T Nation

BJJ - "Using Your Strength"


He’s also either crazy as fuck or mentally handicapped in some way. I can’t tell which.

Either way he’s a goddamned savage and Tonnon has balls of steel just for competing against him.


When you compete it will be with people at similar strength and skill levels. The one with max strength+skill will win. You need both. Can’t get the skill if you muscle through everything. Strategy for competing is different than for learning.


I was only ok at them because of the judo/wrestling background we did allot of newazza and ashi-gurami
was part of that work.

I think leg locks are like any ‘new’ system
just like Rubber guard, butterfly guard , lock down
electric chair etc…
often all these kinds of series are old as F and are just being implemented fresh.

Ashi Gurami is something that we learned - but its
not welcome in competition - danaher has made it a staple in his positioning game for leg control and leg lock rides and set ups.

I brought this all up because strength in BJJ and the restraint of it is a big deal find a style of play that works for you .

when doing greco- I was envious of those doing free style - as they where free to attack the lower body.
Yes I loved my throws- but turing someone using the upper body or just the head - is limiting.

I found in BJJ those hs and college leg riding - and leg control - helped me and I used the shit out of those

here is a great play by play with danaher and his serial killer voice - a play by play of how effective leg locks are- and this kind of also negates the strength issue.

having worked with him a bit- he does have the voice of a serial killer its like a whisper - but so full of good stuff
‘right your that wrestling guy, and you work with Oishi’
‘yesss your stiff and a bit wild - but your posture is good- maybe too good- to stiff’


Thanks @idaho I was indeed there - his posse passed us in the hall.
Im there now - allot- basically I work there now.

Lets see - the injury is still well fucked- but what ever.
I can do some stuff and work


I agree, hyper mobility can also be a physical attribute that may need to be overcome via skill/technique.

We used to have a guy who trained with us who was a legitimate contortionist. You could literally touch his elbow to the floor (in the “wrong” direction) on Americanas and Kimuras. His arm would bend tre wrong way to nearly a 90 degree angle on Armbar. His neck, spine, and knees could rotate nearly 360 degrees. And he felt no discomfort with any of these motions.

Dude also happened to be an outstanding athlete and was very powerful, fast, and coordinated. He competed at the Nationally (though not at the elite level in CrossFit till he died tragically of cancer a couple years ago.


Bag of bro, Great to see you posting again brother! Sorry the injuries have finally reached critical mass stage.

Heel Hooks and Toe Holds (and smaller joint locks in general) can be awesome tools against bigger people. The only issue with them is the danger of winding up underneath and of course the increased risk of injury should your opponent fail to submit and instead choose to try to fight through them.


@Sentoguy That’s a tough break to lose a guy like that. Fuck cancer.


Thanks man. Fuck cancer is right!


thanks brother

accumulative inuries are managable- this was a work accident
ACL PCL MCL two heads of the hamstring and some other junk all gone.
otherwise Im great.
I stop in when I can

Leg locks are indeed an awesome tool-
and yes there are some pitfalls, the exposure of securing them
is two a two edge sword, MMA- there are less effective.

and Really #fuckcancer


This is kind of a thread-derail, but I didn’t want to start a new thread, and I was after the opinion of those in this thread.

This week one of the blue belts has been asked to leave our dojo and not to return, due to rough conduct on a number of occasions.

I was a little taken back by this. The guy was rough, but I I think it was more because of his low IQ, rather than an evil intent to harm.

Anyone had experience with people getting banned from your club?



Not banned, but I wish he had been banned. This was karate. The guy always went a little harder than he should have when you were punching in for him. He had that wild ass look in his eye, and he always checked to see if guys were wearing a cup, kind of creepy. He never checked me, luckily. Guess I wasn’t cute enough.

I think if the shihan had banned him guys would have appreciated it.


Luckily I personally have never had to ban someone from my school, but my instructor has more or less either banned people or kind of “encouraged them to leave”.

Every time it’s been about the greater safety of the students in the school due to these individuals not having the control (sometimes seemingly intentionally, sometimes seemingly unintentionally) to be safe training partners, even after repeatedly being talked to about their conduct.

