If there’s one area that a lot of BJJ gyms are lacking in, it’s takedowns. BJJ gyms often have people start on their knees at the beginning of sparring rounds, because there isn’t the space to drill takedowns properly.
Some gyms don’t even put a lot of emphasis on drilling breakfast, let alone takedowns and throws. This means that their competitors are at a serious disadvantage when they go to compete because they simply don’t have experience with the standing part of the game. If they teach their students to pull guard, then this might not be too much of a problem, but if the day to day sparring consists almost entirely of ‘knee wrestling’ then the practitioners aren’t getting a realistic idea of what it’s like to compete.
It’s a good idea for any would-be competitor and anyone who is training for self-defense, to learn BJJ take downs. A good single leg and a good double leg, with a couple of set-ups, will serve you well in most situations, and those moves are less risky than throws that could lead to you getting your back taken.
There’s no need to learn things like the fireman’s carry or big, high amplitude suplex moves. They’re harder to get right, usually require a bit more physical fitness, and are more likely to leave you in a bad position if they go wrong. There’s also some risk of people getting injured if the person you throw is not well trained, or if you get the move wrong.
Singles and doubles are the higher percentages, and usually safer, which makes them a good choice for a BJJ practitioner that only does a little bit of training in throws and takedowns each week.
Remember that under IBJJF rules, you get two points for the takedown—you don’t get points for pulling guard, and if your opponent catches your leg as you pull guard they could get points for taking you down! Under that kind of ruleset, it makes sense to actually try to take the person down unless you really are a good guard player.
When you’re learning takedowns, it’s a good idea to practice on a crash mat. If you’re drilling double legs, remember that you have a couple of options. A big blast double is a good option if you can do a deep penetration step and really commit to driving through the person. If you struggle with that, then you might prefer the double leg where you “turn the corner” and drive the person backward. Again, though, it pays to really practice stepping deep and following through. Lack of commitment to the move is the biggest cause of failure.
Keep your head up and chest up at all times. If you lower your head you’re more likely to get sprawled on, and that will leave you at a serious disadvantage. Your opponent will have an easy route to taking the back, and from there you’ll be in a whole world of trouble.