What You Should Know About Grappling Dummies In Order To Find The Best Grappling Dummy For Your Needs
If you are serious about perfecting your fighting techniques, a grappling dummy that will allow you to train when and where you want may seem like an obvious solution. Indeed, practicing with a high quality dummy can be very beneficial in supplementing your workouts with a training partner.
With that being said, there are several factors you’ll want to consider before rushing off and buying the first grappling dummy that comes along. Not all grappling dummies are created equal, and even among those that are durable, versatile, and realistic, some dummies are better suited for specific purposes than others.
To help clear this confusion and allow you to find the best grappling dummy for your specific needs, we’ve created a breakdown of all the factors and information you’ll want to consider as well as our recommendations of the best grappling dummies on the market.
Our Current Top 5 Recommended Grappling Dummies
What is a Grappling Dummy?
Before we can really dive in to the various details about what makes a grappling dummy worth the investment, a good place to start is to define what exactly a grappling dummy is, what they can be used for, and what types are most suitable for different styles of training. In short, grappling dummies are lifelike training devices that allow you to practice your techniques without the aid of a partner. With this said, there are still several different types of dummies available, and not all of them are suited for the same type of use. In fact, even the name “grappling dummy” itself can be misrepresentative, seeing as some dummies are made for throwing and striking and not really for grappling at all. To better illustrate this, let’s take a more in-depth look at the comparison and contrast of the two main types of grappling dummies available.
Throwing and Striking Dummies vs Submission Grappling Dummies
While the two categories are often vaguely defined and the terms are sometimes used interchangeably even among the companies producing the dummies, there are actually some important differences between these two types of training devices. For instance, while throwing and striking dummies are great for practicing ground-and-pound tactics, throws, and takedowns, their straight position and rigid design often make them unsuitable for being put into a wide variety of submissions that you may want to employ. Likewise, while submission dummies are great for allowing you to practice submissions from within your guard, from within their own guard, side control, and a good many other positions that come into play during grappling, their positioning makes them a little less suited for throwing than their counterpart. Even still, for most fighters a submission grappling dummy will prove far more valuable. While it really comes down to what you yourself want to get out of the dummy, submission grappling dummies will allow to effectively practice far more techniques than you could achieve with throwing/striking dummy. While throwing/striking dummies are great for practicing ground-and-pound tactics, submission dummies can easily be used for the same purpose (so long as they are durable enough) making them the far more versatile choice of the two and (most likely) the most preferable choice for someone wanting a MMA dummy, wrestling dummy, or a jiu jitsu dummy.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Grappling Dummy
Even though you may have a pretty good grasp on what type of dummy will best suit your needs, there are still several important factors you’ll want to take into account when comparing grappling dummies. While some of these are specific to certain styles of training, most of them pertain to the quality of the dummy and are pretty standard no matter what you want to use it for. In order to make sure you get a grappling dummy that will last for many years and provide you with the most beneficial training, here are the factors you will want to consider:
Let’s face it: any time you’re buying a product whose primary purpose is to be beat to a pulp day in and day out, durability is going to be of the utmost importance. Even the smallest rip can turn into a large one that renders your expensive grappling dummy all but unusable. To avoid this, a good place to start is to look at the material the dummy is made out of. Each company has their own unique materials and most of them are very durable. Even still, a quick internet search of the material name should give you a good idea of its quality and strength.
Another important factor pertaining to durability is the quality of the stitching. Multiple rows of good, tight stitching and reinforcement stitching in high stress areas ensures that the seams won’t split when you are performing a submission and goes a long way to making your dummy last for many years.
With grappling dummies, getting the right flexibility can sometimes be a little tricky. If the limbs are too stiff, then you won’t be able to bend them into submissions very easily. Likewise, if they are too flexible then they won’t provide enough resistance to offer you a realistic training experience. Most of the time, dummies that fall into the category of submission grappling dummies give a lot more attention to this than dummies that are more intended for throwing and striking, once again meaning that if you hope to practice submission tactics with your dummy then you should definitely consider the former of the two.
A second important detail corresponding to a dummies flexibility is the position that it is placed in. In order to practice the widest range of tactics, you’ll want to look for a dummy with bends at the elbows and knees and that has arms and legs that stay upright on their own. This positioning lets you practice a variety of submissions such as arm bars, triangle chokes, omo platas, and kimuras from a variety of positions such as within your guard, within the dummies guard, side control, and more.
Lastly, it’s important that the limbs of the dummy return to their natural position once you let go of them. This small detail will keep you from having to reposition the dummy after every submission and allow you to get many more reps during the same amount of training time.
