One of Denisov’s most effective strategies against same stance opponents is to come out right handed before switching back to a left stance once gripped up.
Here’s a good example against Turkmenistan’s Hojamuhammedov in the 2018 Agadir Grand Prix.
Denisov leads with a right handed lapel grip, which forces his opponent to grip up with his left hand. This is the invitation Denisov needs to catch the left sleeve and revert to his favoured left handed grips.
In Zagreb 2018, it’s Denisov’s opponent who initiates the gripping. But it’s the right handed stance of Denisov that gives him the grips he needs.
You can see that Denisov comes out left. There’s the switch to right. He then takes his opponent’s lapel with his right hand, before being in a position to revert to left and establish his grips.
In the semi final of the 2019 Ekaterinburg Grand Slam against Russian team-mate Bilalov, Denisov catches the left sleeve of his opponent, before switching stances.
Denisov, in a right stance, jerks back his head and catches the left hand as it comes in. He can then impose his grips.
Later on in the same contest, and here it is again. This time, Denisov isn’t able to break the grip, but is able to pull it down his lapel and weaken it. And from there Bilalov is unable to launch a strong attack.
Denisov half-catches the sleeve, jerks it down his lapel and retains a strong grip as he switches to a left stance and superior grips.
And, finally, one last example from the same fight as Denisov comes out right, switches to left and then finishes the contest.
Ouchi gari. Ippon. And Denisov is into the final.
Here it is then. Denisov, approaching right, jumping into a left stance as he catches both collar and sleeve grip.
Another effective strategy of Denisov’s is to pull on his opponent’s lapel in order to catch the left sleeve... Sometimes he finds that also using a bit of Ashi waza will help.
Against Great Britain’s Awiti-Alcaraz in the 2016 Qingdao Grand Prix, Denisov uses both hands on the lapel, pulling in a circular motion, as he closes the distance between himself and his opponent.
Once again, he comes out in a right stance and leads with the right hand on the lapel, before bringing in the left hand and reeling in Awiti-Alcaraz.
It’s the same thing against Iida of Japan in Tokyo 2016, with Denisov leading with the right hand, then bringing in the left. From there he catches the sleeve, before working the opportunity to take the high collar grip.
There’s the right hand. Then comes the left. He then drops down onto the sleeve and pins it… Denisov is in control, and it’s now just a matter of time before he gets the collar grip.
Against Russian compatriot Zankishiev in Hohhot 2017, Denisov actually leads with the left hand before bringing in the right.
Denisov circles and enters from the left, with the right hand following. Notice the big circular movement. He’s now got a strong collar grip and is working on catching the sleeve.
In Baku 2016, and up against Lithuania’s Bauza, Denisov is unable to catch the left sleeve outright. By using a Kosoto tap and pulling on the lapel at the same time, he’s able to get to the sleeve.
Denisov’s most common response to the Russian arm is to anticipate it, turning into his opponent and breaking it off as quickly as possible.
In the 2019 World Team Championships you can see Denisov’s anticipation at its best as he reads the intended grip throw from his opponent, breaking it off before it’s even landed.
Hungary’s Ohat attempts to throw his arm over the top of Denisov at the 2017 World Championships, but the Russian is ready for it.
Although it’s the near shoulder he’s trying to go over the principle is the same, and Denisov’s defence is very effective.
Denisov’s final gripping strategy against left handers is used when his opponent leads with their right hand.
A very clear example here comes from the 2013 Rio World Championships against Portugal’s Dias.
Denisov leads with his right hand, taking the lapel, as he catches Dias’s right hand. He then pulls him in and establishes his strong, left handed grips.
In the 2013 Samsun Grand Prix final Denisov attacks off the grips, against Elmont of the Netherlands.
Denisov’s catches Elmont’s hand, at the same time as he pulls on the lapel. He uses that momentum to attack with the Sasae tsurikomi ashi.
At the 2014 World Championships in Chelyabinsk, Denisov is again fighting Elmont. And once again he catches the hand and pulls on the lapel. He now has the dominant grips, and Elmont drops to the floor easily.
Against Grossklaus of Switzerland in the 2015 Rabat Masters, Denisov catches his opponent’s sleeve not once, but twice.
On the second occasion he is able to keep hold of it and pin it, before working his way towards the lapel and his favoured grips.
And from the same contest, here’s a great example of using this gripping strategy to transition immediately into Tachi waza.
Denisov once again catches the sleeve, but this time snaps onto the lapel and skips straight into a huge Seoi nage. Gripping and throwing combining brilliantly.