1. Size really does matter…Sorta…
I don’t like starting off with this but we’d better get it out of the way first; One of the top benefits of BJJ most people tout is it’s ability to minimize size differences, going on at length about how great BJJ is for the smaller practitioner. On paper this is true, but anyone under 130 lbs or so can testify that climbing up the ranks in Jiu Jitsu is tougher when the average weight of their training partners is 170 lbs+. Technique and experience are undeniable equalizers, but at the end of the day a 209 lb body has an advantage over a 112 lb body.
That said, another size- related lesson I’ve learned is that women and men both come in all sizes in the spectrum. Whether you roll with a man or a women doesn’t matter much provided they’re roughly your weight. Will a 145 lb blue belt survive long against a 145 lb brown belt? Nope, but chances are the blue belt isn’t going to needlessly wreck up their body supporting someone’s excess weight. Besides, a 109 lb brown belt (and you can find more than a few of these guys training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Toronto!) can make it feel like you’re rolling with a 230 lb opponent anyways, so take the opportunity to work your technique on the mats, not your bench press by rolling according to your size. But don’t be fooled; that 109 lb brown belt will tap a 230 lb blue belt into oblivion. Experience will win out over size 95% of the time, so don’t walk away from Brazilian Jiu Jitsu just because you’re 120 lbs. At the end of the day, a good blue belt of any weight will win out over someone with no experience regardless of weight. Don’t despair if you’re smaller, just stick with your training and trust your technique!
This isn’t to say that at any skill level a smaller person shouldn’t roll with a bigger person. There are benefits to training with someone above or below your weight class. A smaller person can benefit from working their attack timing, bottom escapes and sweeps against a heavier person, for instance. Similarly the bigger opponent is forced to focus on controlling their attacks and more often than not, their back and choke defense!
Size really does matter, but at the end of the day when the field is leveled, an individual’s BJJ skill and experience is what defines the roll.
Stay tuned for lesson number 2 next week!