This is often the category that confuses people the most. Obviously you want a realistic training experience, and therefore logic would say that the appropriate weight for a dummy would be somewhere near the weight of an actual training partner. With this thought in mind, it can be really puzzling to see that most grappling dummies on the market weigh less than a hundred pounds. While this may seem counterintuitive, the reason for the reduction is quite simple. When training with a dummy, you are having to maneuver a lifeless, motionless body, often referred to as a “dead weight” and this makes it feel much heavier than it actually is.
Despite the effort that has been put into accounting for dead weight, you will still want to choose a size that fits you best. In order to do this, the best thing to do is look at your own weight class and choose a dummy that falls into the same range. For example, if you’re a heavyweight fighter you’ll want a dummy on the upper end of the spectrum, a featherweight fighter will want one of the lighter models, and so on.
Determine your own intentions and capabilities and choose a weight that best accommodates them and your practice will be the most beneficial.
Weight is almost always considered, but many people fail to consider the height of a dummy. Yet if you don’t train with a dummy that is the proper height then you will have a difficult time practicing certain submissions and techniques. As a general rule, it’s a good idea to look for a dummy that is roughly the same height as you are. Take this into account and you can avoid purchasing a grappling dummy that is too far on one extreme or the other.
We’ve touched on this already when we talked about the different types of grappling dummies and the specific benefits that they offered, but the truth of it is that the more drills your dummy is able to help you perform, the more you’ll be getting for your money. As stated, submission grappling dummies are generally the better choice in terms of versatility and adaptability, but there are still many other factors you will want to consider before determining if a particular dummy is going to allow you to practice the widest range of tactics and submissions. Evaluate your own style, do your research, and determine which dummy is the most versatile choice for you.
In short, finding a great grappling dummy need not be a very difficult process. Consider these five factors and you’ll be well on your way to purchasing a beneficial, long-lasting dummy.
Top Five Grappling Dummy Reviews
Now that you’ve got a pretty good idea about what to search for in a grappling dummy, let’s dive in and take a look at we consider to be the five best dummies available today. Each of these dummies performed very well in our evaluation, earning them the top spots in our list. Consider one of these five dummies and you can’t go wrong.
Submission Master Grappling Dummy Review
Granted, every dummy we’ve included on this list is an excellent product and a worthy addition to any fighter’s training gear collection. With that said, the battle for first place wasn’t even close. So much attention has been put into the Submission Master’s every detail, and so many aspects of how fighters train were considered that the result is a dummy that provides a training experience that is more realistic and beneficial than any dummy we’ve had the chance to use before.
Part of the reason for this is the perfect positioning and flexibility of the dummy. The limbs of the Submission Master are stiff enough to provide a realistic amount of resistance yet bend easily enough to practice a variety of submissions. On top of this, they are positioned so that the dummy is able to sit up on its own, allowing you to practice from within your guard. The Submission Master is also able to keep you within its own guard, able to be used from side control, full mount, and most any other position you may want to train from, allowing you to practice the widest variety of submissions and techniques of any dummy on the market today. Lastly, the limbs of the Submission Master allows return to their original position, allowing you to keep on training without having to take the time to reposition them after every rep.
As great as the Submission Master is to use, it wouldn’t mean much if it wasn’t durable enough to take a pounding. Thankfully, this was taken into account as well. To start, the dummy is covered with 1000 Denier Cordura material, a high-strength fabric that is very resistant to rips and tears, along with being waterproof, meaning that the Submission Master’s inner material won’t soak up any unwanted moisture. Really, the only disadvantage to this material is that it feels a little stiff at first use. After a few training sessions, however, it breaks in quickly. Along with the strength of the Denier Cordura exterior, the durability of the Submission Master is further enhanced by multiple rows of tight stitching, making the Submission Master a highly durable dummy that will last as long as you need it to.
At eighty-five pounds and dimensions equivalent to those of a six-foot tall person, the Submission Master is correctly sized for most fighters, which is good seeing as it does not come in any other size. Aside from its lack of size options, the Submission Master is a highly versatile dummy. While its primary purpose is indeed submission and grappling techniques, it is plenty durable enough to take the punishment of ground-and-pound tactics and light enough to accommodate some throws as well.
All said, the Submission Master is one of the most cutting edge grappling dummies available today. The durability, versatility, and realism of the training it provides are all truly top notch. Particularly if you are primarily concerned with practicing submissions and grappling tactics, the Submission Master is a truly unbeatable choice, earning it an unquestioned number one ranking.
