Strength in grappling - more specifically, BJJ
This post may (read, will) be somewhat unorganized, but I promise it has a point. Promise.
Being a bigger guy, I am naturally stronger than many of the people I roll/have rolled with. If I feel like I am even getting close to muscling something, I will completely abandon it, even if I don't have another option directly lined up. After all, I have heard from the start that BJJ is based upon not needing to rely on strength.
I have been thinking about this concept lately, and a post in another thread--
--drove me to finally ask about this.
Originally Posted by DKJr
1) Is the above assertion necessarily true, and if so, in what ways? This is more a question for curiosity's sake.
2) How relevant is this concept of not needing strength for BJJ is in today's BJJ world?
When multiple-time world champs look like this:
but only weighs 170 lbs, it seems like this may not necessarily be the case.
3) So, is BJJ turning into SAMBO, or at least a more strength-oriented sport?
Obviously strength tends to be a deciding factor, but I don't think anyone needs to hear that "there are weight classes for a reason".
DKjr was being a smartass. Or at least I hope...
What is certainly true about sambo, though, is that it champions strength. It is not anathema, as it is in many, many BJJ schools (which I think is part of the marketing strategy). In order to be a complete grappler, it requires both strength and technique, and in many ways, whether practitioners want to admit it or not, strength can trump technique in live scenarios.
This is why sambo athletes in Russia are first developed as athletes, before they are fully immersed into a sambo curriculum. Even the heavyweights are squatting, pressing, doing back handsprings, and developing hyper-hyper-hyper flexibility. It's hard to describe what that level of athlete feels like, as a grappler, until you've been on the receiving end of it, which I have many times.
Strength is not the only pathway, though, of course. My friend Mikhail was a several-time all-Soviet sambo champ, and he said that he was never one of the stronger or more talented athletes, so he had to bridge that gap in his physicality through many, many more hours of technique practice.
Fighting is physical.
There is no getting around that.
I was indeed being a smartass, as that "BJJ requires no strength" is all Gracie propaganda and fortune cookie wisdom.
Grappling and striking are force multipliers, if you're bigger, faster, or stronger you won't need as much timing, techniques, or skill to overcome others who aren't as gifted.
It's easier for medium to smaller sized (or weaker) grapplers to obtain a higher degree of skill quickly. For the simple reason that they can't cheat, they have to have perfect timing and proper technique or it won't work.
BJJ isn't becoming more "strength dependent" it's getting a larger participation base with more athletically gifted individuals who are training harder than ever before. Thus to keep up in the arms race you have to be strong because the champs of today have it all (strength, skill, dieting, cardio). It's only going to get more and more intense.
So are the stories you hear about a hundred or so undefeated matches, and nobody being able to pass a certain individuals guard (sorry for the vague references, I don't remember the specific Gracies these stories are attributed to) fabricated/played up?
Were these guys the 1%, or was there something in their training methodology that many (or so it seems to me) of today's practitioners simply don't want to make a part of their routine? Is there something else I'm missing? Do I just need to better look at my chosen art's history? Is the sky falling?
The 'Gracie challenge' times involved a large element of surprise against opponents who had no grappling. I'm not trying to take anything away from them by saying that, it was kinda the point of the GC. As stated above bigger participation base changes that. Technique not strength in much the same way as Judo imo.
Originally Posted by itwasntme
Every martial arts story you hear, regardless of who you hear it from, needs to be taken with just a pinch of salt. That's just the way things are.
As to strength not being important - look at it this way: Suppose people's skill and strength can be measured by a score ranging from 0-100. And that someone's over all grappling ability can be calculated by strength*skill.
You might expect that the average chump who's never trained grappling before has a strength score somewhere between 30 and 70. You would expect their skill to be somewhere between 0 and a very small number. Even if you're fairly strong, that multiplier means that your over all score is going to be low. Zero times anything is zero. What's more, improving your strength isn't going to do much
Any improvement in skill is going to have a much bigger impact. It's not until you start getting pretty skilled that you start seeing diminishing returns from skill, and strength training is going to become an important factor in your continued improvement again. By that stage though you probably have a good idea about what is going on and you can make an informed decision about what exactly you should be training.
So the "strength is not important" thing is really for recruiting people, and for beginners (or should I say non-advanced people), and it's largely true for those people. You've never trained before and you're worried that you wont be strong enough? Not a problem, you're pretty much in the same boat as someone who is strong anyway. Can't pull off that sweep? You're probably not getting the right leverage. You've been training for a while now, there's a competition coming up, and you want to scale back your grappling classes so you can lift more weights? Yeah, that'll work...
Ah, I was under the impression that GJJ was not the only, or at least the father of, grappling in Brazil.
Originally Posted by Resonance10
I was referring to more recent times than that. Grappling has been everywhere from the beginning. I was talking about events just prior to and including the first ufc...can't speak towards Brazil's traditions.
Originally Posted by itwasntme
Strength will always be important in any sort of combat. Hence why there are weight classes in combat sports regardless of the ruleset.
A strength advantage can be overcome by superior skills. The reason instrustors discourage strength is if you rely on it you will eventually run into someone with equivalent strength and your technique will not work. On the flip side of the coin, the myth of the frail 100 lb master than can defeat skilled people twice his size, it just that, a myth.
The key is always technique, followed by strength and conditioning. When you see matches like this it because the skill difference is so great:
The way i see it is the equation for winning is (Technique * Technique) + (Strength + Conditioning). All 3 are needed to win, but technique will overcome strength exponentially.
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