Strengthen your grip for martial arts

31 January 2022 - Ore 17:07

Taking advantage of the great potential offered by social networks, I often have the pleasure of interfacing with athletes from the most varied sports fields, some of them very close to Grip Sport, others instead look out with curiosity on the channels of Grip and Bend Italia and are struck and fascinated.

Several times I have been asked how a martial arts practitioner should train his grip and with this small article I would like to be able to give a constructive starting point for all those who love martial arts.

Karate, Judo, Jiu-jitsu, Kung Fu, Aikido, BJJ, MMA, and many other forms of combat differ from each other in style, philosophy of thought and approach in dealing with the opponent. For all of them, the hand represents an indispensable element for attack and defense, for projections or submission figures present in the practice of melee such as Grappling.

Fast reflexes, explosiveness, acceleration are focal components during a fight, but a firm grip could often make the difference for the outcome of the match.


So what to do to achieve a better performing squeeze?

Usually for martial artists, grip training is mainly focused on push-ups performed on the fingertips, which are a great reinforcement for the tendons of the latter. But this work is not always enough to make the hand a strong point in the fight. It will be necessary to act on an all-round strengthening that also includes important work on the wrist and the entire forearm.



Grip training is a fantastic and very varied world, also full of small very useful equipment that strengthen the hand and wrists, but since it is not the center of training for a martial artist, I will try to propose exercises that are easy to perform with the minimum of equipment and write down a small program that can be integrated in the preparation of an athlete, who already performs exhausting workouts for his sporting practice.


Towel Pull Up

Let’s start with a classic for grip enhancement. Many of you will have already had the opportunity to see or try it. The Towel Pull Up, or in any case with a resistant cloth, such as jeans (as I like it), is a workout that may seem trivial looking at it from the outside, but it is not, because it really allows you to increase the strength in the hand and in particular in the fingers.


Unlike squeezing a metal pipe to pull yourself up, the Towel Pull Up forces your hands to squeeze very tightly to get into the cloth and not let the grip slip. Precisely this differs from the classic pull-ups that strengthen arms and back, moving the greater work on the fingers!

If you have a light build you can have fun with a lot of reps, but mind you, if the reps exceed 12 then it will mean that you will need weight to work between 5 and 12 reps. In addition to the resistance that a martial artist is used to working with, it will be necessary to aim for an increase in strength, which means that during a fight you will be more powerful in grabbing heavy and strong bodies to jerk or throw.


Towel Pull Band

This movement will probably already be used, but honestly I felt like proposing it as it was designed exclusively for this article.

Equip yourself with a high-strength elastic and a fixed point to anchor it. Adjust it to the height of the stomach and put the piece of jeans or towel at its end.


Starting with semi-extended arms, pull the elastic energetically and explosively towards you, so that the final phase of the movement can coincide with your chest. Hold for a second, slowly stretch out for air and then explode the next repetition again by exhaling quickly. This movement simulates having to grab an opponent by their kimono by pulling them towards you. Squeeze your hands tightly and make sure that the elastic tension forces you to make a good effort. The final hold will involve the wrist flexors as well as the brachial and brachioradialis muscles. We also maintain a range between 5 and 12 reps in this movement.


Total Wrist Work

To fully stimulate all but the muscles involved in the forearm and make sure that the wrist works in every position, we will implement work for the pronator, supinator and radial and ulnar flexion muscles of the wrist.

Always using a high-strength elastic and our strong piece of cloth we will perform rotations of the hand first using the pronator muscles and then the supinators. Position yourself sideways on the elastic with your arm at chest height and a bicep angle of about 100 ° or a little more, as in the first two squares of the following figure, rotate your hand from a supination to a pronation position:


In the second part of the image, on the other hand, you will do exactly the opposite in order to stimulate the supinator muscles, bringing the hand from pronated to supine. Hold the position for a couple of seconds with good tension that will tire your muscles around 12 or 15 reps.

Last work of massacre will touch the radial and ulnar deviations, where with tenacity and constancy it will be necessary to hear every single repetition and literally explode the muscles and tendons involved!

As you can see in the image below, you will need to place yourself in front of a stretched elastic and perform repetitions with restraint. The movement of the wrist sideways will be a few degrees, but they are important degrees, to be maintained with generous tensions. Breathe regularly and live with the burning that will take hold of your wrists. You don’t need extreme or spasmodic shots, but well maintained and demanding.


In summary, a training pattern to be included for grip enhancement could be the following:


The scheme is obviously just an example of exercise management, which can be used by modifying series and repetitions based on the energy, time and needs of the individual. By personal choice I like to use these exercises in succession, doing the first set of each exercise without stopping, then resting a couple of minutes and starting with the second set, and so on.

At the end of this article which I hope may have given interesting ideas for martial arts lovers, I leave free space to a dear friend of BJJ instructor who recently became passionate about Grip Sport, inserting it into his training, and to whom I ask to share their thoughts on personal experience relating to the benefits of grip training in their BJJ workouts. I leave the floor to Ivo!

                                                                                              Giorgio Giannico


Ivo De Iturbe


Hi everyone! First of all I want to thank Giorgio for giving me this opportunity to write a few lines about my experience in Grip training. My name is Ivo De Iturbe and I am a combat sports enthusiast, specifically I am a black belt of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and Grappling, now a former agonist and coach in my academy in Lucca, 1% Wrestlers Lucca.

I met Grip training about a year ago. I had set myself the goal of being able to tear a deck of cards, but despite my efforts I failed every time. So I started doing some little research on the net and I came across a video by Giorgio in which he gave excellent advice on how to succeed. Right after watching the video of him I tried to rip the deck again and he literally cut himself on the first try! This gave me a boost of enthusiasm that had not happened to me for several years outside of my sport, and led me to contact Giorgio. We have since become friends and we often hear each other for my evolution in this truly fascinating world of grip training.


The stimulating thing is that this way of being able to train the grip, the wrist, the muscles of the fingers, the tendons, the forearm, translates perfectly into my discipline, both with and without a kimono. I noticed great improvements during the fight, especially in terms of strength and crush, but also in the strength of the wrist. This made me realize that the wrist is a weak link in this sport, and is often neglected, while strengthening it gives much higher margins of technical success during sparring. Being able to squeeze more, to twist the wrist with more force, makes many techniques successful.

Personally I use Grip training not only for BJJ but also for a personal factor: I like to challenge myself, and the flavor of the challenge always leads me to raise the level and consequently my performance in the fight in terms of strength and endurance.

Last but not least there is also a mental factor:

Grip training is not only an expression of pure strength, but also of will, the will not to give up and to try to improve oneself with the vision that success is only the tip of many small failures, intended in a positive way of course, as pieces that push you to climb higher and higher. 

Being able to achieve these results always fills us with satisfaction.



In his article, Giorgio listed a routine that I believe to be very useful for all practitioners, simple and within everyone’s reach even with a minimal expense or without spending anything. So whoever approaches this discipline can go and get information and learn on the blog of Grip and Bend Italia, where there are many interesting articles from which you can draw on to expand your arsenal, both in general for daily use and, for my friends and fellow wrestlers, on the mat.

I thank Giorgio for this opportunity and I hope my contribution has been useful.

Good training and OSS!


                                                                                     Ivo De Iturbe


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