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BJJ GRIPS
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BJJ GRIPS

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Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is an extensive form of combat, with a large range of technical components. The art has almost separated into two different versions, as the traditional Gi still reigns supreme, and the more modern format of No Gi has begun to gain significant popularity. 

What this article covers:

Even though both of these disciplines are vastly different, they both have an extremely important aspect in common, and that is grip fighting bjj techniques. In both forms, the necessity to establish grips, reposition grips, and then break them is considerably substantial. All athletes will battle extensively for the dominant grips, and this is how they can begin to control the fight.

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jiu jitsu grips

There are many different types of grips, and different ways to use them. There are grips for restraining opponents, and grips for isolating certain limbs, and grips that can be applied in both the Gi, and the No Gi format. The No Gi discipline involves securing wrist grips, under hooks, over hooks, and neck ties, where the Gi version uses a more comprehensive grip system that includes different types of Gi grips. The importance of using grips in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is exponential, as the necessity to control an opponent, and manipulate their structures is more effective using grips. There are many different facets of the game that need grips like passing the guard, takedown maneuvers, sweeping mechanics, defending and escaping positions, and executing and defending submissions. 

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THE IMPORTANCE OF GRIPS IN BJJ

Understanding how to use grips in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is vital for a number of different reasons. From the standing position, grips are imperative so an athlete can set up throws, and takedowns, but it is just as important for defensive purposes. Knowing how to use a grip to keep an opponent away, or to stifle the attack systems of their opponent is one of the key factors in the stand up aspect of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Once the fight hits the ground, grips are just as important to help an athlete transition from one position to the next. Grips are used to force an opponent to move in a certain direction, so the athlete can maneuver their way past their opponent's guard, or set up different sweeping mechanisms. Grips are extremely important to execute a sweep, as all sweeping maneuvers need specific grips in order to execute the technique.

All submission techniques require an athlete to set up grips, whether they are collar grips in the Gi, or wrist grips and necktie grips in No Gi. The importance of a solid grip is crucial for an athlete to achieve a successful submission like a cross collar choke, a bow and arrow choke, an arm bar, or a triangle choke. Even more importantly is the need for defense, and escape from a range of submissions, and control positions. All defenses require an athlete to use grips like hanging on to their own lapel, securing a wrist grip, or cupping onto their own thigh. This is extremely important for firstly defending a submission, and secondly creating enough space to escape from the position.

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THE MAIN CONTROL POSITIONS FOR GRIPS

There are main control positions that all athletes must utilise when grip fighting. All of these positions are basically the same in the Gi and the No Gi disciplines. It is crucial to control an opponent's knees, and hips when passing the guard, this is also important from a guard retention aspect. Using pant grips, and sleeve grips are necessary for setting up arm or leg locks, and in the No Gi version this translates into wrist, and ankle grips. Using grips on the sleeve are necessary for setting up takedown maneuvers, and athletes will usually set up arm drags, or pocket grips to unbalance their opponent, before executing throws, or takedown maneuvers. One of the most important grips in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the collar grip, and this is when an athlete takes control of the lapel on an athlete's Gi. In the No Gi discipline this grip is transferred into a necktie, which is basically cupping the back of the neck in order to control an opponent's head. This grip is important for a number of reasons, as they can set up an abundance of different Gi chokes, as well as combining with a sleeve grip to create ways to unbalance an opponent, or find a leverage system to execute arm locks.

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HOW TO TRAIN GRIP STRENGTH

There are a number of different ways to increase an athlete's grip strength. The hands need to be incredibly strong if an athlete wants to become successful utilising certain techniques. Using grip strength for bjj means an athlete will have a significant advantage over most of their opponent's, even if they have a lesser muscle mass. There are a multitude of different exercises that an athlete can use to solidify the strength within their grips. When training grip strength most athletes focus on flexion, which is the act of squeezing, or pinching, but they forget an extremely important aspect, extension. To extend their fingers outwards is just as important as the flexion technique. So squeezing in, and extending out will help to build significant strength in an athlete's fingers.

Some good exercises that can help build significant grip strength are reverse bicep curls. This means to lift the weight with a hand palm down, and extending it upwards. Doing hanging exercises, and chin ups are also great ways to work out the hands, and if an athlete wants to simulate a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fight, then they can hang their Gi over the chin up bar, and pull themselves up by securing collar grips. Climbing ropes, rock climbing, or using battle ropes are all good ways to build up strong grips. Farmers' walks are another good way to strengthen an athlete's hands, and they only require an athlete to hold a significant weight that has handles, and simply walk for an extended period of time. Strengthening the fingers, and the wrist is crucial to building up a strong set of grips, and athletes that put in significant time into this area will become highly proficient in the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

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DIFFERENT TYPES OF GI GRIPS

The Gi is the most traditional aspect within the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The extensive range of grips that an athlete can use is instrumental to achieving success during a competition match. The collar grip is one of the most important grips of all, and this is because they are used predominantly to choke an opponent. Athletes can use a grip that consists of a four fingers in, and one thumb out, or a one thumb in and four fingers out grip. These two grips combined is how an athlete can secure the baseball bat choke, and individually they are used to set up different chokes like the cross collar choke, the bow and arrow choke, and the clock choke. Another important collar grip is when an athlete secures the tip of their opponent's lapel, this is used to Gi wrap their opponent. This type of Gi grip is used to wrap around a limb to stifle an opponent, and trap their arm or leg, and this wrap can also be pulled tight around the neck to create loop chokes, or brabo chokes.

