T Nation

Using a Gi and Training Routines


Hey gang,

1: I was wondering what you other grapplers using the gi, do for keeping your hands and fingers healthy and in top shape?

My hands and fingers are constantly sore and especially my fingers are killing me.

I could use some good advice on this, because it sometimes gets to the point where I simply can't apply something like a simple gi choke.

I am training from 10am to around 17-18pm from Monday to Saturday, having a break due to work on Sundays.

The typical structure of the day is technique from 10-15 and sparring the last two hours, so my hands get really beaten up throughout the week, but this also leads me up to my next Q.

2: I was also wondering how your training rutines look like, not so much the strength and conditioning, but more how a week of combat training would look like for you guys.

The things I'm mostly interested in, is how you training is structured and how your nutrition is covered throughout the day.

Normally I get up around 8 and then I use about and hour preparing my breakfast, then off to training. I used to make food to take with me and eat when I had the chance, or just take 10 min off, but the last couple of weeks I haven't had the energy cook that extra food so I ended up saying to myself that I would just by something and eat that.. But I really hate eating crap so I end up not buying anything and thus don't get something to eat until I get home around 19-20pm + at least 30 min to an hour preparing the food.
From there I try to get at least to more meals in before I go dream of Megan


How are you managing to spend so much time training. I am jealous! Having a job, wife, daughter really eats into available training time.

How long have you been training? My hands used to get chewed up when I started out, especially when I started learning spider guard but now my skin has just toughened up so I rarely notice it.


In answer to your second question, I teach twice a week, I typically turn up an hr before the class starts so that I can drill a particluar move for an hr with one of the other instructors, the class itself is normally a 15 min warmup followed by about 30 mins technique (1 or 2 techniques) then sparring or positional sparring. Then after the BJJ class we have an hr of nogi either with or without striking. Format for this really varies dependent on which instructors are there and whether anyone has a fight coming up.

Once a week I spar for 2 hrs with a friend who is slightly better than me.


Well, I don't have children and I only work Saturday nights plus a part time job a couple of hours two times a week, so I'm pretty lucky in that regard..
I have been training about two years with the GI.. Before that I did mma, but the funny thing is that I started training full time almost emidiately, but is just revcently that my hands are getting killed.. I think it's because I have begun using chokes big time and I can difenately feel it every single time I apply a choke.. my fingers are toast afterwards and I need to take a 5 min break before I can get full range of motion back.
I don't use the spider guard, yet anyways, but I just don't like it that much, on the other hand I love de la riva and the x guard.

What kind of warm up do you do and don't you feel that all that NO GI training kind of stands in the way of your GI progress ?


It sounds like you have a weak grip-
does your grip break down after rolling for a few minutes?
Do your hands shake?
do you have callouses?
Do you take any fish oil?

How active are you outside of rolling?
do yo work with your hands?
do you have hands that are long and thin like a musician?

A weak grip is a sign of some lack of conditioning, if you ever try to write something
down after rolling for even two minutes you will see what I mean.

Lactic acid builds up pretty quickly in the forearm and hands and can become somewhat painful.

Ice, Ice baths, judicious use of tape- either taping the fingers together or the wrist can help.
So can giving your hands adequate time, help to recover. Fish oil other anti anti inflammatory
do help as well.

It might be the volume of your training- did you suddenly ramp up to the volume you train at now?
and lastly what is your callouses and grooming like?
I regularly groom the callouses so they dont rip- or become too large/rough that they catch in the gi.

From years of Judo and wrestling I have a grip of Iron.
rarely does it fail in strength training- and having a physical job does not hurt either.

I would suggest trying to help your hands with some recovery- ice, ibuprofen fish oil msm what ever.
and also try to work on your grip strength.

and practice your monkey, gable and other grips- it might be simply that they are not that intuitive and take time.

As Far as Gi vs no Gi - I value the Gi- and feel all technique can be based out of the gi work.
Too often No-gi students want to roll , and fail to practice and get their "reps" in.



Just looking at what you wrote, it seems to me you are overtraining and not consuming nearly enough macronutrients to recover. To me it looks like you eat at 9 in the morning then train all day and you don't eat again until 8 at night. If that is the case that is not a good thing.


wow, that's a lot of training wihtout any food.

i think the above posters figured it out for ya....if you're not taking EFA's, start, and prolly drop your training down for a while and get stricter about your diet. i can't imagine training hard that long without anything to eat....

EDIT: i forgot to mention, the only time i had problems with my fingers/forearms being sore was when i first started rolling for long periods of time. once my hands got back into shape, it went away.


Thx for posting, though I don't think your right about my grip, sure it could be a lot stronger, but weak, no.

I rarely find my grip breaking down and when it does it's after hours of rolling or as mentioned before, when I do a lot of gi chokes and I know what you mean by trying to write after rolling, though I don't have that problem.

My fingers are a bit shorter than normal i guess, large, rough and my callouses are looking good..

Regarding fish oils I actually consume quite a lot, somewhere between 20 and 30g/day.

It's not so much my hands that are the problem, it's my fingers, more precisely the first joint in the fingers, the second joint is also somewhat sore but doesn't compare to the first.