Bubba II Grappling Dummy Review
One of the more versatile options available, the Bubba II can be used as either a submission grappling dummy or a throwing/striking dummy almost interchangeably, making it a sort of hybrid dummy that is great for fighters that want to practice both styles. This versatility makes the Bubba II especially suited for filling the role of an MMA training dummy or any other style that has an equally heavy focus on striking as it does submissions.
Part of how the Bubba II is able to achieve this hybrid versatility is with just the right amount of compromising on its positioning. The legs aren’t straight like many throwing dummies, but they aren’t bent nearly as far as submission grappling dummies. While this means that the dummy can neither stand on its own nor kneel, it does mean that with a little extra effort you can train with it as either function.
Concerning the flexibility of the Bubba II, the limbs of the dummy are made to provide just the right amount of resistance, and the joints are made so that they only give in one direction, just like a real person’s joints. Like the Submission Master, they also return to their original position after they’ve been bent. The material of the Bubba II is very durable and resistant to tears, and the dummy comes with a one year warranty as well. At 5’10” and around 70 lbs, the Bubba II only comes in one size, but it should still be able to accommodate most fighters.
All said, the Bubba II’s versatility is what gives it a great second place ranking. It may not be as adept at submission training as the Submission Master, but if you want a dummy that you can use to practice throws just as well as submissions then the Bubba II is a great dummy to consider.
MMA Grappling/Jiu Jitsu Dummy
Like the Submission Master, the MMA Grappling/Jiu Jitsu dummy is made for practicing almost specifically submission and grappling techniques. The bends at the knees and arms mean that the dummy is able to kneel on its own, allowing you to work from within your guard, turtle position, north south, side control, and full mount, and the material in the limbs is stiff enough to provide plenty of resistance and allow them to return to their original position after you have performed a submission.
Concerning the dummy’s durability, the exterior of the MMA Grappling/Jiu Jitsu dummy is covered heavy duty, military grade nylon, making it plenty resistant to rips and tears and also able to take the punishment of ground-and pound tactics should you wish to practice your striking techniques as well.
The weight of the MMA Grappling/Jiu Jitsu dummy is right at 75 lbs and the dummy has the proportions of a 6’ man. One nice thing about the MMA Grappling/Jiu Jitsu dummy is that it also comes in a kid-friendly size of 35 lbs and a 4’6” height equivalent. Also, if you would like to save a little money, you can purchase this dummy unfilled and fill it yourself—a nice option for the budget conscious, DIY types.
Unlike the Bubba II, the MMA Grappling/Jiu Jitsu dummy is not suited for practicing throws, and its positioning and flexibility is not quite on the level of the Submission Master. Still, for its intended use of practicing grappling and submission tactics the MMA Grappling/Jiu Jitsu dummy still outperforms the vast majority of the grappling dummies on the market today. The limbs are stiff yet flexible enough and bent at the appropriate angles, allowing you to efficiently practice most any submission from arm bars and knee bars to rear naked chokes and triangle chokes from most any position. If for some reason you are looking for a grappling/submission oriented dummy alternative to the Submission Master, then the MMA Grappling/Jiu Jitsu dummy is probably the best choice available.
Combat Sports Legged Grappling Dummy
Despite its name, the Legged Grappling Dummy is the first dummy on our list that is almost primarily a throwing/striking dummy. The ultra-thick legs (made so that the dummy can stand upright on its own) are completely straight and far too inflexible to make the dummy suitable for practicing submission techniques. With that being said, the Legged Grappling Dummy is one of the best throwing/striking dummies you will find. At 120 lbs, the dummy is quite heavy and is still able to stand on its own without any support. This is absolutely wonderful for allowing you to step back and practice a wide variety of takedowns, sweeps, and striking techniques. At 5’10” tall, the Legged Grappling Dummy is the appropriate height for most fighters to use in this sort of manner and the added weight gives a little bit of realistic resistance to your takedowns.
When dealing with throwing/striking dummies, durability is a must. They may not be as prone to tearing at the joints as submission dummies, but they have to be able to stand up to pounding after pounding. With this being the case, the Legged Grappling Dummy would not have made our list if it was not ridiculously durable. The dummy is covered with heavy duty nylon, and its thick, solid construction resembles that of a punching bag more than a dummy. In short, it can more than handle the abuse that is required of it. Really, the only drawback to this dummy is that it is not very good for practicing a wide range of submission tactics. As such, submission dummies may be the better choice for most fighters, but if you’re part of the group that would rather have a heavy duty, throwing/striking dummy that can stand up on its own, then the Combat Sports Legged Grappling Dummy is miles ahead of the rest.
