WHY GRIP STRENGTH IS A BIG DEAL
Practicing or mastering Krav Maga techniques can be both challenging and fun.
In a class environment, where you’re working primarily with a relatively compliant partner, you’ll notice that movements like weapon disarms tend to focus on “hugging” methods rather than simply resorting to “grabbing” as a means of retaining control over an opponent or a weapon.
And we do this for a very simple and logical reason: the closer you hug something to you, the more friction you generate through surface contact. Also, it’s easier to hold something securely against you than to try to cling to it at arm’s length.
So, for example,
And of course, in reality, that is also the preferred course of action, as far as possible.
But – and it’s a serious BUT – if you’ve ever been in a real fight for your life, or even if you just do drills against a fully non-compliant partner (who is doing his best to fight back or spoil your technique), you’ll know that chaos ensues. Those finely tuned gross motor skill movements may suddenly feel incredibly frustrating to maintain, or you accidentally lose balance, or sweat / blood / loose clothing causes you to lose your control over your partner or opponent.
Then… you GRAB. It’s the most basic human reaction, one that you did as a tiny infant when you grasped your mother’s finger and held on. It’s a largely unconscious reflex, and generally speaking, it’s not a bad one – especially if you’re a rock climber who’s just lost his footing, or a law enforcement officer stopping herself from being stabbed by a lunatic with a kitchen knife.
It’s also what happens to you when a more powerful technique slips or fails (because in the real world, that can happen!), or it’s what happens to you when you’re unexpectedly ambushed and have no time to do anything except put your hands out to try to stop whatever it is.
And when that happens, there will be one of two possible outcomes. Either you’ll maintain your grip long enough to mount a better defense or counterattack, or… you’ll discover that you actually have the grip strength of a wet noodle, and your day will take a distinct turn for the worse.
Now, let me just say that although we firmly subscribe to the proven concept that good technique is designed to overcome an opponent’s strength, it doesn’t mean that WE should be lazy about developing some strength, too. And in a self defense scenario where you typically have to shield / counterattack / control an opponent / control a weapon, grip strength is a really important factor. It’s also very often the weakest link in your ability to retain control over anything.
So… as students of Krav Maga, we should be conscious of this, and we should be including some grip strength training in our program, too.
There are thousands of ways to do this, from traditional wrist curls, to working with battle ropes, to using grip crushers.
One of the attributes that really have value in Krav Maga is structural rigidity in the wrist as we apply grip strength, and there are a couple of simple and really smart exercises that you can do to build this - and I'll be posting a simple, useful list of these in an upcoming blog entry.
Keep on training!