5 Burdens of the New Big Guy in BJJ

Just remember that nobody rooted for Goliath when David laid him out with a slingshot. Everybody talks about the plight of the smallest guy or gal on the BJJ mats and all of the inequalities they face on the mats on a daily basis. We often here the hardships of the rooster weights who constantly say “I have to roll with guys that weight 40 to 50 lbs more than me.” The squeakiest wheel tends to get the oil and everybody supports and cheers on the little guy that could.

On the flip-side of the equation is the over 200 plus pound beginner. Yeah, he is a big guy, but he is far from a Hercules like Greek God. In most cases, the new big guy is overweight and joined BJJ to get in shape, meet some new friends, and learn his favorite part of watching UFC. Usually, this guy is a gentle giant who is looking to get into better shape and learn something new and exciting. Unfortunately, there are a few barriers and burdens that the new heavyweight faces that usually go unnoticed. Here are 5 burdens you face when you are the new big man on the mat.

You Are Everybody’s Proof That BJJ Works: While everybody appreciates and respects the white belt rooster weight as if he or she was the second coming of Rudy, the big guy is viewed as a punching bag. In most cases every guy under 150 lbs will go 100% against you to make up for the size difference just to prove that a smaller guy can beat a larger opponent with technique and skill. After tapping out the new big guy, the smaller upper belts will internally gloat about successfully using their BJJ against a larger adversary, but look past the fact it was against an out-of-shape and overweight guy that is used to spending his evenings drinking Mountain Dew while playing League of Legends.

You Stand Out As as The Out of Shape Guy: When you are small and out of shape, you can hide the fact you are out of shape by hiding in the back of the room while regaining your cardio composure. When you are the new big guy, people know you are gasping for air. In between rounds, people will assume you are either having an asthma attack or on a brink of a heart attack as sweat is pouring down your face and the entire room can hear your wounded animal like heaving patterns as the coach attempts to demonstrate a new technique. People will ask you if you are alright and will have to reassure people you are just gassed. Your gassing while training will look like blood in the water for the rooster weights who call you out for the next round so they can go all out in their own Gracie Challenge against you.

You Are Criticized For Using Your Size/Only Advantage: When you are a new big man, your play book is limited and your only asset is your size. You are damned if you do and damned if you don’t if you use your size against a smaller opponent. If you use your size, you are the big spazzy guy that just lays on people, if you don’t use your size you get outpaced and destroyed by your training partner. Its a no-win situation for the big guy, while everybody will celebrate the triumph of the little guy that beats the larger opponent with technique, heart, and determination. Welcome to the world of Gabi Garcia.

You have to treat smaller training partners like delicate Flowers: While your smaller training partner can go 100% on you with no remorse, the new big guy has to show restraint and go light without using his weight. If you do manage to get a choke or an arm bar that requires a little bit of strength and cranking, all of sudden you are viewed as the non-technical jerk that muscles everything on the small guy.

You are expected to play a Small Man’s Game: Have you ever seen a big guy drill a transition from inverted guard into a kiss of the dragon? It is as painful and awkward as hippo doing ballet. A small guy can do both small and big guys moves, while a big man in most cases can only do big man moves. There is a reason why big guys look sad when the coach announces the class will be drilling berimbolos from 50/50 guard for the next 45 minutes. It is an exercise in frustration and thought of never having the skill or guts to actually trying this technique during live rolling.



  1. As the big guy for the gym I can relate to most of these. When I started I weighed over 400 pounds and was mostly afraid of hurting my partner. Now 2 years and 140lbs later, I’m still the big guy but I enjoy using what God gave me to my advantage.

    I would also add that as the big guy (new or otherwise), available people tend to get really scarce when the instructor says to partner up. When I do find the other one that’s needs a partner I usually get the “oh crap” look.

  2. I disagree whole heartedly.

    The places I train the bigger guy has the advantage over the smaller guy of basically only having to use 40% of his total weight to lay on you.

    In my opinion that’s not Jiu Jitsu, It’s fat Jitsu.

    And there’s a reason somebody once said the best way to learn Jiu Jitsu is from a smaller instructor. Because he’s more likely to be doing it right.

    This is why the best high level JJ guys are almost always smaller.

    Same is probably true of Judo.

    So screw this “fat guy is burdened” crap. No, the fat guy has an advantage till the very end.

    • You can disagree all day long but you’ll still be wrong. I can use 40% of my weight or all of it. It’s up to me, I manage my energy however I see fit and if only takes me 40% to tap you then it’s better for me. I have to deal with your speed and flexibility and you have to deal with my weight and strenght. Din’t complain, adapt.

  3. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people complain that a big guy uses his weight as an advantage. We don’t ask fast guys to slow down, we don’t ask flexible people to stay stiff. Everyone has a natural advantage, use it! I’m lucky that I have great coaches, that encouraged me to use my natural attributes.

  4. I was the fat guy when I started a few months back, at %’ 10″ and 229lbs. Now I’m right there in the middle at 177lbs. Jiu Jitsu has changed my life. My advice to anyone who is thinking about it? Do it!

  5. Yes Dorian. That’s where I’m at. 5’9 230 lbs. 5 years ago I did 6 month of bjj. Hurt my back so temp layoff turned into 5 years. Lol. Now I’m back. Best thing I ever did for myself. Now you want to hear about irony, or hipocracy. I’m 230 and I’m complaining to my wife about having to rule with the 280lbs guy. Lol. I need to retain perspective. Hahaha. Anyway. I’m so glad to be back.


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