Welcome to What’s Hot, a collection of some of the best Brazilian Jiu Jitsu articles from around the net. This collection talks about grip strength, overcoming addiction and depression with BJJ and how to invest in your BJJ future. Enjoy.

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Here’s How To Increase Your Grip Strength For BJJ

There’s no doubt about it, a vice-like grip for BJJ is definitely an advantage.

Not only does it help you control your opponent, it also opens many avenues for transitions as well, by ensuring that you are in a stable position. There is a popular misconception that grip strength is just hand strength, when in fact, the grip involves everything from the muscles near your elbow to your fingertips.

Think about it, when you face an opponent with iron grips, how often are you able to escape or even win the match? In fact, you’ll notice in many competitions that competitors will start the match fighting for grips. They know that whoever has the stronger grip and a more extensive knowledge of grips has a greater chance of winning the fight.

There are two kinds of grip strength used in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu:

Crushing Grip Strength  

This is the force your hand can make when closing a fist. This kind of strength usually comes into play when you are trying to grab ahold of your opponent’s gi to take him down or establish your guard.

Static/Supporting/Pulling Grip Strength

Once the grip is established, this is when this strength is used. Static grip strength is how much the hand can hold in a grip before the resistance is torn from the finger’s grasp. This is also the same kind of strength you use when you are holding a barbell for a deadlift.


Different kinds of grips used in BJJ:

In BJJ, there are different kinds of grips utilized to control one’s opponent. Often, it depends on what you are gripping and what you intend to do with the grip.

Hook grip: This grip is used when playing spider guard, or any guard that involves grips on your opponent’s cuffs. Your four fingers act as hooks and curl into the cuff.

Pistol grip: Similar to holding the handlebar of a bicycle, this grip is often used on the pant legs or outside of the sleeves.

Two on one: Usually used for gripping the cuffs to break grips or control your opponent’s arm by using the strength of two hands to control them.

Collar and sleeve: One hand grips the lapel while the other controls the sleeve.


Below are the exercises used to build grip strength based on its application in BJJ:

 1) Controlling your opponent so you can impose your guard game

Using grippers 

Many martial artists and powerlifters use grippers to work on their crushing strength. Grippers are relatively easy to find in any sports store and come in different strength levels. Because of their portability and relatively low cost, they have become a popular tool for building grip strength.


2) Gripping and pulling your opponent close to you

Using the gi

Using the gi to build grip strength is probably one of the most useful exercises for BJJ. This is because it utilizes the friction and thickness of the gi to test your strength. You will realize that these exercises are some of the most applicable to your BJJ gi game as you will be constantly pulling on your opponent’s gi to control him/her.

Gi pull-ups

Gi pull-ups are the most popular grip strength building exercise among BJJ athletes. Pull-ups work both your pulling and crushing strength, as well as your core strength. They also work your lats and rear deltoids, strengthening your back muscles at the same time.


Modified gi pull-ups 

To make the gi pull-ups more functional, you can add the motions you would typically use in BJJ such as grabbing the lapel, finishing the cross choke or the shoulders. This will also help you practice different kinds of grips as well.


3) Holding your opponent in a static position

Using kettlebells

Not only is the kettlebell one of the best tools for improving grip strength, it’s also a great way to build overall cardiovascular endurance and explosive power.


Rope climbs

Ropes are much tougher to grip than a gi because of their thickness. Thus, they require the use of more muscle fibers and greater contraction of the finger flexors.


Using the bar

Growing up, we’ve probably swung from the monkey bars or hung from them more times than we can remember. As adults, we can also use these same exercises to build grip, upper body, and core strength. Gripping the bar requires a lot of grip strength, especially if you are moving from one side to the other. Doing so makes you hang on for a lot longer as opposed to just pulling yourself up.


Training your grip is undoubtedly beneficial for any BJJ student. It allows you to control your opponent and implement your game. As you work on strengthening your grip, remember, there is no substitute for training. To get better at BJJ, you must put in the extra time and effort to drill and attend as many classes to get better. While a strong grip would certainly benefit you, it can never replace great technique.


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On – 07 May, 2017 By


Why BJJ Is The Best Medication For Depression



Why BJJ Is The Best Medication For Depression



Being a part of the bjj community you often hear about how effective bjj is when it comes to dealing with various anxiety driven disorders such as post traumatic stress, depression, panic attacks and others.

Recently a research was conducted observing the effects of bjj on veterans suffering from PTSD only to find that they’re more responsive to this type of treatment than any of the traditional therapy approaches including medication.

New Scientific Study Measuring Positive Influence Of Jiu-Jitsu on PTSD



“When we look at the brain of a depressed person studies show that the hippocampus tends to be much smaller than average. This region in particular controls memory and emotion. And the longer the person has been depressed the smaller the hippocampus is. “

Memory is one very significant aspect of the story but first – we must deal with the initial stage.

