View Full Version : BJJ & size

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11/26/2008 1:35pm,
First post here, glad to find this place and hope to meet some wisemen here.

I come from a wrestling background which combined with my grunt training lead me to a half-assed ground-n-pound style. My exposure to that 'caused me to start really digging BJJ and I just found a gym with a good crew and group.

I was hoping someone had some advice on a couple of problems I'm having. First, I'm 38 and not very flexible. I'm in good shape at 190lbs & 5'8"--but not phenom by any means.

Here's my problem. If you divide my class in half I'm the largest small guy. I usually give up 20lbs and as much as 90lbs in two cases. Now everybody knows one of the selling points back in the day of GJJ was that a little guy could beat a big guy (e.g. UFC 1-5). What I've learned since coming to this class is that only holds true if the big doesn't know JJ.

Leg triangles? Fuggetboutit they're two broad. Just manuevering with them passive kills me. Pulling an arm out unless my leverage is absolutely 100% perfect?--not going to happen. Shucking out of a 270lbs guys mount? Not finding it easy. And the more I practice the better I get--but they keep getting better too.

With guys who are my size or smaller who are better than me I still get passed or subbed--but I can feel myself getting better on a class-by-class basis. But not against the hulks. I have 0 high % movements against them. At the beginning of the class while my energy is high I can revert to my wrestling scrambles to work em but trying to do slow-smooth JJ is out.

I know way back in the day BJJ grew out of Judo 'cause Pappa Gracie was small & weak and the bullies brutalized him. But what does one do when the "bullies" now know the "little guy tricks"?

Any thoughts: Is there a "style" or "aspect" of BJJ more suited to old, middle-sized, not-flexible guys with only moderate cardio, lol?

11/26/2008 1:36pm,
Welcome aboard, nathan70! The Bullshido staff would welcome you personally, but the thing is they’re busy keeping the peace, so they’ve apointed me, a bot, to pat you on the back and assure you that in no way will you be harmed during your stay here at BS.net. Your views on the martial arts, your philosphy, maybe even your entire reason for being will be challenged, shattered, reorganized, melted down, and forged into something new and shiny, but we swear it will only hurt a little bit… at first.

11/26/2008 1:36pm,
Al Stankie would have kicked all their asses. Also, beautiful pics. I heard Malignaggi got his ass handed to him, but those photos kind of put it into perspective.

Edit: Can this get moved back into the Hatton thread? It was on topic.

11/26/2008 1:37pm,
The only advice there is to give is to keep going to class and get better, sorry to say.

Goju - Joe
11/26/2008 1:44pm,
Two thoughts

At 6 1" and over 200 pounds I qualify as a large guy,

However for a wile we had a 6 3" almost 400 pounder come to class.

I started to shake and cry when I heard the phrase "find the person closest to your size to start rolling with"

So yes at some point size does make a difference

However I also found that there are skill sets and tricks to be used that can somewhat over come that.

Not the least is learning how to out lastthe big guy, which usually means learning how to escape form getting crushed, play defensive and stay off from being flat on your back.

11/26/2008 1:50pm,
My BJJ teacher (one of them) competes at 135lbs. He recently took gold at the International No-Gi Panams at that weight, and has since been promoted to black.

He can out grapple every guy in our class, even the ones who have more than 100lbs on him.

It's all about experience. Of course, as a new guy, it's going to seem like weight makes all the difference because you are used to wrestling in which you muscle through people. Take your time, keep at it, you will start to see the myriad of gameplay options that BJJ affords you, and ultimately tap whoever you need to.

Blue Negation
11/26/2008 2:11pm,
Any thoughts: Is there a "style" or "aspect" of BJJ more suited to old, middle-sized, not-flexible guys with only moderate cardio, lol?
You have the right idea with your mention of wrestling scrambles, just the wrong implementation. Here's the trick of small guy BJJ:

NEVER let a big guy SETTLE. If he's on top of you, deciding what to do next, it means he's shortly going to use his technique backed by his superior weight and strength to break through your defenses. Instead, don't ever let him get a chance to stop and think. I don't mean spaz out, I mean calmly but immediately begin working an escape or attack of your own immediately after your previous escape or attack ends. Don't waste energy, but do not let him settle in and regroup.

If he passes your guard, don't just catch a leg for half but catch it while getting onto your side and digging your underhook deep, preparing to take his back or sweep him the other way with no hesitation.

If he passes your half, immediately cross face, bridge, and shrimp away until you can spin to all fours or recover guard - don't ever let him settle his weight on you, keep it elevated and away.

If he catches you in turtle/quarters position, just like in wrestling keep trying those sitouts and escapes and rolls without pause - don't let him suffocate you with the weight.

