Grip Like a Champion: The Essential Guide to the Gable Grip

January 9, 2024
From: Spartacus
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In the realm of grappling sports, the Gable Grip stands as a testament to both strength and technique, a fundamental element in the arsenals of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) practitioners and wrestlers alike. Named after the legendary Olympic wrestler Dan Gable, known for his unparalleled dominance on the mat, this grip has become synonymous with effective grappling control and power.

Dan Gable, a figure synonymous with wrestling excellence, brought this grip to prominence through his remarkable career, marked by an Olympic gold medal and an unmatched coaching legacy. The Gable Grip, used extensively by Gable himself, quickly became a staple technique, admired for its simplicity yet profound effectiveness in controlling opponents.

This article aims to dive deep into the world of the Gable Grip. We will explore its mechanics – how it’s executed and why it’s so effective. Join us as we unravel the secrets of the Gable Grip, a blend of history, technique, and enduring legacy in the world of combat sports.

Historical Significance



Dan Gable, a name synonymous with wrestling excellence, played a pivotal role in popularizing the grip that bears his name, revolutionizing grappling techniques in the process. Gable’s influence in the world of wrestling and beyond is a story of innovation, dominance, and lasting impact.

Dan Gable, an Olympic gold medalist and celebrated wrestling coach, brought the spotlight to the grip during his illustrious career. Known for his relentless style and unmatched work ethic, Gable’s techniques, including the grip, became the gold standard in wrestling. His success on the international stage, particularly at the 1972 Munich Olympics where he won gold without surrendering a single point, showcased the effectiveness of his methods and techniques.

The Gable Grip, characterized by its strength and simplicity, became a fundamental tool in wrestling. Gable’s use of the grip for control and takedowns demonstrated its effectiveness, inspiring a generation of wrestlers to adopt it. The grip’s ability to provide secure control without the risk of finger injuries made it a safer and more reliable option in intense wrestling bouts.

The versatility of the Gable Grip saw its adoption beyond the wrestling mat. In BJJ and MMA, practitioners embraced the grip for its applicability in no-gi grappling scenarios. The grip became a staple in BJJ for controlling opponents, setting up submissions, and executing sweeps, illustrating its adaptability across different grappling styles.

Gable’s endorsement of the grip cemented its place in grappling history. Over time, the grip has evolved, with practitioners finding new applications and variations, but its core principles remain intact. Today, the Gable Grip is more than a technique; it’s a symbol of grappling efficiency and innovation, a testament to Dan Gable’s enduring legacy in the sport.

Hand Positioning and Mechanics



The Gable Grip, a cornerstone technique in grappling, is revered for its simplicity and effectiveness. This grip’s power lies in its hand positioning and the mechanics of execution, which provide superior control over an opponent. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the Gable Grip:

  • Hand Positioning: The grip begins by placing one hand flat, palm facing up. The other hand is placed on top, palm down. Fingers are kept straight and together, not interlocked, which is a key aspect distinguishing the Gable Grip from other grips. The palms of both hands come together, forming a clasp. One set of knuckles fits into the gap created by the other hand’s thumb and index finger.
  • Executing the Grip: Once the hands are positioned, the grip is secured by wrapping the fingers of both hands around the opposing hand’s side or back. This creates a tight, interlocking hold. The grip is then solidified by squeezing the hands together, engaging the muscles of the forearms and wrists. This action is crucial for maximizing control and power in the grip. The Gable Grip is typically executed close to the body or the opponent’s body part being controlled, ensuring maximum leverage and pressure.
  • Mechanics of Strength: The strength of the Gable Grip comes from the alignment of the hands and forearms, creating a solid chain of force. By avoiding finger interlocking, the grip minimizes weak points and potential for finger injuries. The grip’s effectiveness is amplified by the practitioner’s forearm and wrist strength, making these areas important for grapplers to develop.

Understanding the hand positioning and mechanics of the Gable Grip is essential for anyone looking to enhance their grappling game. This grip’s effectiveness is not just in brute strength but in the precise alignment and application of force, making it a formidable tool in various grappling scenarios.

Hand Strength and Wrist Flexibility

In the world of grappling, the effectiveness of the Gable Grip hinges significantly on two physical attributes: hand strength and wrist flexibility. These elements play a crucial role in not just executing the grip, but also in maximizing its control and power.

