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GRIP FIGHTING BJJ
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GRIP FIGHTING BJJ

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Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a highly strategic form of combat, and with its diverse range of transitional movements, coupled with the intricate components of grip fighting, the art can be extremely technical.

All athletes will utilse grips to execute fundamental elements like passing the guard, taking their opponent's down, maneuvering their opponent for a sweep, escaping from positions, initiating submission techniques, and securing positions like the guard and other control positions. Grips are extremely important for achieving all of these aspects, and the more knowledge an athlete has, the more comprehensive their bjj grips can be.

What this article covers:

The downside to using grips in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is that an opponent can fight the grip, by breaking grips, or retaliating with their own grips. Grip fighting is seen in all levels of grappling, and involves using strategy to outmaneuver, and outsmart an opponent. No matter what grip an opponent has, an athlete can reposition their own grips to increase their ability for control. Grip fighting is especially important from the standup battle, and this is because the athlete that gains the first dominant grip in the match, can have an opportunity to secure a takedown. This can inevitably lead to seizing control of the fight, and leading to a submission victory.

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THE MAIN POINTS OF CONTROL 

When athletes are attempting to control their opponents, there are main points of control they need to understand. Controlling the knees, and the hips are vital to securing a guard pass, and athletes can use different grips to set up different passes. Utilising one grip on the outside of the knee, with the other grip on the inside of the opposite knee is a great way to control an opponent for a toreando pass, and can even set up a knee slicing pass, by stapling the knee to the mat. This knee grip can also set up an easy x pass, as this comprehensive control can be hard for an opponent to counter. A sleeve grip is another crucial point of control for an athlete that wants to set up arm drags, and arm lock positions. Using a pocket grip with one hand, and securing a tricep grip with the other will give an opportunity for an athlete to cross their opponent up, giving the athlete an easy avenue towards the back control position. The sleeve grip can also set up a more comprehensive submission system.

Jason Hunt has the plan to help you WIN the GRIP FIGHTING BATTLE!  Head to BJJFanatics.com to get his full program!

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu grip fighting techniques

One of the most important grips of all is the lapel grip, and this means gripping an opponent anywhere from the tip of the lapel to the midline, and up around the base of the collar. Using this grip control is a good way to threaten an opponent with a variety of different chokes, while stifling their ability to move freely. The lapel can also be wrapped, creating an even tighter control around the arms, legs, or the neck. All of these points of control are transferable into the No Gi format, as the collar grip is substituted for a necktie, a sleeve grip is substituted for a wrist grip, and a grip on the knees, or the pants is substituted simply by gripping onto an opponent's ankles.

THE BATTLE OF THE GRIP FIGHT

The battle for grips is a huge part of the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu game, and especially at the higher levels. Most black belt matches become a positional battle of grips, as one small mistake can result in an athlete passing an opponent's guard, or being toppled over in a sweep. Understanding how to engage an opponent, and battle for grips is extremely important, and can dictate how the match is going to end. The battle is more than just fighting for the initial grips, it is battling to stay in the fight by breaking grips, repositioning grips, or using an opponent's grips against them. Using two hands to break a one handed grip, or circling an athlete's hand to secure a more dominant grip is how an athlete can outmaneuver their opponents.

The grip battle doesn't just happen with two competitors on their feet battling for takedowns, the grip battle can happen in all aspects of a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fight. The battle between a guard player, and the top game specialist involves multiple elements. A guard passer will try to secure grips on the knee in an attempt to manipulate an opponent's leg for the pass, while the guard player will use a variety of different technical systems like lapel wraps, spider guard, lasso guard, and many more different forms of gripping techniques. Using certain grips like holding onto an athlete's own collar to defend a submission is crucial. Sometimes framing techniques are not enough, and an athlete will need a more comprehensive form of defense like a grip on their opponent's lapel, or on their own lapel. Whatever the grip an athlete uses, they must choose cautiously, because any grip can be counteracted, and turned against an athlete.

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BUILDING GRIP STRENGTH 

Understanding the grip battle takes a particular set of skills, but having the strength, and the ability to utilise them is another set entirely. In order for an athlete to achieve most techniques in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, they need a significant amount of grip strength for bjj. Building up the strength in an athlete's grips has a multitude of different elements. The versatility of the wrist is instrumental in how the joint can flex in all different directions, and this allows an extensive range of movement. Strengthening the wrist is a major facet of grip strength, and an athlete has multiple avenues to do this. Using kettlebells, or free weights to rotate the wrists, or doing modified bicep, and tricep curls are extremely beneficial to the overall structure of an athlete's grip strength. Farmers walks, or just hanging from a chin up bar, will also build up an incredible amount of strength within the wrists.

Another important factor that athletes should know is the mechanics of the hand. The hand uses flexion, extension, adduction, and abduction, which is the crushing power of the hand, the outward extension of the fingers, and the side to side movement of the joint respectively. Building the crushing power in an athlete's hand is vital for squeezing onto grips, and using the palm to crush a rubber ring, or the fingers to use pinching power to hold a heavy object is the best way to build up the strength. Extension is extremely important, and is commonly overlooked by athletes. To build this power in the hand an athlete can use a thick rubber band spread over the tips of their fingers, before extending their fingers outwards. This strengthening exercise can also be crucial for injury prevention, as it can bullet proof all the tendons, and ligaments in the hand. The side to side movement is important to strengthen, because of how easy it can be to injure. Athletes can use rotational movement, or isometric techniques to build up enough strength, so their grips will become formidable, and impossible to break.

