By Matt D’Aquino
Grip fighting is one of the most neglected techniques studied all around the world. If you have ever competed at a club, state or international level, you would have noticed that an important part of competition in Judo is gripping and gripping strategy.
I am always telling my students (and myself) that rule number one is to never let your opponent have their grip!
Although in training it is a good idea to let your opponent take their grip and work at moving your hips and escaping their attacks. In competition number one is never let them have their grip. If your opponent has their grip more often than not they will throw your for Ippon or dominate the fight.
Grip fighting rule number two, I believe, is the hardest part. You must stop your opponent from having their grip, but you must be able to attain grip where you can still be able to attack with your Judo. Without being able to do your Judo you won’t throw anyone. If you don’t have the grip that you want you probably won’t be confident enough to enter for an attack as you will be unfamiliar with the grips.
In competition there are some fighters who beat you simply because they either out grip you, have better technique than you, control you so you cannot get a throw in, shut down each and every attack of yours or snap off all of your grips.
Although I hate to admit it but there are plenty of Judo players all over the world who win all of their Judo matches purely because they out grip their opponents. These fighters never throw for Ippon, they have no groundwork but what they do have is superior gripping strategies that render their opponent useless.
Your grip has 2 major jobs, and that is to stop and control your opponents attack and to assists in setting up your own techniques.
By attaining a grip on your opponents ‘power hand’ you can potentially stop all of their powerful attacks and render them useless. For example if you are grip fighting a right handed fighter, simply use both of your hands to grab your opponents right and push it down. This will stop your opponent from getting their ‘power hand’ on and in doing so will nullify a lot of their attacks. Another way you can defend their power hand is to post on your opponent’s right shoulder using your left or right hand. This will enable you to block their shoulder and stop them from turning their shoulders in for an attack.
If you are able to attain your grip you will be able to set up your own attacks by either ‘snapping’ your opponents’ gi very quickly to get a reaction. Alternatively you can pull your opponent’s head down and wait for them to pull their head up before entering for an attack of your own.