Today’s article is going to be about one type of simulation dummy for combat sports training – the grappling dummy. This type of dummy is used in all sorts of martial arts, mostly in MMA, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, wrestling, and judo, as those are the biggest sports that actually involve grappling. Other combat sports and martial arts usually don’t allow grappling, so the grappling dummy is not that useful there.
What Is a Grappling Dummy?
Well, a grappling dummy is a simulation dummy for practicing grappling techniques in different combat sports. Unlike other dummies, a grappling dummy is designed specifically to imitate a live human, meaning it has a head, a body and all four extremities. It is, however, positioned specifically to imitate a grappling position, so you will have a good sense of what you need to do and how you should practice with it.
A grappling dummy usually looks like this:
Which Martial Arts Use a Grappling Dummy?
The actual number of martial arts that use a grappling dummy is limited. This is due to the fact that not all martial arts allow grappling, so you won’t be needing one in karate, taekwondo, boxing or similar disciplines. On the other hand, there are enough martial arts that use grappling to choose from and we are going to list the most important ones:
Mixed Martial Arts
Mixed martial arts originated as mixed combat sports in Ancient China and Ancient Greece. The Chinese combat sport of Leitai is one of the first mixed combat sports and utilised elements of different kung fu styles, boxing and wrestling. In Ancient Greece, such an example can be found in the art of pankration, a very specific martial art that combined boxing – which was very popular in Ancient Greece – and wrestling – which probably originated in Mesopotamia or Ancient Egypt. Pankration was extremely popular (even the most popular sport, according to some historian) in Ancient Greece and there is vague evidence that similar mixed combat sports were practiced in Ancient Japan, Egypt and India. Different hybrid martial arts developed as centuries passed, but despite a large number of historical influences, modern MMA is considered to stem from Brazilian jiujitsu and vale tudo; the latter is yet another full-contact hybrid combat sport that originated in Brazil. Vale tudo events date back from the 1920s. MMA events continued to develop as decades passed until 1993, when the first official global MMA event – the UFC 1 – was held in Denver, Colorado. This is the official “birth year” of MMA and one of the most important events in the evolution of mixed and hybrid combat sports. UFC 1 was televised and it was in a review by critic Howard Rosenberg that the term “mixed martial arts” appeared for the first time.
Wrestling is a modern combat sport that involves grappling techniques such as clinch fighting, throws and takedowns, joint locks, pins and other grappling holds; the aim of wrestling is to pin your opponent down on the mat, thereby winning the match. The sport can either be theatrical for entertainment purposes (professional wrestling), or genuinely competitive; competitive wrestling has several styles such as folkstyle, freestyle, Greco-Roman, judo, sombo and others, although some of them are now distinct martial arts and/or combat sports. A wrestling bout is a physical competition, between two (occasionally more, although seldom) competitors or sparring partners, who attempt to gain and maintain a superior position. There are a wide range of styles with varying rules with both traditional historic and modern styles. Wrestling techniques have been incorporated into other martial arts (especially judo, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and MMA) as well as military hand-to-hand combat systems. The term wrestling comes from the Old English word wræstlunge (glossing palestram).
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) (Portuguese: jiu-jitsu brasileiro) is a self-defence martial art and combat sport based on grappling, ground fighting and submission holds. BJJ focuses on controlling one’s opponent, gaining a dominant position over him and using a number of specialised techniques to force them in to submission via joint locks or chokeholds. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was first developed an modified in the 1920s by Brazilian brothers Carlos, George and Hélio Gracie after Carlos was taught traditional Kodokan judo by a travelling Japanese judoka called Mitsuyo Maeda in 1917; the brothers later went on to develop their own self defence system named Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, which is not that different from traditional BJJ, but it’s still very distinctive. BJJ eventually came to be its own defined combat sport through the innovations, practices, and adaptation of Gracie Jiu Jitsu and Judo, with governing bodies such as the IBJJF working worldwide, becoming an essential martial art for MMA.
Judo (柔道, jūdō, lit. gentle way) is a modern martial art, which has since evolved into a combat and Olympic sport. The sport was created in 1882 by Jigoro Kano (嘉納治五郎) as a physical, mental, and moral pedagogy in Japan. With its origins coming from jujutsu, judo’s most prominent feature is its competitive element, where the objective is to either throw or take down an opponent to the ground, immobilize or otherwise subdue an opponent with a pin, or force an opponent to submit with a join lock or a choke. Strikes and thrusts by hands and feet as well as weapons defences are a part of judo, but only in pre-arranged forms (kata, 形) and are not allowed in judo competition or free practice (randori, 乱 取り). It was also referred to as Kanō Jiu-Jitsu until the introduction to the Olympic Games. A judo practitioner is called a judoka and the judo uniform is called judogi. Th philosophy and subsequent pedagogy developed for judo became the model for other modern Japanese martial arts that developed from koryū (古流, traditional schools).
