Grappling Dummy – An Olympian’s View

I have been doing Judo for over 22 years and I have competed and trained in some of the hardest dojos and gyms on the planet. For me personally, I was a little bit skeptical when it came to the use of grappling dummies. I had this weird belief that grappling dummies were no good because it wasn’t a real person and therefore didn’t react or feel like a real person. While I was training for the Beijing Olympics I had a fantastic training partner who was there whenever I needed him to train. With 3 months to go before the Olympics my training partner got thrown with a terrible ko soto gari and suffered a torn ACL and needed a knee reconstruction. This meant that not only did I lose a training partner but I lost the amount of repetitions of uchikomi I was doing day in and day out.

One of my friends mentioned that someone needed to invent a robot that kept standing up everything you throw it- I instantly thought of a grappling dummy.

I soon found a mixed martial arts gym on the far side of town that stocked legend grappling dummies.

I started doing hundreds and hundred of repetitions of my favourite throws such as Ippon seoi nage, double leg takedown and Te guruma (high crotch). I also began working on my top control game by doing various position changing while on top and I even began pulling guard with the dummy as a warm up.

As the Olympics were getting closer I began increasing my fitness and conditioning with various hill sprints and circuits. To further enhance my throwing technique and fitness levels I began adding throws, takedowns and top control drills to my fitness circuits. By adding throwing to my circuits I found that the power I could generate when throwing a resisting opponent increased purely because I was repeatedly exploding in order to throw the dummy. 

As a Judo and Brazilian jujitsu instructor I am constantly using the grappling dummy as an extra body if we have odd numbers in a class. A few years later I am still finding things to do with my dummy such as chin ups while holding the dummy between my legs, push ups, box jumps and zercher squats. More recently I applied for the local fire brigade and as part of the test I had to drag or carry a hundred pound dummy roughly one hundred meters and so I practice with my own dummy in order to pass the test.

I highly encourage my clients to use a grappling dummy, (especially if they are busy and cannot make it to training) because if they miss training they can still work on their footwork, speed and increase their throwing speed in the comfort of their own homes.

Here are some of my favorite throws I do using the dummy. I usually perform 1 throw and then perform 2 burpees after each throw. I usually try for 20-50 throws a set. You can do:

– Ippon seoi nage (shoulder throw)

– Koshi Guruma (cross buttocks)

– Morote gari (double leg)

– Single leg into fire mans carry (Kata guruma)

– Osoto gari (Major outer reap)

– Juji gatme (arm bar)

– Sankaku jime (Triangle choke)

– Zercher squats 

– Overhead press

– Dummy drags for 3 laps of the dojo

Give these workouts a go and watch your fitness and technical skills improve dramatically.