A Reader Question: “Is size and strength more important than skill?”

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Hello Jiu-Jitsu Times, First of all I want to thank you for all the effort you put in writing and maintaining this blog,
I like a lot your articles and they helped me in many occasions!
I am an almost 35 years old Italian Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu white belt 180 lbs heavy which is training for two years.
I had a “turbulent” beginning where I got many injuries, but it’s almost one and half year that I am training regularly
without major break in between. Recently a big guy (about 220 lbs) shows up in my gym and despite he trained only few months
(from 4 to 6, I don’t remember precisely) is tapping me out.

I have to admit that he is quite talented despite he’s training since so little (I am not the only one thinking it)
He knows well the Americana, Kimura and few other things, but he uses his body weight very well!
He tapped out some blue belts and even a purple belt once, all of them at least 45 lbs lighter than him.
Is there something wrong in my Jiu-Jitsu?
Is everything “under control”? Does size matters so much in a technical martial art like BJJ?
I read a lot about technique overwhelming brutal strength but in this case seems quite the opposite…
This makes me freak out quite a bit, even because I hope to turn blue belt soon or late,
but the idea that there is around a 6 months white belt that tap me out doesn’t give me so much confidence…
is this something I have to worry about?
Thank you for your answer and for everything you do!
Diego”

Brazilian jiu-jitsu is popularly known as the martial art which allows the smaller person to defeat a larger opponent.
It is also a commonly heard saying that “size and strength don’t matter!”

We have seen smaller black belts tap out much larger opponents with ease and witnessed technique overcome superior power.

But to say that size and strength don’t matter is not true!

Consider these points:
– athletes go through very difficult efforts to cut weight before fights to compete in a weight class down so THEY will be the biggest, strongest in the weight class
– look at the physiques of many of the top bjj and MMA competitors. It is obvious that they spend A LOT of time on their conditioning

Size and strength can largely be negated IF there is a SIGNFICANT difference in technical knowledge.
When I was a blue belt a 145lbs. black belt absolutely SCHOOLED me despite me being 210 lbs.
Due to the huge difference in technical skill, he was always 5 steps ahead of me and skill overcame strength.

However it is not an absolute truth!

To see how important size and strength are: remember the Pride fight between Minotauro Nogueira VS Bob Sapp?
A near 400lbs. behemoth Sapp rag dolled the skilled black belt Nogeuira in the early part of the fight.

So your belief that your longer experience in technical training should prevent a larger opponent with less experience from tapping you is incomplete.
Technique CAN overcome size and strength IF there is enough of a skill discrepancy between the skilled, smaller opponent and the larger, less experienced guy.

A smaller bjj black belt like Robson Moura or Caio Terra likely would have zero problems with this larger white belt, but they also have an extremely high level of technique.

Best advice for you? Simple: Keep training!

on Jiu-jitsu Times: How to Stop This Technique? – “Don’t Get There”

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