Grips are important in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, as they often determine who is on the defensive and who is on the offensive side of the match. However, as important as they are, focusing too much on them can actually hinder your BJJ.
Here’s why… And here’s the one thing which is more important than where you place your grips.
JUST BECAUSE YOU’RE TAUGHT SOMETHING…
… Doesn’t mean that it’s the right way to do it. That is, if you’ve been taught that the grips are the most important thing in the whole wide universe of Jiu-Jitsu, you need to get rid of that opinion. And a lot of other stuff you’ve been taught.
Why? Well, your BJJ instructor is human, too. He/she doesn’t know everything, and they are constantly learning as well.
So, just because they’ve been teaching you one thing for the last 2 years, doesn’t mean that they won’t find out a better way to do that thing… And then teach you that other approach instead.
Therefore, it may be a good idea to try and think about how you could improve in certain techniques, without being dependent on your instructor necessarily. Or, even better – start thinking about why you do the stuff you do.
WHY DO YOU USE YOUR GRIPS?
Apply the previous question to the grips themselves. Why do you use them, what’s their purpose?
That’s right. The purpose of grips is control. You use them in order to establish control over your training partner and opponent; for either minimizing the possibilities for them to move, or/and to set up a technique yourself.
That’s why it’s really important to know where to place your pressure. Pressure, not grips.
Yup, you’ve read that well! You need to focus more on your pressure, and here’s why.
USE YOUR HANDS AND PRESSURE, NOT YOUR GRIPS
The thing is that, even if you have the best grips in the world, they’re not going to work if you don’t use your pressure properly! And how are you supposed to use your pressure? Through your arms and hands.
Think about it… If you just grip the opponent’s collar when you’re passing their guard with the Knee Slice pass, without applying any pressure and without creating any tension through it – how are you supposed to stop your opponent in their tracks? How are you supposed to stop them from turning into you and imposing their own game instead?
Furthermore, imagine that you’re standing up. Focusing on just gripping the collar and the opponent not breaking your grip will lead to a lot of stalling. And it probably won’t end up to any sort of a reasonable set-up from your behalf.
Therefore, stop focusing on the grips so much and divert your attention to what you’re trying to do.
WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO DO?
As soon as you figure out what you’re trying to achieve with your hands, start thinking about how you’re going to go about it.
Again, don’t think about your grips. Think about what your objective is and what’s the best approach to it. Then, figure out how to use your pressure – most frequently, through your hands – to achieve your objective.
Oh, and one other really important thing. Keep in mind that the body position is more important than anything else in Jiu-Jitsu.
It’s the body position of you and your opponent which will dictate what you can and can’t do. And that includes whether a given grip will be beneficial or not.
Kenny Florian explains, in great detail, why you shouldn’t focus so much on the grips. Apply this in your training!