New Concept: Stop gripping the gi!
Every gym has a guy that before he rolls in the GI he must create bionic hands with tape. A guy who when he gets a grip he will never let go. Traditionally, these grips have been paramount to control and thus perceived success. While control in a competition and timed setting can be a good thing, below I will argue you are doing yourself a disservice if you use grips when daily training.
The first point in my case against grip is injury. A major reason people feel the need to tape their fingers is to save them from the constant ripping. You can very easily injure a finger getting caught in a gi. Additionally, and less talked about is a grip combined with your opponents movement can bring elbows and shoulders to tension without warning. A general rule for long term Jiu Jitsu health is don’t bring body parts to tension because that is when they tear or break. This is why a main mantra for Gentle art lifestyle coaching is playfulness. When you are playful, you rarely bring things to tension, thus reducing injury risk.
A grip may provide you with the illusion of control, but it also provides your opponent with information. If you and I are grappling, and you grab a cats paw grip on a sleeve, I instantly know where your hand is and that you intend to pull my arm in a certain way. Additionally, I can control you with your own grip to a certain extent if I know you hate to let go. I personally use peoples sleeve grips on my gi to pass all the time. I allow them a grip and change the angle of my body which makes that grip less advantages.
To this point a grip limits your movement. You are attaching yourself to that person and that shuts down other options that may arise. You also have a tendency to force movements once you have a grip. Perhaps you are more athletic or stronger than your opponent so the move works but is that the reinforcement you want for you Jiu Jitsu. I would suggest to do things precisely so they work in all scenarios as opposed to forcing things.
Creativity and movement can be stifled if you are a grip and control player. While you may gain control of your opponent, doing that over and over doesn’t allow you to gather the most information. Information allows us to learn faster and make better decisions. Better decision making allows us to grow faster on the mats.
Lastly, and most simply, grips are not always available in real life situations. Shit, the same grips aren’t even available in the same sport with a different uniform. If you allow yourself to get into the habit of gripping and holding you may find yourself hating non pajama grappling because you feel you suck at it. It isn’t that you suck at no gi, its that you have been relying on grips entirely to much. Grappling is movement, when at practice move, have fun, and take in all the info you can. Happy training yall!