The Gable Grip
There are a few common hand-to-hand grips in Jiu Jitsu that mostly originate from wrestling grips.
The gable grip might be the most frequently seen. This grip is achieved by locking the palms of your hands together, like you would catch a firefly as a kid during the summer. Thumbs out! Situating your hands into this particular position gives you a strength advantage, over hooking your thumbs inside the grip.
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The thumb can hinder your rotation and arm range of motion. Try touching your elbows together with your thumbs out, and feel the difference if you try again with your thumbs over your hands instead. Which one is easier? This small change can make a huge difference in various choke hold finishes and allows for a higher level of control.The other reason leaving the thumbs out, in line with your hands, is the ease of grip transition.
Flowing seamlessly into a different hold is much simpler if you don’t have to unhook your thumbs from over your hand, and can mean keeping direct pressure on your opponent rather than releasing to move your hands and allowing an escape. Obviously, in wrestling this is utilized without a gi, but in Jiu Jitsu and Judo it is a very versatile hand grip, being that you can use it in both gi and nogi grappling.
Since this particular grip doesn’t involve grabbing onto any fabric, whether it be a gi collar, pants or street clothes, it is most commonly seen during takedowns in a clinch situation and body locks. The gable grip can also be applied during submissions; it can be used for straight armlocks ( the violin) and multiple different chokes- the rear naked choke, the arm triangle (or kata gatame) choke, monson (north-south) choke and the japanese neck-tie choke.
You might have heard this particular grip called a few different names, such as the greco grip. The hand placement allows great control over distance management and enables you to apply pressure. Greco-roman wrestling is very grip focused, and much of the match is spent trying for different holds or attempting to break your opponents. Due to the fact that the gable grip is hard to break, and allows for such variety of maneuvers, earned the greco nickname. Second, you will also hear it referred to as “monkey grip” due to the appearance of your hands.
Now that we’ve covered the less commonly used names for this hand to hand grip, where did the most common “Gable grip” come from? Dan Gable is an American wrestler and wrestling coach. He is most famously known for his performance in the Munich 1972 Olympic games, in which he competed in six different wrestling matches without giving up a single point. His other accolades include being the third wrestler ever to be inducted into the Legend category in the United World Wrestling’s Hall of Fame.
He is a NCAA champion, a world gold medalist; he has coached hundreds of successful wrestlers both independently and as a team. His freestyle and folkstyle wrestling tactics allowed him to be proficient in distance management and precise grip game, eventually leading to the gable grip earning it’s no well-known moniker.
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