How To Flip Someone Over Your Shoulder

Whether you are a fan of martial arts movies and have always wanted to learn a couple of moves as a party trick, or perhaps you have a genuine interest in how you can defend yourself in case you ever need to, flipping someone over your shoulder can be a good move to learn.  

This article will explore the step-by-step process for flipping someone over your shoulder as well as the important safety measures to consider when practicing or employing this move.

How to flip someone over your shoulder


In order to practice this move safely, there are a few steps of preparation to take before you get started.  

Firstly, ensure that the person you have recruited to help you practice is of roughly the same height and weight as you are. 

This is important to ensure that the move is not too difficult to perform.  

Secondly, it is important to ensure that you have created a safe surface on which your partner will land. 

This move, if done correctly, is designed to cause some amount of pain to the party being flipped, therefore, having a soft landing can make practicing a lot safer. 

A crash mat of some sort would be ideal, but couch cushions could also work. A trampoline is also a good surface provided that it is big enough.

Safety Warnings

There are a few safety tips that you should keep in mind when you are practicing this move. 

These warnings are important in keeping both you and your practice partner safe and free of injury. 

The most important thing to remember to avoid injuring either yourself or your partner is to never let go of their arm during the move.  If you do let go, both of you are at risk of causing injury to each other. 

To avoid letting go, take breaks if you are starting to feel fatigued.

As mentioned above, a mat or other soft landing surface is required to safely practice this move, make sure it is big enough to create a soft landing even if you do not throw the person straight. 

As with any sporting activity, it is important that both you and your throwing partner adequately warm up your joints and muscles before you begin practicing. 

If you fail to warm up properly you are at risk of tearing or pulling a muscle.  Dislocating the shoulder of your partner is also a risk here.

In a similar vein, make sure that your maneuvering of your partner is strong and controlled, this is to avoid causing injury to either you or them and also mitigates the risk of any of their limbs smacking you in the head during a throw.


Now that we have gotten the safety warnings out of the way, let’s get into the step-by-step process of throwing someone over your shoulder. 

How to flip someone over your shoulder (1)

Step 1: Assume A Fighting Stance

The first step in initiating this move is to make sure that you are in a combat or fighting stance with your opponent.  

Make sure that your hands are firmly placed on their shoulders and their hands are placed on your shoulders. 

As the person doing the flipping, your hands should be on the inside, or closer to your partner’s neck. 

Their hands should be closer to your shoulder joint.

This is a general rule of thumb that makes practice easier, in a real fight situation it will need to be modified.

Step 2: Throw Them Off Balance

From your initial combat stance, turn around and step away from your partner while grabbing their arm. 

If you turn counterclockwise, you will grab their right arm.  If you turn clockwise, grab their left arm.

With your back to your partner and their arm pulled over your shoulder, push your butt against their hips as you tilt your torso forward and bend your legs. 

Make sure you have a wide stance to create a stable base.  

Pull their arm forward to lift their feet off the ground.  You should be able to hold them on your hips.  Their body should be positioned diagonally across your back.

Practice this step a few times if you are new to flipping or throwing combat opponents.  Start slow to ensure correct form and placement. 

Gradually increase the speed of this step until you both feel comfortable incorporating the actual flip.

Step 3: Roll Them Off Your Hip

With your opponent’s feet raised off the ground as you hold them on your hip, lean further forward and pull on their arm. 

The momentum and gravity should be enough to flip them over your back, landing on their back on the floor. 

Make sure not to try to flip them straight over your back, or to get them too high in the air. 

Not only can this increase the risk of injury to both of you, but in a fight situation, your opponent may be able to land on their feet, rendering the move pointless. 

The goal is to let the impact with the floor knock the wind out of an assailant to give you a chance to subdue them or flee.

Step 4: Make Sure They Stay Down

Once your opponent is on the floor on their back, pin them down with your preferred method.  In a real fight situation, do not let go of your opponent until safe to do so.

In a practice scenario, make sure to pin your practice partner for at least 2 seconds to finish the move properly.


Flipping someone over your shoulder is a physical move that requires strength and control to avoid injury.  Here are some tips to help you practice and execute safely.

  • Make sure that your practice partner is of a similar height and weight to you when you start out.  This will make learning the move easier and safer.
  • Make sure that the person you are practicing with is willing and understands not to try and struggle or resist until you are comfortable that you have mastered the technique.
  • Do not encourage your practice partner to jump as you try to flip them.  This will significantly increase the risk of injury to both of you.  The rolling off the hip technique is much safer and more useful.

Remember that safety is paramount when practicing any martial arts moves, you never want to harm yourself or your partner. 

If you enjoyed this post, you might enjoy our article on ‘Best MMA Gloves‘ or ‘Best MMA Shin Guards‘.

Christopher Anderson
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