BJJ is a physical sport and until you become vastly more skilled than your opponents, physicality will play a big part in your rolls. This is what makes rolling with bigger guys so tough. If two evenly skilled people roll and one person is 20-30kg heavier, it wouldn’t be hard for that person to dominate the roll using their size and strength advantage. But is that the correct thing to do? In this post we’re going to explain how to properly roll with smaller opponents as a bigger guy to ensure you and your training partner get the most they can out of the roll.
Firstly, relax and let your ego go. Especially if you are new to BJJ. Nobody cares that you got subbed by somebody much smaller than you. This seems to be one of the largest contributing factors to the “Big Guy” stereotype in BJJ. Being a bigger guy may mean putting yourself in precarious positions against your smaller teammates and learning not to get too comfortable being in a “smash” position on top. You don’t have to “win” every roll, especially if the opponent is smaller than you, you will learn much more if you “lose” the roll. However, this is a double edged blade. This doesn’t mean go limp and intentionally get subbed, still work your way through positions but try to use as much technique as possible. Which leads to our next point.
Try Not To Use Strength
Secondly, try to use as little strength as possible. Not only will this make your roll more competitive and less of a one sided fight, it will force you into unusual battles with your teammates and give them a chance to work! For example, even though you can hold onto your own arms and stop them from arm-barring you with sheer strength, maybe let go of your arms and try to escape as they pull the arm. Worst comes to worse, you tried a new move and it didn’t work out and you tap and start again, but if you execute the move correctly, you now have a new move in your arsenal against opponents the same size as you. Another example is on top in side control, rather than holding a death grip on your opponent and cross facing them into oblivion, let up and give them some room to move. This will allow you to flow into other positions and give them a chance to work their escapes.
Last but not least. FLOW! This concept is super prevalent throughout BJJ and quite hard for beginners to pick up. The idea is to pull when your opponent pushes and push when they pull. To move in ways that do not cause friction between you and your partner. In a flow roll, there should be no straining, no strength used, just pure technique. Go with the roll and don’t try to muscle your way out of anything. If you’re applying the technique right, majority of the time, you will not need any strength to succeed.
Benefits of Rolling With Smaller People
Now that you’ve learnt how to roll with smaller people, you and your training partner can reap the benefits! Less injuries, more technical rolls, better cardio and better movement are just a few of the countless benefits. One major benefit is learning how smaller people deal with bigger people. They have to purely use technique when strength is not on their side, meaning they usually have awesome techniques they can show you! If a smaller person is constantly getting you in something, don’t just muscle out of it, ask them how they apply the move/submission/etc and figure out a technical way out of it. Then you can apply it to your own game!
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