  • Hand Strength: The Gable Grip requires a solid, unwavering clasp of the hands. Strong hands ensure that the grip remains secure and difficult for opponents to break. Enhanced hand strength allows for a more forceful compression of the hands, increasing the overall pressure exerted by the grip. This is crucial in controlling an opponent’s movements and in executing techniques such as takedowns or submissions. Strengthening exercises like grippers, hand extensions, and squeezing stress balls can significantly improve the endurance and power of your grip.
  • Wrist Flexibility: Wrist flexibility is vital in the Gable Grip for maneuverability and adaptability. Flexible wrists enable the practitioner to maintain the grip even when the hands are positioned at awkward angles, which often happens during dynamic grappling exchanges. A flexible wrist allows for a wider range of motion, enabling the practitioner to adjust the grip quickly and effectively in response to an opponent’s movements. Regular stretching of the wrists, coupled with exercises like wrist rotations and flexor and extensor stretches, can enhance wrist flexibility, making the Gable Grip more efficient and resilient.

Benefits of the Gable Grip 

In the world of close combat sports like BJJ and MMA, the Gable Grip is revered as one of the most effective grips due to several key attributes that make it uniquely advantageous.

  • Optimal Balance of Strength and Safety: The Gable Grip, with its palm-to-palm configuration and non-interlocked fingers, offers a robust hold that is both strong and safe. This design minimizes the risk of finger injuries, which are common in grips that rely on finger interlocking.
  • Versatility Across Disciplines: Its applicability across various combat sports marks the Gable Grip as exceptionally versatile. Whether it’s BJJ, wrestling, or MMA, the grip is effectively used in controlling opponents, executing takedowns, and transitioning into submissions.
  • Enhanced Control and Pressure: The grip allows for concentrated pressure and control over an opponent. By clamping down using the arms and upper body strength, it enables practitioners to maintain or advance positions, crucial in close-quarters combat.
  • Adaptability in No-Gi Situations: Unlike traditional gi-based grips, the Gable Grip thrives in no-gi scenarios, where it’s essential to rely on body mechanics rather than clothing. This adaptability makes it a preferred choice in MMA and no-gi grappling.
  • Minimal Energy Expenditure: The efficiency of the Gable Grip lies in its ability to maintain strong control without excessive energy expenditure. This aspect is vital in combat sports, where conserving energy is as strategic as the techniques used.
  • Foundation for Advanced Techniques: The grip serves as a base for executing more complex maneuvers. It’s often the starting point for transitions into various locks and holds, making it a fundamental technique for practitioners at all levels.

The Gable Grip’s effectiveness in close combat sports stems from its unique blend of safety, strength, versatility, and efficiency. It’s a grip that embodies the essence of control in grappling, making it a timeless and invaluable technique in the arsenal of combat sports practitioners.

Applications in Wrestling and BJJ

The Gable Grip, renowned for its effectiveness, plays a pivotal role in both wrestling and BJJ. Its applications in these sports are varied, demonstrating its versatility and effectiveness in different combat scenarios.

In Wrestling

  • Takedowns: The Gable Grip is extensively used in executing takedowns. Its strong clasp allows wrestlers to control their opponents’ bodies, manipulate their balance, and effectively bring them to the mat.
  • Control on the Ground: Once on the ground, wrestlers use the grip to maintain control, preventing opponents from escaping or reversing positions.
  • Turns and Pins: The grip aids in executing turns and setting up pinning combinations, essential techniques in wrestling for scoring points and winning matches.

In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

  • Guard Control: In BJJ, the Gable Grip is used to maintain a strong guard, especially in no-gi grappling where traditional gi grips are not an option.
  • Submission Setups: The grip provides a stable platform to set up various submissions, such as chokes and joint locks, by controlling the opponent’s posture and limbs.
  • Sweep Assistance: BJJ practitioners often use the Gable Grip to execute sweeps, using the grip to unbalance the opponent and transition to more dominant positions.

Differences in Application: While in wrestling, the Gable Grip is predominantly used for controlling and overpowering the opponent, in BJJ, it also plays a strategic role in defense, transitions, and submission setups. The grip’s application in BJJ tends to be more varied due to the sport’s focus on submissions and positional control.

The Gable Grip’s widespread use in both wrestling and BJJ underscores its status as a fundamental technique in grappling sports. Its ability to adapt to the needs of different combat situations makes it an invaluable tool for practitioners seeking to enhance their grappling skills.

Executing the Gable Grip: A Step-by-Step Guide



Mastering the Gable Grip is essential for grapplers in various combat sports. Below is a step-by-step breakdown of how to properly execute this powerful and effective grip.

  • Step 1: Hand Positioning: Begin by placing one hand flat with the palm facing up. This is your base hand. Lay your other hand on top of the base hand, palm facing down. Ensure your fingers are extended and close together on both hands.
  • Step 2: Forming the Grip: Bring the palms of both hands together. The top hand’s knuckles should fit snugly into the gap formed by the thumb and index finger of the base hand. Wrap the fingers of both hands around the sides of the opposite hand. Avoid interlocking your fingers, as this can weaken the grip and risk finger injuries.
  • Step 3: Securing the Grip: Squeeze your hands together firmly. The strength of the Gable Grip comes from this squeezing motion, engaging the muscles of your forearms and hands. Ensure your wrists are straight. This alignment maximizes the grip’s strength and stability.
  • Step 4: Application: Once secured, the Gable Grip can be used to control an opponent’s body in various situations. Whether you’re aiming for takedowns, transitions, or maintaining control, keep the grip tight and close to the body for maximum effectiveness.
  • Step 5: Maintaining the Grip: Throughout its application, maintain constant pressure and adjust the grip as needed based on your movement and that of your opponent. Practice maintaining the grip under different conditions and levels of resistance to build endurance and adaptability.

