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Some Q's about Conditioning for GI Grappling


Hey gang, I have some Q´s on conditioning for grappling that I would like your opinions on

1: Grip training for the GI.
- I have been doing a lot of grip training over the last year and also bought some COC's at some point. Although My grip strength improved quickly I really didn't notice any carry over to actual fighting. I however did notice a big improvement after a began using those really puny 10lb grippers. It seemed to have a much greater carry over in the form of improved endurance when trying to finish a choke that might not be all that tight.

What is your thoughts on the subject ? how does high hand strength play-in to the GI grappling game and how important is it ? is it more important than a high endurance and vice versa?

2: Specific muscle exhaustion
- The above made me think, if it holds true that doing high rep endurance work for the grip muscles has a positive carry over that the same must also hold true for other areas. true/false why/why not? and what areas would YOU think could benefit from it?

Well that's it for now guys.


Hey Hyperfluxx, I think this article will help you answer question 1: www.grapplearts.com/Grip-Strength-Training.htm, I can't really help you with the second one, hopefully some other members can guide you.


There seems to be a problem with the link..


I do notice that having a strong grip is important, even more so in no-gi grappling then in gi.
Also in a tournament I always feel more exhausted in the hands and the upper arm because the natural tendacy of people to squeeze hard.
But I would not put it over endurance, you need to be able to keep going as a whole instead of being strong in just 1 point. I'd say keep training your strength and do not neglect other parts of your training.


i suppose the issue is that realistically, endurance IS more important than strength when it comes to grip....

i mean, you're not trying to crush anything-you're trying to hold on.

when i was at a Jeff Curran seminar a while back he talked about gassing in a fight when he put a triangle on. he said because the the guy held out so long, his legs gassed on him. he said that he started training isometric-type submission holds after that.

just my .02


The problem wasn't his strength or endurance but that the hold was not applied well. If you are actually choking someone it is impossible to hold out for more than a few seconds. In fact, the better applied the choke is, the less strength it takes to finish the person. Improving strength and endurance to make up for a weakness in technique is the wrong way to address the issue.


The better the technique, the easier the submission/escape/etc...

I am a fan of making sure I have better conditioning, endurance, and strength than the other guy every time I grapple. If he beats me because he's better than me, I'm fine. If he beats me because he hit the gym more times or did a few more pull-ups, sprints, etc..., I have a problem.

To me, you need a certain amount of strength to do well, but there is no downside to always increasing your endurance and conditioning. You cannot be strong if you are gassed.


i'm pretty sure Curran, being a 2nd degree blackbelt, understands that....

i think the point that he was making was that sometimes you need to hold a technique for longer with different people, circumtances, etc, and therefore need to prepare your endurance for that.


lol, it is so common in bjj for people to say 'worry about technique, not strength' (or conditioning) etc etc...while true, let's not discount the benefits of strength and conditioning...andre galvao had an interview a few months ago and when presented the question, 'who will win, the guy with better technique or the guy with better conditioning' with some qualifications regarding teh guy with conditionings skill (obviously we're talking guys with grappling ability, not triathletes) galvao said he thought the guy with better conditioning would be better suited to win the match due to his ability to use proper technique later in the round...because he wasnt tired and still able to perform the moves correctly


It's all very dependent on the situation.
If the guy really outperforms you based on his technique and he subs you within half a minute then you'll lose even though you are physically stronger then him, but if the technique cancels eachother out (both are equally versed in the use of jiujitsu or defend well enough) then the stronger one of the 2 will have an advantage according to me.

I stand by what I said before, function as a whole do not neglect anything and be ready to perform as a whole (physically and technically).


your coaches should know better than any one of us. If you have to death grip someones GI (I hate it when people do this to me) for longer than 2-3 seconds, you're muscling through something instead of working to improve your position. Move your body around the guy, dont try to move the guy around your body, if that makes any sense.

Grip strength is important, but learning how to work for position is more important. It is fun when people death grip my lapels/sleeves/pants and nearly break their fingers because they wont let go. A lot of times, its best to just let go and move onto something else.

Try an exercise....called "The Deadlift" as heavy as you can stand it for low reps/high sets. Theres another called "Farmers Walk". This one, you carry heavy stuff for distance.

All lulz aside, grip a rice bowl till your fingers bleed, hang your belt over a pull up bar and do pull ups on your belt.

Most importantly, only death grip when you have a sub. If you don't have a sub, improve your position.


As usual there is a variety of opinions here.

without attacking anyone- >.< I think grip strength is the only place in grappling
where strength trumps technique

as for conditioning - and grip they are tied together, if your conditioning fails your or you gass,
so will your grip.

try signing your name after a wrestling/grappling/judo match.
if your hands shake after grappling you can do the math-

If you have never felt that feeling - you are either in great shape or your not working hard enough

As for 'death grip' it is part of the technique, but don't let it get in the way of finishing or transitioning.

for people saying your applying it wrong if you use strength- your not always going to have
a perfect textbook situation so you are going to have to squeeze.
Or if you have that goon who is made of rubber or just wont tap - they are out there.

get your conditioning down- and your grip wont fail.

