Fireman’s carry is one of the most effective takedowns, but for some strange reason we don’t see much of it in competition.
Many of my fellow wrestlers and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioners have told me that they don’t use it because it requires a lot of strength and commitment when executing it.
Today, I’m writing this guide to break down the fireman’s carry and show my fellow competitors how simple and effective this takedown is.
Before getting to our step-by-step guide, take a look at this beautiful compilation of the fireman’s carry
Step-by-step guide to do the fireman’s carry takedown
1. Your opponent’s arm is all what you need
We’ve been taught in high school wrestling that you need your opponent’s arm and legs in order to lift them in a fireman’s carry. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
All you need is the arm
Does it seem impossible for you?
Well, it has been more than 10 years now that Judo competitors are doing fireman’s carry or Kata guruma as they call it without even using the legs.Why? Because the International Judo Federation (IJF) has banned any move where legs are grabbed.
See for yourself here
Why am I telling you this?
I’m not telling you this to ignore the legs, I want you to focus on your opponent’s arm, don’t think about controlling both their limbs, this will distract you and your move will be less effective (This is one of the biggest mistakes I see wrestlers doing).
Focus on getting under the arm, if you manage to get under, you will find the opponent’s leg waiting for you.
Fireman’s carry is not a high C takedown, don’t shoot for the legs.
2. Don’t telegraph it with an overhook
Many wrestlers make the mistake of telegraphing the fireman’s carry by doing an overhook.
The overhook obviously makes the takedown easier because you are controlling the arm you want to dive under, but if you are facing a crafty wrestler they will sense it miles away and they will disengage by pummeling out of it or even prepare a counter to surprise you.
So what’s the best grip for a fireman’s carry?
3. How to grip?
One of the most effective and the least telegraphing grips is the inside bicep tie, it gives you great control of the arm but at the same time, it doesn’t show your intention to your opponent.
Your opponent will have no clue what move you are going to shoot.
A tricep claw is also good, so feel free to experiment with both grips and see what fits you according to your arm’s length and hand’s size.
4. Elevate the arm
In order for you to get under your opponent, you must remove their first line of defense which is the arm.
Make sure to elevate it using the tricep, once the arm is up you must be quick to enter.
How to set up your opponent to lift their arm up for you?
One trick I used to do a lot in tournaments is popping the head, it served me well against my opponents.
A basic rule of thumb in wrestling and judo, when you apply a certain amount of force on your opponent it triggers an instant reaction of them going the opposite way.
If you pull their head down, they will try to fight it and push the head up and so on and so forth.
5. Spin and shoot
Remember, the deeper you are under your opponent the easier it is to put them off-balance and lift them.
- Make an explosive spin in the air to your side. Spin towards the arm you are controlling e.g. if you are controlling your opponent’s left arm make your spin to the left side.
- Drop on your knees explosively
- Your spin and drop must be simultaneous
6. Make your opponent bend over your shoulders
Remember that tricep grip you had, now is the time for the payoff, when you drop hard, keep hanging on your opponent’s tricep, gravity will take care of the rest. Your opponent won’t be able to lift you with one arm, so their body will be forced to bend over your shoulders.
Important note: Keep your opponent’s arm trapped under your armpit, everything must be tight, no space in between.
7. Time to grab the leg
By focusing only on the arm your drop was successful and the legs are there now waiting for you, without you having to make an effort to reach them.
There are several ways to grab the legs but the most secure one is to wrap your arm around the upper part of the thigh.
Wrapping your arm around the thigh is great, but sometimes you don’t need that to finish the throw, you can finish it by just placing your upper arm under the groin area. Your arm will assist the throw and help elevate your opponent.
8. Finalize the throw
The hardest part is over, now it’s time for the easy and fun part, finishing the throw.
When lifting your opponent you don’t have to stand up to finish the throw, this isn’t WWE! Except if your intention is to hurt them by slamming the body on the mat or on the pavement -if it’s a self-defense situation-.
The main goal here is to score points, pin or establish dominance depending on which rules you playing or fighting under.
9. Which side should you throw your opponent?
You have two options:
- Throw your opponent to the opposite side
- Throw your opponent forward
My advice is to throw forward, always. Why?
If you throw them to the opposite side they will fight it by posturing up with their free arm. Remember, you have only one arm tied up, their other arm is still free.
Look at these examples of clean forward throws
You see that in competition a lot, I think that’s one of the reasons why my fellow wrestlers don’t like to use the fireman’s carry that much.
Now, if you throw your opponent forward, they will have no arm to posture with and the takedown will be clean.
10. Capitalize on the throw
Many grapplers fall into the trap of not going after their opponent fast enough once the throw is successful.
When someone gets taken down, even if they are a veteran, a small window of time opens up, it’s the window of surprise, no matter how much experience your opponent has under his belt, a good takedown will still get them surprised for a split second.
It’s human nature, the brain needs a split second to analyze what happened and decide what to do to counter-attack.
This is your opportunity to capitalize. But how?
There are two ways to follow through: