BJJ GRIP STRENGTH
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has become an extremely popular form of combat, and in its modern format athletes are constantly improving their technical systems. The art incorporates a high element of transitional components, a fierce array of submission maneuvers, and a control system that uses heavy pressure, and a series of fundamental grips.
What this article covers:
- The Importance of Using Grips in BJJ
- The Importance of Having Grip Strength
- How to Increase Grip Strength
- Different BJJ Grips
Using Gi and No Gi jiu jitsu grips, is how athletes can gain a definitive advantage over their opponents. Using wrist grips, neckties, under hooks, over hooks, sleeve grips, pant grips, and collar grips are the main functional grips in both disciplines of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Using grips in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu requires significant grip strength, and athletes will utilise different methods to gain any advantage they can over their competitors. Grip strength incorporates three main elements, the first is flexion, which is the hands and fingers' squeeze power. The second element is extension, which is the hand's ability to spread its fingers in an outward motion, and the third element is wrist strength, and mobility. All of these aspects combined is what makes the hand function by squeezing onto an opponent's collar, and taking control of the neck, the wrist, the tricep, or the legs. The stronger an athlete's grip strength is, then the harder it is for an opponent to break the grips, and the easier it will become for an athlete to administer choke holds, and joint locks.
THE IMPORTANCE OF USING GRIPS IN BJJ
All practitioners of the art will use grips, whether they compete or train in the Gi, or the No Gi variations. Grips are significantly important for all aspects of grappling, and this is because fundamentally they are crucial to securing a takedown, passing the guard, executing a sweep, maintaining control, escaping from submissions, and submitting opponents. Grips are a good way to stifle an opponent, which can sap their energy, stop them from being able to escape, and frustrate them by forcing mistakes. Sometimes an opponent can get overzealous with their movements, which can result in giving up positions, and if an athlete has good grip fighting bjj techniques, then the chances of scoring points, or submitting their opponents are extremely high. Gripping onto an opponent's lapels in the Gi are extremely important, because many of the chokes an athlete can utilise has an extremely brutal nature, which can end a fight rather quickly.
THE IMPORTANCE OF HAVING GRIP STRENGTH
It is important to have an extensive knowledge of how to use grips, but more importantly an athlete needs to have a considerable amount of grip strength. An athlete can know all the right grips to use, but if their grips are weak, then an opponent will easily break free from an athlete's control. This is why an athlete needs to condition their body so they can be extremely effective with their grip fighting. Grips are needed for all aspects of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, from passing the guard, to setting up various joint locks, and choke holds. All transitional components rely upon an athlete gripping their opponent, from setting up takedown maneuvers, to utilising different sweeping concepts. All of these concepts require more than just knowledge, they require a certain level of strength behind the grip. An athlete that applies a Gi choke will find out how easily their grips can wear out, if they are not strong enough. This is evident from competing in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournaments, because even after an athlete's first fight, usually their forearms are completely gassed. This is where an athlete usually realises how far behind they are in terms of grip strength, so they will begin to build up the strength, and resilience in their fingers, hands, wrists, and their forearms. It is only until a beginner has had years of hands on experience within the Martial Art, that they build up a resilience within their gripping ability.
WHAT IS WRIST MOBILITY
Having strong grips, and knowing how to use them is only half of the battle. One of the most important factors in grip strength is wrist mobility, and this is because an opponent will commonly try to latch onto an athlete's wrist. This can cause a host of different problems like hyperextension of the wrist, which can lead to tendon, and ligament damage, sprains, dislocations, and even fractures in the wrist bones. Athletes will also need dexterity in their grips to be able to access some of the techniques that have a higher degree of difficulty. Athletes need a certain level of mobility within their wrist, and this is because the hands are extremely useful in every facet of life. Unlike other joints in the body, the wrists are complex joints that can move in every direction. There are many bones, ligaments, muscles, nerves, and connective tissue in the wrist, making the significance for wrist health imperative. The wrist has multiple ranges of movement including flexion, which supports the squeezing power of the hand, extension which is how the hand can extend outwards, and adduction and abduction which is the movements from side to side. Stretching, and building up the strength in the wrist is crucial to a more mobile, flexible, and strong set of grips.
HOW TO INCREASE GRIP STRENGTH
There are a few factors to consider when an athlete is looking to build up a significant grip strength. The first aspect is an athlete's crushing power, and this is the act of squeezing the hands together in a ball. A good exercise is to use a dynamometer, and this is a piece of handheld equipment that an athlete can crush with their hands. They can also use other crushing implements like rubber rings. The second aspect is an athlete's ability to pinch with their fingers, and using weight plates, or something heavy to squeeze, and pick up with an athlete's finger tips will help considerably. The hang is extremely important for grip strength, and doing chin ups is a great way to build up strength, except the arms, and the shoulders will take too much of the brunt, so just simply hanging is a great way to build strength in the hands, fingers, and the wrist.
