T Nation

Gaining an Edge


There are obviously a lot of guys here that have racked up some serious time in combat sports of all varieties, training under/with some excellent coaches and fighters.

I thought it would be interesting to start a thread where we could all post some of our tips/exercises/programs that we feel give us an edge in some way come competition time. For example, Sento mentioned that he'd trained under Charlie Lysak, who is the only man to have closed the COC#3. Sento - you must have some great tips for building the grip (inexpensively, as you mentioned). It's something a lot of fighters might not train seriously, relying on their sport specific training to build what they see as the necessary strength. So what would you have one of your fighters do, and how would you set up a mini program for him to train it?

For me, when I started boxing, and I got hit hard and got dizzy, I didn't really know how to respond to the disorientation, and I immediately, subconsciously, accepted that I was in deep water, which took me out of my game plan and handed the edge to my opponent. I actually lost a couple of early fights just from not knowing what to do when this happened. What has really helped me, and many fighters I've trained with/helped coach, is doing some tumbling, followed immediately by shadowboxing or 8-count body builders, or something else that forces you to coordinate your limbs when you are dizzy.

I saw Kosta Tzyu doing something similar in this video:

I know that a lot of fighters do none of this sort of training. It doesn't take long - 5 minutes at any time of day is enough - but in my anecdotal experience it is something that can make that tiny bit of difference that lets a fighter stay in a fight when he might otherwise be about to go. I certainly feel it helped me.

It'd be interesting to hear what other people do that they think gives them an edge in some small way.


Good idea for a thread.

Let me first clarify that Shihan Charlie is not the only person to ever close the COC #3, there are others who have and even 5 people who have officially closed the COC #4 (Charlie has actually closed the #4 but doesn’t have it consistent enough to contact Ironmind to get certified yet). He is the only Martial Artist/Combatives person to have closed it though and to my knowledge has the most consecutive closes of anyone out there.

Regarding building the grip, the best drills for combat athletes are going to involve a training partner. With that in mind here are a couple drills that you can easily implement to build your grip that require little to no equipment:
-Resisted Bear Crawl-one partner lays down on their stomach behind the other partner who assumes a bear crawl position. The first partner then grabs a hold of the other partner’s ankles and does their best to resist the second partner’s efforts to bear crawl. Try going for 1 minutes, then switch sides, eventually try to build up to 2 minutes per role per person. This will fry your grip as well as your shoulders and back as the resistor, and will makes bear crawls significantly more challenging as the resistee.

-grab a Bo staff (or any reasonably long dowel/stick, a wooden curtain rod will work well) and have both partners start by grabbing the stick with both hands with their front hands touching their partner’s right in the middle of the stick. The goal of the exercise is to twist the stick while pushing your opponent’s hands backwards to eventually push them completely off the stick. This builds both wrist strength and grip strength at the same time

As far as solo drills, some good ones include:
-farmer’s carries using either thick handles (a simple piece of PVC can turn a regular adjustable weight dumbbell into a thick handled one), water dispenser bottles filled with water, sand, etc…, rocks that you are just barely able to “palm”/pinch grip

-grab a wash cloth (or dish towel if you are feeling especially ambitious), soak it in water (having a bucket is your best option if you are doing it indoors or want to be able to repeat the drill fairly quickly), and then grab the towel at one corner with your thumb and finger tips of one hand. Now begin to bunch the towel up into your palm and squeeze as much water out of the towel as you can with each subsequent bunch. Your ultimate goal (which you will probably fail at first to accomplish) is to get the entire wash cloth/dish towel bunched into your hand with all of the water squeezed out (without using your second hand for assistance).This will destroy your forearms and hands while at the same time building grip and dexterity in your hands. This one actually comes from John Brookfield, who Charlie is certified under.


Regarding pressure drills, we do those quite often. Here are a couple good ways to add pressure to any skills practice:
-close your eyes and spin around as fast as you can trying to make yourself as dizzy as possible, then have your training partner say “Go!” and when they do you open your eyes and they unleash a swarm of attacks on you. Your goal is to effectively cover up, take as little damage to vital targets as possible and either tie them up or punch your way out of harm till you can regain your equilibrium.

-perform intense physical exercise (stuff that really gets your heart pumping like sprints, jumping burpees, jump squats, etc…works best) and then try performing your skills against full resistance. If you want to add even more pressure give your training partner a few attacks or combinations (if you are strictly training boxing) to choose from so there is a sense of uncertainty and you have to effectively react to your partner’s actions.

You can also add verbal dialogue, a sense of urgency/time line, change the environment (you’d be surprised how much more intense takedown defense drills can get if you do them on pavenent, rough gravel, goose poop laden grass, etc…), body language, weapons, other people in the situation that you must protect, etc… Some of these may not be directoy applicable to pure sport based combat training, but some are and all will help you better deal with stress and pressure in or out of the ring.


Solid contributions as always Sento! I like the one about the flannel. Exactly the kind of thing you can get a few minutes of during the day when you wouldn’t otherwise be training.


-Another great tip from John Brookfield.
Hang your gripper on a piece of string, about chest height. Reach out, grab and close it. This is way, way harder that setting it up in your hand and squeezing it. This turns the gripper into more of a (an?) useful exercise, and less of a “feat.”

A useful way to train grip is to do different things with either hand. Like pinch grip some plates in your left hand, and squeeze a gripper on a string with your right. This lets you “forget” about the pinch hold. Or close a gripper in your right, hold it closed, then power snatch a thick handled dumbbell with your left. Hold a hex dumbbell by the end with one hand while you lift a vertical bar with the other. Put weights in a duffel bag, and hold it eagle talon style while doing dumbbell curls with a thick handled dumbbell with the other hand.

Throw this stuff in between rounds of jump rope or stretching or work it into dynamic warm ups before “real” workouts. You’ll develop a great grip, almost by accident.

Chin up bar at home? Do 1 or 2 chin-ups with 3, 2, or 1 finger(s) throughout the day.

Use 3, 2 or 1 fingers on your warm up sets for deadlifts, upright rows, pulldowns, etc.


^^^^ Definitely, Brookfield is full of great grip advice!