Once a person manages to overcome anxiety enough to appear at brazilian jiu-jitsu class they are initially jolted by the threat of imminent danger. For someone who is not used to the martial arts, first class can be quite a traumatic as the degree of pain an discomfort experienced is quite new.

This jolts the fight or flight response which may give them the initial strength to start dealing with being depressed.

Chemically speaking, plenty of hormones and contact make for bursts of oxytocin, beta-endorphin, noradrenaline and even serotonin. All of these make forming bonds that much easier, but in addition to it they also help the brain self medicate. 

But there’s more to consider – if you’ve seen the video above it discusses how the deterioration of connections between cells in the brain is actually to blame for much of depression. This is another area where jiu-jitsu is of most help. Through the nature of jiu-jitsu, the mental chess sort of speak we all learn to go against our instincts and to manage ourselves in a variety of situations. This unique combo where you get more fit and at the same time you’re basically learning a new motor skill allows for your brain to flourish. When we learn a new skill we’re  essentially changing how our brain is wired on a deep level.

Through learning something new the increased neural activity actually translates to growth of myelin – so as we practice jiu-jitsu day in and out we actually trigger a pattern of electrical signals through our neurons that ends up undoing the detrimental effects of depression.

Once we’re on our way to recovery we naturally get focused on self improvement. And that’s exactly what the white belt is about. A steep learning curve provides sufficient motivation for us to improve our memory – especially at trying times.

All of this is also very efficient as such excruciating physical activity is a great way to deal with conflicting emotions.

So in practicing bjj day in and out you’re actually providing your whole being a jolt it needs – one it especially needs if you feel yourself sliding into a gloomy state! 

Understanding The Feel-Good Chemicals Released When You Do Jiu-Jitsu





On – 25 May, 2017 By Iva Djokovic

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About the author: Sam Joseph is a 2nd degree black belt, head instructor and owner of Buckhead Jiu Jitsu in Atlanta.

As a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu coach, most of the questions I get asked by students have to do with reaching goals. Whether short or long term goals, they have in common that they are in the future and they are impacted by what is done in the present. While there are unique goals that might be reached by navigating different circumstances, I have found a few pieces of advice that are universally helpful. They allow us to invest in our BJJ journeys today in ways that support positive future outcomes.

It may sound clichéd but committing to train regularly is the number one investment we can make in our BJJ. The key here is in how we define “regularly”. Some of us have the freedom and desire to train five plus times a week, while others have demands on our schedules that make us lucky to get in once a week – or simply do not want to train “full-time”.  Accepting the fact that the more we get on the mat, the more quickly we will progress, “regularly” in this context simply means that we train when we can.

One of my favourite “instructor axioms” is “Don’t worry about what you can’t do…focus on what you can control and it will be enough”. When we focus on the fact that we are training as much as our schedule permits, it allows training to stay a positive and fun experience. The same training will not be as productive if we approach it with the negative mindset that we should be training more. Making the choice to commit to regular training, while defining it with the correct perspective in relation to our goals/priorities/availability, sets us up for long-term success in BJJ.

The next step is to maximize the time we can spend on the mat and “taking notes” is a great way to help accomplish that. Coming through the ranks (and relocating for work a few times), I was blessed to spend significant amounts of time with great instructors like Jacare, the Yamasaki brothers, Franciso Neto, Pablo Popovitch and Shawn Williams. They were all excellent and offered unique insights and perspectives that still inform my BJJ views on and off the mat. One of the things I am very grateful for is that I started taking notes early on in my BJJ journey. I did not do anything special; I simply got a notebook and began jotting down positional details and concepts after classes. To this day, I still look back to these notes for reminders and ideas.

After every class I teach, I encourage my students to “take notes”. Today’s students have many options, including simple notebook journaling as I did, organised BJJ journals, online BJJ resources, videoing techniques with commentary, etc…. whatever works best for us in terms of retention and organisation. When we are consistent with our “note-taking”, we are making regular deposits in the savings accounts that represent our BJJ futures.

I remember hearing how Gordon Ryan often travelled with his instructor, Garry Tonon, as he was coming up the ranks. Whether Tonon was going to training, a seminar or a competition, it was likely that you would find Ryan with him, interacting and learning. Today, Ryan is one of the most exciting prospects in BJJ. Already an EBI champion with legendary matches against Keenan Cornelius and Felipe Pena, it is obvious that Ryan benefited from being mentored by Polaris, Metamoris and EBI champion, Garry Tonon. At the very least, Tonon’s investment and example helped guide him through his stages of development at a faster rate.

I see situations like this regularly in the academy. A white or blue belt connects with a senior student due to similar body-type, style, goals and/or personality and they spend time together drilling and training. This often leads to noticeable improvement in the lower belt in a relatively short period of time. While this can happen organically, I tell my students actively to seek these types of relationships as the benefits are too great to ignore.