I remember one guy who you would be doing simple light contact interaction drills with, then out of nowhere the dude would just nail you. You weren’t sparring (at all, let alone hard) so it would totally take you by surprise. Of course you were always practicing exhaling and protecting since that is a good habit, but when you two have been lightly hitting each other and allowing your partner to lightly hit you, it still takes you by surprise when all of the sudden your partner nails you.

Then, every time you would call him on it he would say, “sorry, just got carried away.”

Once or twice, maaaaaybe, but this happened on numerous occasions. So eventually he was asked to leave.


I’ve never been aware of someone being kicked out. I think those things tend to sort themselves out in bjj. Probably depends on the school too. I could be wrong though since I’ve only been doing this for a couple years.


My brown belt instructor is not welcome at one area gym. He teaches me out of his home, trains at my gym occasionally and trains normally at our states biggest school that’s nearly an hour away. He’s been to every area school and is a very welcome and appreciated guest at my gym. Not the type to burn bridges or be a dick when he likes having training opportunities that don’t involve an hour commute each way.

I don’t know all of the circumstances surrounding the ban, but I do know that this gym doesn’t seem to produce the best players. I’ve rolled with a few of their blue belts and they were nowhere near the skill of blues I’m used to. I’m sorry but even a big strong white belt like me should not be able to give up top for start position and tap a blue belt three times in one round with like six months of training.

This all leads me to believe that he was banned for doing what he does when he trains at my gym - running through the entire room with technically sound jits without even breaking much of a sweat.

This could be related to the fact that both of our gyms both always do open mats and cross train with other gyms while certain places don’t, preferring to stay inside whatever bubble they have going on.

Knowing a fair bit about this guy’s character and level of respect he treats people with, I can only guess that he’s really banned for injuring the wrong ego with really good jiu jitsu.


Tonon is top notch. But I give “Paul Harris” a little more credit for his talent. Have you seen him roll? He has a great transition to armbar from back mount.


It has its uses, for sure. But there’s always a stronger guy somewhere on the mats, so it behooves one to learn the technique side of the fence.

And if you’re thinking of the long game (I am), I’d love to keep training as long as I’m physically able to do so. A bit of ‘No Shit Sherlock’ follows here: strength training produces greater bone density and ligament and tendon strength which equals longevity.

So brute force has a place, but don’t rely on it too much. That’s my opinion as an admitted neophyte (less than fifty lessons under my belt) jiujiteiro.


The absence of this is why I started this thread 8 months ago, along with my desire to better understand the very general and oft-refrained advice of “don’t use your strength”. I’m not the strongest BJJ player by any means, but I don’t know of anyone training jits in my state who has more strength, not if you’re measuring it by barbell lifts at least. There’s plenty of people who are quite strong and quite a bit better than me at jiu jitsu, which has been a boon to developing my technical skill set. When I’ve got two years of mat time to my instructor’s decade plus and he can squat 400 to my 500, those barbell numbers cease to mean very much when it comes to outcomes on the mat.

It’s been quite a few months since I started this thread, and my thought processes on this subject are a bit more refined. Since you’ve revived this thread, I’ll go ahead and share my current thoughts on what it means to “use your strength” in jiu jitsu.

First, some context. I’d like to compete in sport grappling some day, but my objective with training jiu jitsu has always been to be effective in violent situations with my bare hands. I don’t know a lot about sport grappling, point system strategies or tournament considerations. My only goal is to become better at protecting myself and controlling people who wish to do harm.

I’m also becoming more aware of the principle of economy of movement. In other words, I’ve reached a point to where I have a technical response to most, but certainly not all situations. I’ve stopped flailing about without knowing what I’m doing, or at least having an idea of what I should be trying to do.

That said, I am and should continue to be a big strong guy, which gives me an attribute advantage over most. Everyone who trains jiu jitsu has to work with what he or she has, and I’m no different. All jiu jitsu techniques use strength, and there are no rules against being stronger than other people in sport, let alone when things get chippy off of the mats.

