Any time you’re competing against another person, there’s a part of you that’s trying to “get inside” your opponent’s head. We’re always trying to have an idea of what our opponent is thinking and what moves he is going to try and pull on you. And if you’re opponent is a lot bigger or stronger than you are, you sure as heck better be trying to get in his head… if you want to avoid tapping out.
Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to gauge what the big guys are planning. Wouldn’t it be nice if those bigger practitioners would just come out and tell us what their weaknesses are, how to exploit them and just tell us what we need to do to beat them?
Well, it just so happens that we’ve sourced some useful advice from a big BJJ practitioner (Evan from Richmond Self Defense), and he’s spilling the beans so we know what to do the next time we’re going up against a behemoth on the mat.
How To Beat A Larger Opponent In BJJ
Prior to training in BJJ, the concept of being held in one place and having to submit to someone’s imposition was foreign to me. Now, I like BJJ BECAUSE smaller opponents can control and tap me. They can take away my attributes and level the playing field. This is fun and exciting! As such, I like to help my training partners learn to shut me down. This forces me to play Smaller-style BJJ which makes me better in the long run (selfish!). By nature, this takes practice on the smaller player’s part. So, grab your local Behemoth and try the following:
5. Conservation of Energy – You are working out of a deficit. There is a really good chance that since I am bigger, I’m also stronger than you. By nature big guys can make you work harder. This is because they have more mass and are used to pushing it around all day, it’s science fact! A great way to combat this deficit is using slow methodical movements to cover ground inch by inch. Sometimes though, you can beat a bigger guy by being faster. Hang on a sec Lightning Larry, attribute based games are what you want to avoid, right? Speaking from my own experience I want you to spaz out, flail about, and wear yourself out. You will be exhausted and give me submissions just to get me off of you. Save your energy for the pure technical movements that will turn the tide for you.
4. Never shy away from rolling with larger opponents (Disclaimer: DO shy away from larger UNSAFE opponents) – Provided your larger training partner is a relatively safe individual; you should never shy away from rolling with him/her. “I’m tired and you’re just going to smash me.” That’s probably true at first. You really should take the opportunity even if it is harder. The the more you roll with larger opponents, the more comfortable you will be doing so. A blue belt I train with never misses an opportunity to roll with me because and I quote “If it works on you, Big man, I know it works”. I believe this is a fundamental concept in BJJ. This is what it’s all about. A smaller person controlling a larger one to great effect.
3. Be two positions ahead – One purple belt I have trained with consistently was absolutely always two positions ahead of me. Not only would he be defensive, but while defending my attempts to smash/crush/hulk my way to a position, he was secretly mounting an offense. His defense was to mount an offense two movements ahead. Over time, I began to see that this was happening and have tried to adopt the same mentality when I am in the size deficit (It happens occasionally). The trick here is transitioning to where you want to be, not where you are now.
2. Be assertive with your defense – Assert your position by bracing your frames/grips with technique and confidence. You will be surprised how little it takes to keep a larger opponent at bay or under control. There have been so many times in my BJJ career that I’ve gotten past a more technical opponent because they mentally beat themselves at the start of our roll. If you start with a defeated attitude, the outcome will follow. Granted, pure belief in yourself is not going to make you the top BJJ contender in the world. It does go a long way to mentally keeping you in the roll. A self-defeating attitude never succeeds.
1. Control is really spelled H-I-P-S – I can tell you right now, there are guys and gals half my size that can effortlessly control me by shutting down my hips. While the bigger opponent has larger scale hips, they work the same. Shut them down with proper leverage and grips. Under no circumstances let the larger opponent get his (or her) hips back into play. When my hips are shut down, I can only use an exhaustive, strength based series of movements. That starts the downhill slide for me. The blood is in the theoretical water.
Source: Richmond Self Defense
Okay all you little BJJ practitioners, there you have it that’s how to beat a larger opponent in BJJ. What more could you ask for then to have a big, experienced BJJ practitioner telling you five easy steps to beat larger practitioners? Unless you plan on only rolling with smaller students and practitioners and don’t see the inherent value of learning to roll with the big dogs, this is the kind of information that you can’t afford to overlook.
Strategy is always important. But when you are outweighed and out-muscled by your opponent, you need to have a definite game plan in place. With these five steps, you should be able to put together a solid strategy to take out those larger opponents. Remember, though, it won’t be easy. You’ll still have to work hard. But by keeping these tips in mind, you should begin to fare much better against bigger opponents.
If you’re like us, and love the fact that smaller opponents can hang with the bigger practitioners (as Helio Gracie designed BJJ to be for), and even beat them, then please click on the “Like” button below this post.