I’ve written a LOT about gripfighting on my blog, and that’s because I really do believe it’s one of the highest leverage skills in BJJ.
That means a little bit of gripfighting knowledge can have a huge influence on your actual mat skills.
For example, if you’re going against a bigger, stronger opponent then one of the most important things you can do is control the grips.
Now controlling the grips is a multipronged process…
The first and most important step is a change in mindset; you simply have to decide that you will NOT concede the initial grip. You have to fight, fight, fight for your grip and not simply let him impose his will or his grips on you.
Then you’ll need to learn and develop specific strategies to get to your own preferred grip(s). Usually these will be a series of small moves wherein you know in advance how most opponents will react, and already have counters planned out for them. Check out this no gi gripping sequence and these gi-based gripping sequences to get a sense of what this might look like in real life.
You’ll also need to know how to break the grip, or at least how to neutralise his grip, if he does manage to get his paws on you so that you’re not at an immediate disadvantage.
But the MOST important thing is the training methods you use make those techniques instinctive.
There are lots of different training methods to get good at gripfighting, but let’s get you started with one drill in particular….
Here’s ‘The Engagement Phase Game’ from The Gripfighting and Kuzushi Formula. Doing this drill will help you win that initial grip battle that usually determines the rest of the match.
Check it out below…
In this drill you and a partner start without grips, typically with one person on their butt and the other person standing.
The goal is to be the first to establish a dominant grip, either from the top or from the bottom.
In a full sparring or competition the person who wins this engagement phase battle then gets to determine what happens next. This initial advantage can often determine the course of a whole match.
However when you do this drill it’s important that each encounter in this game doesn’t last too long; this is NOT full on sparring.
As soon as the bottom person wins a good grip, or the top man puts the bottom person into guard retention mode (i.e. where they have to defend the guard pass and have no realistic hope of winning the gripfight), then you immediately stop, reset, and start over again.
Rob breaks down the engagement phase game very well in the first 3 1/2 minutes of the video above, and then in the second half of the video you get to see the drill in action at full speed with a voiceover narration.
Add this drill to your training and I’m sure you’ll see immediate benefits!
A Step-by-Step Formula for Gripfighting
Rob and I have explored the topic of gripfighting extensively in our Gripfighting and Kuzushi Formula instructional available on this site.
This instructional gives you the specific techniques, strategies, combinations and training drills you need to absolutely dominate the early phases of a match and set up all your favorite sweeps and submissions from the bottom.
Click here to check it out.
And while you’re here I should also mention that this instructional – The Gripfighting and Kuzushi Formula- is also available on your phone via the Grapplearts BJJ Master App.
That means that you can now carry around all these techniques in your pocket, on your phone, with or without an internet connection!
Three quick points about this instructional in app form…
- The Gripfighting and Kuzushi Formula is new module within the Grapplearts BJJ Master App
- That BJJ Master App is FREE to download so you can check out and preview the Open Guard Material (links below)
- There’s a TON of great content on the BJJ Master App in addition to this instructional
Download the Grapplearts BJJ Master App for free at the links below, then check out the Gripfighting and Kuzushi module within it.
P.S. This is what the icon Grapplearts BJJ Master App icon looks like in the the Apple and Google Play stores…