Grip fighting is one of the most under looked aspects of Brazilian jiu jitsu.
The grips on the gi can give one opponent a huge advantage not only on the feet, but the ground as well. Its well known that grip fighting is important for judo throws but the same control can be used on the ground as well.
One of the key concepts in wrestling/Judo/or jiu jitsu is hip control. Controlling your opponent’s grips will give him a hard time getting inside and being able to dominate your hips. In addition to this defensive advantage, your opponent being dominated by your grips will not be able to prevent you from attacking his hips.
This is especially relevant when dealing with the guard. When playing the guard position open or closed one needs dominate grips. If you’re able to control your opponent’s sleeves and arms and maintain inside control he will have a very hard time passing. Also, by controlling my partner’s body I can then set up all my sweeps and submission attacks. One of the most critical areas for this is the seated guard. It is in this guard that you must control grips or your opponent will quickly pass. A good grip in this situation is a deep lapel grip and a same side sleeve grip.
If on the other hand you’re passing your training partners guard it is also critical to have dominate grips. A good example of dominant control for the passing man is a lapel grip and an inside the knee pant grip on the opposite leg. This grip combination on the inside allows one to pin an opponent’s leg to the mat and set up the knee through the middle pass or the bull-fighting pass. Even if the pass attempt fails this grip combo places the passing man in a dominant position safe from most sweeps and submissions.
If you take the time to work on little overlooked areas like grip fighting, you will see drastic improvements in your jiu jitsu game.