Sticky Hands for BJJ?

More than a year of judiciously studying Wing Chun centerline blocking as a teenager finally compelled me to ask my buddy Colin to try and punch me in the face. Colin, who had been boxing for well over a year, was happy to oblige. I was confident I could now block any punch thrown my way with relative ease.

We squared up. Colin fired a simple, hard jab. To my surprise, I managed to block the punch with my face. Colin looked horrified and began apologizing. My lip had split open over my bottom teeth. I could stick my tongue out through my fresh, new orifice. Needless to say, I switched to boxing.

Still, perhaps my foray into Wing Chun wasn’t all for naught.  One particular drill known as Sticky Hands or chi sau may still be of some help when it comes to grip fighting in BJJ. The drill involves connecting your forearms with your opponent’s forearms then directing and redirecting each other’s arms toward a more advantageous position or attack. For grappling purposes, this would mean redirecting to, say, an arm drag, a Russian tie, a collar grip, an underhook/overhook.

One can, at the very least, see some potential in the following demonstrations:

Now before I’m crowned with a most inelegant tinfoil hat, Roy Harris, a storied martial artist and one of the first Americans to receive a black belt in BJJ offered his own detailed insights on the application of Sticky Hands some years ago (Harris also awarded Roy Dean the rank of black belt):

In a surprisingly strange twist of fate, a quick search revealed that, Ryan Pratt, the instructor who taught me Wing Chun centerline theory many moons ago as a kid is also a friend of Harris.  From what I can gather, Pratt went on to teach boxing and Muay Thai and pursue BJJ as well. However, in the height of the TMA days, he had to put aside his boxing and kickboxing knowledge and focus more on Gymkata stuff. So it goes.

So far I’ve had some minor success actively trying to implement Sticky Hands. It’s helped in redirecting my opponent’s grip attempts from standing and from guard. Though Sticky Hands may not be the grip fighting panacea we’ve all have been waiting for, it may offer some value. At the very least, it’s food for thought and a fun discussion as we continue to explore on the mats.

© 2019 Gable Gripes All Rights Reserved

Leave a Reply