Sleeve grips are extremely important grips, because they are needed to upset the defensive structure of an opponent. They are also used to trap the opponent, and take away their ability to post. Arm bars are set up by the athlete securing wrist grips, and tricep grips. The two most common grips are the pistol grip, and the pocket grip. The pistol grip is when an athlete bunches up the Gi material and holds it like they were holding the handle of a pistol. This grip is extremely versatile, and is used by most practitioners of the art. The pocket grip is when the athlete sticks one thumb inside the sleeve, with four fingers on the outside, as they secure a tight pinch, they will fold the material over, which brings the thumb to the outside of the sleeve. This is one of the strongest grips that an athlete can utilise wearing the Gi.

Securing grips on an opponent's pants is vital in stifling a guard player, and being able to pass their guard. Especially in the modern game of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, an opponent's ability to play intricate guard systems like the de la riva guard, the 50/50 guard, and the spider guard has brought about a significant need to control an opponent's knees. Using pistol grips on the inside, and the outside of an opponent's pants will help an athlete secure guard passes like the toreando, and the x pass. Pocket grips can be just as important, as well as cross grips, and along with controlling the legs, controlling the hips is just as important. Often when an athlete stacks an opponent, they will secure a grip on the top of the pants, just below the belt, as this can help to control an opponent, and stop them from re-guarding. 

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DIFFERENT TYPES OF NO GI GRIPS

In the No Gi art securing grips are different, because an athlete has no uniform they are allowed to grip onto. Instead they must rely on their ability to control their opponents using strength, dexterity, and creative thinking. Instead of a sleeve grip a No Gi athlete will simply use a c grip to hold onto a wrist, and they will use a cupping style of grip to hold down the tricep. To keep control of an arm using these grips in No Gi, an athlete must drop their elbows into their sides to make the grip extremely tight, and this is because of how slippery an opponent can become during a No Gi match. Using a wrist and elbow grip can be an effective way to control the arm of an opponent, and this is how they can isolate a limb. Sometimes one grip on a wrist is not enough, so the athlete will secure a two on one grip, meaning they have both of their hands securing one wrist, and this will make life extremely hard for an opponent. This type of grip can also be used on the ankles of an opponent, which is predominantly used to control the legs, and set up stacking situations, and leg drag passes.

Two of the most important grips in No Gi are the under hook, and the over hook. These two grips are like polar opposites, but will work as a symbiotic pair of grips to control an opponent. The under hook is when an athlete shoots their arm underneath the armpit of their opponent, reaching up behind their back, and using their shoulder to control their posture. The over hook is when an athlete scoops their arm around an opponent's arm, as they control the limb, and the shoulder. These two grips combined are used in the butterfly guard, and will help athletes execute hook sweeps. Athletes can also utilise double under hooks, or double over hooks, as both of these positions can be advantageous to an athlete, and help them to secure sweeps, or back take transitions.

An important grip in the No Gi variation is the necktie, or basically a grip that controls the neck, or the head. A necktie is the same grip used in a Muay Thai clinch, and can be a good way to set up different takedowns, and different sweeps like the scissor sweep, or the technical standup. Using neck grips is important for breaking down the posture of an opponent, but is also good for setting up different kinds of chokes. Another important way to control an opponent is by securing a cupping action on the back of an opponent's head. Manipulating the head of an opponent is extremely important, because the head is connected to the spine, and if the spine is out of alignment with the head then the opponent will be in a weakened state. This is why controlling the head, and moving it away from an opponent's spine will create opportunities to manipulate their posture, and the direction they can go.

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DIFFERENT HAND GRIPS

In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu there are a range of different hand grips that can be extremely effective. The c grip is one very common grip, and is also known as the lego man grip, or the cheese burger grip. This grip is basically used to grab hold of a wrist, or an ankle, although it is one of the most common grips, it is not the strongest grip, because an opponent can circle their wrist out to escape the grip. The cupping grip, or otherwise known as the monkey paw is a grip used in the necktie, the tricep grip, as well as gripping onto an ankle for a leg drag. This is another grip that is extremely useful, but relatively easy to address from an opponent. In most cases using single handed grips can be easy to break, but they are necessary for setting up a variety of different techniques in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

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jiu jitsu hand grips

Two handed grips are much stronger, and harder for an opponent to break free from. The s grip is an effective way to keep control of chokes like the head and arm triangle, as the strength and versatility of this grip is extensive. The s grip consists of one hand palm up, with the other hand palm down, as the connection is between the tips of the fingers. This can be an extremely strong grip, and can be hard for an opponent to break. The gable grip is one of the most popular grips, because of the versatility of how the grip can be administered. This grip is secured by connecting an athlete's hands together palm to palm, as the four fingers on each hand cup over the carpal bones underneath the little finger. The gable grip is used in many different techniques like a paper cutter choke, a kimura trap, and a compression lock over the leg bones. 

The most iconic two handed grip is the figure four grip, or otherwise known as the kimura grip. This grip is used to control the arm, or the leg, and can result in submissions like the kimura, the americana, the wrist lock, and the toe hold. To secure the figure four grip, an athlete will take a wrist grip, threading their other hand around the limb, and cupping onto their own wrist. This will create a vice like grip on the opponent, making them vulnerable to a range of different submissions. This grip is also used to defend arm locks, as well as secure arm locks if an opponent reaches underneath their armpit while they have back control. There are other hand grips like the butterfly grip, the gokor grip, the pretzel grip, and the seatbelt grip, and all of these different styles of grips have their own unique ability to gain an advantage over an opponent. The trick is knowing which grip to use at which time, because Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a game of counter movements, so athletes should be careful when choosing which grip to apply. 

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