Title Freestyle Throwing/Grappling Dummy
A second throwing/striking dummy, the Freestyle is an excellent alternative to the number five dummy on our list. Before we really dive into the details, one of the most obvious advantages of the Freestyle is its price. If you’re looking for a throwing/striking dummy on a budget then the Freestyle may be the perfect option.
Aside from its cost, one big pro of the Freestyle is the fact that it comes in several different sizes, ranging from 70 lbs to 140 lbs, allowing you to get a dummy that is most suitable for you. While the Freestyle dummy will not easily stand up on its own, it is still well suited for practicing sweeps and throws, and its limbs are a little more suited for submission training (though still not great) than many throwing/striking dummies.
As mentioned, durability is of the utmost importance for any dummy, and the Title Freestyle is probably the most durable choice on our list. The exterior is made from triple-ply synthetic leather, ensuring that it can take all the jarring strikes and punishing throws you can give it without ever ripping and spilling the stuffing inside. If you’re looking for a dummy that you will be able to beat relentlessly day after day the Freestyle is up to the task.
Again, this is not a dummy for perfecting your submission techniques. The limbs are just too thick and are not positioned correctly to allow for such tactics to be easily performed, and while the Freestyle is a little more suited for submission work than many throwing/striking dummies, if such practice is your primary concern then it’s probably best to look elsewhere. If, however, you want a dummy for throwing and striking that is as tough as nails and won’t cost you a small fortune, then the Title Freestyle is an excellent choice, earning it the final spot on our list.
Grappling Dummies FAQ
Q: I want to train in throwing, striking, and submission tactics. Which dummy should I buy?
A: In truth, buying two dummies, one throwing/striking and one submission, would be the best choice, but sometimes this isn’t a practical solution. Still, no one dummy can provide perfectly realistic training in every aspect. What you’re left with then is to try and find a dummy that is as good as possible in each regard. For training ground-and-pound striking, all you need is a dummy durable enough to take abuse. For throwing, you really need a dummy that is straight and can at least somewhat stand on its own, and for submission work you need a dummy that is bent and flexible. It’s these last two that are so contradicting and make it so hard to find a dummy that is perfect in every area. With this being the case, it all comes down to which area of training you want to emphasize. If you are more concerned with submission training, go with the Submission Master. If you don’t mind sacrificing some of the quality of submission training you’ll be getting for the ability to throw the dummy, then the Bubba II is an excellent hybrid choice.
Q: Why is maneuvering an 80 pound dummy more difficult than maneuvering my 180 pound training partner?
A: When you are training with an actual individual, you’re working with a fluid body. That is even if they are moving against you, the point is that they are still moving. It all has to do with some fundamental physics: an object in motion tends to stay in motion while an object at rest tends to stay at rest. A lifeless, immobile dummy is therefore going to feel much heavier and more difficult to maneuver than a person of the same weight. With this being the case, it’s important to carefully consider the weight of your dummy and not purchase one that is the same weight as yourself thinking it will give you the most realistic training experience. Go lighter and you’ll be far better off.
Q: Can a dummy completely replace a training partner?
A: Not really, but they can certainly supplement one. Think of it this way, working with a training partner is how learn the technique, figure what you’re doing wrong and learn how to do it right, and a grappling dummy is for practicing it over and over again at bone-snapping force until you’ve perfected it. While a grappling dummy can’t really offer enough realism to teach you all the ins and outs of a technique, they can certainly allow you to get enough full-force reps to become proficient at it.
Choosing The Best Grappling Dummy – Final Thoughts
Hopefully by now you’ve got a pretty good idea about all the various aspects of grappling dummies and how you can use them to improve your own abilities. Before you purchase any dummy, even the ones we’ve found to be the top five, be sure and evaluate what you hope to get out of it and carefully consider each of the factors listed above. As with much martial arts gear, which dummy works best for you ultimately comes down to your own particular style and needs. If you want the best, most realistic submission training then the Submission Master is the way to go. The flexibility and positioning of this dummy is simple unbeatable, and the realism of the training it provides is better than any dummy we’ve had the chance to use. If you want a hybrid dummy that can be adequately used for submission work, striking, and throwing, consider the Bubba II, and if you are wanting a throwing/striking dummy that can take day after day of pounding punishment only or if you are on a really tight budget, then the Combat Sports Legged Grappling Dummy or the Title Freestyle are both excellent options. Whichever dummy you choose to purchase, always remember that they are only a supplement to an actual partner. An extremely useful and valuable supplement, but a supplement nonetheless. While nothing can replace training with another fighter, the ability to train at full force any time you choose has made grappling dummies one of the most popular pieces of gear for today’s fighters. If you want to drastically improve your own ability, find a dummy that suits you and train on.