A Handy Guide to BJJ Gi Grips for Beginners

A Handy Guide to BJJ Gi Grips for Beginners

Grips are an essential part of Brazilian jiu-jitsu and it is perceived that “without grips, there can be no grappling.” Therefore, learning about BJJ grips is essential for every BJJ practitioner, whether they train in Gi BJJ or No-Gi BJJ. A BJJ beginner should be aware of everything about the BJJ grips in order to make the best use of them in order to gain an advantage over their opponents and improve their game.

In BJJ, grips are of two major types: Gi BJJ grips and No-Gi BJJ grips. As their names suggest, both are applied in different conditions and to different areas of the bodies of their opponents.

Here, in this handy guide to BJJ Gi grips that can help you learn everything about these grips, from application to breaking if opponents place a grip on you while sparring or in the actual fight.

1. Grip Fighting in BJJ

To stay ahead of the competition, it is critical to understand which varieties would be effective in which conditions and situations. As said above, there are different circumstances in which to apply grips in Gi BJJ and No-Gi BJJ. You cannot make use of Gi BJJ grips while rolling with a no-gi practitioner. However, considering the versatility of no-gi grips, you might be able to apply some of them in GI BJJ practices.

Grip fighting is the battle of getting leverage over opponents, which precedes most of the battle of grappling itself. Grips are basically used for gaining control over the movements of the opponent, and for that, you try to attach yourself to their strategic body parts. In this way, jiu-jitsu grips allow you to get out of any condition, such as escapes, sweeps, passes, and submissions.

Grip fighting is known as a game-changer in BJJ practices, and those who manage to gain more control and leverage over their opponents tend to win the fights.

2. Can I break a grip by grabbing the thumb in Brazilian jiu-jitsu?

No way! You cannot grab the thumb of your opponent for the purpose of breaking their grip. According to the IBJJF regulations, you cannot manipulate the small joints of your opponent in any way to win the fight. The thumb is also counted among the small joints, as it is quite easy to break. Apart from the regulations, it will not be a sportsman's behavior.

However, you are free to grab the thumb of the opponent for the purpose of grip breaking in self-defense situations.

3. BJJ Gi Grips

Here are some BJJ gi grips that you should learn at all costs to succeed in the sport. If you lack gripping skills, you are an easy target for your opponents. If you are able to place grips on your opponents before they do so, you are on edge to apply any of your jiu-jitsu techniques, including chokes, locks, and sweeps, in a more effective way. The best-known gi or kimono Bjj grips are listed below.

3.1. “S” Grip

If you are in search of a grip that can help you gain an advantage over your opponent while clinching, the "S'' grip is the way to go. To place this grip, you hook your fingers of one hand onto the fingers of the other hand, which makes a shape like an S. You can make use of this gripping technique, specifically when your opponent is too big and you cannot wrap them by going palm to palm. You can also take advantage of this grip while defending armbars. However, you have to ensure that your attacked arm is turned in such a way that its palm is away from you.

3.2. Monkey Grip

The BJJ monkey grip requires you to grip with your four palm fingers rather than your thumb. But it does not mean you should let your thumb float in the air. In this grip, you also tuck your thumb next to your forefinger. This grip requires you to remove your thumb’s main function. This makes it easy for you to make your hands strong enough to pull your opponents towards your body, gaining leverage and control over them.

For the clinching game, monkey grip is one of the best options, despite its simplicity, as it helps grapplers control the distance and apply pressure. This grip is also effective when it comes to submission techniques such as chokes like the arm triangle or straight arm locks. This grip is also known as the gable grip or gable lock.

For further details about the execution of the monkey grip, the following video by Gracie Charlottesville’s Brent Lillard and Shaun Kennedy can help.

3.3. Americana or Figure-Four Grip

The Americana, or figure-four arm grip, is one of the classic fulcrum movements that help you put plenty of pressure on the opponent's shoulder. In this grip, you go with two arms on one in order to control and isolate the opponent's arm.

This grip works more effectively when you get your opponent on their back, but you can also use it from the bottom position against new grapplers. Once you get your opponent's arm isolated and gain control on the mat with this grip, you can force them to tap out or get their shoulder tendons torn.

3.4. Butterfly Grip

The butterfly grip originally belongs to wrestling but is also effectively used in BJJ. This is not only effective in takedowns but also serves as seat belt control. This is a variation of the gable grip that is extended across for grasping your arms.

The purpose of this grip is to have the wrist hooks bend against each other in order to boost the strength of your grip. In this grip, the elbows remain close to the ribs. Using this grip, you can close the circle of your opponent's arms when you get a double underhook position, like in half guard or Greco throws.

AJ Agazarm is one of the prominent BJJ athletes who use this controlling grip to get leverage on their opponents to submit them.

3.5. Ball and Socket Grip

The other effective grip that you should know how to perform during your BJJ sparring and training sessions is the ball and socket grip. This is one of the most versatile and common grips that are used during stand-up to control an opponent's waist, upper body, and legs, particularly in sweep single-type circumstances. It is also beneficial to go into a seat belt position from the back and to finish chokes like the Peruvian necktie and guillotine.

