If you’ve taken at least one jiu jitsu class before, you’ve probably figured out that squishing is a pretty important part of the game. Being able to properly distribute your weight onto someone’s abdomen, legs, or face often makes the difference between victory and defeat. However, being able to take all that weight is just as important as being able to dish it out. Many less-experienced jiu jiteiros (and even some of the more experienced ones) shy away from rolling with larger opponents to avoid feeling their organs and the floor being united as one, but when they do, they’re missing out on valuable training opportunities.
Dealing with someone who uses their weight to their advantage is a great way to learn how to look for openings and time your escapes properly, which is likely to not be something that you’re used to if you can usually shrimp out of a lighter opponent’s side control with ease. When you roll with someone who outweighs you by fifty pounds and enjoys rubbing it in your face (or chest, or belly), you’ll be forced to be more in-tune with your opponent’s movement, anticipating opportunities to escape instead of wasting your energy trying to move someone who will not be moved.
While some people might only need to tweak their game when rolling with heavier opponents, those of us who prefer to play guard might need to change our strategy entirely. Even if your guard is solid, coming across someone who is both an excellent passer and two or three weight classes above you can make you wish you’d worked a bit more on your top game. I know very few people who enjoy struggling to breathe beneath someone else’s weight, and the best way to avoid such a situation is by making sure you end up as far away from the floor as possible. Working on your passing game when you’re used to hanging out on the bottom can make you feel like a shark out of water, but it’s crucial to making yourself a well-rounded competitor. And if rolling with people who want to squash you like a bug doesn’t convince you to do it, nothing will.
Even if you think your escapes and passes can’t get any better (spoiler alert: they can), you still don’t have an excuse to avoid rolling with the heavier students in your BJJ class; doing so will seriously up your stamina. If you can deal with a lot of well-placed weight bearing down on your sternum, you’re not even going to blink when someone in your weight class tries to wear you down using the same technique. It’s always disappointing to see a talented and experienced jiu jitsu fighter get gassed in the middle of a roll with someone who knows how to use their weight all because they only practice with people who are the same weight or lighter than they are. If you make sure to roll with people whose cem quilos feels more like mil quilos, you’re far more likely to outlast your opponent.
Even though it might be easier to only roll with the people who haven’t yet learned how to use their weight against you, champions are not born in comfort zones. Getting crushed in class will be a miserable struggle until you get out from underneath your opponent, but you’ll be thankful for it when the only one standing between you and the gold medal for the absolute division is someone who thinks they’ll be able to beat you by sitting on you.