This brings me to social considerations and how they impact training. Not everyone wants to play a game of jiu jitsu with a 280 pound guy playing a game based on sweeps, reversals, guard passing and brutal top pressure. That’s fine, and I’ve learned how to dial down my pressure game so I can turn these training occasions into a friendly and considerate give-and-take game of technical exchanges. After all, I’m just as likely to be restraining a drunk uncle at a wedding or even a drunk patron when I’m bouncing as I am someone who is a credible threat who is trying to do harm. I like the idea of being able to gently control someone without smashing the hell out of them with pressure or rag-dolling them on the feet. I want to get better at putting people on the ground in a controlled fashion and maintaining control without making them miserable with pressure.

Fortunately I have access to people with goals similar to mine who relish the opportunity to train with a big strong goon and apply their attributes and skill set against me. We can all feast together on the buffet of unleashing our skills, putting our attributes behind them and seeing what happens. It is not unlike rough sex. Not so fun when only one person is into it, but a bounty of good outcomes when everyone is on the same page.

Regarding specific techniques, I typically “use my strength” when I’m putting it behind a technical response. I can power out of submissions when I’m familiar with safe planes of movement, and I do this very often. To contrast, if I’m in murky waters I just tap. I don’t have much of a leg lock game, and it isn’t a priority for me at this time. When someone catches me in a heel-hook or toe-hold, I just tap. No planes of movement exist for me at this time where I’m comfortable putting lots of power behind if I’m not 100 percent sure that orthopedic damage will not be a consequence.

In conclusion, I’m now firmly in the camp of using your strength in BJJ, provided your are putting it behind a technical response or set-up. My hips can deadlift 600 pounds, so of course I’m going to use that power in my bridging and hip-out movements. Looking at it from another angle, the legs attached to those hips are also very strong, which means I can get away with more slop on something like a scissor sweep from guard. This means I need to be more honest with myself about the little details that go into the movements, lest I fall into the trap of mistaking good outcomes for good technique.

Long story short, I’m pursuing technical refinement at all times in jiu jitsu but I’ve got no qualms about putting my power behind those techniques when I’m training with people who can handle it without an emotional response. Everyone else gets the drunk uncle treatment.


Anyone who whines about you using your vastly superior attributes to your advantage are likely not worth listening to to begin with anyways =D

But, honestly, there’s a reason why I refused to ever do anything with the 280lb+ and 6ft something really tall guy back when I did Judo. Nothing I learn will be effective against someone who is almost a feet taller than me.

Edit- Except an effective top-game, but Judo is not exactly known for that…


Ha ha. I’ve learned to file these type of responses into my social consideration bank of knowledge. I’ve trained with enough people who I outclass physically but still manage to whoop my ass no matter what I do to know that there are effective technical responses to whatever it is that I’m trying to do. You either pull them off, or not. That applies to everyone, no matter what type of disparities are present in the training session. Plenty of smaller guys give me fits with their ability to replace their guard, go inverted, make great frames and otherwise keep me from establishing solid top control. That’s what makes the game so wonderful.

I’ve never trained with a male who is only 5 feet tall, but my instructor is 5 foot 8 and 180 pounds (100 pounds lighter than me, and I’m also 6’00"). I can assure you, he is very, very effective against me. I’m rejoicing if I can hold side control, knee on belly or any kind of top position on him for more than a few seconds. We’ve sparred from our feet hundreds of times and I can count the number of take-downs I’ve won on two hands. If you put us in a room and made us fight to the death my only chance would be to stay on my feet and knock him out, and I don’t particularly like my odds in that situation.

Oh ye, of little faith.


Notice how you need to talk about your instructor, who if I recall correctly has decades of
BJJ/grappling experience and squats 400lb on top of that =P

I don’t doubt that experienced individuals can deal with people significantly larger than them, but you do need the experience and understanding.

In any case, a nearly a foot difference does matter! For one thing, your grip changes completely, so it’s difficult to establish the kind of leverages you want.