21 times World/European Masters Champion.
19th June 2012.
Simply Judo gripping (Coaching notes).
Part One – Basic.
Part Two – Intermediate.
Part Three – Advanced.
Part Four – Summary.
Part One - Basic
(a) Lesson objective – the theory and practice of gripping
The need to appreciate some of the theory from which the practical side of gripping is based.
(b) Role of gripping within judo.
Gripping is essential (fail to grip properly and you will be disqualified in a contest by the referee) and desirable (gripping can contribute up to 70% of the success of as throw).
(c) Definitions – Gripping (Simple version).
Gripping – it is a specific judo skill involved in tactics.
Gripping – is how you use your hands in standing judo to secure and maintain contact and control over your opponent.
(d) Definition – Gripping (Advanced version).
Gripping – is the use of the hands, arms and head in standing judo for the purposes of contact, control, technical link to throws, sensing weaknesses and strength as well as alerting you to the actions and reactions of your opponents. Judo is a dynamic activity and as a consequence the act of gripping also involves considerations of balance, space between players, posture, stance, movement patterns and pace.
Note (a) – gripping in standing judo is also used to apply both elbow locks and strangles although very few contest are won with these techniques used in a standing position.
Note (b) – Ne-waza is considered separately and is not part of standing gripping. Transition – the action of changing from standing judo into ne-waza will be included in gripping.
(e) Comment – in terms of definitions and classification it can be said that gripping is part of tactics.
JUDO TACTICS – The conscious selection of various choices from the total options available to a player on how to use his body and effort in order to achieve specific objectives in randori and competition such as win, draw or minimise the impact of a loss.
In order to avoid confusion it is necessary to define strategy.
Two similar ideas – so do not get confused between them.
(a). Strategy – the overall plan or method of winning a war
(b) Tactics – what you do to win a single battle.
(f) Comment – the current IJF competition rules determine what is allowed and what is not allowed in gripping.
Example – you must take a grip on your opponent!
Example – you cannot hold the opponent’s belt for ‘more than 5 seconds’!
Rules – you should not, and must not, take part in a contest unless and until you know the current competition rules.
Rules interpretation – you need to understand that it is the referee supported normally by two judges that interpret the rules according to what they see on the mat in the contest in real time. They sometimes make mistakes (we all do) and sometimes a Chief Referee will become involved and their judgement (often with video playback) can help to determine the interpretation.
The grip itself – an individual grip involves at the very least some form of contact with your opponent’s jacket, body or belt. Something beyond a light touch would be acceptable. However, what is more normal is the hand being used to hold on to or grasp your opponent or the hand used as an open palm to hold, push or pull your opponent. Your grip should be both secure in order that you don’t release involuntarily under pressure and not too far away from your own centre of gravity as to cause you to off balance.
Set of grips – the right and left hands can be used together in the form of a set of way of gripping. One hand might act as a strong connection to the opponent for holding, bending, blocking etc while the other hand might be used primarily to turn or rotate your opponent onto his back during a throwing attempt.
Right hand grips – when a player uses his right hand as the strong controlling hand and his left hand more as a support.
Left hand grips – when a player uses his left hand as the strong controlling hand and his right hand more as a support.
Different ways to grip – some grips involve squeezing the jacket or wrapping tightly around the opponent’s wrist for example while other grips might be quite loose, hanging on the jacket sleeve or hooked on to his belt. There are many ways to apply grips.
Targets – the jacket above the belt, the body (but not to be used as direct leg catches) and the belt.
Basic system – the fundamental gripping system involves grip taking and grip breaking.
Grip taking – the action of securing a grip on your opponent. Aspects such as getting the grip, improving the value and using the grip.
Grip breaking – the action of delaying, avoiding, reducing the value of and partially or completely breaking of an opponent’s grip.
Preferred grip – This is a useful and practical way of thinking about gripping. The grip set that you prefer and adopt most frequently because you have already found it to be the most comfortable or successful for your type of judo (in technical and tactical terms).
Grip value – depending on what ‘tasks’ you can perform with a particular grip it could be considered a low or high in value. This important theoretical concept has great tactical value in that you can use your high value grip but you should consider releasing or raising the value (potential) benefit of that other grip from low to high. Remember it has been alleged that “gripping can contribute up to 70% of the success of as throw”.
Timing – there are four distinct aspects to timing of grips
(a) Real time – gripping immediately or delaying taking a grip
(b) Speed of actual hand movement when taking a grip
(c) Sequence of gripping for example right hand grips first followed by the left hand or vice versa.
(d) Short duration and longer duration grips. Although we are generally talking here in terms of seconds this can and will make a difference during a contest.
Part Two – Intermediate level
The competition environment - the sort of words that are appropriate here are;
Opponent, referee, judges, timekeepers, recorders, audience, noise, pressure, stress, physical confrontation, target to win the contest, scores, penalties, rules, mat allocation, blue belt or white belt, announcer, competition schedule, competition elimination system, warm up area, contest duration etc
The contest environment is very dynamic – changing all the time.
