Being Small


To paraphrase Miyamoto Musashi, it’s important that every man to know what it feels like to be big and it’s important for every man to know what it feels like to be small. The Book of Five Rings (Go Rin No Sho) is one of those books that’s considered quintessential for studying a Japanese martial art. Personally, I’m not really into the eastern mysticism. It’s a good book anyway. I think the discussion of focus and perception are the bigger takeaways for people who don’t really care about mysticism, but are looking for tips from one of the greatest fighters of Japanese history.

At 82 kg, I’m not exactly tiny. I’m also by no means huge. There are people I can dominate by sheer size alone, and there are those who dominate me simply by being bigger. That always feels like a cop-out. “Of course he threw me. He fights at 100kg. I fight at 80. 20 kg is a reasonable difference.” It’s not a cop-out. It’s the truth. I’ve seen 60 kg men throw guys who were easily 100 kg. I’ve also seen those same 60 kg guys dominate on the ground. What I have never seen is either of those things happen without the 60 kg guy being significantly more experience or possessing a much higher natural aptitude.

I think there’s a lot to the discussion of size. I’ve covered before why I think it matters and that hiding behind Helio Gracie, Caio Terra, or Kyuzo Mifune are straw man arguments for the common practitioner. What the previous argument left out is how size changes the game. I think Dan over at Science Of Skill had a great post about being the little guy and what that means: http://scienceofskill.com/2012/09/the-game-of-small-man-brazilian-jiu-jitsu/#

The thing is, being a medium guy I haven’t really had a need to develop the kind of game that a small guy does. The way I go with guys who are 20 kg lighter than me is the same way I go with guys who are 20 kg heaver than me. The positions I end up with change – a big guy can force me to use the guard, while a small guy is far less likely to be able to escape a position like kesa. The core game though, and my personal preferences for submissions and positions don’t. If anything, my game is more like the big guys because they’re the ones I work out with more often. Get to the top, hold it there, harvest an arm. Never let someone who’s bigger than you get a pinning position. Never give anyone who’s smaller than you an inch to escape when you’re pinning them.

So, to summarize, size matters, but I want to start looking at the facets of where it matters beyond just “I can beat you because I’m 40 kg heavier.” I want to look at the big guys and see if their high percentage moves are significantly different from the high percentage moves of the little guys. I have a sneaking suspicion that each weight class will have it’s own set of techniques that work super well.

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One thought on “Being Small

  1. I’m in a similar boat, sizewise – just a tad lighter. As follows, I’d be rather interested if you decided the results of your observations.

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