As I mentioned in my first blog post I tend to be the larger guy at 10th Planet Van Nuys. In pt 2 of our series on being the big guy in your gym I offer 5 simple tips that I truly believe helped me become a better BJJ player. Each of these 5 tips have helped me improve an aspect of my game that has now become a strength! The best part is that all 5 of these tips can be applied tonight. Without further ado…..
1. Start of your back if your opponent is smaller.
It’s easy to just steam roll a small guy and get top position. What do you prove though? What do you do when someone steam rolls you? I suggest starting off your back and trying to then obtain the top position. I credit this philosophy as the reason why I have a good movement on the ground. I forced myself into a “bad” position and in turn had to learn the proper way to work from my bad position.
2. Work on filling spaces with techniques not your size.
Again my stomach is for food…Not for stopping my opponent! Instead of using your size to pin you opponent start working on blocking the hips with your hands. Work on using your frames from the bottom postion to keep an opponent at bay. At all costs avoid using your size to your advantage. Of course if your opponent is larger than you then please use your size but don’t rely on it! Better technique always beats size.
3. Roll with everyone regardless of size!
Big, small, or medium….Every opponent has something different to offer you. Rolling with smaller guys means that you get a guy who is faster than you. Faster opponents = quicker reaction time. Rolling with someone bigger than you lets you know what it’s like to have to deal with a size difference. Size difference = having to use technique and proper positioning! Rolling with medium size guys lets you train both! Roll with everyone!
4. Use technique not strength.
One of the best Jiu Jitsu related compliments I received recently was that I don’t roll like a big guy. When I asked my training partner what he meant by this he said it was because I didn’t use my strength. One thing that I still focus on is not using strength when I roll. Having rolled with several higher belts over the past few years I learned early on that Black Belts don’t need strength to tap me…They need technique. If a Black Belt only needs technique then that’s all I need. Now I know what someone is thinking…But I want to win!!! Well yeah at first you will lose a few rolls but ultimately having technique will get you a lot farther than relying on your strength.
5. Pretend to be small.
For me rolling sometimes is just about my mental state of mind. If I start a roll knowing that I want to hit a certain I move I find myself trying that move out every chance I get. Early on I made a mental decision to try and emulate the smaller guys in my Jiu Jitsu class. By doing this I forced myself to try things that normally are “off limits” to larger BJJ players. This helped my game because I started to no longer think of moves as being “off limits” just because of size. Instead I just started trying stuff. Some of it worked and some of it didn’t. The important thing is that by pretending to be small I was able to learn more about my game than I was if I had just played big man Jiu Jitsu.
In part 3 of this series I am going to cover what I consider the top 5 moves that every good big man Jiu Jitsu player needs to know. Until then I’ll see you on the mats at 10th Planet Van Nuys!