In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, grip fighting is gaining and maintaining control of your opponent’s grips. This is an essential aspect of the game, and if you can gain an advantage in grip fighting, you will be able to control your opponent and submit them with ease.
But how to get better at BJJ grip fighting? There are a few things that you can do to improve your Jiu-Jitsu grip fighting skills:
- Make sure that you are always aware of your opponent’s grips.
- Use your grips to control your opponent’s body.
- Keep your hands relaxed and fluid.
- Supplement your training with specific grip fighting drills.
You can train BJJ with weak handgrip strength and develop it over time as you progress, or begin your training with powerful grips and learn to use them to your advantage as you improve your technique.
Let’s look at ways you can gain and maintain dominant grips in BJJ.
Table of Contents
- Grip Fighting Is One Of The Most Important Aspects Of BJJ
- The Different Types Of Grips In BJJ
- How To Get Better At BJJ Grip Fighting
- Training Methods For BJJ Grip Fighting
- Exercises To Get Better At BJJ Grip Fighting
- Tips For Improving Your BJJ Grip Fighting Skills
- How To Keep Your Hands Healthy For BJJ
- How To Get Better At BJJ Grip Fighting? – Final Ideas
Grip Fighting Is One Of The Most Important Aspects Of BJJ
Grip and hand fighting is a vital part of BJJ practice, and it is also one of the heavily underrated aspects of the art.
It is an influential part of the elite-level competition. It should be a detail that more practitioners and coaches focus on early in a practitioner’s development if there is any intention to compete.
There are multiple areas to focus on when we get to grip fighting, as we do not only jump into the different holds but the different ways to use and develop strength for it.
There are two main points we will jump into, which are the “Maximal Isometric Grip Strength” or “Handgrip Strength” for short; and the “Isometric Resistance of Grip Hold” or “Gripping Endurance” for short.
Before we go for a deep dive into the details of strength itself, let’s go through a list of the different types of grips that a BJJ Grappler should be acquainted with.
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The Different Types Of Grips In BJJ
Grips in Jiu-Jitsu are as numerous as Sweeps or submissions, so let’s divide them into groups according to how they work or their use.
BJJ Hand-To-Hand Grips
This is the first type of grip you’ll get to work on once you start in Jiu-Jitsu, and it is simple enough.
The “Hand-to-Hand” grips use your hands to lock the opponent in position.
You could use them in multiple situations, like holding a body lock, closing submissions, and applying pressure.
Grip 1) Gable Grip
Gable Grip is probably the most common grip used in BJJ, Wrestling, and multiple other grappling arts.
Grip 2) Ball & Socket Grip / SeatBelt Grip
This is another typical grip that you are more likely to see being used when in back control and used to finish chokes such as the guillotine or Peruvian necktie.
Grip 3) S-Grip or Chain Hook
The S grip relies a lot more on finger strength, and it is used to complete double-leg takedowns, the suplex, and other lifting techniques, making it more common for wrestlers.
It has found its place in ground fighting, being used to complete chokes like the north-south or Peruvian necktie chokes.
Grip 4) Pretzel Grip
The Pretzel grip is one of the least common grips you’ll see, but it has been popularized in the No-Gi scene.
It clears any space when attacking the neck, so it has been finding its place for finishing arm-in guillotines with devastating pressure.
Grip 5) Butterfly Grip
The butterfly grip is quite similar to the seatbelt grip, and it is used in similar roles.
It holds the wrists and helps the elbows remain closer to your ribs, so it has found its spot as a go-to grip for arm-bar defense.
Jiu-Jitsu Single Hand Grips
This group consists of a few options, but they are essential to our practice, as they are the way you hold your opponent’s limbs when there is no gripping surface (Gi).
Grip 1) Monkey Grip
The monkey grip uses four fingers and excludes the dumb, as it is tucked in next to the forefinger.
It takes out the thumb’s function to keep your hand strong for pulling the opponent towards your own body.
Grip 2) C Grip or Support Grip
In the C grip, the thumb goes in a natural position instead of the other four.
The C grip is suitable for holding the opponent in place or pushing them away from your body, and it is the most common grip used in BJJ and wrestling in general.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Gi Grips
In this group, we are taking a look at the grips used to hold the opponent’s or your own Gi to get some extra leverage.
