There is no substitute for a live training partner, but sometimes a training partner just isn't available and drilling is an important part of training for groundwork grappling. For those times I don't have a training partner available and want to train/drill grappling technique and ground work how useful would a grappling dummy be?

The closer to a live person a dummy is, the more useful I would expect training with them to be. How close to a live person are they?

  • Can you put them into different positions and expect them to be able to maintain those positions given no outside interference? Eg If a dummy is put into a kneeling position, can it hold that position without toppling?
  • When you attack a joint, how much resistance is there? Eg If you try to armbar a dummy, will you feel no resistance at first, then resistance when the arm is straightened out at 180 degrees, or will you feel progressive and increasing resistance leading up to the straightening of the arm, or will you feel no resistance even past 180 degrees?
  • How lifelike are the joints? Eg are the elbows hinge joints, do the shoulders simulate the ball and socket joints of a human shoulder?

Of course the dummy would be unable to react respond to your movements.

Extra points for those who have tried multiple dummies, and both commercially available dummies and home made dummies.

  • 1
    Never used one, but i've read that they are actually -better- than a training partner, when used in conjunction. This is because you do not have to "water down" techniques by altering them so the uke can safely ukemi out of it. I'm very curious to see what people have to say.
    – Chris
    Apr 4, 2012 at 3:59
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    There have been some decent answers. However I'm looking for an answer from someone with at least a moderate amount of time training with them, or an answer that references the experiences of others.
    – chobok
    May 25, 2012 at 6:37
  • training dummies are great.. I can even cope when the gym names their dummy "Brian'.. it's difficult to cope when people say they're going to visit "Brian" ;)
    – user6827
    Oct 22, 2013 at 13:34

9 Answers 9


Grappling dummies have their place and are useful. But like you said they are no substitute for a real body.

I must preface this with the fact that they only grappling dummies I've used are the ones with no legs or arms that are really only mean for dragging around, picking up, and working ground and pound. and they are good for that.

As for grappling dummies for practicing throws: I would say your better of doing uchi komis to work on your foot work, body movement and breaking the balance, once you've got that, no grappling dummy will react the same as a human body for the actual throw part so it won't be that beneficial. Better off wrapping a gi around a pole.

For working ground techniques like arm bars, chokes, and pins, something like the bubba dummy is pretty ideal, but its a little on the expensive size: http://www.bubbadummy.com/html/how_to_order.html

This website has some reviews and information on some of the dummys available: http://grapplingdummys.net/

Any of the three on there would be suitable for drilling basic ground technique with.


Disclaimer: I can add up the number of minutes I've personally spent with grappling dummies without taking off my shoes. (And by "grappling dummies" I don't mean "judoka who've had too many concussions".)

From a RGA London student on /r/bjj, a disclaimer:

If you're fairly new to grappling I would stress that it IN NO WAY is a substitute for training with real partners and that you'll still need to do that all the time.

...and some answers to specific questions:

Q: Can you put them into different positions and expect them to be able to maintain those positions given no outside interference?

A: It depends:

You can probably imagine basically which moves it's possible to do with a dummy, but here's an extended take. Standing guard passes work really well, as you can basically bend the limbs out to mimic somebody spider-guarding you - although obviously you won't get the same pressure. Moves from mount and side mount are great. Leglocks (I've been working on some stuff from Reilly Bodycomb which are against BJJ rules) work great. Submissions from guard are more tricky, because it's difficult to get the right pressure from the dummy - but I've been practicing some rubber guard stuff with reasonable success. Sweeps from guard are tough, because you can't really get the dummy to posture up on its knees properly without tying its legs together. Guard breaks aren't that useful, although you can simulate a closed guard/halfguard by tying its legs together. Escapes from mount and sidemount aren't the best because you aren't getting proper pressure from your opponent. Moves that require the dummy to be on hands and knees (stuff from sprawl control, say) require you to tie the dummy's legs together. Anything with you on the ground and the dummy standing clearly won't work. A general rule of thumb is, if you need to 'feel' an opponent's pressure or balance to make a move work, you aren't going to be able to drill it properly with the dummy. The website claims that you can practice throws on it, but that seems ridiculous. That still gives you a lot to work on, though.

I am surprised and a bit dubious that he doesn't see the benefit of practicing throws on an object that doesn't whine when you makikomi (land on it). Perhaps that's more useful for people who already understand the mechanics and pressures of a throw and just need to ingrain the total commitment necessary to throw hard.

Q: When you attack a joint, how much resistance is there?

A: It's not meant to mimic a human's resistance, it's meant to mimic a body's mass. So, no, it won't try to stop your armlock and then have the same amount of tension at the elbow joint. From a related /r/bjj post, this time regarding a homemade dummy:

[He] comfortably bends his joints at all the same angles as we do.

If you try and force it at points where the natural tap "zone" would be you meet resistance. The wiring is electrical service entrance wiring as well so provides stiffer resistance when you go against the natural curvature of Bubba the majority of the time.