One of the guys at our school is insanely hard to submit, even when you have a clean choke he is able to hold it for minutes before he subs.. now I might not be a black belt, but I know how to make a choke and this guy just don't go down..
Now this guy also happens to be one of the guys I roll with the most and I get peoples back a lot, including his, so I try to choke him a lot and I think all that isometric holding might be what is causing the swelling in the joints??

I'm don't agree with the whole overtraining thing, 80% of the days training time is based on technique, but I do agree 100% that my food intake is not near where it should be.. I just find it difficult sometimes.. well most times, to prepare the food and all.
It's not that I don't like cooking, I actually love it, it's just that, when I get home, I am WASTED and the prospect of having to cook more than just my dinner really seems hard to overcome.. I guess what I need is some easy to do recipes that are both nutritious and easy to take with me.
For the last couple of years I have used JB's precision nutrition cookbook as my primary source of inspiration when cooking, and when I do make some food to take with me it is almost always his tuna burgers. They are easy to make and taste good, but after a week of tuna burgers they get quite boring and all that mercury containing tuna can't be all that healthy.

So If you have some good recipes that are easy to do I would appreciate it very much :slight_smile:


Probably is the change up in techniques, I find that if I focus on different things, different body parts hurt.

One thing that helped me with my grip strength for chokes etc was to fling a gi (or a towel) over a rail and use it for pullups or inverted rows.

I warm up using mobility movements from the Marvelous Mobility DVD and then more BJJ specific drills such as shrimping, breakfalling, throw set ups, partner carries etc. Typically I will try to make the warmup movements relate to the techniques that we will be working on.

My first few years of BJJ I was training almost exclusively in a gi. 4-5 days per week Gi, 1 day per week nogi. At the moment I am training a group of MMA fighters so we need to train NoGi a fair amount.

If I was just training for me I would train pretty much all Gi as I find it more fun (guard work and chokes is a huge part of my natural game not surprising as I am originally a Roger Gracie student)


Something else to throw in there is technique. A lot of people when they are going for a choke will get the first hand in, grip tightly then fight to get the second hand in (first hand is tiring all the time) now they get the second hand in and grip as tightly as possible. If the choke works great, if not, they reset their grip and try again to grip as hard as they can. With this approach, the guy getting choked just needs to hang on defending the spikes in pressure long enough for your grip to give.

This is not the best method. You need to get a lose comfortable relaxed grip with the first hand, get the second hand in place then slowly tighten the grip up squeazing with your entire body. Your squeaze doesn't go straight from 1-10, it needs to go through all the numbers in between. The person being choked now feels like they are drowning, it is getting worse and worse and worse as their strength is giving out.

We have a guy at our gym that a lot of my guys claim is impossible to choke out. For me he is a good test because I have to have the technique spot on, he will not tap until he sees stars, (this is also a guy that let someone snap his forearm in an interclub sparring session instead of tapping, the nutter) I can pretty much always get him to tap using the above technique.


So, you've been trying to work your grip, and it doesn't solve the problem but just makes you sore(r) ?

Well, the next best thing to do would be to work the extensors, the muscles that open your hand as opposed to the ones that clamp down to give you a grip. A lot of people overlook antagonist work because it isn't the most direct route to getting a weak bodypart up to par, but your body will keep your grip weak which will consequently can cause some soreness from the demands of jitz, if your extensors are weak and it does this with all antagonist muscle groups actually as a self-protective measure.

What you should do is go to ironmind and buy this, get some discs and start working those extensors:



Or you could screw paying $30, grab some elastic bands (the type they put round stacks of letters) pop your fingers inside, and stretch the band. When you can do it easily with one, double it up or use two.


Yeah I find the MM movements to be really great too, I normally start my warm up with a 10-15 min hot shower, it really relaxes the body and takes a lot of tension of of the muscles.
After that I start doing the same as you, using the movements in MM, I find those to really open up the hip and back, especially the hip.

I think I'll give this a try, though I don't belive it to be the answer.. though I hope it will be!


Something to bear in mind, I used to train with Roger Gracie, his grip is so strong he has literally torn a brand new gi apart, when he works chokes a lot his hands ache.


do NO GI !!! fucking hate that gi shit, what is the point of learning how to fight, like fight for real like the art of fighting like a martial art in a totally unrealistic thing like the GI, it makes me crazy, i burn gi's and cry from the happy feelings in side me, hate that shit HATE IT.

seriously i train no gi bjj 3-4 times week hands are fine


If your hands hurt just from doing chokes, then you're not doing them right. And I don't care how hard a dude is to choke... if you cinch in properly, he should tap almost immediately. Have your coach really watch your hands, positioning, and how you work the GI.


i would be willing to wager serious amounts that any grappler or fighter you are inspired by, look up to or respect trains in the gi or trains with somebody who holds the gi in high regard.

anybody worth their salt in nogi is gi based.


Man, I sounded like a dick in my previous post. Sorry about that... didn't mean for it to come out that way. The point I was trying to make is that technique is very important. Granted, that much 'gripping' done every day will take it's toll. But if your technique is good, you really don't have to put so much 'effort' into your chosen choke/bar/lock/etc.


So a realistic setting for you is surrounded by men in spandex shorts. Fine for you but that is not a lifestyle choice I am prepared to make.


Mmmmh, definitely sounds like your grip sucks ass. Is that you in the avatar btw? LMFAO