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Grip Like a Champion With Jimmy Pedro!

Grip Like a Champion With Jimmy Pedro!

Something that all good martial artists have in common is a deep drive to learn and grow. Remaining humble and open to improvement is a huge factor in how we improve not only on the mats, but in life. It’s so awesome to see two of the greats get together and learn from each other in this video of Olympian Judoka Jimmy Pedro and five time World Jiu-Jitsu Champion Saulo Ribeiro discussing the standing game. 



Saulo, himself a black belt Judoka, begins by saying to Jimmy that his three favourite standing techniques (tachi waza) are Ko Uchi Gari (Small Inner Reap foot sweep), Drop Seoi Nage (Shoulder Throw) and Kosoto Gari (Small Outer Reap). Saulo is a right handed player but takes a left handed lapel grip to set up his standing techniques and keeps getting shut down by his opponents lapel grip, which prevents him from rotating into his sweeps or throws. In the finals of the Absolutes Saulo was fighting a guy who was blocking him like this. So what can he do here? 

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The first thing Saulo notices is that sometimes he would break a grip only for his opponent to take the exact same grip one second later! Jimmy notices that as Saul grabs his lapel with his lead left hand Jimmy’s first reaction was to grab Saulo’s lapel in return, leading to a 50/50 gripping situation. Gripping is all about controlling 1) your opponents’ shoulders and 2) the space between you and your opponent. 


As soon as Jimmy feels Saulo’s left hand on his lapel he knows immediately that a Seoi Nage is on the way in so he will instinctively block that from happening by placing his own left hand on Saulo’s lapel. This grip acts as a frame that prevents Saulo rotating into the throw. From here we get into an area Jimmy has been pioneering in American Judo, and that’s a systematic development of strategic kumi kata, or grip fighting.


We can see Jimmy’s gripping game is very active and he won’t let Saulo take a grip to begin with. It’s a bit like the adage of when a student asks an instructor how to get out of a fully sunk in rear naked choke, the instructor is usually going to say “Don’t get there to begin with.” This is what Jimmy is advising us with grip fighting, do not let your opponent get a good grip to begin with. If Jimmy allows Saulo to keep his best lapel grip on even though Jimmy might reach for a lapel grip this might be blocked and Jimmy is playing catch-up. Not a good place to be in!


To prevent Saulo’s grip we see as Saulo’s left hand comes in to take a grip Jimmy takes a 2-on-1 grip with one hand gripping the sleeve underneath Saulo’s arm and the other going on top of Saulo’s wrist. From here Jimmy can stiff arm pressure through the sleeve grip to force and frame Saulo’s whole arm down and against Saulo’s body so that Jimmy can control not only that arm but that side of Saulo’s movement. From here Jimmy can gain a lot of momentum from this aggressive gripping strategy to set up his own throws


There’s a nice moment in the video at 6:15 where we can see Jimmy has this movement to intercept the grip down to an instinctive reflex. This is where we want to get with our own kumi kata (grip fighting).

If for some reason they do land a grip on his lapel Jimmy shows how he breaks it by first bringing their grip nearer to his body while stepping one foot back. This position creates the ideal position for Jimmy to now simultaneously punch downwards with his top wrist control and sharply push his body backwards away from his opponent to break their grip. This is an explosive grip break that will make even the most determined grippers have a hard time staying on your gi.


After getting his opponents grip free Jimmy is now free to move his shoulder into them, stiff arm their dominant gripping hand downwards and dominate the standing game from there. This is how a systematic approach to gripping strategy can revolutionize your takedown game!


Grip Like a World Champion 2.0 by Jimmy Pedro

Grip Like A World Champion 2.0 By Jimmy Pedro will give you a look at what it takes to become a Champ! This 3 part series gives you a look at how Jimmy Pedro has created some of the best Judokas in the U.S. like Travis Stevens and Kayla Harrison! Go on a Judo Journey that covers everything from theory of gripping to defending power grips. Grip Like A World Champion 2.0 is guaranteed to increase your success on the feet!

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