This quotation is from Dynamic Judo Throwing Techniques by Kazuzo Kudo (9th dan), p. 27

Seizing your opponent's practice suit—whatever part of his suit you grab, remember to do so using your little finger and ring finger together. If you are taking hold of his jacket, thrust your little and ring fingers in, and then catch the material and pull. At the same time add your index finger, and relax your thumb. Let your thumb lightly rest on the cloth of his jacket, because if you tense your thumb you will spoil the movements of your feet.

The author suggests that tensing the thumb hinders foot movements. How is this? What foot movement is more difficult when the thumb is used to grip?

It is also curious that this author suggests three fingers be used: pinky, ring, and index. This is contrary to the modern advice I hear to grip using the lower three fingers: pinky, ring, and middle.

  • 1
    I suppose that pincing strength (between thumb and fingers) locks the elbow, and in extension shoulder and therefore the rest of the body (and tai sabaki). The thread mentions locking the wrist only. Pure speculation here, though. Commented Apr 10, 2020 at 10:02
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    With a tense thumb I may be actively working against that thumb if I re-position my body. Commented Apr 24, 2020 at 15:38

2 Answers 2


Gripping daintily with only a few fingers is a drill my judo coach utilized to de-emphasize straight-arming and other gripping strategies as a defensive tactic, so one could focus on evasive footwork and hip blocks instead.

Another contributing idea is that a tense grip encourages static, in-place judo, because one tries to control the opponent (through the grip) every time they move. Intentionally loosening the grip helps relax your entire style of play. Gripping hard was seen as occasionally necessary but something to minimize, especially in training.


My answer is that if you put thumbs in grips then you couldn't rotating inward the wrist more than other gripping style. Also the gripping power is in little finger and not in the index. As for the knees I believe it is about different distances ( To-ma) to be able to get the hips in front if you have opportunities

  • One nitpick: Even though grip strength primarily relies on the middle, ring, and index finger, the point of putting the thumb in is not strength per se, but the fact that you have a "hook" in the cloth and generally more friction to you grip so that it is much harder to get rid of that grip. Commented May 15, 2020 at 13:21

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