Beating Bigger BJJ Players – ONE Concept


Beating Bigger Guys

One of the most prolific champions in all of little-man BJJ, Robson Moura has won the Worlds 7 times over – which is pretty unbelievable in and of itself! He is often referred as one of the best Jiu Jitsu players of all time because of this incredible feat.


                              <—– Robson after his 7th victory at the World BJJ Championships


So, when I heard Robson would be teaching a seminar in Massachusetts… I knew I’d just HAVE to take a private lesson with him no matter what (Gaining little-guy Brazilian Jiu Jitsu wisdom is what I’m all about – and there aren’t many people more influential in the game than Robson).


Taking Initiative with a Bigger BJJ Opponent

 This entire article is about one concept: The concept of staying technically AHEAD of your larger Jiu Jitsu opponents. Though “staying ahead” makes sense regardless of weight class, its ESPECIALLY important when your a little guy fighting someone much larger. I’ve got the two biggest reasons right here:

1) Options are Your Advantage

When fighting someone larger than yourself, many people will tell you that “speed” and “technique” are going to be the winning factors if you hope to end up victorious. This is only partially true…
Speed and technique are tools for opening up options, options that the opponent cannot predict and cannot adequately counter. If he is a skilled opponent and he knows EXACTLY what you’re going for, then he can use superior muscle and weight to squash your predictable moves.

I call this the “arm wrestling dynamic.”Its basically when both players know exactly what each other are going to do, and fight directly against each other, IE:

One player on bottom closed guard is trying to pull the opponent’s arm across for an armbar… and the top player is directly fighting to keep his arm in.

If you’re smaller and weaker in these situations, you loose. You need options for setups and techniques that keep your opponent on his heels, you need room to move and plenty of “moves” to make in that space.

2) Its Harder to Recover Against Bigger Grapplers

If a 140 lb person pins your butterfly hooks in, or even gets to side control – its probable that you’ll return to guard (at the lighter weights, the guard is the most common position even more-so than other weight classes).

If a 220 lb person pins your butterfly hooks – you’re in trouble (they’ve limited your options). If a 220 lb person gets to side control on you – you’re in big trouble. “Back-tracking” from these positions with such a large opponent can be twice as hard, so NOT getting squashed and keeping open space / options for techniques is crucial.

At my BJJ academy in RI, I’ve tried to instill this an attitude of “no more arm wrestling” into all my lightweights so that they don’t get caught in a battle of muscle that they’re sure to loose.

How do I know this is important? Well, just watch that video above (Marcelo Garcia is probably the most famous giant killer in all of BJJ!).

Robson Moura isn’t the kind of guy to change up his game much per opponent (he told me this himself), but with big guys he makes a real point to stay ahead, technically. I’ve learned the same lesson from talking with Joe Capizzi, Daniel Beleza, and other high-level little guys who know how to beat someone larger.

To be frank, this “keeping initiative” bit of advice might be the most common thread amongst all the advice I’ve gotten from expert little guy BJJ players. Its wisdom that the best guys seem to share about beating bigger opponents. Hence, its probably worth paying attention to (hint).

Continue to beat up the big guys, talk to you soon!

-Daniel Faggella

BJJ for the Smaller Grappler

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