The art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu mostly 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 another human.
But, scenarios can make having a grappling dummy a good investment for building up your abilities.
In short, are grappling dummies worth it?
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!
Benefits Of Using A Grappling Dummy In BJJ
First, we’ll take a 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.
A Grappling Dummy Never Gets Tired
One of the great things about a grappling dummy 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 really help your body learn it.
After you’ve put in the reps by drilling a technique a thousand times and then return 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 a great replacement for a human for powerful or risky techniques.
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 Dummy Sharpens Technique (For Some People)
Some BJJ practitioners get useful learning from a grappling dummy because they are more tactile learners. In comparison, most people are more visual learners.
You could be the 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 Using A Grappling Dummy In 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.
Boredom Leads To Wasted 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.
Increases Bad Habits For Technique
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, then drilling out the reps on a grappling dummy could be helping you to 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 useful for you to rep out the fundamentals. 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 useful 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 to learn 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 Word: Do Grappling Dummies Help 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 learn 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, you should make your way to a BJJ gym that has 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.