When talking about conditioning in the sport of Jiu Jitsu, it is widely know that, more often than not, strength is not used as a necessary means of controlling an opponent. As we know , it was invented as a way for the smaller, weaker person, to survive an attack. But the evolution of the sport has brought about competition between practitoners , who over time, have incorporated the use of strength when controlling the gi.
When used properly and effectively, balance and technique can be used as a substitute to brute strength and power. But what people may fail to remember is that during competition, the ability to command your opponent and manipulate the moves you desire take alot to accomplish if grip strength hasn’t been properly conditioned.
While we know that position is the number one trait in grappling that we must attain, without it you cannot properly perform submissions, the second most important may very well be grip strength.
Why grip strength is so important in a martial art that involves using less strenuous means?
Well the answer may lie with the ability to control the opponent. When grappling using the gi, it is very important to be able to control and maintain position to effectively achieve the dominant position and go for a submission. If your opponent slips away or you cannot keep him from escaping , then grip strength may be to blame . If you have ever witnessed a Jiu Jitsu match you can subtly see the grip in action as the two opponents vie for position. This is because of the skill level involved in a match that may cancel each others ablities out.
That split second where you reach for a leg as they leave it open may mean the difference between sweeping or getting swept. It all boils down to who can manipulate the match in their favor. Grip strength, conditioning, technique, all of these are a recipe for success in Jiu Jitsu.
Grip strength exercises can also help to maintain stability in the arms by strengthening the muscles between the forearm and bicep, although joint supplements can also help to strengthen the ligaments. So incorporating grip strength can be a very important and essential part of your Jiu Jitsu game. If nothing else , it can also be beneficial to just maintain overall health with your grip.
Grip strength exercises when done properly should not be focused on achieving mass, but strength. One reason why exercises should not be performed for mass is because once you tear the muscle down in the forearms. you will need to recover to build strength. And if the forearm muscles are at their weakest after performing exercises, then your sparring sessions will be cut short due to the inability to use grip. Any exercise that involves tearing down the muscle and rebuilding are an asset in Jiu Jitsu, although not needed, can be beneficial. Another way to achieve the same strength goal would be to just train!
Achieving that steel, clamp-like grip is possible it just takes time, effort and patience. Remember Jiu Jitsu is a marathon, not a sprint. Maintain goals and happy training!
Photos courtesy of SalasPhotography