When you get on top, again, don't let him pause and think of how to best use his inertial advantage to roll you or bump you up to obtain guard. Shoulder pressure on the face. Pressure his neck to make him defend. Keep attacking: switch from side control with a papercutter that he blocks to knee on belly, threatening the baseball bat choke, spin to technical mount on the other side as he defends that while digging for the single wing choke, etc.

But generally just remember: if you're defending, you're losing;
and it's the same jiu-jitsu whether the partner is big or small. You just have to be better if he's big.

11/26/2008 2:15pm,
I hate being the big guy.

11/26/2008 2:26pm,
This is solid stuff. I appreciate everyone's responses and am absorbing all wisdom what is bullshido.

11/26/2008 2:28pm,
Your options:
1) Become stronger (and optionally bigger)
2) Become more agile (and optionally more flexible)
3) Become more skilled

I recommend all three. Don't kid yourself - they'll all take time and effort, but they are possible.

Edit: Also, when I first arrived at Bullshido, a kind soul by the name of slideyfoot gave me a selection of links that have been invaluable. Check 'em out:

Welcome to Bullshido!

You might find this BJJ Beginner FAQ (http://slideyfoot.blogspot.com/2006/10/bjj-beginner-faq.html) useful, as a new student in BJJ.

As I mention in that FAQ, for further reading on BJJ, I'd recommend the following threads:

Training, Stagnation and Tapping (http://www.bullshido.net/forums/showpost.php?p=974042)
Maximizing what you get out of rolling (http://www.bullshido.net/forums/showpost.php?p=1253088)
Protecting Yourself During Sparring (http://www.bullshido.net/forums/showpost.php?p=1234198)
Grappling Basic Principles (http://www.bullshido.net/forums/showthread.php?t=20609)
Advice for Noobs (http://www.bullshido.net/forums/showpost.php?p=1776425&postcount=1)
First Day Lesson (http://www.bullshido.net/forums/showpost.php?p=1232603)
Fundamental 5 (http://www.bullshido.net/forums/showpost.php?p=1019474)
Obvious Epiphanies (http://www.bullshido.net/forums/showthread.php?t=62601)

And the following articles:

Starting BJJ Classes (http://www.grapplearts.com/Starting-BJJ-Classes.htm)
Nuggets of Advice (http://www.aesopian.com/127/nuggets-of-advice/)
Beginning BJJ (free e-course and e-book) (http://www.beginningbjj.com/index.html)

11/26/2008 2:28pm,
I love being the big guy. All of those excuses we get are really just reasons why we are better than little people. :D

11/26/2008 2:44pm,
Awesome--I'm diving into the read, much appreciated.
While I have you guys, as it were, I was curious about a sort of spin-off to my original post.
Are there certain "schools" of thought or emphasis in BJJ or is BJJ the emphasis as a whole itself.

What I mean (to put it crudely) is that, for example, if you find you're not the world's best single or double leg guy in wrestling you can become a clinch emphasis orientated wrestler--which leads to greco-roman style or in boxing you have boxers vs. brawlers, or in MMA you have all the sprawl-and-brawl, ground-and-pound, submission styles.

Within BJJ is their any stylistic division or school of thought emphasis on certain high % moves over others, a judo/jui-jitsu divide within BJJ or is BJJ the offshoot and the rest is just learning what your the best at within that structure.

If that made sense.
(edit: for example while more flexibility will of course help my leg triangles I've already realized that with my short legs body triangles and even head-and-arm tri-chokes will notbe my strong % moves)

11/26/2008 3:51pm,
As you get better and train more you will notice some techniques become what we call your "bread and butter" I am constantly working on my triangle and have the damndest time setting it up when rolling hard. However, because my trainlge is not where I want it to be I noticed that I have a pretty good arm bar.

11/26/2008 4:10pm,
As a bigger (6'1" 240lbs) and older (54) guy I have found that I am not real good at throwing legs, although after a year it is getting better. But I have some wicked Kimuras and arm triangles that work well for me. And sometimes when rolling with the munchkins just squeezing real hard works to.

11/26/2008 4:13pm,
Within BJJ is their any stylistic division or school of thought emphasis on certain high % moves over others, a judo/jui-jitsu divide within BJJ or is BJJ the offshoot and the rest is just learning what your the best at within that structure.

As a Judo guy learning BJJ, I have decent control skills, but my submissions need work. And my escapes from controls need work too. This is mainly due to the rules of Judo. If you can get half guard when you're being mounted, that counts as an escape in Judo, and the ref will stand you up usually a few seconds later. That doesn't work in BJJ.

Overall I have had to get rid of my Judo passivity on the ground. I still use offbalancing and judo-like principles though to pass guard or get somebody on their back from a kneeling position. And on the rare ocassion we start standing in BJJ I usually have the upper hand. But overall I find that my school has more former wrestlers than Judoka.

11/26/2008 4:14pm,
You can read my qoute from KFC to see what I like to do. I also like to be on top and then pass into half guard and then grind my inside knee to cup check.