The Collar Drag: My Favorite Geriatric Takedown

My school encourages us to start all our rolls from standing. Takedowns are fun and far less risky than most people think (fingers crossed, knock on wood, small animal sacrificed). Still, I’m getting old. Takedowns can also feel like a chore at times. Aside from going gray in the strangest of places, my neck and lower back sometimes feel like the petrified remains of a Stegosaurus. I’ve grown wary shooting my shitty single or double because of my neck and attempting throws that involve any kind of twisting motion put my lower back in jeopardy. Enter the collar drag. It’s a deceptively simple and effective takedown. It’s also implemented into one’s game with relative ease and it doesn’t have too steep a learning curve.

Most of us are familiar with collar drags from an open guard position. If not, Firaz Zahabi has a fantastic vid that goes into sufficient detail:

Collar drags from standing are markedly similar to seated collar drags though there are some adjustments to be made. Also, some prefer a same side collar grip rather than the more familiar cross collar grip.

Lately, I’ve grown to prefer the same side grip when attempting a drag, especially when I implement the drag in the manner Travis Stevens demonstrates in the following vid (Stevens calls it a sweep single in the vid. I’m used to a sweep single from more of a wrestling perspective a la Cary Kolat)*:

Note that Stevens is grabbing above the same side collar for even better control. That particular grip is almost like a combination of a collar tie and a collar grip if that makes sense.

Ironically enough, Yuri Simoes hit a cross collar drag on Travis Stevens in their match in 2017. Simoes provides a brief breakdown of the move here:

Kent Peters over at ZombieProofBJJ also has a solid vid that provides some more details on Simoes’ collar drag from a cross collar grip:

The initial lateral step that both Simoes and Stevens demonstrate above helps cut a fantastic angle of execution that often forces an opponent into a roll (or a face plant so be careful). If they manage to base out or end up in turtle, one is in a great position to attack the single leg and finish the takedown.

Another crucial detail that helped my collar drag a ton is driving through my opponent while simultaneously dragging them down. I think that’s imperative for an effective drag regardless of what grip you choose. My initial attempts at collar drags often found me just dropping my weight and pulling my opponent onto me. I’d end up in half-guard or worse.

Collar drags are a great bargain when it comes to takedowns. It can almost feel effortless at times when done correctly. It’s also a pretty low-risk move that doesn’t require some Herculean expenditure of strength or energy and they are relatively safe to execute. Even if you’re a strapping young man or woman in your prime you might still dig this takedown.

*7 to 1 odds this triggers some ferocious, pedantic debate somewhere on grappling nomenclature :-/.

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