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The Cross Collar Grip
Have you ever tried breaking a judoka’s grip on your collar? It’s hard, like their forearms are just made of steel and their fingers just refuse to let go.
That strength comes from practice after practice of actively fighting just to get a grip on someone’s collar and keep it. A concept drilled into every judoka’s brain is if you can’t grip, you can’t throw. It’s as simple as that. A good portion of judo is just grip fighting, getting your own grips and denying your opponent the grips they want.
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In jiu-jitsu, we often talk about grips we need for specific techniques without discussing how to actually get or keep them. Well grip fighting never stops, the two places that its most active in our sport is open guard and stand up. Many students struggle with stand up not knowing where to begin, and the answer is with grips.
Travis Stevens, BJJ black belt and Judo Olympic silver medalist, discusses two ways of getting the cross collar grip in this video:
In option one of gripping the cross collar, Stevens drives his hand deep into the collar. His hand isn’t stopping at the fabric but keeps going until it hits his opponent’s chest. Stevens is actively pushing forward well getting this grip and makes his opponent stagger with it. Next, he curls the gripping arm until his forearm is making contact against the chest. This controls the inside space between them, making it hard for the opponent to get his hands in for grips of his own. Additionally, it prevents lateral movement, and makes a frame against them just driving back into Stevens.
Aggression is the important part of shooting for this grip, driving into them and putting them off balance as you get the grip. As Steven notes, it is a good setup for ankle picks, seoi nage style throws, and single legs.
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Option two is more of a “snatch” then an aggressive drive. Again, Stevens is reaching for the cross collar, but this time he grabs and pulls the collar up. He wants to pull the fabric loose and have his arm float up in front of the opponent’s face, blocking his view. His elbow is almost pointing at the ceiling. From there he snaps his arm down, which makes the opponent stagger forward.
At the same time, Stevens circles to his left. Combined with the hand movement makes the opponent off balanced and stepping forward, and thinking solely about getting rid of that hand on his collar.
Grip fighting is an important, but neglected concept in our art, and one that is key when it comes to the stand up game. Grips are the only control you have over your opponent when going for takedowns, and knowing how to get and use them is the first step. Next practice, ask a teammate to do a few rounds of grip fighting with you and try these entries out.
Travis has joined forces with BJJ Fanatics for many great jiu jitsu and judo-related instructionals. His most recent release is focused on how to achieve, maintain and utilize the best grips in jiu jitsu. Get Scientific Gripping Systems for Jiu Jitsu today and know how to never let go of those effective grips once you achieve them! Check it out at BJJ Fanatics!