There are plenty of reasons to invest in a grappling dummy. Maybe you need some extra practice at home. Maybe your regular training partners are becoming less regular. Maybe you feel like drilling jiu-jitsu, but just don’t feel like leaving the house and interacting with other people. Whatever your reason, a quality grappling dummy can be an excellent tool for any and all jiu-jitsu players.
But choosing which grappling dummy is right for you can be tricky. There are seemingly endless varieties of dummies, ranging from expensive and high end, to budget friendly. They come in different positions and sizes, shapes and materials. How do you narrow down which grappling dummy is best for you and your needs? We’ve done the work for you in this complete buyer’s guide to grappling dummies, along with our recommendations for the top 10 grappling dummies on the market today.
Things to consider when buying a grappling dummy
There is a surprising amount of variation among grappling dummies. To narrow down which dummy is right for you, you should first ask yourself a few key questions:
- What movements will I be practicing on this dummy? This is the single most important question when choosing a dummy. Are you planning to drill your armbars, leg locks and transitions on the ground, or will you be using it primarily for takedowns? Or a mixture of both? Take this into account when choosing the shape and size of your dummy.
- How often will I be using this dummy? If the dummy is for everyday use, consider investing in a higher-end option to ensure you can use it for years to come.
- Who will be using this dummy? If the dummy is for your 5-year old that’s just starting jiu-jitsu, choose something small. If you’re a heavyweight preparing for an MMA fight, go (much) bigger.
- How much am I willing to pay? This may seem obvious, but there is a huge spread in terms of prices of grappling dummies, ranging from several hundred dollars to less than $30. You should go into this decision knowing that you should be able to find a grappling dummy to meet your budget.
With those questions in mind, let’s look at the key features of grappling dummies that you should consider. Those features are filled vs. unfilled, size, shape, positioning, and cost.
Filled vs. un-filled
It may come as a surprise to many buyers that many grappling dummies do not come stuffed or filled with material. For buyers that are looking to save on shipping and overall costs, purchasing an un-filled dummy would be a wise choice. Stuffing the dummy can take some work, but with a healthy amount of scrap fabric, sand, shredded paper or foam, any jiu-jitsu practitioner can stuff his own grappling dummy. An added bonus of buying an un-filled dummy is that it allows the owner to easily adjust the weight or even the shape of the dummy. Adding more sand will make the dummy heavier, replacing that sand with foam will make it lighter.
Of course, buying a pre-filled dummy saves on time and labor, and ensures that the dummy has been professionally stuffed. Whether that saved time is worth the added costs in shipping depends on each individual’s budget.
Size and weight
Maybe it goes without saying, but grappling dummies come in a wide variety of sizes. Luckily, choosing the right size for you is a relatively easy decision if you know who will be using the dummy and for what purposes.
In terms of size, dummies range from six feet long (or tall) at the high end to just over three feet long for a children’s grappling dummy. In general, adults will want to choose a dummy that is six feet long to best imitate a human opponent, while children will want a dummy that is smaller to more closely approximate their size. However, this comes with one caveat: if you plan to use the dummy primarily for throws and takedowns, you may want to consider a shorter (and lighter) dummy, because the act of lifting it into an upright position can quickly become more work than the actual drilling.
As for weight, grappling dummies can weigh up to 140 pounds. Even for heavyweight grapplers, we wouldn’t recommend a dummy that weighs that much, because simply moving the dummy around will be difficult. The standard weight for a full-size dummy is about 120 pounds, and we recommend most adults purchase a dummy close this size — again with the caveat that if you are planning to use the dummy primarily for takedowns, consider the effort involved in returning the dummy to an upright position.
If you purchase a dummy that is un-filled, you can make it as light as you would like. There are a number of reasons to want a lighter-weight grappling dummy. Maybe you are recovering from an injury and want to practice movements in a safe way. Maybe it’s something you plan to shuttle between gym and home. Maybe it’s something you want the entire family to be able to use. If weight is an issue, consider either buying a smaller, pre-filled dummy, or an un-filled dummy that you can fill with lightweight materials.
Just as grappling dummies come in all different sizes, they also come in different shapes. A major distinction here is between dummies that are human shaped (with arms, legs, and something like a head), and dummies that much closer to a heavy bag (we’ll call these “limbless” dummies). Again, choosing the right dummy starts with determining what purpose it will serve.
Grapplers that wish to practice the finer points of jiu-jitsu, such as armbars, chokes, or leg locks, should definitely choose a human-shaped dummy. These are typically more cumbersome to move around and position, but the human shape allows the practitioner to practice genuine jiu-jitsu techniques.
It’s important to note that not all human-shaped dummies are the same. Some have long arms, some have long legs, and everything in between. Carefully review the dimensions of your dummy (and use our suggestions below) before making a decision. If, for example, you know you’ll be drilling chokes, make sure you purchase a dummy that has a neck.
