The Jiu Jitsu Times Weekly Challenge: Go up a weight class (or two, or three!)

This week’s Jiu Jitsu Times Weekly Challenge is brought to you by an experience I had at an awesome open mat I attended.  In succession I rolled with a purple belt and 2 black belts all of whom outweighed me by at least 50 pounds.  And it sucked.  But it makes my jiu jitsu better.

The challenge this week will not apply to the biggest person in any given club, sorry.  Maybe next week’s will be more helpful:  For one week, at least twice per training session seek out someone who outweighs you by a minimum of 20 pounds and, here’s the clincher, start in a bottom position.  This can be half guard, full guard, spider, and bottom side, whatever; start with your back on the ground.

This challenge has many obvious benefits.  For starters, it will force you to start to develop a “worst case scenario” strategy for dealing with fuller figured fellows.  There may be moments at tournament where you wind up having to deal with someone much bigger than you, and you still need to go out there and try to win.  Rolling with large scary people in the gym means you’ll be used to it and better prepared.

As important as the size of your training partners, also make sure that you accept a position which places you on your back.  Big people generally aren’t as quick as smaller people, and so their size and strength is best utilized from a superior top position.  Let the bigger person use their greatest asset against you and try to prevail.  Chances are you won’t, but if you start doing this regularly suddenly you’ll find yourself not minding their size advantage.

STAY CALM.  Being in an inferior position against a much larger practitioner will be nerve-wracking and that’s okay, but if you freak out you might get hurt.  I’ve seen guys get seriously injured trying to escape bottom positions by being explosive, you can break your own wrist, throw out your own back, etc.  Escape intelligently, or better yet if they give you an opening find a way to attack.  I’ve hit all sorts of funky back takes and submissions on big guys who weren’t expecting it.  And once they start to expect it, that’s when the fun begins: if you can attack from every position.

So try this week’s challenge out, if you like it maybe incorporate it into your training routine.  If you hate it, well maybe you should seek out larger opponents and give them top position every roll until you love it because the reality is if you are uncomfortable there your jiu jitsu probably really sucks.

What do you think of this week’s challenge?  For those of you out there who already use this method, has it helped you?  Don’t be scared, embrace the fully figured fellows!


  1. I’m a little 125lbs, 5’3″, while belt girl so I practically live on the bottom. It’s interesting looking at it from another point of view. Thanks for the challenge (even if I don’t have a choice in the matter)!


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