How To Modify Judo for BJJ Takedowns [Interview With Olympian Matt D’Aquino]

This article is to discuss how to modify Judo for BJJ takedowns.


Because every Brazilian Jiu Jitsu match starts standing.

So you need to get good at takedowns if you want to get good at BJJ.

In fact… a study of 100’s of matches from the IBJJF World Championships showed:

The most effective and efficient way to win a fight is to get a takedown that immediately creates a submission attack opportunity

Most Effective Way to Win BJJ Fight is With a Takedown Infographic

Credit: JiuJitsuBrotherhood

And even though BJJ is a direct descendant of Judo…

…it’s now so different that it’s tough to go straight from one to the other

Let’s find out why:

What’s the difference between Judo and BJJ?

As far as throws and takedowns are concerned:

In Judo the match STOPS if someone is thrown substantially on their BACK, with both FORCE and SPEED. If all 3 criteria aren’t met then it continues down onto the mat for groundwork.

In BJJ even the best throw will just score you a few POINTS for a takedown… but the match will always continue onto the ground.

[This means how you land is just as important as the takedown]

Kosen Judo for BJJ


The International Judo Federation banned throws that involve grabbing the legs.

[More on that later]

The Most Important Techniques of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Udemy Course
Double Leg Takedown: Listed in The Most Important Techniques of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

So when I started cross-training Judo and BJJ something became clear pretty quickly…

…the Judo throws I drilled the most wouldn’t end the BJJ fight, and could leave me either:

1. In a good position where I could immediately transition into a submission,
2. On top, in a dominant position like Side Control…

But also:

1. Inside someone’s Guard, or
2. In a bad position with my back exposed

Judo Throw Leaves Back Exposed for BJJ

Credit Rik Vander Sanden (Creative Commons, No Modifications)

But hey:

I’m only what you call a ‘Hobbyist Black Belt’…

Judo for BJJ: An elite grappler’s experience

What if you’ve competed in Judo at the highest level… and then started training BJJ?

To find out I asked Matt D’Aquino of Beyond Grappling. Matt is a Judo Olympian and National Champion, 4th Degree Judo Black Belt, and a BJJ Brown Belt

Picture of Matt D'Aquino for How to Modify Judo for BJJ Takedowns Article

He’s also the creator of this: Judo for BJJ Takedowns Course

Here’s Matt’s answers:

1. When you started BJJ what were your go-to throws?

1. Fireman’s Carry (Kata Garuma)
2. Drop Shoulder Throw (Drop Seoi Nage), and
3. Double Leg Takedown (Morote Gari)

Matt D'Aquino - Judo Throw

Matt D’Aquino in action

2. Were these Judo throws less effective in BJJ because of the rule differences?

Yes. I found that BJJ guys moved differently and reacted differently and I really struggled with their reactions. I almost found it easier to throw a Judoka opposed to a BJJ player.

Note the traditional upright posture in Judo where the legs are more exposed…

Judo Upright Posture Vulnerable to BJJ Leg Grab Takedowns

… compared to the more bent-over posture in BJJ because you have to worry about leg grabs:

BJJ Bent Over Posture to Prevent Leg Grab Takedowns

Credit Akiko Yanagawa (Creative Commons, No Modifications)

Another problem I had was the ‘re-roll’. This is where you throw yourself so much into the throw that you roll over your opponent after the throw and you end up on the bottom.

A great Judo throw example… but note the follow-through:

I also found that BJJ guys do a lot of sprawling (due to MMA/wrestling influence) and I couldn’t double leg anyway, whereas a Judo player never practices a sprawl and so they were easier to takedown.

3. Are there any Judo throws (or groups of throws) you wouldn’t necessarily recommend for BJJ?

I think all throws are great if the context/timing/situation is right.

The best throw done in the wrong timing will become the worst throw, and the worst throw in the correct timing will be better.

My biggest downfall was always the Inside Leg Trip (Ouchi-Gari)…

…even though it was one of my favourite Judo throws I had trouble using it as a BJJ Takedown because I would consistently end up in my opponents Closed Guard:

The biggest key for throwing in BJJ is to not only focus on the throw, but the 2 second transition after the throw because this is where the positional game comes in for BJJ.

Here’s a great example of transitioning to the ground game immediately after a throw – foot-sweep (Deashi) straight into an armbar in a BJJ comp [9 second video]:

Many Judoka (myself included) often get a takedown only to lose the advantage in the next exchange.

The best in the world capitalize on the transitions, and have transitions between positions down to an art.

Here’s an example of a great Judo throw then a separate groundwork exchange:

4. What are the 5 best Judo throws for BJJ?

I think there aren’t 5 best throws because like I mentioned the context/timing is more important.

However in BJJ you mainly see:

  1. Collar drags
  2. Single Leg Takedowns (Kuchiki Daoshi/Kibisu Gaeshi)
  3. Double Leg Takedowns (Morote Gari or Sukui Nage)
  4. Drop Shoulder Throw (Seoi Otoshi)
  5. Advanced Foot Sweep (Deashi Barai)

Check out Matt’s course on how to modify these Judo throws  for BJJ:

Beyond Grappling Judo for BJJ Course by Matt D'Aquino

Summary: Is judo good for BJJ takedowns?

Yes, but some modifications are needed if your training is based around modern IJF competition rules. You’ll need to learn defense against leg grabs, and focus on the transition immediately after the throw. Practice with non-Judokas so you can get used to the differences in their movement and the different grip-fighting that’s allowed. And don’t forget leg locks.

Beyond Grappling's Judo for BJJ by Matt D'Aquino - Course Content


If you have a Judo background and haven’t trained defense against leg grabs…

…when you go straight into a BJJ competition you might be in for a surprise.

Here’s a video from Matt about his tactics for beating Judo players in a BJJ rule-set:

Comment below:

Have you made the transition from Judo to BJJ? What was your experience?

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