If, however, you plan to use the grappling dummy as more of a conditioning tool, a limbless dummy is a great option. These dummies typically look like a curved heavy bag with handles attached. No, there are no arms and legs to practice submissions, but grapplers can easily practice transitions on the ground, ground-and-pound, and basic takedowns. Moreover, because these dummies have handles and are generally easier to move around, they can be used for conditioning-based workouts. Pick the dummy up, slam it on the ground, rinse and repeat.
Positioning (stiff or pliable)
Now we’re getting into the finer points. Human-shaped dummies typically come in two forms: straight and stiff or bent and pliable. The straight and stiff dummies tend to have long, straight legs that are often difficult to manipulate. The dummies will have arms that are somewhat pliable at the shoulders, but are otherwise relatively stiff. When searching for a grappling dummy, you will see images of these types of dummies and think that they can stand on their own, but don’t be fooled, they can’t. However, these dummies are nonetheless great for takedown work; simply hold the dummy’s weight up yourself to practice a clinch takedown, or have a partner hold the dummy up to practice wrestling takedowns-based takedowns. Because these dummies have long, straight legs, they are ideal for takedown work.
Bent and pliable dummies are perfect for practitioners that wish to use their dummy mostly on the mat. These dummies can easily be placed in seated positions, kneeling positions, or crab-like positions to mimic an open guard. Because these dummies tend to be a bit more “floppy,” they are not ideal for takedown work, but their pliability makes them a great tool for drilling a wide variety of ground techniques, including work from the guard, as well as guard passing.
It’s also good to keep in mind that any grappling dummy can be modified to fit your needs. Are the legs too stiff and straight for your liking? Remove some stuffing and put a bend into the legs. Is it too floppy and won’t hold a position for proper drilling? Add more stuffing to make it stiffer.
Of course, all buyers must consider cost. Here’s the good news: not all grappling dummies will break the bank. Even adult-sized dummies can be purchased for less than $50. But beware, inexpensive dummies mean inexpensive materials, which means your dummy might not last as long as you’d like. On the higher end, some grappling dummies can cost several hundred dollars. If you are a gym owner or plan to use your dummy daily for months on end, it would be wise to invest in a high-quality grappling dummy that comes with a high-quality price tag.
If you are looking for an adult-sized dummy that is made of quality material, you should be prepared to spend over $150. If that sounds like a lot, think of it this way: you’re paying for the world’s most reliable training partner that is always available, never has ring worm, and will never ever tap you out. It’s a quality investment.
Top 10 grappling dummies we recommend
|Filled vs. un-filled||Length||Weight||Shape||Positioning||Cost|
|1. Fairtex GD2 Maddox Grappling Dummy||Filled||6’0″||110 pounds||Human||Pliable||$824.99|
|2. 4.0 Roll Hard Grappling Dummy||Filled||6’0″||70 pounds||Human||Pliable||$399.95|
|3. Revgear Motion Master||Filled||4’6″||55 pounds||Limbless||—||$199.00|
|4. Combat Sports Grappling Dummy||Filled||5’10”||120 pounds||Human||Straight legged||$329.99|
|5. Combat Corner Ground and Pound Grappling Dummy||Filled||3’6″||50 pounds||Limbless||—||$169.99|
|6. Aoneky Grappling Dummy||Un-filled||6’0″||Up to 140 pounds||Human||Straight legged||$119.99|
|7. Defy Grappling Dummy||Un-filled||5’0″||Up to 154 pounds||Human||Straight legged||$85.99|
|8. FITEMORE Grappling Dummy||Un-filled||5’10”||Up to 60 pounds||Human||Pliable||$64.99|
|9. Jayefo Beast 58 Grappling Dummy||Un-filled||6’0″||Up to 120 pounds||Human||Pliable||$42.99|
|10. Jayefo Sports Kids Grappling Dummy||Un-filled||3’2″||Up to 35 pounds||Human||Straight legged||$37.99|
This is the Cadillac of grappling dummies. For jiu-jitsu players that can afford it, the Fairtex GD2 Maddox Grappling Dummy is a great option. It is a full-size, adult grappling dummy that comes pre-filled and is pliable. Because the dummy sits naturally in a kneeling position, it is ideal for practicing techniques from the guard, or you can place the dummy on its back to drill passing and transitions from top position. Additionally, the dummy has a long neck that is ideal for drilling chokes, but at least one reviewer has cautioned that because the shoulders can be stiff, drilling anaconda or d’arce chokes is very difficult.
This might be the most durable grappling dummy on the market, and buyers should have confidence in the Fairtex brand.
The Roll Hard Grappling Dummy comes pre-filled and naturally sits in a kneeling position, but has pliable and adjustable limbs. As such, it is perfect for practicing ground work from both the guard and top position. While it is still a high-end grappling dummy with serious durability, it is significantly less expensive than the Fairtex GD2, above.
Buyers should be aware that although this dummy is full-size in terms of length (six feet), it is much lighter in weight at roughly 65-pounds than most dummies of its size. With that in mind, it would be a perfect option for adult lightweight grapplers or even children that can grow into the dummy. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a heavier workout or to feel weight that is similar to an opponent, this dummy might not be your best choice.
