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Ideas On Strength And Technique In Jiu Jitsu
A brief discussion on Strength and Technique in Jiu Jitsu...
Recently an old training partner came back to the gym. He had been out for four years. He was yoked or jacked or whatever the kids are saying. Basically he looked like Gordon Ryan and Rich Froning Jr. had a baby. He said part of the reason why he left was he was tired of being the smaller guy. He then spent the next ten minutes bad mouthing a brown belt he had smashed in a roll. This guy was 270 pounds of muscle. He was a legit purple belt when he left. The brown belt was maybe 150.
I wanted to briefly talk about the role of strength in Jiu Jitsu. In no way am I saying that Jiu Jitsu is the domain of guys who can’t do a pull up. There are all kinds of body types and athletic dispositions in Jiu Jitsu. Jiu Jitsu is the sport for nerds. It is also the sport for fighters, first responders, cross fitters and a myriad of others. Furthermore, there are a myriad of reason why strength training may be key in your life. Perhaps you are in law enforcement or a fire fighter where that is a key component of the job. Beyond that , it may be a strategy of your Jiu Jitsu. Gordon Ryan now looks like an action figure. I am not remotely qualified to provide commentary on anything that the Danaher Death Squad does.
What I will say is this. Strength should never be used as a bench mark to evaluate your technique. Certainly, there are many valid settings to use strength in addition to technique. Strength can serve as a force multiplier to key Jiu Jitsu components like leverage and structure. But if a 200 pound man taps out a 100 pound woman, it does not mean his technique was better that hers. It is why people talk about the pound for pound great in MMA. It is absurd to think that the majority of the heavy weight division has better technique than Demetrious Johnson. While strength can be a measure of combat readiness it is not a measure of depth of technique.
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So what about a smaller guy rolling with a bigger guy? Do I recommend it. In my opinion, for what it is worth, the answer is yes. You need to able to adapt your strategies based on size and body type. If you can’t close your legs around someone in close guard it may give you a different set of options. As size increases, some submissions will become a joke. Would you try to arm bar Shaq? The answer should be pretty clear.
To the bigger guys, be mindful of your size. If you think you are the next big thing in MMA or Jiu Jitsu because you can bench press the smaller guys consider this; is your favorite and only submission the americana from mount? If so, there might be a need for you to grow.
Ultimately, strength is always a factor in combat sports. Yet, as we seek to evaluate our technique, let’s not allow our relative strength to bias our conclusions.