The aspect that makes it versatile is its easy adjustment for grapplers of all sizes, which also makes it easy to cover the distance. One can easily transit to other grips such as 10 fingers, pretzel, and gable or monkey grips from this grip.

To perform this grip, you will be required to hide your choking hand under the other one, and by doing so, you will be making it harder for your opponents to grab and pull away. However, you must remember that you should avoid grabbing and squishing your fingers while placing this grip. If you are grabbing and squishing your fingers, it may put a lot of strain on them while your goal is to strengthen your wrist and arm by performing this grip.

3.6. “C” Grip

Are you in search of a grip that can help you push away your opponents? C-Grip can help you do so with ease. This grip is almost the opposite to the monkey or gable grip, as in this grip you do not place your thumb beside your four fingers but on their opposite side.

This grip is found to be quite effective for creating panic scenarios, avoiding engagement, and fainting opponents during the fight. By placing this grip, your purpose is to force the opponent to make a mistake by getting offensive.

This grip is mostly used from the bottom offensive positions. However, you can also surprise your opponent by placing a c-grip in the top position. You can also take advantage of this grip, gaining the ability to transform your offensive movements in just a moment. For instance, if you are able to move your hands towards the outside and place a c-grip, it will be very easy for you to transit to an offensive grip such as kimura, armbar, or Americana.

3.7. Pretzel Grip

One of the least common BJJ grips that have gained popularity in recent years is the pretzel grip. This grip has been proven as a great innovation that has the ability to change a submission. It is a perfect hack for making an arm-in guillotine impossible to escape from.

To apply the pretzel grip, you need to get into an arm-in guillotine position. From this position, you will need to keep the open palm on your choking hand, and the other hand will go around your opponent’s arm and will grip the choking hand to complete the movement.

In the pretzel grip, instead of gripping thumbs near each other, you will use the fingers of your non-choking arm to point downwards, which will help you place your thumbs on two opposite sides of your grip. It might seem a little uncomfortable and strange, but it is an outstanding option to make guillotine chokes successful in making opponents tap out instantly.

4. Gi BJJ Grip Positions

In Gi BJJ, there are some specific positions that you can use to place grips legitimately. Going otherwise may make you vulnerable to facing penalties in BJJ competitions. The following are the legitimate grip positions that you can use to get a grip.

4.1. Collar

Collar grips are not limited only to gaining control over the opponent, they are also beneficial when it comes to submitting opponents via chokes. To grip the collar, there are two prominent techniques. The first is four fingers, and the other is the thumb in the grip, which is the opposite of the first one. Unlike other gripping positions, in collar grips and specifically for four-finger grips, you can put your fingers inside the collar.

The best tactic to apply a four-finger grip on the collar is to put all four fingers deep inside the collar while keeping the thumb out to secure the grip. Though the main purpose of this grip is control, you can also take advantage of it for finishing techniques like a loop choke.

On the other hand, while applying the thumb-in grip, you will put your thumb inside the collar and your four fingers will be on the outer side to make a perfect grip.

4.2. Sleeve

For placing a grip, the ideal position on a gi is the sleeves. There are two points on the sleeves where you can grab them for grips. One point is above the wrists and the second one is above the elbow or higher in the armpit. When using sleeves, a four-finger grip is ideal as it provides control in multiple directions.

Here, the noteworthy point is that you cannot grip inside the sleeve; it is illegal according to the IBJJF regulations. Therefore, ensure that, except for your thumb, all fingers are on the outer side of the sleeve. To place your grip more effectively, creating a pocket with the gi material, to grab it maximally, will be the right strategy.

If for some reason, you are unable to apply a four-finger grip, you can also go for a pistol grip using your opponent’s Gi sleeves. In this way, you will be able to get hold of as much material as a pistol handle, which can help you increase your control over the wrist of your opponent. This grip will also add discomfort to their wrists because of the tightness of their gi sleeve. However, if their sleeves are already tight, it might be difficult for you to catch the pistol grip.

For the upper arm grips, the best place to grip is behind the triceps. The right method to use for the upper arm grip is the four-finger grip. However, at this place, due to the lack of material, you cannot go for a stronger grip. Therefore, you may be able to use this grip to go for the other helpful positions.

4.3. Pants

When it comes to controlling legs in BJJ, you cannot ignore the significance of the pants grips. Like sleeves, you can also make a pocket while applying a four-finger grip at the knee level using the opponent's pants to gain maximum control over their shins.

Regardless of the position on BJJ pants, the four-finger grip is applicable everywhere, but you cannot go for the pistol grip on pants as it might not provide enough control. Pants grips are only beneficial when you grab them from the top. It will offer tight control over the pant material at the ankle level, which will enable you to have a higher degree of leg control and make it easier to pass in turn.

5. Takeaway

For every beginner, it is vital to learn the basics of most of the BJJ techniques to improve their skills and increase their jiu-jitsu knowledge. BJJ Gi grips are one of the essential techniques to learn in BJJ to stay on top when it comes to training or competition matches. The above-described grips and possible positions on the BJJ Gi can help you get control over the arms, legs, and head of your opponent, which is critically important for successful submissions.

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