Just as every child is special (or so their parents tell them), all grapplers have their own unique natural talents and attributes that they bring to the mat. Some have great dexterity and flexibility, others have great strength. Some are creative; some have tremendous work ethic and discipline. You get the picture.
Grapplers, I wasn't blessed with any of these great BJJ gifts. I'm not the most flexible or the most athletic, nor am I the most technical or sophisticated either. I am naturally mean, which helps some, and I'm relatively strong as well. But, no. My only true gift is a god-given, orangutan-like monster grip.
To get the upper hand on the actually talented black belts, I work to enhance and cultivate my relatively minor attribute through supplemental grip training. As one who relies far too much on his grip, I'm a big advocate of the importance grip strength in BJJ (both gi and no- gi).
Here are a few pointers and resources for the new grip aficionado:
Free weights. These are still number one on the list. Heavy dead-lifting is a bomb grip workout. My favorite resource for this type of training is Mark Rippetoe's Starting Strength. Buy his book and follow his techniques.
Kettlebells. I've been playing with kettlebells since 2003, and they are rock-solid grip builders because of the odd shape/balance of the weight. KB's are big among grapplers, so you probably don't need a lot of advice here. There are many trainers/gurus out there and most are spot-on legit. My favorites:
- Mike Mahler's Aggressive Strength. Mike's my favorite on the power-end of kettlebell training. He writes great articles and puts out quality DVD's.
- Steve Maxwell Strength & Conditioning. Steve is a less grip focused and more well-rounded/ fitness oriented KB coach. He's even more famous for his body-weight exercises. Still, since he is an old school jiu jitsu black belt and a great coach, I place him at the top among my favorites in this category.
- IronMind and Captains of Crush Handgrippers. This is like the nucleus of all things grip (as DSTRYRsg is to grappling) and definitely something you should know about. Start here and you're on the path to nail-bending Nirvana.
- Adam Glass' Walk the Road Less Traveled. Adam is all about ridiculously extreme feats of grip strength, like the 400lb finger pull below. I just love this dude's insane grippery (made this word up). Get to know him and his methods. Soon you'll be pinch gripping and finger-pulling like the best of them. Or, you'll hurt yourself.
- John Wood's Functional Hand Strength. Another solid resource from a strongman/grip coach. Good stuff.
As a side note/bonus, I leave you with this for some inspiration: