Monday, January 24, 2011

Rolling with the Big Guys

This weekend I taught my 8-year-old son a few Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu moves. I showed him guard passing techniques. My 8-year old weighs 42 pounds. As I worked with him, I was afraid that a wrong move would snap his toothpick arms. I had to adjust my resistance (to Completely Yielding) in order for him to have any success. He gleefully wanted me to sweep him. I had to brace myself with my arms to avoid cracking his ribcage. All this maneuvering on my part made me wonder: How close is this to what the guys I train with feel?

To get the full perspective, some calculations were in order. Forty-two pounds is about 40% of my body weight. Mathematically, I would have to spar with a 265 pound person for him to have the same feeling. Some of the guys at my gym are definitely over 200, but I don’t think anyone weighs in at 265.
So, what exactly is the Big Guy* perspective? How do they feel sparring with someone much smaller? Are they worried about breaking something?
If you are a Big Guy, have ever been a Big Guy, or have spoken to a Big Guy, I would love to hear your thoughts!

* Usage of guy here is non-gender specific, not limited only to males, nor meaning those grotesquely dressed, as my dictionary identifies to be British slang. The dictionary also says that to give the guy to is British slang for escaping someone. So of course, my next question is for all you UK readers: Have you ever given the guy to a BJJ opponent, or do you just escape?


  1. A big girl here (6', 215)...Man...I'm still Link dealing with this. I get paired with other women a lot. I once had one of the teens tell me I scared her, which kind of took me aback since I try SO hard not to hurt the smaller women and guys.

    It had gotten to the point where, during a private, I had a talk with one of the brown belts about it. He'd always pointed out that it was polite of me not to squash people, but had also noticed that it was causing me some issues in a couple of techniques (fear in using weight/power). He told me that any one coming on the mats is knowingly taking on a degree of risk.

    That said, if someone is smaller AND of a lower skill level, I do start to worry some, so I generally let them start on top. Now, there are people that are smaller and who are really fast, great at taking the back, amazing at capitalizing on little holes (ok...I'm still a newbie...big holes) that I leave open or masters of open guard and chokes, so it's definitely an even exchange. In either case though, I don't dislike working with smaller people at all.

  2. It's good to hear that you get something out of your rolls with smaller folk. As one of them, I appreciate when I am not crushed. I can see how it could compromise technique at some point, like figuring out where and how to distribute your weight on a like-sized individual.

    In my class, most of the people are larger. It's more difficult to mate up the small people. This makes me wonder why you are more often paired with smaller women rather than person more your size. Is it a gender thing?


You Can't Fight City Hall

In the mid-90s, while alt-rock raged across the airwaves, twenty-something Shark Girl used to visit two elderly Italian sisters who lived ...