Many subjects in the world of martial arts are not without controversy. Consider the subject of takedowns. Are takedowns safe to do in a fight? Are some takedowns not safe to do in a fight, like the suplex? Are takedowns, specifically the suplex, safe to do on hard surfaces (such as concrete)?
These are good questions. Perhaps you already have an opinion on these questions. To be sure, many practitioners of martial arts do have opinions on these questions. For example, there is the opinion that one cannot do a suplex in a fight without injuring oneself. There is another opinion that one cannot do a suplex on hard, unforgiving surfaces without getting hurt. This author believes that both opinions are false.
Numerous examples, from UFC fights to newspaper reports, disprove the notion that one cannot do the suplex in a fight without getting hurt, while the current video posted in this article disproves the notion that one cannot do the suplex on concrete without acquiring an injury. Of course, the suplex, as well as many other high amplitude throws, are done all the time in Greco-Roman and Free-style wrestling matches without injury to the competitors. Does such examples not prove that takedowns are effective and can be done without injuring oneself?
Even so, the myths (that one cannot safely do the suplex in a fight and that one cannot do the suplex on a hard surface without acquiring an injury) persists to this day. Recently, one gentleman, upon seeing my sons practicing a suplex in a video, remarked that the suplex was “just for show.” I couldn’t help but wonder if the competitors my sons have suplexed in actual competitions would agree with that gentleman’s remark. I certainly do not agree with such a sentiment.
Although the suplex is an amazing move to watch, it and its many variations are, nonetheless, formidable fighting moves. Some of you may remember Dan Severn using the suplex with devastating results against Anthony Macias way back in UFC 4. If you have not seen that match, look for it on the internet. With that in mind, let’s return to the notion that the suplex is dangerous.
Now, if one does not know how to properly do a suplex, injury is a possibility. Few people would be surprised to find out that a person, who did not know how to drive, crashed their car while attempting to drive down a busy road. Of course, even when it comes to simple-every-day activities, such as walking, injury is a very real possibility. Why, one might roll his ankle, or slip and hit his head. It’s a crazy world we live in! It has even been said that monkeys occasionally fall out of trees. One might get the impression that life is dangerous.
So, not only is it imperative that a simple activity like walking be done correctly in order to avoid injury–it stands to reason that more complex body movements, such as a suplex, also be done correctly to avoid injury. Once an individual is trained to throw correctly, and once his / her partner is trained to break fall correctly, one can actually execute such skills in fights and even on unforgiving surfaces.
How does one learn to suplex safely? How does one learn to take a suplex and safely get up and walk away? First, you need to find an expert at this skill. The suplex is a skill that is found in numerous wrestling disciplines. You will need to study the basics. You need to properly condition your body before ever trying such a throw. This means months of special stretching, neck strengthening exercises, and break fall training–before one ever tries a suplex.
If you have neck or back problems, you will most likely want to avoid suplex training. If you do not know if you have neck or back problems, see a doctor and get a professional examination. Even if you are healthy, once you have been properly conditioned by an expert, you will still need to practice under expert supervision, throwing a lighter partner (who knows how to break fall) onto a large crash pad (I recommend a crash pad of 12 inches thickness). When it comes to mats and crash pads, don’t go cheap. Even so, good mats and crash pads are not a license to start suplexing people. Believe it or not, I have seen professional athletes get hurt, while getting thrown on a large crash pad. In other words, what I’m saying is that a crash pad is no substitute for good break fall skills.
Once you can suplex a lighter partner safely, you can start to train with someone closer to your weight–and you can move to a smaller crash pad, as your form improves. In my opinion, learning to suplex should take several years of slow and careful practice. Rushing the acquisition of this skill is not a good idea. Never suplex a person who has not been trained to break fall specifically for the suplex. For example, different variants of the suplex may call for different break falls. The suplex is not a skill for beginners. One should be versed in many other basic takedowns before ever attempting the suplex. I hope this article has encouraged you to think about the suplex. In closing, one may wish to consider whether the suplex should be legal in Brazilian jiu-jitsu matches. Why or why not? What do you think?