As I mentioned in my first blog post I tend to be the larger guy at 10th Planet Van Nuys. In pt 3 of our series on being the big guy in your gym I offer 7 concepts that I truly believe helped me become a better BJJ player. Each of these concepts have helped me improve an aspect of my game that has now become a strength! The best part is that all 7 of these concepts can be applied tonight. Without further ado…..
1. Shrimp Escapes
I can’t even begin to count how many times a shrimp escape has saved me. Having good hip movement in Jiu Jitsu is a key regardless of your size. Any one who has done Jiu Jitsu for a while knows that hip movement is crucial. How do you hit an arm bar from guard? Hip movement. How can I break my opponent’s frames? Hip movement. How do I escape from a bad position and get to a better one? Hip movement. I feel though that for bigger guys it’s something that needs to be drilled early on. Dril Drill Drill the shrimp escape. Once you master this movement you will see an immediate change in your game. Your escapes will get better. Your open guard will get better. Your ability to defeat frames will get better. In other words you will get better!
2. How To Properly Block the Hip
I’ll admit this one took me a while to really grasp. For the longest time I was always getting put back into my opponent’s guard and struggling with controlling side control. Then one day Coach Alder talked about pinning and trapping and my whole approach to Jiu Jitsu changed. That same night I started applying some of the trapping and pinning principals and saw an immediate change in my game. I was no longer worried about being put back into guard. I knew the defense! I was no longer struggling to pin my opponent to the mat. Instead I was able to use my arms and legs to try various forms of hip control which allowed me more time to set up submissions. In other words I wish I had learned this fundamental concept on day one of Jiu Jitsu!
3. Technical Stand Up
I don’t like seasoned wrestlers. I really don’t. It’s nothing personal it’s just that a guy who has wrestled for years can take me down with ease. My solution? Combine my shrimp escapes and technical stand up. Having a good technical stand up has saved me from several situations in which again I would have been pinned to the mat. By combining my shrimp escape to create space and my technical stand up to get to my feet I am able to get myself into a better position than being flat on my back.
4. Guard Recovery
In part 2 I mentioned how I roll a lot with smaller and faster guys. Many of them are faster than me and can use speed to pass my guard. This used to be the time that I freaked out. Oh no! They passed my guard now what? I’m going to get trapped in side control!!!!! My solution…Get good at guard recovery. *Cheap Plug Time* We do several drills at 10th Planet Van Nuys that have helped my guard recovery game and can help yours!*End Cheap Plug* Having a good guard recovery game eliminates the fear of people passing your guard.
5. Avoid Being Flattened out
For the longest time I would always get my guard smashed and end up trapped in side control. One day I really had to ask myself “Why was this happening?” It dawned on my I was staying flat. It’s very easy to trap and pin someone when they are flat on the ground. The secret easy fix? Never be flat on your back. Being flat on your back limits your movement. Now when I roll I am always on my hips. Doing this has helped my movement and made me that much more dangerous from my back. Being on my side was also the key to unlocking my next tip.
6. Half Guard
Let’s just admit it. Full guard is a hard thing to master. There are so many aspects of full guard that it can take years to properly master it. Half guard on the other hand is a little bit easier. I naturally gravitated to half guard. Why? Well it’s easier to obtain, gives me more mobility on the ground, and allows me to effectively shut down one side of my opponent’s game. For bigger guys in Jiu Jitsu I suggest learning half guard quickly. Learning a few half guard entrances and sweeps will make it so you are never afraid to go on your back again. In fact you will find yourself almost wishing that your opponent would go into your half guard.
7. A Good Base
This past summer I had the opportunity to train with one of my friends who out weighs me by at least 60 pounds. This guy is a mountain of a man and makes me look small in comparison. He benches an insane amount of weight and by everyday logic should smash me with ease! Within 10 seconds of when we started rolling I mounted him. I was simply able to push him over onto his back, pass his guard, and then hit a tip toe mount. Why? He has no base. Having a good base is crucial for a big guy. When you start rolling you need to stay low. The higher up you are the easier it is to push you over. You also need to be cognizant of your knees. Knees super close together = me on my back. Knees about shoulder width apart = me not getting knocked over. Knees about shoulder with apart and my butt nice and low = Good luck knocking me over.
In part 4 of this series I am going to share some of my favorite submissions 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!