Key Stratagies in Sweeping Larger and Stronger Opponents

When facing a larger opponent, it’s more than likely that you’ll end up on bottom whether you are competing in a match or you are just training in the gym. Unless you have very effective leg locks from the bottom position or you can throw up arm bars and triangle from 6 feet away, then you are looking at a situation where you either need to get on top with a sweep or take your opponent’s back to get the submission.

As far as tactics and techniques go when trying to sweep a much larger opponent, there are a few things you will need to implement in order to be successful. Let’s take a look at a few

Aggression Is Key

One thing is your movement from the bottom position. Basically, you never want to be sitting still when playing the open or seated guard against a bigger and stronger opponent. If you are sitting still and not being aggressive with your open guard, you are allowing your opponent to initiate their own game and therefore you will automatically be on the defensive side of the match. This is not how you want to start off. We have all probably seen this before, and some of us might even be guilty of it. It’s when you see two guys rolling in the gym, and the bottom guy is playing open guard, but he is literally just sitting there waiting to counter his opponent’s guard pass. This is not how you want to go about it. As the bottom player, you want to dictate where the match goes and you want things to happen on your terms. This is why you must be aggressive from the bottom open guard. You can see in the video below me tapping out a man half my size by just being aggressive!

Movement! It’s Not Just For Standup Anymore

Another strategy you must implement into your open guard game is the ability to move on a dime. Being able to judge distance between you and your opponent is crucial in having a solid bottom game, especially against bigger guys. They will be trying to put you on your back, pass your guard, throw your legs out of the way, and anything else they can do to pass your guard and dominate you. If you can keep the right distance between you and your bigger opponent, then your attacks from there will have better setups and your opponent will not be able to find the right entrances and openings for his or her own attacks. Switching your hips and creating angles is a great way to stay agile and responsive while playing open guard. Jeff Glover, a top lightweight competitor in Absolute divisions, demonstrates this concept every time he fights. You can learn more about Jeff Glover in this article about him on BJJ Heroes!

Remember guys, concepts are huge. If we can keep attacking, be the first to initiate, and use our speed and mobility while being aggressive, our chances of hitting our drags and sweeps are much better. Also, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to set up this techniques without telegraphing them, and doing so swiftly. I wrote an Amazon top selling book all about defeating larger opponents which you can check out the review of here!


Dan Faggella

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