Q: How lifelike are the joints?

A: If you take a look at the pictures of this homemade dummy, obviously the answer is "not terribly". The answer above suggests that commercial dummies are better, but I wouldn't expect much. These are more "punching bags with limbs" than crash-test dummies. Again, we're replicating the mass of the body, not its actual physiology.

But I'm not sure that's the point. As the homemade-dummy-maker explains, the purpose of the dummy is to drill copiously, or drill when no partners are around, not to perfectly mimic the feel of a real human:

How much use this dummy is going to be to you is down to two things: how convenient it is, and how dedicated you are. I've got a girlfriend who lets me leave it in the living room for days on end and at worst put it in a cupboard, and as such it's always there - if I had to go train in the garage with it, or wait until I was alone in the house, it wouldn't be as useful. As it is, it's like having a training partner who never demands a go, or says he's tired, or doesn't fancy training. If you want to do a move 100 times you can. If you're reading an instructional at midnight and need someone to try the move on, it's there. If you've got ten minutes before breakfast, you can bang out some reps of that move you're going to try in the evening. I can't emphasise enough how useful this is.

But that wouldn't work without discipline. I enjoy jits, but more than anything I enjoy feeling like I'm getting better at it, and going from class to class without a structured way to improve was getting to me. Training with the dummy is boring, but if you've got the discipline to do those 100 reps, it will get you results. Look at it this way: if you're the sort of guy that ends up chatting to your partner during the drilling bit of class, you might not get much out of it. I'm a big believer in Eddie Bravo's idea that doing a move should be as instinctive as tying your shoes, and if you do enough reps, it will be.


I hope this is helpful on your journey. I have a dummy called the Submission Master. For me it has been an asset, since it can go into guard position and I can work on reps to practice passing the guard. There are merits of having a dummy and I believe the benefits outweigh the flaws. For example, a person who is not very dedicated may say, "I don't have time," but the dummy will never tell you no. Reps can be important to help in the muscle memory of the technique, which can be very important when learning new techniques. It is true the dummy may not be able to attack but I think it gives time to think about situations. For example, while going for a triangle choke, I imagine it trying to strike at me. I also believe the dummy can be useful for practicing submissions that are now taboo, for example, heel hooks and perhaps some other rare wrestling submissions, which may be illegal in Judo or BJJ and some other grappling.


Dummies (with limbs) are a great tool to build proprioception, specifically around maneuvering across and around body-shaped objects (like a body). They build awareness of possible limb positions and help drill the "baseline" moves used in grappling.

Your specific questions are unanswerable, because there a wide variety of dummies available.

Heavier ones can be used as part of a strength and conditioning program and can help figure out your own idiosyncrasies regarding throws, pivot points, and so on--obviously a dummy won't react like a person, but that isn't always the point: when you're learning a technique, particularly ones drill able from a static(-ish) starting point, your opponent isn't going to defend either.

Dummies are an adjunct, helpful in fairly limited ways.


Grappling dummies are most useful for a ground work not for take down training.

From what is available on the market submission master is most realistic grappling dummies available Part of what makes it so good is the fact that its arms and legs are stiff enough to be realistic and also to return back to their original position, but also elastic enough to easily bend into the various submissions. I found this site useful for grappling dummy info.


I have 2 judo dummies. A 100 pound one and a 120 pound one. They say that a 120 pound dead weight dummy is equal to a 200 pound man. They are great for multiple throws without a partner. It gives you a good aerobic exercise. Use a weight belt around the dummy for ease of lifting it up again for another throw. Also good for wing chun practice too.

  • Welcome to Martial Arts! Can you please elaborate on how useful they are. Are they only useful as 'good aerobic exercise'? In that case you can do weight-lifting instead.
    – THelper
    Dec 14, 2015 at 8:11

It works great,If it's all you have at the time. Try doing a Brabo or an anaconda on nothing but air. Dummies are awesome (**if they're all you have). Getting used to where the limbs are and what they feel like when you grab them and wrap them up is invaluable,compared to nothing at all.On a scale of 0 to 5 with 5 being the best training partner you could have anything at all is better than a 0. When you finally do find a place with people you can work with you can worry about putting it all together then, but at least you'll have all those reps with some familiarity already planted in your mind.


My rolled up rug throw device - dummy is my very best training partner.

The dummy is always ready, willing and able.

It is made from a rug that is six feet tall by about 30 feet long, rolled up then rigged together with packing twine - nothing more; cheap and easy to make.

Take dummy to the beach and give it a toss; works well on mats, too.

Toss dummy suplex and over the knee or lateral drop.

  • Do you have any experience with other training dummies for comparison? Does your dummy help with attacks on joints?
    – Mike P
    Dec 2, 2016 at 11:37

Watch these YouTube videos and think about how you might benefit from a long hard workout on such a machine.



A rolled up rug becomes an excellent throw dummy. The dummy is always ready and never complains about anything.

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