What do you do if the guy is too strong?

I had a moment of enlightenment on the mat a few weeks ago in class.  I was in BJJ basics class and we were drilling side control to mount transitions.  The pair next to me and my partner were both bigger guys.  One of them is known in our school to have ridiculous strength.  They started playing the “what-if-I-do-this” game to see how they would stop the transition.  The strong guy (being a strong guy) would just bench press his partner off when he would settle into mount.  At the end of class when the instructor asked us if anyone had any questions about what we’d been drilling, strong guy’s partner raised his hand and said “I felt like I was doing the move right but strong guy was just pushing me off.  What do you do if the guy is too strong?”.

The instructor, who is not a very big guy, thought about it for a few seconds and then explained that sometimes you have to figure out what will work versus partners of different size and strength.  He explained that you can’t give a stronger guy any space and you want to always have pressure and various other tips that those of us who are smaller/weaker have most likely heard dozens of times.  He then looked at strong guy and said something along the lines of “but some people are just freaks”.  Everyone laughed and several other students then chimed in with stories about their frustrations in rolling with strong guy.

As this was all happening I was sitting on the mat with my jaw open and eyes bugged out.  I wanted to run up and grab them by the lapels and scream in their faces “THIS IS WHAT MY ENTIRE LIFE IS LIKE!”.  I was incredulous.  Were they really complaining about the one guy on the mat that could overpower them and render their technique useless?  Did they not know that this is how I feel virtually every time I roll with them?  Then as I gazed around the mat at about 15 guys I had a moment of realization that no, they did not know.  Sure there might be a handful of training partners that they found to be frustrating because they were too big, too strong or both but they could most likely find a partner who was not bigger or stronger.  They didn’t know what it was like to be the smallest or weakest in the class and feel this frustration almost all the time!  It then occurred to me that women who train BJJ are tougher than I realized.  To feel that level of frustration about 90% of the time you do something and to keep coming back for more, that takes a lot of guts and determination (in my case with a healthy dose of stubbornness mixed in).  Be proud ladies, you’re all badasses.

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2 responses to “What do you do if the guy is too strong?”

  1. slideyfoot says :

    Yeah, that’s why I like Chelsea’s post on the topic (I linked that already, didn’t I?) There are far too many people in BJJ, including a lot of instructors, who buy into the myth that “strength doesn’t matter.” Strength matters. A lot. Even with the best technique in the world, that still may not be enough to overcome a huge strength disparity. If they also have some training themselves, it gets even harder.

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