If there is one piece of clothing we all have in common, men and women, that would be the belt (or at least some kind of reinforced material around our waist.
We all need our pants to be in place and since we use the belts to carry stuff around (or the pants pockets), the belts must be a bit stronger than the usual clothing fabrics.
Why is that important for us?
Because in jacket grappling sports, the belt is one very important, but very underused uniform part (except in Sambo, where the Georgians make careers in belt grips).
Hips is where force is generated. Be it Boxing, Wrestling or BJJ, the hips are one of the most important parts of the human body, if you want to throw a punch, lift and throw someone off the ground or if you want to apply leverage and bent someone’s joint backwards with enough force, to break them.
In Judo, all throws are executed after attacker brings his hips or legs close to the defender.
In BJJ and all Submission Wrestling styles, the hips are used for the application of the Guard variations and to secure tight holds for submissions.
It is obvious, that if one controls his opponent’s hips, he controls the pace of the fight and dictates the outcome.
Hip control and how to achieve it:
In standing, during grip fight, attacker can reach and grip the belt from the back, front and side (several variants are shown in my grip instructional UNSYMMETRICAL GRIPS). He could either keep the distance between themselves, by simple extending and locking his arm, or he could close the distance, by pulling towards his own hips or legs and execute a throw.
As a way to increase the pressure on opponent’s hips or to disable him, some players lift the belt up (forcing the other athlete on his toes) or put their weight on the belt, down (forcing the other athlete to “sit”) .
On the ground, it is very common for the guard passers, to grip the belt of the guard player, pinning his hips to the mat and use the opportunity to waltz around his legs.
From the bottom, the belt can be used to escape positions, similar to the one I show in this video (useful in Sambo and some of the BJJ organization):
In Judo, belt grips are only allowed for the duration of 5 seconds, mostly as attacking grip. If the grip is held longer, it is recognized as a defensive method and hence, penalized.
That been said, there is a way to go around that rule, by gripping the stitching part (connecting the jacket to the Gi skirt), above the usual belt position, which is also quite strong and wide, so essentially it is the same as gripping the belt, but completely legal:
Belts are tied in the middle of the human body, making it equally easy to control the upper or the lower part of the opponent’s body with our free hand.
It is then just a matter of drilled in muscle memory, to execute combination of upper, lower body attacks, be it in standing or on the ground.