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Take Care of the Little Things
Are you the little person at your BJJ academy?
Many pint-sized practitioners may see their small stature as a disadvantage. I agree, it can be difficult especially in the beginning. It seems anyone can really just do whatever they’d like to you. And this is sometimes the case. At least for the time being.
BJJ is always described as the art that that was created for the smaller, weaker individual. Perhaps because of it’s use of leverage, and the simple application of it’s techniques. Though many view being smaller as weakness, it is absolutely not. There is always an advantage in what we may see as a disadvantage.
Being small forces you to dive head first into the nuances and subtleties of the technique. You have NO choice. Want to armbar that guy that’s 100lbs heavier than you? You’d better understand the mechanics of the move on a much higher level than him. The lower in weight you are, the more pure and refined your BJJ must be. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of bigger BJJ practitioners that have worked tirelessly to understand these same mechanics, and I’ll always say that those are the most dangerous people on the mat.
The first time I had the privilege of sitting down with Professor Tom DeBlass, I had a long list of questions for him. I was most interested in his thoughts on smaller BJJ players and what his advice was to them. When I asked him, he looked at me in a very matter of fact way, and said, “it’s never going to be easy, you just have to get really good.” I don’t know if I thought he was going to hand over the magic pill, give me a list of drills, or a rundown of famous small instructors to seek out, but that’s not what I got. Nope, just the most real advice he could’ve given me. From that moment on, I felt like I stopped searching for answers, and just began working smarter.
Being small doesn’t have to be a detriment if you approach it the right way. I believe training as a lesser sized BJJ student may be a longer road, but the payoff is huge. Don’t use it as an excuse; you can absolutely get your BJJ to a level where you become one of the most difficult rolls in the academy. It’s just like anything else, you have to put in the work. You must pay attention to the “little things.” In some cases it may take until you reach your purple belt to be able to manhandle your first crop of bigger students. But once your brain catches up to the critical principles of BJJ and the more minute details, you may begin to impress yourself with what you’re capable of. Emily Dickinson, famous poet and avid BJJ practitioner once said, “If you take care of the little things, the big things will take care of themselves.” Just kidding about her BJJ background, but don’t forget her advice.
For more from Tom DeBlass check out his Submission Escapes series which may be the best resource for the smaller practitioner to ensure that they never get caught in some of the most common traps in BJJ. You can get it here at BJJ Fanatics!