The best thing about mentor/mentee relationships is that the mentor also wins. Staying with the Tonon/Ryan example, Garry Tonon is still an active competitor and has a stated goal of being ADCC open-weight champion. Do you think it helps Tonon that his primary training partner is a world-class grappler in his own right? Beyond the friendship, the technical improvements gained from teaching a talented pupil and the satisfaction of promoting such a talent through the ranks; in Ryan, Tonon has a teammate who can help propel him towards future achievements.

Again, I see this reflected on the academy mat. The senior student grows as he/she invests in his/her protégé. This supports their own forward momentum towards their goals and contributes to their BJJ future.

I am a firm believer that competition will significantly enhance the BJJ experience. The keys for me are: 1. Realistically approaching competition in a way that fits our lives and training schedules and 2. Processing the results in positive ways. When we view competition in the proper perspective, meaning that it is a part of the overall BJJ journey and not simply about results, it becomes a vehicle leading us to broadening our horizons in the sport, technical improvement and fun.

Coming up through the ranks at the Yamasaki Academy with David Jacobs, I got to see this first-hand. Jacobs trained regularly but it was the consistent competition schedule he kept that had huge impacts on his BJJ game and philosophies. When we went to tournaments, his experience went beyond his matches and what they exposed in terms of where he needed improvement.  Jacobs took the time to get to know other competitors and instructors and made contacts who would become friends. These friendships have allowed him to travel the world for seminars, academy visits and more competitions. Jacobs has often expressed to me that these interactions have been highlights in his BJJ journey.

Often, we focus on winning and losing when it comes to competing.  Competition can be more than that…it can be a tool by which we greatly invest in our BJJ lives in a variety of ways.

In 2012, I suffered a back injury doing an arm-drag. The pain was debilitating and, for the first time in my life, I sought out chiropractic care at Optimum Health Rehab & Wellness. My back problem ended up being a blessing in disguise. The regular adjustments helped me recover and then get stronger, while they also changed my diet using data from food sensitivity testing. Five years later, and older, I feel healthier and have more energy for life…and BJJ. That experience has taught me to enthusiastically recommend chiropractic care and dietary consulting to all my students looking to train long-term. It has also opened my mind to things like cryotherapy, acupuncture, yoga and different ways to approach diet. The point is, that taking a proactive approach to maintaining our bodies via treatment and diet, paves the way towards longevity in BJJ.

Some of these suggestions may seem like “common sense” but there is power in their simplicity and how they provide building blocks for our BJJ futures. When we are consistent in doing these things, we put these blocks together and provide solid foundations for success and bright futures in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

See you on the mat!



On – 20 May, 2017 By Jiu Jitsu Style

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 How BJJ Can Be Used as a Powerful Tool in Addiction Recovery

Substance abuse is harmful enough for the body both physically and emotionally, yet addiction recovery presents even bigger challenges in both categories. At a critical point in your life when you will need an outlet for healing beyond treatment, BJJ is an excellent way to naturally heal yourself. The fundamentals of BJJ, along with the actual physical activities, can provide you with the mental and physical strength needed to overcome drug or alcohol abuse problems.

Health Motivator

When training for BJJ competitions, it is essential to have optimal balance, stamina, technique, and a full range of movements available. For those reasons, substance abuse issues will prevent you from reaching your full potential as a fighter. If you are displaying cocaine abuse signs, for example, you will be more likely to be out of shape and unable to keep up with your opponent. If you take pride in yourself as a competitor, you can harness those competitive juices to get serious about your training and leave your drug or alcohol problems behind. Although you will be training for short-term results in the ring, BJJ can improve your overall long-term health outlook by showing you the health benefits of sobriety.



Boredom Cure

The first few weeks and months for a recovering addict are especially troubling, as you will be challenged to put your life back together without an element that was once a huge part of it. Since it is often hard for recovering addicts to find interests without drugs or alcohol around, boredom is often one of the biggest culprits for relapse. With plenty of free time available and supportive relationships to build, picking up a hobby such as BJJ can go a long way in filling that void.

BJJ helps to bring much-needed structure to lives through planned training sessions, sparring sessions, and competitions throughout the week. Not only will these events take up time in a new and productive way, but they also will give you something to look forward to each and every day. You will also have the opportunity to meet plenty of new friends at classes who all share BJJ as a common interest. If you attend classes often enough and make an effort at connecting with classmates, you will have a great chance at meeting people to spend your newfound free time with.

Confidence Builder

Checking into rehab and admitting that you have a substance abuse problem can be very detrimental for overall confidence and self-esteem levels. Having the belt system as a reward for improving skill will help you rebuild your damaged sense of self-worth. BJJ will give you a feeling of purpose that may be missing, along with the motivation to make a positive difference in your life. If you feel as if you have lost direction in your life, BJJ can give you a reason to strive to get better.

BIO: Connor Hayes is a freelance writer interested in sports, fitness, addiction, and recovery. In his free time, Connor enjoys watching sports, cooking and reading.



On – 06 May, 2017 By Connor Hayes