Two stripe white belt back with another topic that’s been on my mind since the first day I stepped on the mat with a room full of guys who couldn’t do my barbell warm-ups, but could easily whoop my ass.
“Don’t use your strength.”
I was told this right away by more than a few of these guys. I got the general idea of what they meant on day 1 and my understanding of the subject has gotten a bit deeper in the year since. I’d like to think my training approach has reflected that. Even so, I’m of the opinion that strength absolutely has its place in training, and I’d like to share some of my thoughts on this subject. Hopefully some of you will too.
In the spirit of honoring the good advice my training partners gave me, I’ll start with some shit I don’t do anymore. I don’t brute force Americana’s from side control. I’m glad I did, because now I know this is a thing I can do. If I compete, it will be on the table. If I can pull it off on one of my instructors, it will be on the table. Otherwise, I’m only taking an Americana if it is presented to me, which happens plenty often with newer white belts.
One place where I will regularly use my strength is to power out of submissions. I’m beginning to realize this may butt-hurt people who feel like I should have just tapped to their technically-sound armlock, but if I can extend my arm out of your Americana and get an underhook from the bottom of side control, or row my elbow to the floor and stack you up after a failed armbar, then that’s what’s going to happen next.
I’m working on preventing those positions in the first place, but given my skill level, wouldn’t me powering through a submission a great training opportunity for my partner? I feel like it is for me, since I get to explore what happens next and learn from it. Presumably my training partner gets the same benefit, along with the gift of learning how to grapple with a much larger and stronger man.
Those are just two examples of “strength” adjustments I make in training. I always strive to improve technique and explore details, but I’ll always be a big strong guy by jiu jitsu standards. I might as well learn how to work with it in the most productive way.
Anyone else have thoughts on the place of brute force in jiu jitsu?