The Jiu Jitsu Times Weekly Challenge: Don’t Use Your Grips

As you may or may not know, we’ve been issuing weekly challenges with the intention of giving the BJJ community new training methods to help with overall improvement.  This week’s challenge is an interesting one.

A few years ago I was training with a very smart black belt who noticed that I relied way too much on my grips and way too little on my positioning and posture.  He referred to what I was doing as “jazz hands” in that I was so desperate to establish grips that I missed out on opportunities.  He gave me an assignment that changed the way I roll: he told me to roll with clenched fists in order to not focus so much on the grips.  He even gave me two hand wraps wrapped in duct tape for me to hold onto while rolling.

This week’s challenge: roll with clenched fists for at least two rolls per session.  This may sound silly, perhaps futile but this will accomplish several things.

For starters, you will begin to learn to use other parts of your body to grip.  At this stage, I am able to catch people by clenching their hands or feet behind my elbows, or between my jaw and shoulder.  I am able to use my appendages to grip in ways that most people haven’t bothered learning to do, entirely as a result of this exercise.

When you roll with your fists clenched, try to find ways to use your legs and feet to grip the other person.  You’ll find that your ability to grip with these can be better than expected.  In fact as you develop your dexterity using your legs and feet for grips you may find more useful ways to use your hands.

Another benefit you may see from this is that you’ll have an option if your hands are hurt or worn out.  Given that we use our grips so much, if we become too reliant on them we may not be able to compete effectively if our grips aren’t working well.  If you’re in a tournament and in your first match you wear your grips out, doing exercises like this one will allow you to potentially still be effective.

So for the next week, clench your fists while rolling and don’t use your hands.  This is going to be a difficult task, but it may shed light on some weaknesses you didn’t already know about.  It’ll also possibly give you a new training method to benefit from training with people smaller, weaker or less skilled than you; it’s an artificial handicap that, if you are able to overcome, will improve your overall game.

As always, let us know what you think of this challenge.  Have you ever tried this method before?  If not try it out and keep us posted in the comments section as to how it works for you.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here