9 Apr 2012

Review: Scramble Grip Trainer

Review: Scramble Grip Trainer
Gul Nawaz Hussain

“Get a grip!” was a phrase I unfortunately heard far too often whilst growing up. Luckily for me, in BJJ the phrase has different connotations and a solid grip is something all practitioners are keen to develop.
Most of us will have scoured the web searching for ways to develop grip strength. Products range from thosethat look like a pair of pliers,to the “Eagle Claw Grip Catcher” found advertised in martial arts magazines of yester year and power balls that use centrifugal force and gyros.

Bruce Lee famously coined the phrase “dry land swimming”. He used it to describe those who do not train in a way which directly correlates with what they want to excel at. For BJJ players it’s not a generic grip but gripping the giwhilst it is being pushed and pulled that we want to develop.
Enter the grip trainer by UK based Scramble. Scramble pride themselves on being an innovative brand. They shun all things gothic – sorry no flaming skulls or daggers. In its place you’ll find plenty of modern nuanced designs with a firm nod to Japan

Design and build quality
When Scramble asked would be reviewers to contact them I argued my case. I’m of limited talents but arguing a hopeless case well is one of them. Apart from allowing me to work as a barrister my only skill won me a pair of Grip Trainers too :-)
The Grip Trainer is small enough to fit inside a kit bag. First impressions are that it is very well made and aesthetically pleasing. I’ve had this product for a little over two weeks and had the opportunity to subject it to some somewhat unconventional testing.
The trainer is made out of gi material. It looks like a gi sleeve with a sturdy, reinforcedloop/handle at the other end. There is no way the product could be described as “dry land swimming”. It looks and feels exactly like the gi you want to better grip.

Use and effectiveness
The ways in which the Grip Trainer can be gripped will be instinctive to BJJ players. The sleeve section is long enough to be comfortably gripped at various points. The cuffs too are just like those on a gi in terms of design, reinforcement and dimensions.
Upon initial inspection at the academy, it wasn’t clear how the product should be used. My son helped us get started :-) As the subsequent pictures show, pull ups (from lying flat on the floor with various grips) were performed whilst a training partner held the loop. The loop felt sturdy and very secure. As the pull up was performed, weight distribution was good such that the person holding the loop felt no uncomfortable exertion or pressure.
It was also used in a ‘tug of war’ manner; the person holding the loop applying increasing levels of force in a snatching manner in an attempt to cause the other person to release his grip. In my humble point of view, this exercise was spot on as you seldom have a compliant opponent moving at a constant speed, in a linear fashion. The same force when applied in a staccato way is much more difficult to deal with.

Both ends of the spectrum: My 6 year old son Salahudeen and 6’ 10” M1 and Cage Warriors veteran Dave “The Iron Giant” Keeley.

At around this time, as if he had sensed his product was being mistreated, I received an email from Matt at Scramble HQ.In it was a handy pic of how the item should be used. The item is secured around a chin up bar or the handle of a kettle belletc. by feeding the sleeve end around the equipment and then through the loop at the other end. As you’re using the entire piece of material as opposed to a thin strip like some alternative products or the loop itself(as we had earlier), this method is infinitely more secure.
The view of many at the academy was that they would appreciate an illustrated guide setting out the basic exercises that can be performed. My simple experimentationhighlighted that there are a plethora of ways this product can be used. I’m sure many will, like we did, develop their own particular methods. With a company like Scramble which embraces the use of social networks, these methods could easily be shared and critiqued.

The final test
At least one other manufacturer has fielded a grip product for the BJJ crowd. Whilst not having tested it, I understand anecdotal reports suggested it ripped under stress.
Those of you of a certain age will remember the TV ad’s where a man was glued to a board and suspended in various dangerous situations. The aim was to show the strength of the adhesive. It was a good idea in the 80s so…
The final test was securing the Grip Trainer to the large crane in our academy (it used to be a storage warehouse) and looking for a gullible guinea pig brave volunteer. Following protracted negotiations which settled at 25p and half a chocolate bar resident dare devil James “Hollywood” Fairclough agreed to be hoisted off the ground whilst holding onto the Grip Trainer. This was done both in the official wrap around way and by simply placing the loop over the crane’s hook. In short, the Grip Trainer’s integrity remained intact long after James’ courage (and bowel control) had failed :-)

Final Thoughts & Conclusion
With its appearance many may quip “Why not just use an old gi?” Well there’s nothing to stop you but how many have a gi they are ready to butcher for such a use? More importantly the Grip Trainer, in terms of design and reinforcement, is made specifically for its intended use. Yes thesleeve that you grip is easy to replicate; the way you secure it to something is where this design seriously comes into its own.
All in all it is a very useful training aid which Scramble has manufactured to a characteristically high standard.
When you have the kit you then just need to find the time to use it. For the last few weeks I’ve been working in London and commuting on the Tube. Whilst being buffeted along the Central Line in conditions worse than the most severe side control you’ve been subjected to, I had an idea. The Mayor can bring BJJ to the masses and help commuters stay on their feet by securing grip trainers to all the bars in the carriages. Result! 

Disclosure and credits:
Gul is a Blue belt 1 stripe training at Gracie Barra Sheffield under Prof. John Goldson.  This report represents his own opinions, he is not employed, paid or otherwise connected with Scramble or Meerkatsu. My thanks to Gul for his guest post.

For further unbiased reviews of this product, you may wish to visit Powering Through's review of the Scramble grip trainers - http://www.powering-through.com/2012/03/preview-scramble-grip-trainer.html


About the Author


Author & Artist

Meerkatsu is the artist name for BJJ black belt Seymour Yang.


Anonymous said...

Have you tried pull-ups with a towel and, if so, how do these grip trainers compare?


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