Speed and mobility are our best friends no matter where we are in a match against a larger opponent.
If a much stronger and larger opponent gets a hold of you from the feet, they will most certainly be looking to toss you around and put you on your back. Under no circumstances can this happen in the match. You must stay nimble and you must keep moving. Typically, a much larger opponent isn’t going to give your wrestling or your game from the feet the respect it deserves. In their head, they are thinking “This little guy has no chance of taking me down” or “he’s nowhere near as strong as I am from the feet”. Sometimes larger opponents won’t even assume a good wrestling or grappling stance because they have such a lack of respect for your wrestling and guard pull game. As the smaller grappler, we must make them pay for this! Might sound kind of sinister and evil, but it’s completely necessary if we want the match to start in our favor. Let’s look at some strategies we can dive into to take the momentum early on in the fight. You can check out other little man BJJ strategies here!
David VS. Goliath
Distance and timing also play a vital role in starting off the match right against a larger opponent. If you can gauge your distance correctly and time your takedowns and/or guard pulls perfectly, you’re setting yourself up for the win. One very important thing to keep in mind is to never let your bigger and stronger opponent get a firm hold on you.
Locking up with them in a collar tie or a clinch is one of the worst things you can do. Not only does it completely kill your mobility and your movement, but it also kills your ability to time your attacks and create distance. A good collar tie requires strength, posture, and the ability to counter your opponent’s movements with your own movements. This might be okay against a guy or gal your own size, but definitely not against a bigger and stronger opponent. They will throw you around like a rag doll most of the time with their strength and power.
Think about this: David didn’t beat Goliath by trying to fight him in close range with his bare hands. He defeated him from a distance with a sling shot. The same concept should be applied to your grappling and jiu jitsu from the feet when facing a goliath-type opponent. Don’t rush in and try to out-muscle them, because you will fail almost every time. So, using your mobility, timing, and distance to set up the perfect attack is what you want, and locked positions like the collar tie and other clinch variations are things you when coming in for a guard pull or a takedown on anyone, especially on a larger opponent, we need to be aggressive. One of my most vicious guard pulls was in my famous match versus the giant which you can view below along with the full breakdown of the match in this article.
Think about how judo players start their matches. They bow, close the distance, initiate grips, and start throwing each other around like rag dolls. It’s all about aggression. The same concept should be applied to your jiu jitsu game from the feet. If you come out and start the match very passive, then your opponent will sense this and take advantage of this. You have to start your match like a judo player. Slap hands with your opponent, and go into beast mode. Some people refer to it as “turning it on” or “hitting the switch”. Imposing your will against your opponent will force them to always be on defense, therefore not allowing them to set up any sort of attacks.
I hope that you take away from this that aggression is key. If you’re not mounting up your attacks, your opponent is and the last thing we want to do is be stuck in a slug fest against a bigger grappler.