THE MOST IMPORTANT GI GRIPS

There are many different grips that athletes can use in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and when they are wearing a Gi, understanding them is vital to winning a match. The four fingers in grip is one of the most brutal grips, as an athlete will attack an opponent's collar in search of cross collar chokes, baseball bat chokes, and loop chokes. This grip is secured by initiating four fingers inside the collar, with the thumb to the outside, this can make it easy to slide up and down the collar, giving the athlete a tighter grip into an opponent's throat. Another important collar grip is securing a thumb on the inside, with all four fingers to the outside, and this can be used to pair up with the four fingers in grip, to execute a range of highly versatile choke holds. 

The pocket grip is another crucial grip for an athlete to control the arm, or the leg. This grip involves sticking their thumb inside the cuff of the sleeve, or pants, and securing four fingers on the outside of the Gi, before folding the fabric over and switching their thumb to the outside. This grip is an incredibly effective one, and is used to stifle an opponent, drag their limb, and set up various takedowns, sweeps, and submissions. The pistol grip is another strong Gi grip, and this is administered by bunching up the material on the Gi, and securing the grip just like holding a pistol. This grip is good when an athlete needs a fast way to control their opponent, before switching into more controlling grips. Controlling the knees, and the hips is vital for guard passing, and controlling the collar, and the sleeve is important for sweeping, and submitting opponents. 

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SECURING NO GI GRIPS

The No Gi discipline involves a much more free style of grappling, and this is because there are no grips like in the Gi that can stifle an opponent. No Gi can be notoriously slippery, as the sweat that can build up makes grappling in this format hard to grip onto an opponent. Athletes will try to utilise wrist grips, by squeezing onto the wrist with a one handed, or a two handed grip. When an athlete has a one handed wrist grip they will use their other hand to grip onto the back of the neck, or the base of the head in what is called a necktie. This is how they can utilise sweeps like the scissor sweep, or break down their opponent's posture in an attempt to stand up out of the guard, or simply take their back. This kind of technique will also be used to execute a range of submissions like arm bars, as they use a one handed wrist grip, and a second grip on the tricep to isolate the arm. Double wrist grips are utilised so athletes can attempt submissions like the triangle, or to push their opponents arms into their sternum, in an attempt to sweep them over their head.

Some of the most important grips in the No Gi discipline are an over hook, and an under hook. These grips are used to control opponents from the stand up position, or from the guard. An under hook is when an athlete reaches their arm underneath the armpit of an opponent, and uses their shoulder to control the space. The over hook is usually used in conjunction with an under hook, and is when an athlete wraps their arm over the top of their opponent's arm, securing a grip, and forcing them trapped into a locking mechanism. These two grips combined with an athlete's hooks in the groin is called the butterfly guard, and is one of the ways an athlete can sweep their opponent. Another important grip is called the body lock, and this is where an athlete will squeeze with their arms around the waist of an opponent, as a way of controlling, and sapping the energy from the competitor.

UNDERSTANDING HAND GRIP POSITIONS 

There are many different grips that athletes need to learn, in order to become extremely proficient in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.   Understanding what each hand grip does will help an athlete navigate their way through each different situation they may come across. The gable grip is one of the most iconic grips in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and involves two hands gripping together palm to palm, with each set of four fingers curling over the carpal bones.  This grip is used to trap opponents into submissions like a paper cutter, or a darce choke. The seatbelt grip is where an athlete will use their arm around the neck of an opponent, as they connect their other hand by curling four fingers over the bottom of their hand. This grip is used in a guillotine choke, or as a way of controlling an opponent in the back control position.

Jason Hunt has the plan to help you WIN the GRIP FIGHTING BATTLE!  Head to BJJFanatics.com to get his full program!

BJJ grip breaking strategies

The s grip is another strong hand grip, that involves an athlete to connect their hands together with the tips of their fingers, as their palms face in different directions.  This grip is an extremely versatile one that can be used for chokes like the head and arm triangle, and also can be used when an athlete is struggling to reach the grip, as they can just thread the tips of their fingers together to control an opponent, before securing more controlling grips like a gable grip, or a seatbelt grip. The figure four grip is one of the most controlling of all, and is used in the gift wrap position. The figure four grip involves securing a wrist grip, before threading their other hand underneath their opponent's arm, and cupping onto their own wrist. This grip can help an athlete transition into submissions like the kimura, the americana, and the toe hold. 

COMBINING ALL ELEMENTS 

All of these aspects combined together will help athletes become extremely dominant with their physicality. Understanding how grips work, and knowing which ones to use against certain opponents, or in certain situations is crucial. Building up the right amount of strength in all aspects of the hand, fingers, and wrist, along with increasing the flexibility, and mobility of the hand structures is vital. Combining all of these elements together will take an athlete to the next level within their game style. The most important factor outside of these components, is to always fight for grips, because an athlete may feel like they are out of the game, but as long as they are continuing to battle for the more dominant grips, they are always in with a chance of winning competitive matches. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a comprehensive Martial Art, and the nature of how the grip fighting game is, will only benefit an athlete that is putting in significant time into all components of grip strength, grip fighting, and grip knowledge.

If you enjoyed this piece, consider checking:

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