Wrist Escape Primer–for the Playground, Mat, and Beyond!

In our previous post describing what I believe are the advantages of catch wrestling over Brazilian jiu jitsu, I added training without the gi as a plus in our catch/hybrid grappling system. Again, I’ll elaborate further on these points in a later post, but here’s an immediate observation to queue up the tutorial below, one born from my experience, at least, while training 10+ years in jiu jitsu–while BJJ-ers train in the gi, they become accustomed to fighting opponents reaching/grabbing for the thick fabric on their collar and their elbows (actually, there are esoteric systems built around attacking with these grips, like the ‘collar and sleeve guard’, for instance). The problem that results from this grip preference is that many gi grapplers don’t learn to sufficiently control the wrists–either in attack or defense–at the most vulnerable point, i.e., where the wrist meets the heel of the hand, which–not coincidentally–no gi fabric usually resides. Unfortunately–and again, not coincidentally–the wrist is oftentimes the first point of contact when grappling with an opponent, either in a no-gi jitsu tournament, on the wrestling mat at school, or on the playground with a bully. Below is an impromptu video I recorded with my son Everett covering a simple approach to clear a same-side wrist tie, and to eventually reach for better control once cleared, if necessary. (apologies for the audio–evidently it’s monsoon season here in Fort Collins!)

EP 1 wrist escape

One follow-up point on working this drill with your child, whether you’re trying to improve his or her competitive grappling acumen, or give your child some tactics in case they run into a bully. Everett and I did a lot of this hand-fighting play during COVID shutdown in spring 2020, and after he returned to formal jiu jitsu classes later in the year, both his coaches and fellow students were amazed at how his standing wrestling and takedowns exponentially improved! Take some time and rough-house with your kids like this–it will help build and improve important physical literacy and confidence.

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