Protecting your hands is a major key to maintaining your ability to practice Jiu Jitsu. Lots of students think of athletic tape as something you use when injured but most serious BJJ practitioners use tape to prevent injuries, protect sensitive areas, and maintain functionality.
There are a lot of resources out there to show you basic ways how to tape your fingers for Jiu Jitsu so I’ve compiled them here. Let’s break down the various ways and reasons for taping, and work out some good methods to try it out.
Four Quick Fundamentals
- Use good tape…
- Don’t be afraid to use a lot…
- Think in layers, not strips! Tape bonds better to itself than your skin…
- Never tape too tight, always check your circulation…
Taping For Injury
To start, if you have a serious concern about a hand injury seek out medical attention. Many other sports use a style of taping meant to immobilize a joint to let it heal. This presents some serious challenges to practicing BJJ. Since immobilizing a finger or toe makes it easier to snag on a Gi, as well as difficult to put weight on and grip, injuries that need immobilization typically require time off the mats. If your doctor advises you to immobilize an injury consider limiting yourself to light drilling and controlled movements.
Here is a video example of a restrictive finger taping method.
The Single Helix
The single helix method is one of the most common forms of finger taping used in BJJ. The concept behind the single helix is to create a reinforced “X” across the joint you want to protect. This works in one of three ways.
- If you want to prevent a finger from bending backwards or ripped open the “X” would lay across the inside of your finger to prevent it from being hyper-extended.
- If you were to jam your finger and want to prevent yourself from closing your hands too tightly you could do the opposite. Lacing the “X” of the single helix over the back of your finger helps provide more support as you squeeze your hands.
- The final option is to “double helix” your finger by taping an “X” over both sides of your finger joint. This allows your finger to move so you can practice, but prevents your fingers from moving with too much stress in either direction.
A basic guide from black belt Dan Simmler from Boston
A guide from black belt Kurt Osiander out in San Francisco (with profanity!) that also integrates “buddy taping”.
Nothing is worse than injuring your thumb! It’s both complicated and essential which can lead to chronic injury, overuse, and a miserable time. Thumb wrapping techniques tend to vary a lot, but most are more heavy-duty versions of a single helix. Here’s a guide that can help.
An ultra simple guide from Andre Galvao and Jiu-Jitsu Magazine