How Jiu Jitsu can Negate Size and Strength
A big part of what makes jiu jitsu so special is that it allows a smaller more technical practitioner to overcome a larger, stronger but less technical person. While size not mattering is a myth, because generally between two people of similar skill level the larger, stronger person will tend to be victorious, jiu jitsu has the potential to negate size advantage by compensating with skill and technicality.
Because size is still an issue, one should always make efforts to train with people bigger and smaller, and there are specific methods of doing this that will help improve one’s game, outlined here https://bjjfanatics.com/matters-size-roll-training-partners-bigger-smaller/.
A big part of what makes jiu jitsu so effective in this way is space management. Jiu Jitsu teaches us to understand and manipulate the physical space between us and another person. It is difficult to generate force over extremely short distances, like for instance when being crowded by another person, which conceptually can be used to then manage another person’s physical strength.
Also in jiu jitsu, a major goal is to cause another person to be momentarily un-athletic. This means that the jiu jitsu practitioner tries to force the other person to bear weight at an angle from which they are unable to lift that weight, thus allowing a smaller practitioner to control and even overpower a larger one. This creates the illusion of the smaller practitioner being physically stronger, which they may or may not be, but the understanding of weight distribution coupled with the understanding of body mechanics makes it so that a smaller practitioner dealing with a larger less technical individual can prevail.
Yet another aspect of jiu jitsu that makes it accessible to a physically smaller and weaker practitioner is that it focuses on attacking weak areas of the body. Chokes, for example, attack the throat, and try as one might there is no way to strengthen the neck to make it un-chokable. Similarly joint locks attack joints in such a way that puts strain on joints at angles that make the surrounding muscles useless. Strength matters when getting there, but once you are latched onto a submission, strength can be negated.
Jiu jitsu favors the ability to slide under another person’s appendages. Whether one looks at guard recovery or transitions from mount to the back, a physically smaller practitioner has some physical advantages over a larger one because of their compact nature. Every body type has its distinct advantages and disadvantages; being lighter also means that an athlete in his or her prime is likely to have better stamina and speed than a heavier athlete.
Size of course can still be made into an advantage for a bigger practitioner. If technique or at least awareness of position is on point, a physically larger person can cause a smaller practitioner some serious problems. Technique is important but can be at times overcome by size. However jiu jitsu does a lot to negate this.
A few years ago, world renowned, multiple time world champion Bruno Malfacine faced off against the well respected heavyweight competitor Guybson Sa. Malfacine used slick technique and tactics to overcome Sa in spite of a significant weight advantage, and Sa’s technique is not bad.
As can be seen in the video, using jiu jitsu’s space management coupled with a distinct understanding of his opponent’s balance and weight distribution, Bruno Malfacine was able to prevail over a much larger opponent emerging the clear victor. The difference in size between these two competitors is far larger than the difference in skill, but Malfacine was able to prevail because of the importance of technique relative to the lesser importance of size and strength.
If you are interested in learning how to prevail over larger opponents, you may want to check out the impressive techniques of Claudio Calasans. Calasans is a middleweight who holds several wins in absolute divisions over impressive opponents who are much bigger and stronger than he is. Calasans put together this 4 DVD set to outline the techniques he has used to conquer these opponents.