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Diary of a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Whitebelt: 2

Updated on March 17, 2011

Training with Giants

Last Friday’s night class went like any other normal class. Until that is, we were split into pairs to begin practicing and drilling technique. It was a relatively small class and pairs were made quickly. I had been in the bathroom as this was starting and hadn't had a chance to pick a partner.

There was only one person left to be paired up with. Unfortunately I sometimes have a horrible memory for names and my partners name escapes me. I'll just refer to him as Tiny. When I walked out of the bathroom and looked to see who was still available, Tiny was it. Now let me describe Tiny to you.

He stands roughly (I didn't ask him, nor did I have any measuring tape) 6'6 or so, weighs well over 200 lbs. So basically, he made me look like a small child standing next to him. (I am 5'9 and weigh 145 pounds)

Of course the first technique we begin to work on is a takedown. We stand behind our partner and they bear hug us from behind. The idea is to drop your level (standing straight to bent at the knees) while putting your arms palms up in front of you, it looks much like you are about to receive a sword from a king. You then step behind his legs with one of yours, while grabbing behind his knees. You then fall back onto your own leg effectively tripping him and landing in sidemount.

The big guy went down like a bag of rocks. To be fair I was worried about embarrassing myself and failing at even moving him, and so I drove into him with a fair bit of force. I repeated the technique 4-5 times and then we switched.

First of all, when I went to "bear hug" this guy (more like little bear), I could barely get my hands together around the other side. When he went to complete the technique, it was very awkward. Our instructor came over and corrected his form, which led to him lifting me completely up and driving me into the mat underneath his huge frame, but it still felt weird and not quite as smooth as when I had executed the move

I spent the majority of class training with Tiny as my partner and even sparred against him at then end. We squared off and began. He seemed very tentative, almost unsure of what he should do, but when he did grab a hold of me his strength was apparent. I mostly played defense for the first 3 minutes. He prevented me from sweeping him on multiple occasions but was unable to mount any real offense against me. I realized that I was being foolish trying to play with such a large man with a closed guard. I immediately pushed off and got a spider guard on him. This opened up a whole number of possibilities for me.

My triangle and even omoplata felt much more accessible and my control of him in general had increased quite a bit. I wasn't able to submit him in 5 minutes, but I did use the space created by the spider guard to hop onto his back. I finished the roll in that position and probably would have at least scored enough points to tie him, possibly win, had it been a competitive match.

The main lesson I learned is that you should not be afraid or feel that it is non-beneficial to train or spar with a teammate who is in a much different weight class from your own. It forces you to adapt and try new things. The same goes for you big guys. I don't think Tiny knew what happened when I hopped onto his back, because the look of surprise on his face told me that he wasn't use to that type of speed or reflexes. And the same goes for us smaller gents. You begin to really understand why the techniques are done the way they are once you have someone much stronger than you on top of you. There is no longer the option of muscleing your way out of a submission or position. You must use picture perfect technique, and very good timing (both of which were lacking when I attempted to Scissor sweep Tiny) in order to handle a much stronger man.

In conclusion, size does matter. But it goes both ways. It is just as beneficial for a large guy to roll and train with a smaller partner as it is for a smaller partner the roll with a large guy. The differences in weight are very real factors in the real world and should be practiced for. Also you can never underestimate the benefits of new challenges and breaking up monotony in training.


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    • the50marathons17 profile image

      Michael 7 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Very enjoyable.

    • MacBradaigh88 profile image

      MacBradaigh88 7 years ago from Buffalo, New York

      Thank you for the kind words and pass my congratulations on to your daughter! I hope to receive my blue belt by the end of the year if all goes well.

    • K. Burns Darling profile image

      Kristen Burns-Darling 7 years ago from Orange County, California

      I really enjoyed this. My middle child will receive her blue belt next Monday, and is a 3 time international, and 4 time national medalist ....your story reminds me of her early days as a white belt....Nice hub! I look forward to more hubs by you!