When fighting right handed opponents who want a traditional high lapel or collar grip, Kirill Denisov’s first aim is to catch the power arm.
Once he’s done this he takes a cross lapel grip.
Before feeding the lapel into his left hand.
He then starts putting pressure on his opponent by pushing against their chest.
And it’s this pressure that gives him the opportunity to catch their sleeve.
The transition between the catch and cross grip should be one fast, fluid movement.
He aims to catch the lapel at chest level, so that his left hand can go above the right and take a high, dominant grip. From here he can start controlling the movement of his opponent, which opens up the chance to take the sleeve.
Controlling and fighting for a dominant lapel grip is a crucial part of Denisov’s game-plan. Here is a warm-up drill that he does at the beginning of every session.
Taking a lapel grip with his left hand, he first defends against Uke attempting to take the inside lapel grip by collapsing his arm in. Then he defends against the high right grip by pushing his arm into their chest, meaning Uke cannot reach their intended grip. Then they swap roles.
Denisov finds this exercise a great way to get his body used to the feeling of the grips and the movements associated with lapel grip fighting.
Here is the sequence of grips one more time.
Once both judoka have eased into the gripping sequence, the idea is to then increase the speed of movement and to start engaging all parts of the body, as you would in a competitive situation.
It’s important that while you begin to incorporate more movement, you maintain the precision of the exercise.