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How To Use a Grappling Dummy

So you’ve ordered a grappling dummy and want to know how to use it to perfect your grappling, choking and throwing techniques. This article explores how to use a grappling dummy for maximum effect.

How to use a grappling dummy and should you buy one?

First, lets quickly discuss the limitations of a grappling dummy.

Grappling Dummy Limitations

Whilst they are great for practising your throws, chokeholds, armlocks and wrestling, there are some drawbacks and issues you might run in to.

1. They Don’t Move or React

The first and most obvious limitation of a wrestling dummy is that they don’t move.

The dummy allows you to perfect your strict form and technique however, because they don’t move, the practise won’t mimic and actual sparring or fighting situation.

If you get too comfortable and confident on the dummy without regularly training with a sparring partner, you will be in for a rude awakening when you eventually find yourself up against a real opponent.

So make sure you blend your grappling dummy practise with plenty of training sessions alongside a real sparring partner.

2. They Are Not Used Often

Plenty of fighters have invested heavily in the best grappling dummy only to find it sitting at the back of their closet for months on end.

Even MMA and BJJ gyms/dojos find themselves using their expensive wrestling dummies and make-shift benches.

So, if you are going to order a grappling dummy, make sure you keep up the habit of training with it so you get the most value for money out of your investment.

You might be better off making your own grappling dummy if budget and usability is a concern and filling the dummy with materials readily available around your house.

Just make sure you use it regularly still to account for the time, energy and effort it took to make it.

3. Limited Scope

A wrestling dummy will allow you to perfect two key areas of your fighting: manoeuvres and conditioning.

The range of manoeuvres that you will be able to train will be limited and depend on the type and style of dummy you have.

For example, if you are using an upper body dummy you will be limited to practising and perfecting arm-bars, reverse chokes and some flips.

As for conditioning, training with a dummy can be pretty tiring (especially if yours is filled with a little sand for added weight). By using it regularly you will be building your strength and endurance which will come in handy on the mat.

Grappling dummies really aren’t for learning new techniques and strategies. They are for practising ones that you already know.

These are really the main three limitations of a grappling dummy and, after considering them, you will have to decide if buying one is still the right option for you.

If you still want to invest in a throwing dummy to perfect your technique, follow the information below to get maximum use and effect out of it.

Training With a Grappling Dummy

When used effectively, a grappling dummy will make up an important part of your wrestling, MMA and/or BJJ training.

With that being said such training will never replace contact training with a real sparring partner.

Use this equipment to add to your in-person sparring and to perfect your form and technique.

Focus on The Detail

Now a grappling dummy is not for developing speed and reflexes. It is for perfecting your technique.

Take things slow and focus on the detail of every move that you are practising.

For example, if practising a roll, do it at half speed and explore the best way to move with the weight of your opponent (the dummy).

It could even be fun to mimic a match either you have competed in or that you have found on YouTube.

Mess about with how you’d respond to the moves and throws and put it into practise.

From there, make sure you cover the various movements that you might expect to see on the mat including rolls, takedowns, guard passing and more.

Remember to practise every move on both sides of the body, not just your preferred or strongest one.

Build Strength

Remember grappling dummies can be heavy. So why not work it into your standard strength and conditioning workouts!

Try placing the dummy over your shoulders (behind your neck) and run through some squats, lunches and even box jumps (if you have the equipment).

For best results work these drills into a circuit which incorporates body weight exercises and/or other styles of strength training.


So in summary you need to think carefully about if buying a grappling dummy is the right move for you.

If you decide that one could significantly add to your training regime, make sure you are using it regularly and not letting it collect dust.

Work the dummy in to your technique practise and your strength/circuit training and enjoy the results!

Jake Dennon

I am an avid sports enthusiast who has been fortunate enough to train with some of the best athletes and coaches in the world.

As a child, I had a keen interest in martial arts (karate). I've trained with one of the best trainers in my home country.

Moving into my teenage years I tried everything from calisthenics to weight lifting to Taekwondo and everything in between. While I do love all kinds of sports, my passion still lies in martial arts.

The combat sport coaches I have been trained by have also trained some of the top fighters in the industry. All of these brilliant trainers (and all the ones in between) have shown me just how rewarding keeping fit and healthy can be.

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