Saturday, January 27, 2007

Get a grip

Today I was thumbing through the book Mastering Judo by Masao Takahashi in the bookstore. Looks like a very well put-together book. One thing that caught my attention was some discussion on gripping. Now, I don't much subscribe to the school that says that gripping is a science and that you should fight to get to your 'favorite grip' so that you can throw your 'favorite throw.' Rather, I'm more of the mind to let the other guy grab where he wants, take whatever grip I can, and throw however I am able. There are excellent judoka in both camps.
But one thing Takahashi talked about regardng grips was the fact that how you grip matters. He offers the rule "Grip with your little finger tight," because it leaves your thumb and wrist supple. Try it - close your fist and clinch your first two knuckles tight then try to rotate your wrist. Now try it with the little and ring fingers clinched tight and the rest of the hand relaxed. Big difference. This is the same way you grip a jo, a bokken, a partner in aikido, and in judo. For the most part, when you grab any thing in martial arts you want to do it this way.
There are a couple of variations on this that are used in aikido, including a slot-grip in which you make a slot with thumb on one side and 4 fingers on the other side. This is used for trapping and guiding uke's arm without grasping. Often we will make a hook by bending a wrist and draping it over an arm or shoulder or neck to drag with. And, like Bubba Gump says about shrimp - that's about all the kinds there are:
  • tight little finger
  • slot grip
  • hook

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