View Full Version : Weight class & Strength in M.A.

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11/13/2005 7:51am,
Just wondering what others think of this. I was at a Wing Tsun seminar a year ago (I thought about beginning WT, but decided against it). I noticed a lot of skinny guys practicing chi sau. I am 5' 11" and 195 with very little fat. I mention this only because the "moves" the senior students tried on me didn't work. Guys that were testing for technician-level grades couldn't get out of locks, etc.. Furthermore, I asked a certain WT grandmaster (who himself was really skillful) why there are weight-classes in his tournaments, to which he answered "so there will be more winners". This bothered me. _ing __un people always seem to say that size, gender, strength doesn't matter. I believe it definitely does. I have studied Hung Gar and SPM for the longest periods of time. My SPM sifu even said, once you're on your back and a big football player has his hands around your neck, no more kung fu...
Anyway, this has really disenchanted me with systems that don't acknowledge that size and strength are serious assest in a fight. Do people agree?

Mor Sao
11/13/2005 7:54am,
No offence Gymkata, but who are you? Where do you live?

Like knowing who is asking before I can answer.


11/13/2005 8:05am,
Forget the Dale Dude. That's a good post. I think in MMA Comps it's almost a given that the bigger guy has the advantage. Then there are cases like Couture and people who can win at all different weights. The problem in TMA is it's a philosophy everybody has to buy into without a lot of reality. You could beat a bigger guy but then again you could get your whole house wrecked. Plus the Martial Arts advantage is taken out of the picture when the bigger guy is trained in MMA.

Some guy was trying to tell me last night that people in Northern China are bigger than him and he's 6'2" and far easterners being small is just a stereotype and there's no such thing as movies made by far easterners with real far easterners in them and anything he could come up with. I was wondering because Kung Fu started as grappling and the fact that you need strength in Judo and that type of thing.

11/13/2005 8:14am,
Lots of martial arts classes claim in their advertising that size and strength don't matter.
It's a distortion of the idea that many things should be done without relying on 'muscling through', and that size differences can be overcome with a big enough difference in fitness and skill.

I think it's just a marketing technique to bring people in who are paranoid about getting beaten up by somebody bigger and stronger than them.

Phil Elmore types love fantasizing about mystical techniques from exotic countries which can defeat the high-school jocks who picked on them as kids. It's like a little get out clause they use to avoid all that strenuous training which would be required to actually get stronger and faster.

11/13/2005 8:20am,
No offence Gymkata, but who are you? Where do you live?
Like knowing who is asking before I can answer.

No offense taken, although I'm not sure what difference it makes...
Who am I? That is a profound question, one which I will have to ponder.
I live in Europe currently, but was raised in the mid-west U.S. If you have specific questions refering to training, etc., please be specific in your questioning.


11/13/2005 8:21am,
It's like a little get out clause they use to avoid all that strenuous training which would be required to actually get stronger and faster.

Or just to get rid of the bear gut MA Instructors and MA Fitness "Experts" have. Common.

11/13/2005 9:40am,
This topic keeps popping up and I don't understand why it's so difficult for people to grasp.

A fight is an extremely fluid situation and the factors that determine which individual will win the fight are many. Yes, size and strength are 2 factors, but only 2 of many. There are other more significant factors that can overcome a size and/or strength disadvantage. Style and skill level are two of these, but there are still many more.

It get's even more complicated yet. While size and strength are usually advantageous factors, they can sometimes be a disadvantage in a fight. An example would be a huge bodybuilder who never does any aerobic conditioning. That individual will gas out so quickly due to his excess body mass that he'd actually be better off without it when fighting a smart fighter who understands this and uses it to his advantage.

11/13/2005 11:16am,
Sorry if I am re-posting something that has currently been discussed. I haven't seen it before. Anyway, I disagree with you.
Skill level is important, but a bodybuilder who has any fighting experience will take out your common black belt, especially if he is a little squirt or a woman. Of course there are smaller wrestlers (weight-wise) who could do in a body-builder. All things considered, I don't see size and strength as simply "two factors among many".
Not meaning to insult anyone, but it seems that people who take your stance are generally not bigger, stronger guys.

The Vagrant
11/13/2005 11:47am,
you're correct, smaller guys say size doesnt matter as much, bigger guys say size is the end all, taller guys say reach is the way to win, shorter guys say there is an addvantage in having a low center of gravity.

in short, we're all idiots.

