When did you learn about BJJ grips

As I think about my journey in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, I can’t help but wonder why it took so long for me to be taught about grips?

Over the years, I’ve trained at many schools under many professors and coaches. Admittedly, I did start training under nogi for no holds barred mma fighting. The focus then was on using “handles” as opposed to the grips on a gi.

Even so, I did train at proper BJJ schools with legit BJJ instructors for quite a while, and I don’t recall them ever doing a grips class or putting any emphasis on that. At least not the days I was there. You’d think that grip fighting would be one of the core basics elements we’d be taught.

It wasn’t until I joined Fred Villarica’s and Alonzo Rodriguez’ BJJ school, UNABJJ, that I was being taught about grips. How to use them, conditioning for them and the important role they play in BJJ. After realizing this, I even bought the Chewjitsu grip fighting series which I found really helpful.

In hindsight, it makes sense why I couldn’t get some of the guys off of me when we sparred back in the days. They had been taught about grips and I didn’t know anything about them. I didn’t know or understand it at the time, I just thought they had amazing handles and really stiff arms. But as I think back now, it was the grips that they were using to win. To make matters worse, I was using a huge gi, with lots of loose and easy to grab fabric.

This may seem very specific, but I still remember once rolling with a green belt (4 stripe white belt at that school) and I could not get him off of me. No matter what I tried, he stayed attached to me. I didn’t get it, how is this dude so damn strong with his handles and why can’t I break past them? Well, because it wasn’t handles like in no, he was using grips on my gi. Grip fighting is integral in BJJ, and you don’t break a grip the same way you break a handle. So yeah, it makes sense I couldn’t get free from him.

This was back in 2006, and all these years later, still a white belt, (I’ve taken a lot of extended injury breaks) I’m still learning and analyzing some of my most painful rolls and beatings from back then. That’s the magic of BJJ.

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