Extension is usually the most commonly missed workout for grip strength, as all athletes focus on crushing power, but the importance of extension power is crucial. A good exercise is to use a thick rubber band, placed around an athlete's fingers, as they begin to flex their fingers outwards. Wrist exercises are vital to the overall structure of the hand, and a good exercise is to use rotational movements to build up strength, while working on the flexibility, and mobility of the joint. Using kettlebells is an excellent way to work on all of these aspects, as the versatility of the kettlebell will allow an athlete to build up significant strength and resilience in a functional way. These are all important elements in fortifying a strong set of grips, and athletes will need to work extensively on these principles to gain the significant strength that is required.
There are other workout methods that can help an athlete build up a remarkable amount of grip ability. dumbbell lifts can be quite helpful, especially if the athlete uses their fingers to pick up the head of the weight. Doing bicep curls, but focusing on tilting the wrist will become an effective method of strengthening an athlete's grip. Farmers walks are when the athlete holds heavy objects that have handles, and walks for an extended period of time. This type of exercise is not only good for wrist control, but for building up resilience, and strengthening the whole body from the core up. Using resistance bands is another extremely efficient way to build up grip strength, while also maintaining a good level of mobility within the joints in the hand.
Using grip strength exercises is only half of the workout routine, as the most important part is stretching. If an athlete does not limber up the muscles, and the joints in the wrist, then there is a high chance of an athlete securing an injury. Good stretches are for an athlete to extend their arm with their hands in a stop motion, from here the athlete will pull back their fingers to stretch all of the muscles in the hand and wrist. This can also be achieved by placing their palm face down on a table, with their fingers facing inwards, as they apply pressure to the structure of the hand. Pushing the fingers into the other fingers on their other hand is called isometrics, and this kind of stretch is great for functional mobility, and strength building, and this technique can be done with no strain, or impact on the joints at all.
Sometimes the best way to build up a significant strength is to do it in the most functional way for the sport they compete in. For Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, an athlete should just keep training in grappling, and using the Gi is a great way to do this. When an athlete rolls against training partners they should continually secure grips on their opponent's Gi, and this will help to build up a resilience, and a dominant strength within an athlete's hands. Another good concept is to use the Gi for functional movements, and this means to hang the Gi over a chin up bar and do pull ups, or lay on their back and have their opponent stand over the top of them, as they pull themself up by gripping onto the lapel. These kinds of concepts will help to build functional strength within an athlete's hands, and all while doing it getting used to holding onto Gi grips.
DIFFERENT BJJ GRIPS
There is an extensive range of different grips used in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Using a single hand grip like the c grip is good for initially controlling an opponent's hand, or ankle, so is the cupping grip, or the monkey paw, as this grip is used for securing a necktie, trapping the tricep for an arm drag, and holding onto the lat muscle during sweeps. Two handed grips are more secure like a gable grip, which is when an athlete connects their palms together with four fingers curled over the carpal bones in each hand. The s grip is another controlling grip, where an athlete will connect their hands together with one palm facing up, and the other palm facing down, as their fingers are connected. These grips are used to trap limbs, and help to secure different chokes like the paper cutter, the head and arm choke, and the darce choke.
The seat belt grip is an extremely common grip used when an athlete secure's the back control position over an opponent. This grip from the back control position will see an athlete use one of their forearms underneath the neck, while their other hand threads underneath the armpit and connects with their other hand. The choking hand will have the palm facing towards their opponent’s chest, while the other hand slides over the top of the other hand connecting four fingers over the carpal bones underneath the pinky finger. This grip is also predominantly used to secure guillotine chokes from the front headlock position. Another extremely common grip in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the figure four grip, which is where an athlete secures a wrist with one hand, sliding their other hand behind the forearm of their opponent, and cupping onto their own wrist. This is also known as a kimura grip, and can easily function for submissions like the toe hold, the americana, and the kimura.
Gi grips are also used in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, where an athlete will isolate an opponent's lapel. This can be extremely beneficial, as the athlete can set up different choke holds, and sweeps, at the same time as stifling an opponent. Sleeve grips are also used like a pistol grip, where an athlete will bunch up the Gi material, and secure the fabric like they were holding a pistol. Pocket grips are also extremely common, where the athlete will stick one thumb inside the sleeve, pinching the cuffs of the sleeve with their four fingers to the outside. From here they will fold the material back exposing their thumb to the outside, and securing a tight pinch on the opponent's sleeve. These grips can also be used on the Gi pants, and all limbs can be stifled with these grips, as an athlete will commonly set up guard passes, sweeps, and submissions. Athletes will also secure grips on the knee, on the belt, and on the shoulders of the Gi, as they look to pass the guard, and execute various sweeping mechanisms.
Utilising neckties, and head grip are more common in the No Gi format. This is a way for athletes to redirect the head, break down their posture, and set up takedowns, sweeps, and submissions. Two of the most important grips in the No Gi format, which are also used in the Gi variation, are the over hook, and the under hook. The over hook is when an athlete wraps their arm over the top of their opponent's arm, and uses this control to take away their opponent's ability to post. The under hook is when an athlete reaches their arm up underneath their opponent's armpits, and reaches up high around their back, and this is used to control an opponent, take their back from the guard, or help to anchor an opponent while the athlete passes their guard.
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