowns are almost always a big win for the BJJ athlete, that’s why John Danaher has spoken up on his official Instagram account about how he believes the process for improvement can be sped up significantly.
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Overlap: Many of the most popular standing takedowns in Jiu jitsu can also be used as sweeps from guard position on the ground. This really helps the Jiu jitsu student speed the process of learning them as standing takedowns. If you already have a strong single leg sweep from open guard, it won’t be so difficult to lead a single leg takedown from standing position. Once you learn standing set ups and elements of stance and motion etc, everything is quite similar. Quite a few takedowns have very significant overlap with commonly used guard sweeps – double legs, Tomoe nage, sumi gaeshi, collar drags, ankle picks – these (and others) all are excellent takedowns from standing as well as excellent sweeps from the floor. By focusing on these overlap takedowns, the Jiu jitsu student can shorten learning time by taking what is already familiar and applying it in a different context. I’m sure that many of you have been applying these moves as sweeps for many years – it will be easier to apply them from standing once you make the necessary additions than learning an entirely new takedown that has no relation to the ground game you are so familiar with. If you’re looking to develop a good standing takedown game in a short timeframe – ask yourself what some of your favorite guard sweeps are and whether they can be applied in standing position – a surprising number can – perhaps they can be your short cut to developing some takedown skills