From Grips to Finish: How to Perform a Fireman Carry Takedown

Last updated on 07.06.2023 by

A lot of BJJ guys forget that they need to learn how to get their opponent’s to the ground. On top of knowing your basic single and double leg takedowns, you must also know basic judo techniques.

One of the easiest techniques that meshes well with basic takedowns is the “Kata Guruma” or “Fireman’s Carry”. Check out or detailed breakdown of the fireman’s carry.

Going over important details that you’ll need to know in order to be successful with your fireman carry.

What is a Fireman Carry Takedown (Kata Guruma)?

Fireman Carry

The fireman carry is a technique commonly used in wrestling, martial arts, and self-defense to lift and carry an opponent on the shoulders. It involves grabbing the opponent’s legs, lifting them up, and swinging them onto your shoulders.

The name “fireman carry” comes from the way firefighters would carry injured people out of a burning building over their shoulders to safety.

In judo, the fireman carry is called “Kata Guruma. It is one of the original 40 throws of Judo, and is categorized as a Te-waza (hand technique).

It is said that judo founder Jigoro Kano saw the fireman’s carry executed by wrestlers and loved the throw. So much so that he adopted the technique and implemented it into judo, where variations are done with the gi.

Today, all forms of grappling from judo, wrestling, BJJ, and sambo all use the fireman carry throw.

How to do a Fireman’s Carry Takedown in Jiu Jitsu

The kata guruma or fireman’s carry is pretty easy to pull off, but requires perfect technique. Here is how you execute the fireman’s carry in both the gi and no-gi.

Fireman Carry Takedown Step-by-Step Setup in Gi

Grip Position

There are a lot of different grip variations that you can use for kata guruma, but will stick with the basics. You’re going to start with a basic collar and sleeve grip.

One hand on your partner’s collar and the grabbing material right at their elbow. In judo, a judoka will try to grab as high on the collar as they can to set up their throws. 

Positional Control

These grips will help you control the position of your partner. Use the grips to push and pull your partner off balance before going into your throw.


There are numerous setups and entries for the fireman’s carry, but we’ll just detail the normal entry. Use your collar and sleeve grips to pull your opponent up and towards you.

Pulling them off balance and allowing you to go into your penetration step. As they come forward, you’re going to let go of your collar and drop to your knees. Dropping right under your partner and hooking around their leg.

Finishing the Fireman Carry Gi Takedown

For the finish, you’re going to lay your partner over your shoulders to hold their weight. Once they’re loaded, straight your outside leg to the mat, and roll them off your shoulders to the mat.

Fireman Carry Takedown Step-by-Step Setup No-Gi

Grip Position

In no-gi, the set-up will be a bit different since you’re not wearing a gi. The basic grips you should have when first learning the fireman’s carry are inside collar ties on your partner’s arms.

Positional Control

When holding inside collar ties, keep your elbows closed, and don’t open them. Also keep your tight under your partner’s chin to win the battle of head position.

These two points of positional control will allow you to move your partner around and go into your entry.


For the entry, you’re going to start by pushing and pulling your partner. Push them back to make them react, and then bring them forward.

Next, change your level, take off one of your collar ties, and hook the inside of your partner’s leg. Just like the gi version, be sure to drop right under your partner, or they’ll easily defend your attempt.

Finishing the Fireman Carry No-Gi Takedown

After you dive into your partner and have them loaded on your shoulders, you’re ready to finish the takedown. Straighten out your back leg on the mat and roll your partner over onto the mat.

Common Mistakes to Avoid 

There are a lot of mistakes grapplers make when going for the fireman carry. Here are some of the main mistakes to avoid

Not disrupting balance

Before going into the takedown, you have to disrupt your partner’s balance and posture. If you attempt your throw when their balance isn’t disrupted, the takedown will fail.

Being too static

You can’t be too static when doing a fireman’s or any takedown for that matter. You have to be a mix of loose and tight to flow into position and then tighten up to finish the takedown.

Telegraphing the entry 

The setup is everything with any type of takedown or throw. If you telegraph and dive in from five feet away, don’t expect to hit the fireman.

Not Getting Under Opponent

One of the biggest mistakes that people make with the fireman’s carry is not getting under their opponent. They drop down right in front of their opponent and get frustrated with why the move isn’t working.

With most takedowns and throws, you have to go under your opponent’s center of gravity or hips. Doing this allows you to lift and take your opponent up for the takedown.

Allowing Them to Posture up Because of Slack

When you dive in, you have to keep your opponent’s posture broken. By letting go of their arm or sleeve, they’ll be able to posture back up and defend the technique.

Tips to Prevent Your Opponent from Standing Up

A problem that many have with the Fireman Carry Takedown is that even if they complete the takedown, their opponent stands up. Here are some tips to prevent your opponent from standing up.

Keep Control of Opponent

A lot of grapplers will finish the takedown, but forget to control their opponent once their back hits the mat. Be sure to follow your opponent to the mat and control them in side-control.

Don’t Let Go of Opponent’s Arm & Legs

Once your opponent’s back hits the mat, don’t let go of their arms or legs. Keep this control as you move to side-control or mount.

Head & Arm Control

Controlling an opponent’s head is usually a good way to keep them from standing up and going where you want. Once you’ve finished your takedown, quickly switch to head and arm control. They’ll then have to worry about getting out of kesa gatame side-control.

Useful Fireman Carry Takedown Variations

There is a library of different fireman’s carry variations for you to choose from. Here are some of our favorites in the gi and no-gi.

Single Leg to Fireman Carry/High Crotch to Fireman Carry

A fireman’s carry is great off a fake single leg and high crotch single leg. For the outside single leg, your opponent will often defend by taking away their lead leg.

When doing this, it opens up a path for the kata guruma. Keep your momentum going and hook your opponent’s far leg. Going right into your fireman’s carry with ease.

A high crotch single leg entry is exactly the same as a fireman’s carry. A lot of times, when you go for a high crotch, your partner will sprawl right on top of you.

All you have to do when they defend is step your back knee to your front knee. Loading your partner and taking them over.

Olympian and UFC champion Henry Cejudo perfectly breaks down these techniques in this video.

Gi Fireman Carry Variations

There’s a wide variety of different fireman’s carry in the gi, but here are two of our favorites. The first we’ll detail is off of your partner having a collar grip.

You’re going to re-grab above their collar grip with a collar grip of your own. Bring your elbow down and use your grip to push and turn your partner. As they turn, it gives you the opening to go right into your takedown.

Next, we have a fireman off a cross collar grip with a same side sleeve grip. Push with your sleeve grip and pull with your collar grip to create your opening to go into the kata guruma variation.

Check out Olympian and BJJ black belt Travis Stevens break down these variations along with three others.


A fireman carry takedown is one of the must techniques that you need to know in grappling. Be sure to read through all the details of the techniques above, along with the instructional videos. Once you get it down, you’ll be picking your partner’s up like a fireman nonstop.