Fangs for the memory…
Most of history’s warriors accepted that you needed skills in stand up, clinch and ground to be successful. It’s been a core concept in my KORA curriculum since it was a mixture of Combatives, Muay Thai and Judo over thirty-five years ago. Whether we seek it or not grappling happens, and when it does, we had better be able to deal with it.
My grandfather used to call wrestling gripping or the battle for grips. Grip strength has been highlighted is every grappling system I have trained in, and because of its direct connection to forearm strength and stability, it has always been something to work on in stand-up arts and weapons training. If you are holding onto people or things, it makes sense to optimise your grip.
Here’s me talking about grips for the knife in 2012.
Since 2012 I have revised a few of my ideas on the thumb on the pummel ice pick grip due to the skill of the Piper guys and in particular the writings of Nigel E. February.
I still mainly use a full grip as I was taught, and when I posted a video on the little bit of Irish stick I was taught; I got a couple of emails about my full grip.
The seam grip
The seam grip is where you have most of your fingers on the stick, but except for the thumb which runs along the stick or weapon’s length, it can be seen at 0:27 on my 2012 knife grip video above.
There are two reasons why I’m not too fond of this grip and why I was taught not to use it by people very experienced in hitting people. The hand is stronger when it’s curled into a fist, and it can take impact better when it’s wrapped together. Secondly, the thumb is the key to unlock any grip on anything. Do a quick check on weapon disarms which involved capturing the limb or hand fighting and you will see the leverage is directed against the thumb. This is cross-cultural, and that’s usually a good indicator it’s based on experience.
I believe the seam grip is a direct invitation to either disarm yourself as you hit or be disarmed if your arm or stick is captured. So, we don’t use the seam grip unless the student wants to. I am sure others disagree, and I am very open to debate.
For grip strength training, I use larger and regular sticks and kettlebell workouts. I find I get the best return for my investment time from that. I also grapple a lot under normal circumstances, and jacketed fighting helps a great deal.
If you don’t have access to equipment, you can use a towel or rope to hang from as you pull yourself up or you can do Hindu press-ups, and every time you curve down to the floor, you can grip the floor by trying to close your fingers. As you rise, release your grip. It works best on mud or sand. Whichever training method you choose, please make sure you consider your safety and take competent advice from your coach.
Grip training falls typically into two separate categories, isolated such as grip trainers or inclusive, where you are training a combination of things at the same time like kettlebell swings. You will notice it’s often your grip that goes first.
The video below from the excellent Garage Strength YouTube channel shows some great ideas of both.
Forearm strength and stability is directly connected to the above, and I will do a further post on that later this year.
Happy training and stay safe.