Brazilian jiu jitsu: Grips

I’m here, working on my fasted cardio… Thinking about jiu-jitsu. I decided to share my thoughts and see what the collective has to say regarding “grips.” I’m not talking about the Honeymooners and Ralph telling Alice, “Over the moon,” while shaking his fists (translated: get a grip!).

You all know what I’m referring to; the ever-evasive but oh-so-important-concept of grips in jiu-jitsu. They can, quite literally, make or break your game! Understanding grips, how they work, and how they’re used is something that takes time to incorporate & fully understand especially as the game continues to change and evolve.

I’ve frequently been asked what is that I do to have such strong grips. Have I tried this fancy device or that new invention. Folks, grips are more than fingers. Forearms, biceps, triceps back and shoulders work together as a system! You can grab on to that sleeve or lapel as tight and hard as you want, but the rest of your upper body machine weak, so too will be the case for your grips.

So what is my secret? I do cross train and lift weights, but that’s a personal choice and everyone has their own beliefs regarding the best training practices. That’s ok! Do you! My secret is threefold: pull-ups, rice bucket, jiu-jitsu. That’s it. Honest. Being self-aware and understanding your bodies potential, and limitations, will help you improve. Forearms burning out? Aside from adrenaline dump, look at how tight your grasping, and understand that it’s unnecessary!

The body is a machine. Its parts work together to provide the best system possible. It’s up to you to provide the parts the necessary means to be more than a machine: to be a well oiled machine that work in tandem, not in chaos.

If you can’t do pull-ups, I say you CAN! Start with one. We all started somewhere! So I have a pull-up bar at home ($50) and a bucket of rice ($10) and they’ve earned their keep!

Self awareness is key to understanding your jiu-jitsu.

Happy rolling!


  1. Please pardon my naivete, but I’m curious as to the purpose of the rice bucket. Do you simply use it for kettlebell-style lifts, varying the weight by emptying/filling it? Or is there another purpose I’m missing? I love improvisation when it comes to using things easily at hand vs. dumping a lot of money into training equipment. As such, I’m interested in finding out how the bucket plays into your grip training regimen.


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