3 Strategies for Small Grapplers

For the average, athletic, young, BJJ guy, it can be difficult to relate to the reality of a much smaller grappler.

When the size differential is great, many of your smooth BJJ techniques don’t work so well anymore. The next time an over-200-pound BJJ guy is on the mat, ask for a roll and see how suddenly your game becomes much more limited!

I have some tiny Asia female students who are always going to be the smallest bodies on the mat and need to adapt jiu-jitsu to what is going to work for them. These basic strategies can be utilized in dealing with Godzilla-sized opponents.

Get a great defensive guard.

If you are going to be fighting off of your back, develop the ability to use your guard to keep the opponent’s weight and pressure off of you. Knee shield guard and half guard are great examples of how to use your legs to keep from getting smothered by a heavy opponent.

If you are lighter, you have the advantage of speed, so you can move your hips quickly to retain your guard. You also can find space to get a hook in and replace your guard much more easily than a longer legged opponent.

Your legs and ability to push your opponent away become your best tools form the bottom.

Keep moving!

Do not allow the opponent to settle their weight on top of you. You are smaller, faster, and more mobile. The bigger opponent is going to try to smash you to slow you down, so use your speed advantage and keep moving.

When the opponent is nearly past your guard, don’t just stiff arm and accept side control. Move your hips and create some space!

Got your opponent in side control and they are threatening to escape? Transition to knee on the belly. You can’t rely on your heavy pressure to control them; you need to quickly transition to another position.

Drill your arm locks and triangles from guard

These will be your most dangerous submissions, and you better be able to hit them fast!

The good news is that you likely are much faster at moving your hips on the bottom than the average grappler and you will catch opponents by surprise.

Take the back

This is the “giant killer”. How many times in MMA have we seen those David and Goliath matches where the smaller fighter gets the back of the big guy and finishes with a rear naked choke?

When you can slip to the bigger opponent’s back, suddenly their weight advantage is negated and their neck is vulnerable.

Any time I need to deal with a heavy opponent in rolling, I am looking for an arm drag to the back immediately. I don’t want to “lock horns” with a big guy and get steamrollered!

You lighter grapplers what are YOUR secrets?

Read also on Jiu-jitsu Times: Why Does Jiu-jitsu Work Against A Bigger Opponent?


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