I think weight and body image are intrinsically a part of sport, but even more so in sports where there are weight classes. I’ve seen grapplers take laxatives and force themselves to throw up the morning of the meet to lose that extra 0.3 lbs so that they can fight at a lower weight class. I myself have done the dehydration and starving to make the lower weight class. It’s not good.

So the stance in judo is fight at what you weigh. The weight classes are pretty well defined. There’s a 178 class, and a 198 class. I’m supposed to fight at the 198 class given that I’m 185. The people are closer to my size so it’s proper because I’m not getting a significant strength advantage. I cut the 7 pounds. For me 4 kg is nothing. I can sweat that out. I can pee that out. I can starve that away.

I’ve been trying to get back to my ideal weight. You see, I started grappling at 150 lbs. I was a stick figure. As I’m sure you’ve put together by now I did MMA over the summers. I came in and couldn’t believe, even the out of shape guys had six-packs. After the first two months I too had really well defined abs. By the end of my first four months of MMA I was 170 lbs with no noticeable body fat increase. I had gained 20 lbs of muscle with body weight exercises and sparring. Every winter I would get my layer of fat from jujitsu, and every June I would have sweet abs. I would return stronger than ever in August. I pretty much capped at 175, but I was always becoming a stronger 175. Then I broke my foot last year. Do you know how much weight you gain going from five days per week of training to zero? I went up to 195. I was 45 pounds heavier than I was just four years prior.

So I lost the cast and got back to training. It took me almost a year to lose 10 lbs. 10 lbs. I gained 20 just by being complacent for two months. I didn’t even really lose most of it until I started doing some MMA with Wade (which I don’t do anymore – just BJJ). I fluctuate between 180 and 186. I still cut down to 178 (though it’s much easier going from 180 to 178). To make it worse, BJJ has an emphasis on cutting. The wrestling influence means that the guys who are fighting at 178 are really 200 but just do hard cuts. At the bottom of the blue belt pool (no stripes yet) and a relatively light 178 I know I have the potential to be in trouble for my next BJJ tournament.

There’s a lot of room for improvement with my diet and exercise routine. I eat as I like (though I’ve been getting better about eating more veg and less carbs). I could lift and shred what’s left of my fat as well as make some serious strength gains in probably two months, but gym memberships are expensive and I don’t have the time. I also don’t have the ambition to compete lower than 178. To be honest, I’d rather get back down to 175 and just stop cutting. It’d be great to simply walk around at what I fight at, and not even skip a couple of meals before the weigh in. Right now, I do a hard cut (I lose all 2-9 lbs in one week).

So I encourage you, don’t cut more than 10 lbs, fight at what you walk-around at. It’s a pity more of grappling isn’t like judo where the cut is seen as bad.


3 thoughts on “Weight

    • Yes and no. In theory judo is about leverage, timing, and technique (the whole size doesn’t matter myth). As the root of BJJ we have the same delusions about size. The only real difference is the tiny guy we idolize is Kyuzo Mifune (5’2″, 100 lbs, beat a 6’2″ 240 lb. sumo wrestler in 1923). Mifune got to a sixth degree black belt in judo in nine years and the nickname the “God of Judo”. The judo history and why judoka get so offended when BJJ guys claim that judo requires size and strength is a topic for another post though. In practice if someone’s over 9kg heavier than you they can pretty much just bowl you over. That’s how I lost my last match. It’s just like how if you fight someone who has a solid passing and top game and happens to out-weigh you by 10kg in BJJ you’re going to get crushed on points.

      Our weight classes for local tournaments are also an artifact of really funny rounding. Regional and National tournaments have you fight based on your metric weight, but local tournaments typically have classes in Imperial. Because of the rounding, a legal metric weight doesn’t always correspond to the same Imperial weight class. For example 81kg it literally 178.57 lbs, but if I were to weight in at 178.2 I’d be fighting 198.

      Under 60 kg (< 132), 60–66 kg (<=145), 66–73 kg (<= 160), 73–81 kg (<= 178), 81–90 kg (<= 198), 90–100 kg (<= 220), and over 100 kg (220+)

      Under 48 kg (<= 105), 48–52 kg (<= 115), 52–57 kg (<= 125), 57–63 kg (<= 138), 63–70 kg (<= 154), 70–78 kg (<= 171), and over 78 kg (171+)

      • Lately I’ve been thinking on this issue a lot, because it’s what I’ve heard since I started BJJ– size doesn’t matter, etc etc. And in some cases, it doesn’t. My technique easily outclasses the new people who come in with no experience, but I find myself at a loss against people bigger, stronger, and even moderately technical. Then I think back to UFC 1, and I realize that so much of “winning” a fight with BJJ when you;re small is the element of confusion or of surprise. But somehow BJJ (and Judo I guess?) has not evolved beyond this idea of “smaller guy can beat bigger guy.” I think that this attitude can actually be a little harmful– how many times have I personally gotten upset because I’ve been doing BJJ X amount of time and that guy who has done it Y amount of time can toss me around? I wish instructors would stop saying that crap.

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