Big Guy Jiu Jitsu

I feel like I published this someplace before, but I can’t find it:

Man, if there’s one thing I’m sick of it’s people complaining about us “big guys” using too much strength or weight when grappling. I’ve heard and I understand the argument – Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is about technique and skill, it’s the gentle art, blah, blah, blah.  I’ve got a bit of news for you – that’s bullshit, or at least it’s either poorly translated or widely misinterpreted.  BJJ teaches us to use mechanical advantage to win “fights.” If you’re falling back for an armbar with you’re arms wrapped around someone’s elbow you’re going to have a much more difficult time finishing than you would if your grip was closer to their wrists.  That’s a simple concept. Leverage.

If I use the techniques of BJJ properly they will be executed with more force than if someone 100 pounds lighter than me did the same thing.  Mechanical advantage works the same way for me as it does for some one who weighs 140 pounds.

A few points to consider:

1. I have no way to not use strength. I can’t measure how much force I’m using and set a limit.

2. If I did, I’d be using terrible Jiu Jitsu. “Playing light” = doing it wrong. If I go knee on belly and it’s not terrible for you, I’m doing it wrong, and teaching myself to do it wrong.

3. People should use the tools they have.  They say, “the poor carpenter blames his tools,” right? Well how about, “The dumb carpenter doesn’t use his tools.”

4. When a little guy creates a lot of force they are said to have great Jiu Jitsu (“he makes terrific force!”). If a big guy makes the same amount of pressure they’re just said to be big and lacking skill.

5. People who complain about weight / strength are often very flexible. Let’s make a deal – I won’t apply any more force than you can if you don’t bend anything further than I can.

6. It would be absurd for me to not use strength or weight when it is available. If I have to pick something up that is of a weight I can lift, I don’t develop a complex system of pulleys and levers – I just pick it up.

3 thoughts on “Big Guy Jiu Jitsu”

  1. Great point, I am a 300 pound former wrestler..folk, free and some greco, and I am also a law enforcement defensive tactics instructor. I am pushing forty and have gotten back in competitive sub tournaments. I am running into the same thing. I am dominant at every position except on my back but I am learning. Hell, for years I didnt even sleep on my back, let alone stay there and fight. I have a hard time spinning and also placing my leg horizontally over the back of some ones neck when someone is in my guard. So, my obvious answer is in training, work more on that and in matches and on the street fight like hell not to go there. But I am taking shots for just being a big wrestler and not using proper jujitsu even though I sub people from the top all the time, even in some real street fights during arrests with jujitsu techniques, I still get caught in the occasional arm lock or triangle but I am getting pretty good at passing as well. But to some, jujitsu is only about full guard subs.

  2. I get the same thing. He’s strong, but not technical. I’m only two weeks into BJJ class and I got haters hating on my force already.

  3. I think you’re missing the point here. The reason it’s frowned upon to ONLY use strength in BJJ is not because it’s “unfair” to the person you’re rolling with.

    It’s because you can’t always rely on the fact that you’re big and strong. What happens when you run across someone who is bigger and stronger than you? “There’s always a bigger fish”. So if you go around getting submissions by only using strength because you’re much stronger than the people you roll with, what happens when you roll against someone in a competition who outstrengths you? All your training was for naught because you don’t get the application of the technique without the other person being much weaker than you.

    Case in point, there are a lot of big guys at my BJJ academy. When I get tapped out by the big blue belts and purple belts, it’s almost always because they simply outclassed me by having better technique than I do.

    But there are a couple of guys who use strength, and one is a blue belt. He does shit like get me in an americana when he’s in my gaurd and just uses all his strength to force me into it.

    Then he rolls with someone who is more around his strength and he tries the same thing and doesn’t get it. So was he really better than me? No. He was just stronger.

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