Grip 1) Thumb Grip
The thumb grip is mainly used for collar grips in the Gi, and it places the thumb deep inside the collar for the other four fingers to be outside of the Gi.
It can be used for multiple situations, but it is usually used from back control
Grip 2) Four Fingers Grip / Pocket Grip
In any BJJ match with a Gi, this grip is king.
On the collar version of this grip, you place your four fingers to hold the gi from the inside.
You grip tight, bending the fingers into the fist and using the thumb to secure the grip in place from the outside. This grip allows control from any position.
There are also variants for sleeves and pants, called the “pocket grip.”
In this variant, you do the same thing, using four fingers to create a pocket with the opponent’s gi; however, you shouldn’t hold the gi pants or sleeves with your four fingers on the inside as it is illegal in competition.
Grip 3) Pistol Grip
The pistol grip is used mainly on sleeves, but it also works on the pants.
Unless the gi is pretty tight, getting a pistol grip isn’t tricky, and it requires the pinky finger to be nearest to the opponent’s wrist, with all the other fingers holding as much material as it was a pistol handle.
Now that we mentioned most of the grips and variants that you will get to know in your Jiu-Jitsu journey let’s check out how to improve your grip fighting and get better at it.
How To Get Better At BJJ Grip Fighting
Some practitioners believe that most of your grip fighting skill comes from hand strength, and they couldn’t be more wrong.
Yes, good hand and finger strength play into how strong you can close the grip on the lapel or how much time you can resist holding it, but that is only one part of grip fighting.
Diving into how the muscles work, the hands and fingers are never working alone when you are grip fighting.
When one muscle pulls, numerous others are helping that pull from behind the curtains.
When you hold the opponent’s collar with a Pocket grip and pull him into you, it’s not only the hand that applies force. And the forearm is also pulling all the muscular connections for your bicep to use power and pull in.
This is the reason that they feel fatigued. To get better at BJJ grip fighting, there are two main training principles you have to focus on:
- Technical Training: Grips practice and repetition.
- Muscular Conditioning: Grip strength and resistance conditioning.
Let’s put some training options on the table focusing on each of these principles.
Training Methods For BJJ Grip Fighting
It is time to dive into detail, so get ready. This might be a little extensive.
This part is pretty straightforward; if you want to improve your technique in grips, you’ll have to spend the time practicing and repeating two aspects of grip fighting.
BJJ Gripping Drills
This is the part that should be pretty clear so far. With the multiple gripping options previously explained, you’ll have to get into the mats and try them out.
In gripping practice, you’ll have to work on multiple details aside from the grip.
It is essential to have the correct grip on the situation and know where to place it for better results.
For example, to anyone who wants to get the best results pulling in a cross-choke or baseball choke, you’ll want to place that first grip as deep in the back of the collar as you can to secure a tight choke.
However, if you are aiming for a loop choke, you’ll want to get a relatively loose grip for your arm to circle around the neck and be tight on the neck when it is needed.
You may also want to adjust the part of the sleeve you hold, like gripping over the back of the opponent’s hand to pull him close or getting the grip opposite from the thumb to have better control when working your spider guard.
What About No-Gi Grips?
In No-Gi grips, you want to work on the leverage you get from grips.
Some examples cover the figure-four grips used for the Kimura and Americana arm-locks but are not only efficient there.
Another option is the 2-on-1 grips, used to get out of arm drags and other grip-breaking situations.
Jiu-Jitsu Grip Breaking
Being effective at Grip breaking is just as crucial for grip fighting in Jiu-Jitsu as it is to be good at gripping, and the reason is pretty simple:
If you can break the grips that your opponent places on you, you are not letting him have any control, and it will give you a better opportunity to get your grips in.
For grip breaking, you will need to learn how the grips work and how to apply more pressure and control with them to force the opponent into the opposite situation and make them loose.
If you are working on your grips, you should understand how they work and become more proficient at both holding and breaking.
You can take a controlled and progressive approach or be as insanely dedicated as the Wiltse brothers and practice 10k grip-breaking reps, tearing through your hands and skin.
