The art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu mainly involves training and sparring with another person.
The intricate skill development of limbs constantly moving around and position changes make it best to train with a partner.
But, scenarios can make having a grappling dummy a good investment for building up your abilities.
Grappling dummies are worth the cost if you need one to keep practicing fundamentals when you are stuck at home by yourself or if you want to drill more advanced takedowns that have an added risk of injury for a human partner.
To learn more about why grappling dummies are good or bad and whether you should invest in one, keep reading this article!
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Best grappling dummy options
First, let me tell you a bit more about the grappling dummy options I’d recommend for BJJ.
DAAN MMA Dummy
This dummy is a great choice because it’s in a typical BJJ defensive position.
You can use this to your advantage by imitating moving, passing guard, and getting into submission positions.
It comes unfilled, so you can choose what to put inside.
Good options are sand for a heavy dummy opponent or old rags and clothes for something more lightweight.
Combat Sports Legged Dummy
If you’re looking for something taller and pre-filled, this might be better for you.
This grappling dummy comes in different heights and weights, allowing you to pick out the best-sized grappling partner.
Each dummy also comes pre-filled, so you don’t need to figure that out yourself.
But it’s primarily useful for practicing takedowns and ground and pound, making it an excellent option for MMA fighters.
The long straight arms can help practice the passes and implementation of armbars, though.
Benefits of grappling dummies for BJJ
Let’s look at a bunch of the positives of using a grappling dummy in your BJJ practice.
Some are obvious, but some you might not have thought about yet.
Grappling dummies never get tired
One of the great things about grappling dummies is that they will never pause from exhaustion or have to take a break.
The main benefit of that is drilling for as long as you want.
If you have a technique, movement, or submission that you want to practice repeatedly, then you can do that until you get tired out (but not your dummy partner).
Drilling techniques are one of the core methods of absorbing each step into something like muscle memory.
It’s always best to be drilling on an actual human being as the live scenario will bring the best rewards, but drilling the same technique for hours could help your body learn it.
After you’ve put in the reps by drilling a technique a thousand times and then returning to a live sparring scenario to try it out, you might see a huge improvement.
It can also help with your conditioning for grappling and ground fighting.
A grappling dummy never gets injured
You can’t ever inure your grappling dummy, making them an excellent replacement for a human for powerful or risky techniques.
Except for those rare occasions where you rip it open at the seams after performing a gnarly armbar.
This simple difference between a dummy and a regular human makes them advantageous to use, especially for movements or takedowns that have higher chances of injury to a human.
You can throw around your grappling dummy as much as you want with as much ferocity as you can bring in your techniques.
It’s not the same as performing a takedown on a human, but you can drill out a forceful takedown or throw and not have to worry about injuring them if something goes wrong.
Grappling dummies can sharpen your technique
Some BJJ practitioners get useful learning from a grappling dummy because they are more tactile learners. In comparison, most people are visual learners.
You could be one in ten people that find a grappling dummy extremely useful in sharpening a specific technique.
Learning a BJJ move in class and then taking it home with you to drill it out on your grappling dummy may help you sharpen the movements.
Some people get a ton of benefits from just repeating the move on a dummy freely until it makes sense. But this isn’t the same for everyone.
So how could you know if a grappling dummy actually helps you learn better? Borrow one first and try it out.
Negatives of grappling dummies for BJJ
While a grappling dummy can be useful for certain types of people due to their learning type, you should be aware of some clear disadvantages of using one before jumping to get one.
You might be wasting your money
Many people who buy a grappling dummy actually never use it as much as planned.
It seems like a great idea at first.
You might have a situation where you’re stuck at home and practicing BJJ alone more often or can’t get into the gym to train, so instead, having the dummy to use whenever you want seems like the next best option.
But plenty of people can eventually get very bored of grappling with the dummy. Being able to drill techniques freely sounds great at first, but the lack of challenge can detract from the benefits.
In the end, the dummy ends up in the back of the closet, and you end up wasting your money.
If you’re thinking of buying a grappling dummy, then it’s smart to weigh up exactly how you will benefit from it and if that is for a decent amount of time.
Otherwise, you might end up listing it on Craigslist pretty quickly.
Training with poor technique creates bad habits
Earlier, I mentioned that a grappling dummy could help you to sharpen your technique.
But if you have bad habits or a bad technique to start with, drilling out the reps on a grappling dummy could help you learn the wrong way to do it instead of the right way.
If you’re considering a grappling dummy, I’d recommend just making sure you get it for the right reasons.
For early-belt BJJ practitioners, a grappling dummy could be helpful for you to rep out the fundamentals.
It might help you earn your BJJ blue belt much faster.
Things like using your weight instead of strength, knee positioning, and movement around an opponent are all great ways to use the dummy for beginners.
It might not serve a beginner very well to use a dummy on repping out submissions or more tricky techniques.
Training with a coach is the best way to learn new techniques to spot and improve your flaws.
For more advanced BJJ practitioners, a grappling dummy could be helpful in getting out the reps they need for conditioning, muscle memory, and sharpening what they already know.
Although beginner or advanced in BJJ, there’s always the concern of learning a bad habit because you’re not practicing it against a human or with a coach to guide you unless you have one at the gym.
Final say on grappling dummies for BJJ
Grappling dummies help your BJJ technique if you use them to drill fundamental movements and improve your conditioning for grappling.
When using a dummy, there is a high potential to learning bad habits in your technique, so it isn’t a replacement for live sparring.
The bottom line is if you have skills you need or want to develop in BJJ, particularly for self-defense, you should make your way to a BJJ gym with a reputable coach to guide you.
If you want to drill out repetitions to develop better muscle memory for particular movements, then a grappling dummy could be a great investment.