Size in BJJ
BJJ is a very technical art and is often advertised this way and many practitioners claim that size doesn't matter in BJJ if one has the technique down. While this is mostly true, I do think that many practitioners (and instructors) of BJJ fail to recognize the reality that, while BJJ is technical and any sized person can be successful in it, size does change the game a little bit.
I am a noob to BJJ, having only been practicing for 3 months. But in my defense I have rolled with many guys now, many much bigger than me and some smaller, I have also rolled with blue belts and white belts, most with much more experience than me, and have tapped blues. But I am not claiming to be an expert in any way, and just want to facilitate a discussion on this topic here...
I'll preface this list by saying that I am only 145 lbs, most guys I face are bigger than me in my gym, usually 175-200 lbs and muscular.
So here are some things that I think change when facing much larger opponents (and if you are a smaller guy in general).
1.) Full Guard:
I have noticed that bigger guys have the advantage in full guard in a number of ways. If you are in their guard, due to their size, they have a much easier time of controlling you than you do them, because they can apply their weight with their legs more effectively to draw the smaller guy in deep to their guard. Also, they can break a smaller guys full guard much easier by standing up; even with a strong full guard (which I have), I have literally been picked up in full guard, where the big guy just used his size and gravity to claw me off.
I try to avoid being put in full guard all together as a smaller guy, especially when I'm in a Gi and have handles the big guy can use (in nogi, I have found that I can use my speed and slipperiness to escape full guard, even against bigger opponents). If the opponent is in open guard I try to pull a 50/50 instead of risk the pass.
In order to control my opponent when he is in my guard, I will generally try to sweep him if he tries to stand and break my guard with force. Otherwise I will constantly be switching my guard positions, to keep him in control, one good guard that I usually fall back on that I have found easy to maintain as a small guy is half guard, although advancing from this position can be tricky.
2.) Full mount:
I have noticed that big guys have a huge advantage here. They can hold smaller guys much more effectively in this position and can more easily Upa (sp?) the smaller guys who can achieve mount. I have found that if a big guy gets mount on me, its over. Conversely if I get mount on a big guy he will often just muscle out of it with his size. If I fight him and brace with my hands, I can sometimes hold him, but the minute I let up for side mount or go for an armbar, they guy will hip out of the mount or Upa me.
I try to avoid full mount as a offensive position against bigger guys. If I find myself in it, I know that I will either have to attack fast, or use it as a setup for a different move. Instead, I have developed my guard offenses and focused on taking the opponents back as an offensive move.
3.) Arm bar:
This part is bound to be controversial, but I think that the arm bar is much easier to pull for bigger guys, who I notice will often use strength in leu of technique to muscle the attack. On the offensive, as a smaller guy, I have found that it is really difficult to pull the armbar free from armbar defenses; one guy much stronger than me even used sheer bicep strength to prevent me from competing the move; this sort of thing happens often, and if I try to get the arm free, the bigger guy will often just roll me over and break free. In contrast, when I try armbar defenses against bigger/stronger guys, they will often times bypass them with sheer strength.
for armbar escapes against stronger/bigger guys, I have learned to use the position of my body to free up my arm in hopes of an escape. This usually works. (Of course bigger guys usually dont do this, they just rip free).
For executing an armbar against bigger opponents, I am still stuck on this. I have focused on different submissions, particularly chokes that I am able to apply without fighting the opponent's strength once I sneak past their guard. Any suggestions?
Also, as a smaller guy who has rolled with all kind of opponents, I have found it easier to tap blue belts my size (some - probably the bad ones) than white belts much larger than me. I know as my technique improves and my style develops this will be less of a problem, but I think that will largely be because my style will have to adapt to fit my smaller stature.
What do you guys think? has anyone else experienced the same problems against larger guys? Different ones? How do you counter them?
Does size matter? Of course it does. Anyone who tells you different is lying to you.
Your post can be distilled into one sentence. "I have trouble with big and/or strong individuals because size matters and my technique is still beginner level."
I have been told by more than one person that I'm a technical BJJ guy. Even so, the 230 lb brown belt with excellent technique still gives me fits. Why? Because his technique is every bit as good as mine, and he weighs 50 lbs more than I do.
Don't avoid positions like mount because you have a hard time maintaining them. How will you ever get good at them if you don't practice them?
Yeah, I still attempt the mount and try to hold it. I just find that I will often be upa'd out is all. But what about my comments on armbar? Do you find any of that to be salient with your experiences?
one more thing. I think you are ignoring the point of this post. I am not try to start a debate on whether or not size matters. I am trying to start a discussion on what people think changes when there is a size discrepancy. In particular, I was looking for a discussion that focuses on strategies a smaller guy can use to best bigger guys, because such strategies are out there.
Originally Posted by jnp
Also, I was looking for responses from people on the particular points I made regarding the 3 aspects of jiu jitsu listed, and if they agreed with them.
All things being equal strength/size matters. However in life rarely are all things equal.
When you 1st start out it really does feel a lot more physical, where strength and speed matter so much. As you progress though you will find yourself using leverage and timing a lot more.
Thanks for the comments guys, but I really think people are missing the point of this post; I get the impression that people aren't reading it and just assuming by the title I am pitting technique against size. I am not.
Just in case this is not the case, I feel compelled to say PLEASE READ THE POST BEFORE COMMENTING!
I recognize that technique can bridge the gap. I am trying to start a discussion on such techniques and how they can be employed.
I think you're a 3 month beginner that needs to train a bit more and think a bit less.
Originally Posted by tangler
Here's a few choice quotes that illustrate why you come off as an obnoxious twat.
I've never met a BJJ instructor who didn't understand that size and strength matter. I hope you haven't either. Either way, the first comment is pretty offensive to those of us who spend time as BJJ instructors. You're a 3 month ultra noob who is wrongly accusing people who have more than a decade of experience of overlooking the patently obvious fact that size and strength matter.
Originally Posted by tangler
Your armbar ideas are decent for a beginner. Your defense sucks because you're a beginner. Get back to me in two years and then I'll discuss armbar offense and defense with you. Right now you need to pay more attention in class and drill the techniques you learn until your arms and legs fall off.
Technique will trump strength to a certain degree. I'm certain a 300 lb. NFL lineman would destroy me despite my 11 years of BJJ and 7 of wrestling. I can handle 250 lb flabby beginners with ease however.
However, if the bigger and stronger person has better technique, you had best plan on working from defensive positions. That is another obvious fact that we poor BJJ instructors know.
Your missing the point, the whole freaking point of Judo/BJJ
Originally Posted by tangler
Leverage (something the vast majority of the techniques use) + Timing. There are no "special" techniques. really very little minutia even needs to be changed.
The bigger the discrepancy, the better your technique has to be.
Originally Posted by tangler
I already told you what you need to hear. Less thinking, more mat time, more drilling. You won't listen. They never do.