Gripping is one of the most important skills that you can develop to improve your guard play and your passing.
When working with a new student. I will first ask them what position(s) they are working on followed immediately by what grips they are looking for, and how do they get to that position.
And this serves a few purposes. Chief among which, is to see their understanding of a position because no technique can exist in a vacuum by itself. Every technique is connected to a position. Which is connected to the student through their gripping.
For instance, if a student is having trouble with a technique from their spider guard.
The first thing I will do is have them start not in the technique giving them issue, but in the spider guard and have them work their way back to the move that gives them trouble.
Being able to show from start to finish how to set up a technique shows if a student really understands the move.
If a student can walk me through all of the details confidently and concisely. I know they have a great understanding of the technique.
If they struggle to set up their move that can be a sign of a larger issue.
Not understanding how grips impact your guard.
Your gripping — especially on the ground — determines what guard(s) you can establish and also if you will be able to maintain your guard against an aggressive passer.
If your gripping is off or you don’t know what grips you need. Your guard play won’t be efficient and you will always feel like you are behind your opponent.
A good thought exercise is to think about your favorite guard positions.
It could be closed guard, half guard, etc.
Now, think about what grip(s) you need to establish that guard from no grips.
This could be an easy one step process or a more detailed process.
If this is easy, then you probably have thought a lot about this.
If this is hard, then you need to understand something really important. Not understanding how your grips connect your guard might be what’s holding back your guard play.