11/13/2005 12:00pm,
Lawdog is spot-on by pointing out that size/strength are just two of many factors. Take this example, from upper-white belt/lower-blue belt level of BJJ skill (meaning where most of the people I roll with are skillwise), where strength and size are still extremely important.

I was rolling with two guys the other day, first was about 185 and has a over 3 years experience with BJJ and does some amateur MMA and boxing I think (much more SKILLED than me; not as strong/big), the other is probably closer to 225 or upwards, I'm not sure, and about 6'7" or so (stronger upper body than me, weaker legs, probably slightly less skill, but not significantly). I'm 6'5" 215, so not a little guy here since you think this is an idea perpetuated only by small dudes.

*For reference, this is with no gi.

Anyway, the smaller guy and I rolled about 20 min real hard(we roll all the time so we are comfortable with this). None of that sitting in guard and chilling or hanging out under sidemount staying slow cool and technical, instead lots of clinching and breaks, sprawls, etc, gross gross motor movements. In sum, like when we usually roll, I can rarely submit this guy despite getting him to turtle and taking his back occasionally, he is tough and has good defense. Also, I CANNOT hold him in sidemount for some reason, he's just too damn slippery (and I suspect he really doesn't want to be there), but I can get mount, but he defends too well is is strong enough to fight off kimuras and such. He can submit me, always with ankle locks when I get sloppy guard passing, less often I can RNC him, but usually neither of us can sub the other.

So we roll and finish up, then smaller guy rolls with big tall dude, who passes his guard and holds him in sidemount pretty easily, then takes his back and finally RNCs him, then they roll again and there isn't a sub, but again he completely dominates the smaller guy on account of his upper body strength (or so I think, stick with me here as to the jusitification) and also his sheer length, which is a good 10" on the other dude. So then I roll with the big guy and you'd think "oh well, big dude can beat the other guy Camus can't beat so he must be be able to pwn Camus", but see that logic is too simple. For several reasons, namely skill and being more aggressive, I can and did hold this guy down work him from sidecontrol and 69 for awhile (arms too damn strong to submit easily), when he got up trying to pass, he couldn't pass my guard (even though smaller guy's guard is overall better). Both these also probably have to do with the fact that I have my stronger lower body than the guy as well. In other words: Size/Strength and even Skill or Strategy w/e arenot linear qualities that add to an overall 'fighting ability' that is merely the sum of its parts, there's a good deal of interplay between them in your own game and in relation to your opponents.

In any case I'm still hungover at work rambling, but I was trying to make it clear that there are so many factors beside size/strength and hell, even lots of factors WITHIN size and strength that determine outcome and advantage and how taht plays into each fighter's overall gameplan/style w/e plus their interplay with the other dude, it's just waaaay too much to fixate on size/strength.

11/13/2005 12:05pm,
Bodybuilders are usually really inflexible and not that strong. Their conditioning is usually awful too. In standup you generally just have to dodge big haymakers and use simple combo's. Grappling them can be tough if you are not used to grappling bigger guys, try and go for the back, make sure they dont get into a dominant position. Anyone who has sparred with bigger guys will develop ways of handling them and will eventually learn how to beat them, so if the black belt has done any realistic training he should kick the bodybuilder's ass IMO.

11/13/2005 1:14pm,
Sounds to me like the skinny chi sau guys aren't used to "going at it" with individuals like yourself - therefore, they fail.

11/13/2005 1:45pm,
Bodybuilders are turning into the straw-men of this thread. Forget about big blown-up bodybuilders with muscles full of liquid and no skill. Instead, think about heavyweight boxers, powerlifters and Bob Sapp.

No, I don't think size and strength are everything. They can certainly be overcome with sufficient advantage in other areas, as I said above.

11/13/2005 2:40pm,
How big are we talking about? http://www.bodybuildingpro.com/synthol/

11/13/2005 3:30pm,
Any MA that has the belief, at its core that you cannot fight a bigger guy is on to a looser straight away.

What’s the point in training to fight people of equal size or smaller? Unless you’re into a sport MA.

Having said this, any MA that tells you that training in it totally removes the advantage that a larger opponent has is just plain wrong.

11/13/2005 3:37pm,
Anyone who has sparred with bigger guys will develop ways of handling them and will eventually learn how to beat them.

So, what’s the bigger guy learning? Why is this bigger guy with no 'wind' not getting fitter and better as he trains? Does the extra muscle some how hinder learning and improvement of cardiovascular fitness?

so if the black belt has done any realistic training he should kick the bodybuilder's ass IMO.

Because body builders don't have 'realistic' training!!