The Gable Grip, when executed correctly, is a formidable tool in grappling. Its effectiveness lies not just in the strength of your hands and arms but in the precise technique of its execution. Regular practice of this grip, coupled with strength and flexibility training, will enhance its effectiveness in your grappling game.

Training Drills for a Stronger Grip in Grappling

A formidable grip is vital in grappling, directly influencing control and efficiency on the mat. Here’s how you can enhance grip strength through specialized training drills.

  • Rope Climbing for Raw Strength: Climbing a rope using only your hands is an exceptional way to build grip strength. It not only fortifies the fingers, palms, and forearms but also improves overall upper body strength. Begin with short climbs and progressively increase the difficulty to challenge your grip endurance.
  • Gi or Towel Pull-Ups: Integrating gi or towel pull-ups into your routine directly translates to better grip strength in gi grappling. This exercise replicates the grip used in controlling an opponent’s gi, reinforcing both grip strength and endurance. Start with a manageable number of repetitions, gradually adding more as your grip strengthens.
  • Farmer’s Walk for Endurance: The Farmer’s Walk, where you carry heavy weights in each hand over a distance, is excellent for building both grip endurance and total body strength. It’s essential to maintain proper posture throughout this exercise. Incrementally increase the weight and distance as your grip endurance improves.
  • Hand Grippers for Convenient Training: Regular use of hand grippers is a convenient and effective way to enhance hand strength. They’re particularly useful for developing a crushing grip, beneficial in both gi and no-gi grappling. Progressively work with stronger grippers to continuously challenge and build your grip strength.
  • Finger Curls for Focused Strengthening: Finger curls, performed with barbells or dumbbells, specifically target the muscles in your fingers and forearms. These muscles are crucial for maintaining strong grips during grappling exchanges. Focus on controlled movements and gradually increase the weight to effectively build strength.
  • Dead Hangs for Grip Endurance: Practicing dead hangs from a pull-up bar is an excellent way to build grip endurance. This simple exercise, involving hanging from a bar for as long as possible, is remarkably effective in enhancing the staying power of your grip, a critical aspect in prolonged grappling bouts.

Incorporating these drills into your regular training routine will significantly improve your grip strength and effectiveness in grappling. Remember, consistency is key, and as your grip strength grows, so will your ability to control and dominate on the mat.

Defensive Strategies Against the Gable Grip

In the grappling world, facing an opponent with a strong Gable Grip can be daunting. However, with the right defensive strategies, you can effectively counter this formidable grip. Let’s explore the key tactics to defend against the Gable Grip in BJJ and wrestling.

  • Early Recognition and Prevention: The first line of defense is to recognize your opponent’s attempt to establish the Gable Grip. Awareness allows you to act quickly. Prevent the grip formation by keeping your limbs close and denying your opponent the opportunity to clasp their hands together.
  • Hand Control and Separation: If your opponent starts forming the grip, focus on hand control. Gripping one of their wrists can prevent them from completing the clasp. Apply force to separate their hands, breaking the grip before it’s fully secured. This can be achieved by pushing or pulling on the elbow or wrist.
  • Posture and Body Positioning: Maintaining a strong posture is crucial. An upright posture with a straight spine can make it harder for your opponent to apply the grip effectively. Adjust your body positioning to create angles that are unfavorable for the Gable Grip, making it less effective.
  • Using Leverage:Leverage is your ally in breaking the grip. Use your body weight and positioning to create a mechanical advantage, making it easier to break their hold. This might involve shifting your weight, twisting your body, or using your legs to apply pressure.
  • Counter-Attacks: While defending, look for opportunities to counter-attack. As your opponent focuses on the grip, they may expose themselves to sweeps, submissions, or reversals. Stay alert and ready to exploit any openings created during their grip attempt.
  • Conditioning and Drills: Regularly practice defensive drills against the Gable Grip. This not only improves your defensive technique but also conditions your body to respond instinctively. Include scenarios in your sparring sessions where you start in a disadvantaged position with your opponent having a Gable Grip.

Defending against the Gable Grip requires a combination of awareness, technique, and strength. By incorporating these strategies into your training, you can develop a robust defense, turning a potentially challenging situation into an opportunity to gain the upper hand. Remember, the key to effective grappling is not just in mastering techniques but also in being adept at countering them.