Personally - COC never did anything for me- while I wont say they are easy- they did not help.

Kroc rows high rep heavy DB rows
Gi or Rope pullups or any kind of rope work-
pullups while squashing tennis balls ( on top of the bar) are awesome.

those three have helped me the most- but really after wrestling playing Judo for a long time-
my grip is prob the only decent strength I have.


Hey guys thanks for replying.

As some have pointed out, Strength shouldn't rule over technique, which I am sure everybody already agrees on so no need to get all captain obvious, but I do often find myself trying to finish a choke that for one reason or another just isn't connecting properly.

I might get a really nice deep collar grip but if I'm sparring against a good opponent or just a very strong one, I oftentimes loose some inches of the grip before applying the choke. I'm sure you have been in the same situation many times yourself but rather than letting go of that grip which you have been fighting to get and starting all over again I see no problem in filling in the gap with strength. What ever makes the guy tap!

In addition, if your fighting against a really good opponent, you might not get a second chance to get that grip.

I couldn't agree more on this but it goes beyond the bjj scene I think.
Prior to bjj I had been doing mma, wing tsun and alot of other MA's and I still have a vivid memory of people giving me that "your using to much strength" which I'm sure I was being somewhat big and strong at the time, but it just seemed like it would only come up when they couldn't get whatever they were trying to do to work.
Offcause if you have really poor technique you should be working hard not to use your strength but if your techniques are solid, I see no problem using strength as I said before.
Ultimately I don't think there are many athletes left in the world of combat sports that don't strength train.

I'm having a hard time visualizing the tennis ball pull ups.. How do you hold on to the bar while squeezing the balls?

I don't agree on the whole pensil "if your not shivering, your not working hard enough" test and I really can't see the correlation between shivering and not working hard enough.


^ The second to last picture in this article shows Jens Pulver doing tennis ball pull ups.


I dont know how legit that article is but it shows your how to do it.

For me, kroc rows and towel pull ups (rope when its available) have helped my grip out the most.


Im not suggesting that you need to roll hard enough to have your hand shake

nor am I saying you have to damage yourself to train

I am saying if you have not felt this one in training at least once
or just having competed in a full on match-
then you are either good to go conditioning wise- or you really have not pushed yourself that hard.

Did the tennis ball pull-ups ages ago they have been floating around wrestling for a long time


I don't do grappling but strongman and grip has been a weak point. I see a lot of people have this problem with grippers, in grappling and in strongman you never have to squeeze something you are gripping for a second or two and release. they key is to hold and maintain a strong grip for an extended period of time. I actually started doing holds with a cheap store gripper for 1-2 minutes at a time while I drive around, this has actually been more beneficial then all the coc's I own though not as impressive.

My favorite grip exercises are DOH Axle deadlifts/holds (you could use those fat gripz things I guess.)

just hanging from a pull up bar is an underrated exercise again using a fat bar, fat gripz or towels makes it even harder.

plate pinches for time are great for finger and thumb strength which seems like it would be beneficial for grip on the gi.


Kalle those are some good tips, thank you.

for those watching at home - this is a pretty serious competitor

hanging holds are great- for hand/grip/forearm strength

Its been a while since I played with any kind of grippers
static holds are pretty smart and easy to use


Appreciate the advice guys, going to try the tennis ball pull ups tomorrow.

This is the list of exercises that I have for general hand/forarm.

Cheap gripper, either max out on reps, squeezing a belt with weight between the handles for time (same as holding closed for time just with the belt), and I like to do 10 fast reps continued by 5s static hold again for max reps.

COC's, pretty explanatory.

Pull ups and other pulling exercises with various grips, towel, thick rope, belt, gi collar, gi sleeve.

Wrist roller, again pretty explanatory.

Wrist curls and reverse wrist curls.

Rotational wrist curls, don't know the right name for this one, but imagine a DB with wight on only one end. grap the weight like a hammer curl with your forearm on a bench like a wrist curl and rotate the weight left all the way down and reverse.

Hub hold, Grapping around the wights instead of the handle on a db. It's a wide grip hold for time.

DB holds for time.

Deadlift holds for time.

Hanging from a pull up bar with various grips for time.

Plate pinches for time.

GI tuck of war, this really isn't a tug of war but with a not too tight grip I get one of the other guys to yank the gi away from me. The idea is that with a strong grip from the beginning you have to tighten that grip very fast before the gi is gone. this one works wonders for my grip.

Maybe you guys can fill in on with what ever exercises you have..


Stand over another person in a Gi (like you're mounted, but standing) and grab him mid collar. Then do bent over rows with his body. Switch to the bottom, then pull yourself up by his collar. You can then switch your grips. Use his sleeve, modifying your grips, like these two in this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEuXxCQ0Ytg&hd=1 .