Technique and Strength in Jiu-Jitsu

Jiu-Jitsu allows a smaller, weaker person to handle themselves against someone bigger and stronger, as long as that bigger person doesn’t know the intricacies of grappling.

I’m hard-pressed to think of anything more satisfying than watching a bulky new guy struggle to escape as he gets picked apart by an older 50kg lady – “Does her black belt weigh more?”

Watching this practicality in action is what sold me on the art.

In Jiu-Jitsu, knowledge is a weapon.

After about four classes I was discussing it with one of my closest friends, and of course when I was struggling to physically describe the principles we ended up wrestling in his back yard.

My friend is heavier than me by about 30 kilos. He started lifting in high school, but I never had the attention span.

Expecting to get squished, but wanting to test the effectiveness of what I’d learnt, we fought.

He couldn’t do a thing; he couldn’t get me off of him, and he couldn’t defend my attacks.

If I could neutralise a 30kg weight advantage in four classes, I needed to know what I was capable of after four hundred – and here I am.

A few medals and a bath full of deep heat later, I’ve realised that ignoring strength training has put a ceiling on my competitive performance.

Here’s the thing; knowledge is a weapon against someone who doesn’t know how to grapple as well as you do, but as soon as you’re in the same ballpark of knowledge, once you’ve both brought knives to the fight, strength becomes overwhelmingly relevant.

Being strong in proportion to your body weight is essential for high performance in most sports, and Jiu-Jitsu is no exception.

I found myself romanticising being the little guy; an underdog who was able to win regardless of his size and strength disadvantage. Unfortunately, this narrative doesn’t cut it when the competition gets serious.

I have been in matches where I have weighed exactly the same weight as my opponent, and felt like I was being manhandled from start to finish.

Being weak is not a good game plan.

An experienced friend from the gym put it perfectly;

“You don’t need to be stronger than your opponent, just strong enough not to be bullied.”

I’m not yet. But I should be soon.

If anyone’s selling their weights, let me know.

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