As we conclude our exploration of the Gable Grip, it’s evident that this technique is more than just a legacy of grappling greats; it’s a living, evolving tool in the dynamic world of combat sports. Its simplicity, strength, and versatility make it an invaluable asset in the arsenal of any grappler, regardless of their discipline or experience level.

For practitioners in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, wrestling, or MMA, integrating the Gable Grip into your training regimen can bring about significant improvements in control, power, and overall performance. It’s a grip that transcends styles, offering utility and effectiveness in a multitude of scenarios. Regular practice of this grip, coupled with specific strength and flexibility exercises, will enhance your ability to dominate on the mat.

The enduring relevance of the Gable Grip in grappling sports is a testament to its adaptability and effectiveness. As these sports evolve, so does the application of the Gable Grip, adapting to new techniques and strategies. Its continued use by top athletes in high-level competitions underscores its effectiveness and strategic value.

So, step onto the mat with the knowledge and confidence to utilize the Gable Grip. Let it be a tool that shapes your grappling narrative, enhancing your control, technique, and effectiveness in the ever-evolving world of combat sports.


What is the Gable Grip and how is it used in grappling sports?

The Gable Grip is a fundamental hand clasp used in grappling sports, named after legendary wrestler Dan Gable. It involves interlocking the hands palm-to-palm without intertwining the fingers, creating a powerful and secure hold. This grip is utilized extensively in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), wrestling, and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) for controlling opponents, executing takedowns, and enhancing submission techniques.

Who was Dan Gable, and how did he contribute to the development of the Gable Grip?

Dan Gable was an American wrestler, Olympic gold medalist, and one of the most successful wrestling coaches in history. He popularized the grip that bears his name, using it effectively throughout his career for control and dominance on the mat. Gable’s innovative approach and unmatched success made the grip a staple technique in wrestling, subsequently adopted across various grappling sports.

What are the key benefits of using the Gable Grip in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling?

In BJJ and wrestling, the Gable Grip offers several benefits:

  • Enhanced Control: It provides strong control over an opponent, making it easier to manipulate their movements.
  • Versatility: The grip can be used in various situations, from takedowns to submission setups.
  • Reduced Injury Risk: The grip reduces the risk of finger injuries common with other grips.
  • Strength and Security: It’s a secure grip that doesn’t easily break under pressure, crucial in both defensive and offensive maneuvers.

How do you properly execute the Gable Grip?

To execute the Gable Grip:

  • Place one hand flat, palm up, and lay the other hand on top, palm down.
  • Bring the palms together, fitting the knuckles of one hand into the gap created by the thumb and index finger of the other.
  • Wrap the fingers around the sides of the opposite hand, squeezing firmly.
  • Ensure wrists are straight and aligned with the forearms for maximum strength.

What makes the Gable Grip different from other grappling grips?

The Gable Grip is distinct in its simplicity and effectiveness. Unlike other grips that may rely on finger strength or gi fabric, the Gable Grip relies on palm and forearm strength, providing a more secure and injury-resistant hold. Its effectiveness in no-gi situations and adaptability across different grappling styles also sets it apart.

Can the Gable Grip be effectively used in both gi and no-gi grappling?

Yes, the Gable Grip is highly effective in both gi and no-gi grappling. Its reliance on hand and forearm strength rather than clothing makes it versatile for any grappling style, allowing practitioners to maintain control and execute techniques effectively in both scenarios.

What are some common mistakes to avoid when using the Gable Grip?

Common mistakes include:

  • Interlocking the fingers, which weakens the grip and increases injury risk.
  • Not aligning the wrists with the forearms, reducing the grip’s strength.
  • Failing to maintain constant pressure, allowing the opponent to break the grip.

How can a grappler improve their hand strength and wrist flexibility for the Gable Grip?

Improving hand strength and wrist flexibility involves:

  • Regularly practicing grip-strengthening exercises like rope climbs, gi pull-ups, and using hand grippers.
  • Incorporating wrist flexibility exercises and stretches into your training routine.
  • Engaging in activities like yoga that promote overall flexibility and strength.

Are there any specific training drills to enhance the effectiveness of the Gable Grip?

Specific drills include:

  • Grip endurance exercises, such as holding the Gable Grip while performing controlled movements.
  • Partner drills where one attempts to maintain the grip while the other tries to break it.
  • Incorporating the grip into live sparring to test its effectiveness in real-time scenarios.

How has the Gable Grip influenced modern grappling techniques and strategies?

The Gable Grip has significantly influenced modern grappling by introducing a powerful, versatile grip technique applicable across various styles. It has led to the development of new control and submission strategies, particularly in no-gi grappling, where traditional gi grips are not available. Its efficacy has also encouraged a focus on grip strength and hand conditioning in grappler’s training regimes.

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