Help. My BJJ Instructor Doesn’t Teach ANY Stand Up

Help. My BJJ Instructor Doesn’t Teach ANY Stand Up

Takedowns. The most spectacular techniques in grappling. A show of aggressiveness, physical attributes, timing and skill with each succeeded takedown. But they are rarely trained as often as they should. Even worse, in some gyms, students barely get to train takedowns. They are important for a multitude of reasons. They are paramount in self defense and can provide you with a starting 2-0 and top position in competitions. So you decide to train them, but at your school you don’t get too much of that.

Figure 1. Wrestling, one of the toughest sports on Earth. It requires a lot of skill, physical ability but probably the biggest thing it requires is mental fortitude.

First, you have to understand there are legitimate reasons why you may be starting from the knees a lot or all the time. Let’s look at them in order to further understand the issue and potential solutions:

  1. Mat space. Not all gyms are blessed with huge mat space. More space in a gym means a higher rent and you have to remember BJJ isn’t mainstream yet. As such, most gym owners are practitioners themselves who are making a huge effort to sustain the gym. There are few gyms that have huge sponsors behind them. Starting from standing and doing takedowns requires space for movement, scrambles, etc. Just look at D1 Wrestling and look at those situations where one shoots for a double, the other sprawls and they keep going until their out of the match surface. Now imagine multiple pairs doing that at once, in a confined space. That is just a recipe for injury and accidents waiting to happen. Starting from the knees ensures that you need less space and that potentially you can stop much easier should you need to, rather than being in a full blown scramble.
  2. Student level. Another very big reason is your actual skill level. If you’re a beginner, still spazzing and can rarely control yourself properly, takedown sparring can prove a dangerous affair, especially if you take into consideration everything goes square when you add a partner that’s just the same. Give it a little time, until you will be able to control yourself better, and you will be given the opportunity to start standing.


Figure 2. It’s generally a good idea to keep beginners from standing sparring for a while until they learn how to properly break a fall, among other things.

  1. Takedowns are hard. Anyone who ever trained Judo/Wrestling or starts sparring standing will know taking people down is hard. It’s tiring, you waste a lot of energy and it requires you to grind and push through. Perhaps the gym is not taking the competitive approach and rather targets casual people and they don’t want them that much of their comfort zone so that they don’t risk losing them.
  2. Instructor not versed in takedowns. It might very well be the case that your instructor has little to no experience with takedowns and he prefers to keep his students in his own area of knowledge, in which case, you are probably better of doing takedowns somewhere else.

These 4 are by far the most common reasons for your instructor not allowing you to start sparring standing. But you still want to learn takedowns and practice them. What could you possibly do?

  1. Talk to your teacher. The first step to take is to actually talk to your teacher to see what his reasons are. It might make sense to you, it might not. But you will know the reasons and you will be closer to finding a potential solution.
  2. Morning classes. If matspace is the problem, going to the morning classes might be a workaround. Morning classes are generally much less populated and as such you have more matspace available to start standing.
  3. Dedicated wrestling / judo classes. This one is rather obvious but if you can go to judo or wrestling classes then that’s perfect. You’ll get a full session worth of takedowns practice, sparring included. Most high level BJJ gyms usually have separate takedown classes. If yours doesn’t, you can always check with your instructor if it’s cool to train takedowns somewhere else.
  4. Open mat. Another way to go about this is to schedule open mat with a partner then go and work takedowns alone. First, make sure there is a open mat policy at your gym and second, if it’s open mat then you are responsible for your training structure. That means it will be a good idea to document before hand and look up some tutorials for what you want to work. This can prove a good lesson as well when it comes to taking your development into your own hands.


  1. Switch gyms. Finally, if no solution seems to work and if your instructor keeps banning standing sparring without any reason given and you decide takedowns are important (they are) and you want to study them, the only solution you are left with is changing gyms. Since you are planning in advance, be sure to check your next gym up before enrolling. See if you can spectate classes or have a talk with their head coach and inquire about their policy when it comes to takedowns. Most gyms that emphasize the self defense aspect will also encourage takedown practice.

So you want to improve your Judo and wrestling don’t you?