Do not forget to work on both gripping and grip breaking to improve your grip/hand fighting for competition.
Muscular Grip Conditioning
As previously stated, gripping strength depends on multiple muscle groups, including the fingers, hands, wrists, forearms, and biceps. They are interconnected and work together whenever the application of force is required.
Practicing grips and grip breaking will allow you to develop and increase muscle strength and resistance.
Still, we will dive into some out-of-the-box options for you to improve your muscular strength without the need to spend countless hours lifting weight at a gym while also having fun.
Exercises To Get Better At BJJ Grip Fighting
Gymnastic Based Exercises
Gymnastics work develops a lot of strength and resistance in the upper body, but we will focus on the routines and exercises that rings athletes do.
In the bodyweight department, Push-ups and variants are going to be essential.
The variants that you’ll want to focus on are:
- Regular Push-ups
- Reverse Wrist Push-Ups
- Triangle (Diamond) Push-Ups
- Wrist Push-Ups
- Knuckle (Fist) Push-Ups
- Finger Push-Ups
Bodyweight bars and rings work:
Here we go to the fun part, as we get to work on the bar structures and rings.
- Monkey Grip Pull-Ups
- Dead Hangs
- Towel or Gi Pull-Ups on Bar
People need to start working on the bar before jumping to the rings, as they have outstanding upper body strength requirements but allow for pretty quick evolution and development.
This is my recommendation if you have the time to spare and want to improve your general fitness and grip strength for Jiu-Jitsu while having fun.
Finding a rock climbing gym will allow you to develop a lot of grip strength, figure out your hand positioning, and develop a ton of resistance in your arms.
Climbing sessions usually do not last too much, as they cause fatigue when you are just starting, but once you get used to it, you’ll increase session time and have an easier time due to increased strength and resistance.
Tips For Improving Your BJJ Grip Fighting Skills
Let’s go into a quick re-cap from everything we have been touching on to hit the most critical points:
BJJ Grip Fighting Tip #1 – Practice your grips and positioning
Always focus on practicing the grips and placement, have the correct grip for each situation, and make sure you are dominant with them.
If you are in a gripping fight, make sure that you are the one dominating, having your arm bent and the elbow pulled close to your body to have the most control.
BJJ Grip Fighting Tip #2 – Break the Grips as often and as soon as they are placed
Do not let your opponent have any control. As soon as they get a grip, fight it and break it off. It takes away their pressure and power, but it allows you to get your grips in with ease.
BJJ Grip Fighting Tip #3 – Keep the conditioning going, but don’t over-train.
Please keep your fingers, hands, forearms, and biceps healthy by giving them enough rest between conditioning sessions and stretching before and after training.
How To Keep Your Hands Healthy For BJJ
If you are planning on focusing on improving your grip fighting and strength/resistance, you will require an effective workout plan and suitable resting methods and schedule.
To keep your hands healthy, you’ll want to work with proper techniques and not fight through the pain.
Here are some quick tips to focus on as you improve your grip fighting:
BJJ Hand Health Tip #1 – Start light, focus on technique, and progressively increase the load
Like any other kind of exercise, you will get used to the training loads as you practice and repeat.
Try to focus on the least demanding exercises as you pick up the pace, and focus on having a proper technique to reduce the risk of any injury as you perform.
BJJ Hand Health Tip #2 – Don’t overdo it
Training your grip can be fun and exciting, and the gains are quick when you are just starting to develop it.
The one thing to keep in mind is that the grip will be taxed EVERY time you train BJJ, so you might want to keep the conditioning sessions at low volume to even out the conditioning with BJJ sessions.
How To Get Better At BJJ Grip Fighting? – Final Ideas
Working your grip fighting is an important factor in BJJ competitions, and there are so many areas placing so much depth into the topic.
Keep everything improving, technique, max strength, resistance, and grip positioning.
It is a difficult task to become a master of BJJ grip fighting, but it is a fun process to get into, and it will do wonders for your game.
If you found the article interesting, let us know in the comments and invite other grapplers, teammates, and friends to take the time and read this or any other one of our articles that they become interested in.
We are eager to read your thoughts and expect to see you on the mats as you progress on your BJJ Journey.