Mastering the Fireman Carry: Tips and Benefits

The fireman carry is a classic wrestling move that has been adopted by many different fields, including military and rescue operations, and martial arts. It involves lifting an opponent onto your shoulders, carrying them in a secure and comfortable position, and then bringing them down to the ground.

In this blog post, we will explore the history and evolution of the fireman carry, the technique and mechanics involved in executing the move, and some of the benefits and applications of this versatile and effective skill.

History and Evolution of the Fireman Carry

The fireman carry has its roots in ancient wrestling traditions, where it was known as the kata guruma (shoulder wheel) in Japan and the salto de la perdiz (partridge jump) in Spain. These techniques were primarily used as defensive moves, allowing the wrestler to escape from an opponent’s hold or throw them to the ground.

Over time, the fireman carry was adapted for military use, where it became known as the “fireman’s carry.” Firefighters, in particular, found the move useful for rescuing people from burning buildings, as it allowed them to quickly and safely carry a person out of harm’s way.

The fireman carry also became popular in wrestling competitions, where it was known as the fireman’s lift. It was first introduced to the Olympics in 1952 and has since become a staple move in freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling.

Technique and Mechanics of the Fireman Carry

The fireman carry involves lifting your opponent onto your shoulders, securing them in place, and then bringing them down to the ground. Here is a step-by-step breakdown of the technique:

  1. Set up: Start by standing in front of your opponent and reaching for their legs. Your lead foot should be in between their legs, and your other foot should be behind them.
  2. Lift: Grab both of your opponent’s legs with your arms, and lift them up and over your shoulder. You can do this by using your legs to drive upwards and your arms to pull the legs over your shoulder.
  3. Secure: Once your opponent is on your shoulders, you need to secure them in place to prevent them from falling off. One way to do this is to use your hand to hold onto their far leg, while the other hand holds onto their near leg.
  4. Bring down: To bring your opponent down to the ground, you can either drop down to your knees, pulling their legs towards you, or you can pivot on your lead foot and spin them down to the ground.

There are many variations and modifications of the fireman carry, depending on the situation and the individual’s strength and skill level. For example, some wrestlers prefer to start the move from a bear hug position, while others like to transition into the fireman carry from a single-leg takedown.

Benefits and Applications of the Fireman Carry

Fireman Carry

The fireman carry has many benefits and applications, both in wrestling and in other fields. Here are a few examples:

Strength and conditioning: The fireman carry requires significant strength and conditioning in the legs, core, and upper body. Practicing the move can help improve overall physical fitness and develop muscular endurance.

Self-defense: The fireman carry can be a useful self-defense technique, allowing you to quickly and efficiently neutralize an attacker or escape from a dangerous situation.

Rescue operations: Firefighters, police officers, and other first responders often use the fireman carry to rescue people from dangerous or inaccessible locations, such as burning buildings, cliffs, or bodies of water.

Martial arts: The fireman carry is a popular move in many martial arts disciplines, such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts. It can be used to take an opponent down to the ground or to transition into other submissions or techniques.

Wrestling competitions: The fireman carry is a staple move in freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling competitions, and mastering the technique can give a wrestler a significant advantage in the ring.

Team building: The fireman carry can also be used as a team building exercise, as it requires trust, communication, and cooperation between two people. By practicing the move with a partner, individuals can develop stronger bonds and improve their teamwork skills.

Tips for Executing the Fireman Carry

Here are some tips for executing the fireman carry effectively:

  1. Maintain proper form: Keep your back straight and your core tight throughout the move. This will help prevent injury and ensure that you can lift your opponent safely.
  2. Use your legs: The fireman carry requires significant leg strength, so make sure to use your legs to drive upwards and lift your opponent onto your shoulders.
  3. Secure your opponent: Once your opponent is on your shoulders, make sure to secure them in place to prevent them from falling off.
  4. Practice: Like any skill, the fireman carry takes practice to master. Start with a lighter partner or a dummy and gradually work your way up to heavier opponents.


The fireman carry is a versatile and effective move that has a long history and many applications in various fields, including wrestling, self-defense, rescue operations, martial arts, and team building. By mastering the technique and incorporating it into their training routine, individuals can improve their physical fitness, develop self-defense skills, and build stronger bonds with their partners or teammates.