Purpose of gripping;
- Conform to current judo competition rules
- Have contact with your opponent
- Control your opponent and at the same time to stop him from controlling you
- Sense/or feel his strengths and weaknesses
- Early warning of his intended actions/reactions
- Make a technical/physical link for throwing skills and transition into ne-waza.
- Allow you to carry out tasks i.e. turning him, blocking, pushing, pulling etc
Methods for grip taking
- Quickly or slowly
- Strongly or normally
- Directly or indirectly
Different grips sets that can be used
- Right sided
- Left sided
- Cross gripping
- Central two handed gripping (lapels or wrists)
- Gripping behind the jacket etc, etc, etc
- Belt grip
- Triceps grips
Simply a measure of exactly how much physical and mental effort you put into your gripping in a contest environment. This type of idea allows you use it as an analytical tool meaning that you can make judgements and maybe use it to influence the current amount of effort that you make an encourage you to ‘raise your game’.
Due to the very nature of a judo fight players will often be in an unstable situation and either slightly off balance or potentially about to be off balance. The reaction is constant adjustments to retain the essential stability. This aspect is where a good understanding of space between players, posture, stance, movement patterns and pace becomes necessary.
Pure mathematics in gripping
The simple logic to apply is as follows:
If you have one grip and he has none then maybe you have an advantage.
If you have two grips and he has none then maybe you have an advantage.
If you have two grips and he only has one then maybe you have an advantage.
In relation to gripping it is the ability (usually under pressure) to change what you are currently doing to do something different (hopefully something that is likely to be more successful).
Tasks that you can perform with your grips
- Use them when attacking your opponent
- Use them when defending against opponent’s attacks
- Pull him
- Push him
- Lower his body posture
- Raise his body posture
- Turn him (to the left or to the right)
- Move him about the mat – to create attack opportunities
- Move him (posture, balance, stance, and pace) to help your defence.
- Confuse him tactically – flicks, sudden turns, feints etc
- Attrition – wear him down with lots of effort.
1. Different throws may require you to grip in a particular way.
2. The real value of a grip is in the task that it can do – if it is not effective then be prepared to change it to a better grip.
3. Good grips can contribute to 70% of the success of a throw.
4. Tactical advice – always take and keep the initiative in grip fighting.
5. Your grips should always be working/active – but this does not mean a need to constantly change or even adjust a grip as the contest progresses.
6. Grip domination is the key to consistent success in competition.
7. A ‘dangerous’ grip is any grip, anywhere and at any time that is giving a good advantage to your opponent.
8. A grip does not require you to ‘squeeze tight’ in order to retain contact with your opponent.
9. There are only really five - ways to develop a good gripping standard – (a) understand the theory (b) study including www.judovision.com and Youtube – just type in ‘judo gripping’(c) lots of frequent and regular appropriate practice (d) feedback from your own competition experience and watching other players fight (especially at international level – British Open etc).
10. Do not over-focus on gripping skill as they are only the means to an end in judo. The end itself is to win the fight and not to show off how wonderful or dominant your gripping has become.
11. They are many different types of grip taking techniques.
12. There are many different types of grip breaking techniques.
13. HORRIBLE FACT – No one really knows why but the skill of gripping is often acknowledged not as a secret or dark art but simply as the most neglected part of basic and advanced judo instruction. Example (a) ask any judo player to tell you just how much grip coaching he/she have received and (b) there has only been one book dedicated to gripping so far in English and it was written over 20 years ago!
14. It is the responsibility of your coach to teach you gripping skills! So, talk to them about it.
Part Three – ADVANCED
In this section the main area of study is divided into four;
Grip taking techniques
Using a cross grip with your right hand to catch and then feed a grip on your opponent’s right cuff to your left hand.
Grip breaking techniques
Quick, fast and strong withdraw backwards towards the side of your body of your whole right arm in order to create a total release of your opponent’s grip on that right arm. Possibly but not necessarily simultaneously using your left hand to fix his right arm in place thus blocking him from moving his in the same direction as your grip breaking action.
Using the power of your hands/arms to continue to push him as he hits the mat as if to ‘roll him out’ thus often enhancing the level of score awarded but also creating a better opening and opportunity to follow him down into ne-waza.
This is a definition of gripping style, an analysis of different styles and their significance in a tactical sense of the implications of someone tending to adopt and use the same style often linked to their particular choice of throwing techniques.
Try to get your preferred grips but don’t allow your opponent to settle with his grips.
Avoid, delay, reduce the value of or break any ‘dangerous’ grips
Part Four – Summary
DVD Jeon, Korean Judo Master
DVD Kosei Inoue – the judoka
DVD Jimmy Pedro – Grip like a World Champion
DVD Frank Weniker - Gripping
Magazine – Judo (official FFJDA french monthly)
Magazine – L’esprit du judo firstname.lastname@example.org
Grips. Neil Adams (1990) The Crowood Press ISBN 185223 3869
DVD - BJA Masterclass Makarov
Website www.ijf.org Current Competition rules
Your coach – talk with him.
Talk with any top competition player – everyone likes to be ask to give advice. It makes them feel worthwhile and valued. Just ask them whatever you want to know.