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How To Not Get Smashed By Big Strong Dudes in BJJ
How To Roll With Stronger People in BJJ
When you roll with an opponent who is bigger and stronger than you are, you are face to face with the true realities of your techniques. Do your techniques ACTUALLY work? Or are you required to make adjustments so that they work against a "powerhouse" who is able to resist? It is much easier to force a technique against someone who is 20 or 30 pounds lighter than you are than it is to force that same technique against someone who is heavier.
In a street fight, or any type of real world scenario, you do not get to pick the size of your opponent. In an absolute division, again, you do not get to pick the size of your opponent. The more experience you have rolling with people outside of what you are used to dealing with the better you will be when it comes time to be tested.
It is important to be able to adjust how you roll. You should not duck people who are bigger or stronger than you, unless of course they pose an increased risk of injuring you. The logic is very simple: if you find rolling with stronger people difficult, then you should roll with stronger people.
Simple yet devastating techniques that allow the smaller man to dominate the bigger guys
The Right Mindset
With that said, rolling with a stronger person in BJJ can be frustrating, especially if you are a beginner. It is important to remember that you are not only training technique, but mindset as well. First things first: Don’t get frustrated. Being frustrated is the worst possible thing to be. It leads to anger and irritation, and a complete abandonment of the problem solving mindset.
As Nick Albin (aka @Chewjitsu) puts it, "jiu jitsu in a nut shell is just problem solving." As a practitioner, you are subject to an immediate feedback loop when rolling: Try a technique, observe results. Did it work? Try it again. Did it not work? Why did it not work? And what adjustments need to be made in order for it to work? Make those adjustments and try again. Continue to whittle down adjustments until you make it work.
In BJJ, this is what we call the "beginner’s mentality." It is an approach to jiu jitsu that makes you a student of the art for as long as you practice it. Even elite martial artists and MMA fighters at the pinnacle of their careers have this approach. But in order to do so, you must remain calm, cool, and collected. In these situations if you don’t learn to stay relaxed you will become angry, irritated, and lose the ability to problem solve. Remember, you are there to do something difficult, and to test yourself. So don’t get frustrated!
How To Play Against Stronger Opponents
There are a lot of different ways to approach a stronger opponent. Here are some tips from Nick Albin that you can try:
- Play a slower, more methodical and relaxed style of jiu jitsu. You won’t be able to assert yourself, and you can’t be the aggressor.
- Deep half guard: Get under the hips, stop your opponent from being able to sit on you.
- Wait, be cautious, and weather the storm. Maintain your grips, look for a mistake, sweep your opponent and wear him down.
- Be smart and take your time with the situation. This is a skill to learn in itself.
It can be a real eye opener when rolling against a stronger opponent, but it is an essential part of learning jiu jitsu. You might have an unrealistic idea how good you are unless you are put to the test with someone bigger, taller, heavier, or stronger. Certain techniques become useless, and your will power is tested. So stay relaxed, and don’t let yourself become frustrated!
You might be interested in a video series we have called the “lightweight guard” that should serve as a great reference for a smaller guy who is struggling to deal with bigger guys. This is possibly one of the best video series out there made for smaller people, or people who just want to know how to play a lightweight game.
Check out some cool tips and tricks to beat up bigger guys with Matheus Gonzaga’s DVD "The lightweight guard." This DVD focuses on how to keep heavy guys off you, which is essential for lighter guys who are tired of getting smashed.