How and What with Do You Fill a Grappling Dummy?
Although it might be better to buy one because of the very specific design it has, a grappling dummy is not something you cannot make yourself, at home. Rener Gracie, of the famous Gracie family, made a very detailed video guide you can check out online:
Since the video is pretty detailed, we won’t be bothering you with the details, but are rather going to tell you which materials you can use to fill your own grappling dummy:
- Shredded paper – this will keep the weight light and at the same time pack the dummy to its full. This is also a very cheap way to fill your dummy, because shredded paper doesn’t really cost that much. You can find papers at your home or you can also find companies who destroy their documents and instead of wasting them, you can use them to fill your dummy.
- Shredded fabric – similar to the first option, you can use shredded blankets, towels and similar pieces of fabric to fill your dummy. This will make the dummy a bit heavier, although you will still be able to use it. This is a bit more expensive than the former option, because you need to buy a bunch of blankets and towels, shred them into small pieces and then fill your dummy with them. If you want to make the dummy heavier, fill it with more pieces of towels and blankets.
- Mix materials – mix materials are also a good way of filling your dummy, beside using paper or fabric. You can also use some sand to fill the dummy. This will make the dummy moderate in weight and make learning a bit easier.
- Polyester – polyester is also a good method of filling your dummy, but since it’s not something you have laying around the house, you’ll need to spend some money to get it. A package is not overly expensive (around $20), but you’ll still have to spend more money than on other materials (1-3).
What Size Grappling Dummy Should You Get?
The question of size depends on several factors. Namely, first – you have to consider your own height and weight, as to not buy a dummy that is too big or too heavy (or vice versa) for you.
The second thing you have to watch out for are the techniques you want to practice on the dummy. Not all dummies are fit for all techniques, with the smaller and lighter ones generally not having as much to offer as the larger ones.
Although each manufacturer offers something of his own, here are some general guidelines when it comes to size and weight:
|32 kg (70 lb)
|163 cm (5 ft 4 in)
|Takedowns, grappling, throws
|41 kg (90 lb)
|167 cm (5 ft 6 in)
|Takedowns, grappling, throws
|54 kg (120 lb)
|178 cm (5 ft 10 in)
|Takedowns, striking, ground-and-pound
|63 kg (140 lb)
|178 cm (5 ft 10 in)
|Takedowns, striking, ground-and-pound
Are Grappling Dummies Worth It?
Whether you’re spending money on buying one, or time on making one yourself, you might wonder whether it’s actually worth it to have a grappling dummy? Like most utensils, a grappling dummy has its benefits and its downsides and we are going to list them here for you.
|• Their joints limbs and joints are designed to give you some resistance but without the possibility of hurting anyone if you use too much force or perform the move incorrectly, which is good safety-wise;
|• The dummy can’t fight back, which means that it’s not a good sparring partner, rather just a practice partner;
|• Likewise, a grappling dummy is not likely to injure the trainee, unlike a human training partner, which is also beneficial safety-wise;
|• They generally don’t have hands or feet that you can securely latch on when performing submission moves;
|•You are able to slow down your movements while learning new moves, something you cannot always demand from a human practice or sparring partner;
|• Most models are suitable for either submission moves or pummelling/throwing but not both, which means that you’d have to buy two;
|• They allow near limitless repetition, improving your muscle memory and reaction speed in live training;
|• They can be overly expensive so it wouldn’t be very meaningful to spend so much money if you’re not a real pro;
|• The limbs can return to their original position after a submission move, hold, choke, or rough takedown (just watch out for the durability of a dummy);
|• Although generally made of durable materials, they can wear out. The lifespan of a grappling dummy depends on how often you use it and how durable it is generally.
|• Depending on the model, dummies can assume human like positions suitable for either submission moves or take-downs, throws, and sweeps.
What Are the Best Grappling Dummies You Can Get?
After reading all of this, if you decide on buying a grappling dummy rather than making one yourself, we’ll being you a list of some of the best models out there, along with their prices so you can pick for yourselves:
The best grappling dummy model that you can buy right now is from the Combat Sports manufacturer, which you can see here. Worth noticing is, that it is really not cheap, so we highly recommend looking at the one from Celebrita MMA. It is as good as the first one, but far cheaper.
If you are looking for a grappling dummy for your kid, then this one is your go-to option.
Well, that covers everything you need to know about grappling dummies in different martial arts and combat sports. If you want to know more about the world of martial arts, please follow us and see you next time.