Grips, Grips, Grips!
No grips, no Judo!
A good understanding of grips is so important that every athlete who’s trained under the legendary Jimmy Pedro -- including Kayla Harrison, Travis Stevens, and others -- use and emphasize it.
Kayla Harrison and others will talk about drilling gripping sequences thousands of times along with their throws.
And there’s good reason for that emphasis. As they’ve all explained, without good grips, it’ll be really tough to execute your throws. And having the best grip for you includes neutralizing your opponent’s grips, since that prevents them from doing their throws.
As we see in the video below, your opponent having their grips can even stop you from playing your game entirely.
Here, Saulo Ribeiro -- who, along with Xande, makes up the BJJ power-duo: the Ribeiro brothers -- asks Jimmy Pedro about a Judo combination he had a lot of success with earlier in his BJJ career.
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Saulo says he liked to keep a right-handed stance, and grip the lapel with his left hand.
From there, he would do some foot sweeps (he showed that the main one was Kouchi Gari) and then go into Drop Seoi Nage.
It’s a nice setup, since it gives you a bigger kazushi (pull) compared to a standard Seoi Nage (since your kazushi hand is on the lapel instead of the sleeve), and the non-standard grips may allow you to surprise your opponent.
The problem, though, is if you let your opponent get their grip on your lapel, as Pedro shows here.
Once your opponent controls your lapel, they control your shoulders and your rotation. No rotation means no Seoi (or other throws).
To avoid this, Pedro shows two options.
The first is more offensive. With this option, you can get the lapel grip you’re looking for first, then protect your lapel with your hand.
As the person tries to grip your lapel, you can stop them and grip their sleeve. Then, you can shove their hand down and away so then can no longer use it (more on this with the second option).
Now, your opponent has only one hand, while you have your strong lapel grip and control over one of your opponent’s hands.
This places you in a strong position to go for your favorite combination.
Now, say you couldn’t block your opponent's hand and control their sleeve like you wanted, or that your opponent got their grip before you could do anything about it.
That’s when the second option Pedro shows comes into play.
If your opponent manages to get your lapel, you can break their grip.
There are a few ways to do this. Here, Pedro first gets a grip on the top of his opponent’s arm. Then, he bends forward slightly to get the correct angle. To break the grip, he pushes down with his hand and moves his chest up and back.
Even if your opponent has grips of steel, this grip break is still effective. That’s because you’re pushing your opponent’s hand in a direction that their hand is weak.
When your opponent has their hand on your lapel, their grip will be tough to break in the directions that their fingers are strong. So for instance, pushing your opponent’s hand straight back towards them will make it hard to break their grip.
But, if you push down as Pedro does here, you’re pushing your opponent’s hand in a direction for which they have very little resistance.
And, you’re using a combination of your arm, shoulder, and upper body against just your opponent’s hand. The result is a grip break that’s practically foolproof.
Pedro mentions that Travis Stevens is so good at this grip break that he can’t hang on to his lapel grip. This means Stevens can go from essentially losing the grip fight (since you don’t want your opponent to control you at all if you can help it) to dominating it, consistently.
After the grip is broken, the opponent’s hand is immediately stuffed so they can no longer use that arm. To do this, Pedro pushes Saulo’s hand down, bringing his now freed shoulder forward.
From then on, you’ve neutralized one side of your opponent. With nothing stopping you from turning in anymore, you can go for whatever throws or combinations you want.
Try drilling these gripping sequences and see how much they improve your game.
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!