BJJ begins with a grapple, with aim of sweeping the opponent to the floor, pinning and making them submit. There a many aspects of a grapple that can make or break it, you have to move your opponent, disrupt the balance, manipulate their upper body. You can’t do any of these without a solid grip.
Grip training seems to get overlooked, not getting the training time it deserves. If you’ve got a weak grip, you’re going to struggle to be effective when it comes to your rolls. They are the first point of contact with your opponent, and you’re going to need to make a good impressions. You’ll be surprised at the win percentage the person with the better grips has over the average joe. In this article we’ll have a look at different types of grips and grip training exercises that will leave you effortlessly crushing soda cans with one hand.
So we have four main grips to tackle. First up is the pistol grip, not to be confused with a pistol whip. Here, you grip the fabric of the sleeve in the same way you’d grab your bike handle bars on the outside of their sleeve. Second come the lapel and sleeve grip, which is fairly self explanatory, with one hand grabbing the sleeve while the other grips the lapel. Next is the two-on-one which is a cuff grip using the excess material agh the elbow on your training buddy’s arm. Finally, there is the hook grip where you grip the cuff of your partners sleeve from the outside by grabbing the excess material and ticking into their cuff using four fingers. Now each person has their own favourite grip, experiment with all variations and go with the one that feels the most comfortable but also gives you the greatest leverage on your opponent.
Now we have the grips, how do you train grip strength? Well to be painfully obvious, you gotta grip stuff. No I dont mean just going around and holding on to stuff, I mean really grip it, use strength and weight and practice holding your body weight in your hands, don’t just hold your coffee extra tight.
There are a number of strength and conditioning exercises you can incorporate your grip strength to. First of all, it’s time to do some pull ups. Either grasp the bar in a fashion similar to the pistol grip, and pull your chin up to the bar, or hook your fingers over the top of the bar for an extra challenge. If you can’t pull up yet don’t worry, just hang there and grip like you’re hanging over a chasm, see if you can spend a minute suspended in the air, rinse then repeat. If you can pull up, don’t max out with reps, remember you are training your grip strength not your biceps.
Climbing is also a phenomenally good way of rapidly improving grip strength, but get ready for blisters. You have two options here, rock climbing for the outdoorsy type, or rope climbing. Personally, I’d go for the rope climbing as due to the rough material and size, it’s more like grabbing the opponents gi than smooth rock.
Finally, you’ve got holding weight. For this, you’ll need a couple of dumbbells and a stopwatch. Lift the dumbbells and hold them static at your sides, until you simply cant hold them anymore. This will train your grip strength as well as your shoulders which will greatly improve you standing BJJ work.
With a weak grip, you’ll be a weak fighter. Give the grip training the chance it deserves and watch yourself reap the rewards.
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