Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is an acclaimed and popular sport that requires strength and skill. It’s also famous for its leg locks. Many of the fighters participate in extraneous and lengthy training.
A key factor in one of their training programs is understanding and strengthening their gripping abilities. BJJ is not just won by mere force; it is a sport that requires cunning, precision, and leverage.
Working on developing your grip strength and flexibility may just give you that extra advantage that can be the difference between winning and losing.
Table of Content
How to Build Grip Strength for BJJ
The most common grips in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
There are four common grips in BJJ that should be honed to perfection to get a leverage on your opponent.
The first is considered to be the lapel and sleep grip which as the name implies is when one hand grips the sleeve and the other hand grips the lapel.
You then have the pistol grip where you grip a part of an extending fabric, such as as the sleeve or pants, and you hold on tight like if it was a handlebar.
The two on one grip is a regular cuff grip while also gripping your opponent´s excess fabric at the elbow. You should never attempt to grip inside your opponent’s fabric because it is considered to be an illegal move during a tournament.
Bar holds and cross choke grip
You require a sturdy bar that is safely secured to a wall, test with weights before using to avoid accidents.
I recommend you hang at a 45 degree angle to the ground and slowly move your body under the bar even more to increase the weight on your arms. Hold your position on the pull up bar and repeat as you see fit. I suggest a good ten to twelve repetitions and holding for about thirty to sixty seconds.
A quick variation is hanging your lapel over the bar, using the cross grip, and pulling yourself up that way. This exercise is more difficult but targets the muscles necessary. You need to grip one side of the lapel with one hand and the other side with the other, make sure you are gripping strongly! Now pull yourself up and down slowly.
The following Gi holds can also be done with a towel or a belt. They actually make more of your muscles work but they can be very harsh on your body if overdone so be careful.
Slowly progress your way to a longer holding period to avoid overexertion or damage, this goes for any type of exercise as well. I believe doing five pull ups and holding for one minute after every fifth pull up will be a good starting point. Your arms should be fully extended when lowering yourself.
Also read my post on Vulkan Gi
Always keep your arms close to your body for a better, smoother exercise (plus, it is the correct way of doing it anyway).
Gi and towel grip exercises are very flexible and can be done in a variety of ways, such as placing it over a pull up bar or doing seated rows. The point is concentrating on the complete motion for endurance building. Watch out for your knees too.
It may be hard to believe but doing handstands and holding that position for at least a minute means you have strong wrists. Wrist strength is an important part of most if not any grip movement.
I recommend you use a wall to support your feet against and your target should be one minute. You can slowly add more time to that as you find the level of difficulty diminishing.
Basic essentials: climbing, hanging, pulling, holding, and drills
There are four basic movements that you can do anywhere and in a variety of situations that will keep your grips strong, flexible, and on point.
There is also one particular thing that is necessary for any BJJ martial artist that will be mentioned further along.
The four simple movements that will keep you improving your grips are: climbing, hanging, pulling, and holding. You can climb a tree once a day and it will help in some way, but I suggest you hit a rock wall climbing place for better effectiveness.
Hanging from anywhere like a monkey will also keep you strong and this includes the local playground or a rope! Any situations, games, or exercises that focus on a pulling motion will also do (such as deadlifts).
Finally, you can practice holding exercises with a simple dumbbell in each hand or even a gallon of milk, always increasing the weight and length of hold as you get stronger.
The one thing that all BJJ martial artist should do is drill practice! Practicing with a partner will keep you on your toes and at the same time, you will employ the actual grips, which can also strengthen with use. Check out BJJ mats here you can use for your training.
Why is it important?
Grip strength, flexibility and endurance will play a huge role in any BJJ martial art tournament. Along with regular body training, you require specific grip training to have a better shot at winning and becoming a well-rounded BJJ fighter.
Grips are a key factor and help give you the best shot at winning if you and your opponent are otherwise in the same weight group.
Building your grip strength, flexibility and endurance is not something to be done in a week or two. It implies a constant and dedicated exercise routine that targets specific gripping muscles.
You should not expect results right away, like any other body training bjj technique. But you will notice improvement after a couple of months of grip training during your BJJ matches guaranteed.
The important part is focusing on the whole exercise motion, holding the position for short to medium periods of time, and getting a guide if you suspect you are doing it wrong. Equip yourself correctly with the right mouthguards, rash guards and you’ll be all set to go.