The Revgear Motion Master is a top-of-the-line limbless grappling dummy. It comes filled at about 55 pounds and is less than five feet long. Without any arms or legs to get in the way, the Motion Master is perfect exactly that — motion. This dummy would be a great option for grapplers looking for high-paced, movement-based workouts and drilling sessions. The dummy also comes with suggested drills from catch wrestling legend Erik Paulsen, so you can start training immediately and with confidence.
Like any limbless dummy, you won’t be able to drill submissions like armbars or leg locks. However, you can easily put a gi top on the dummy and drill collar chokes from both top and bottom position.
This dummy comes pre-filled in a variety of weights ranging from 70 pounds up to 140 pounds. It is straight legged and stiff, meaning it is best used for practicing takedowns or clinch fighting. The arms on this dummy are relatively short, and while the legs are long, they are stiff. This would not be the best option for jiu-jitsu players that want extended solo drilling sessions on the mat; there is only so much you can do with a stiff-legged opponent.
The Combat Sports Grappling Dummy would be a perfect tool for MMA fighters, judo players, or jiu-jitsu players that don’t plan on drilling advanced ground techniques. It rates high for durability and the Combat Sports brand is one of the most trusted in martial arts.
Another limbless dummy, the Combat Corner Ground and Pound Grappling Dummy is ideal for conditioning-based workouts. It comes filled at approximately 50 pounds. The key features of this dummy include the durable, reinforced stitching and heavy-duty leather material. Simply put, the dummy is designed to take a beating, making it perfect for grapplers that want to add ground strikes into their practice.
Again, like any limbless dummy, you won’t be able to drill armbars or leg locks or chokes. It is perfect, however, for drilling transitions on top, ground strikes, and for use in strength and conditioning workouts.
The Aoneky Grappling Dummy is a good option for a budget-conscious buyer looking for a quality straight-legged dummy. The dummy comes unfilled and is a full six feet in length. Like any other straight-legged dummy, it is great for drilling stand-up techniques such as throws, clinch entries, standing joint locks, and all types of wrestling takedowns. And because it comes un-filled, owners can stuff the dummy as light or as heavy as they like.
Of course, drilling jiu-jitsu techniques on a straight-legged dummy can be difficult, but not impossible. We love this option for its price tag and overall durability.
For a slightly smaller straight-legged dummy that won’t break the bank, we recommend the Defy Grappling Dummy. This dummy comes in a five-foot option for smaller grapplers, but can be loaded up to a whopping 140 pounds. Again, because it is a straight-legged dummy it is best for practicing stand-up techniques, but because it comes in a smaller option and is therefore less cumbersome, it could easily be used on the mat for certain techniques.
This dummy offers some of the best overall value out there, but don’t expect it to last for years and years. If you’re just dipping your toes into the waters of grappling dummies, this would be a perfect place to start.
The FITEMORE Grappling Dummy is an un-filled, pliable grappling dummy for buyers on a budget. This dummy’s arms and legs are long, and as it naturally sits in a kneeling position, it is perfect for advanced ground work. Something else we like about this dummy is the premium canvas material; while you should be careful that it could absorb sweat (and funk!), we’re confident it will hold up for hours upon hours of heavy drilling.
If you’re looking for a ground-based grappling dummy and you’re short on cash, this might be your best option. Just know that with its pliable nature and long limbs, practicing takedowns on this dummy won’t be the easiest.
This grappling dummy is one of the least expensive full-size options on the market. It comes un-filled and is pliable and can be adjusted to any position you like. As such, it is perfect for ground work but less ideal for practicing stand-up techniques. The dummy’s proportions — long legs and arms — closely mimic that of a human body.
Although the price may be enticing, buyers should realize they get what they pay for; this might not be the most durable option. However, if you want to drill complicated techniques that require realistic proportions and you’re looking to save money, the Jayefo Beast 58 is an excellent option.
Rounding out our list of recommended grappling dummies is an option for the kids. It’s hard to beat this dummy’s price, and even though it is just over three feet long, it can be stuffed up to 90 pounds. Adult grapplers will find little use for this dummy, as it is much too small to drill realistic techniques, but children could get plenty of use out of this straight-legged dummy.
The Jayefo Sports Kids Grappling Dummy won’t be able to offer your young grappler many complicated positions, but it will offer him or her a child-sized dummy for hours of throwing around a fun solo practice.
Many first-time buyers might be surprised to learn there are so many different options when it comes to grappling dummies. The choice can become overwhelming. But if you can identify what movements you plan to practice on the dummy, how often you intend to use it, who will use it, and how much you’re willing to spend, that decision becomes much easier.
For practicing Brazilian jiu-jitsu and ground techniques, we recommend a pliable, human-shaped dummy. For takedowns and more clinch-based techniques, we recommend straight-legged dummies with an emphasis on durability. And if you’re planning to use your dummy for strength and conditioning or MMA-based training, we recommend durable limbless dummies.