In football, being stronger and faster generally equates to more success. The same could be said about other sports like basketball or competitive weight lifting. But Jiu-Jitsu, on the other hand, is far different. This is a martial art (and also a competitive sport) that doesn’t require strength or quickness to succeed. Granted, being stronger and quicker can definitely help, but as you progress in this sport, you’ll realize that the best and most efficient grapplers are far from the biggest. Instead, they are supremely talented in one area: technique.
BJJ is 90% Technique, 10% Athletic Ability
While there’s no accurate way of measuring the above ratio, most experienced grapplers can agree- BJJ is mostly about technique and less about athletic ability. In fact, it could be said that it’s all about technique, and that athletic ability only increases the rate by which you learn. BJ Penn (a UFC fighter and skilled BJJ grappler), Royce Gracie (family member of the founders of modern-day BJJ), and Eddie Bravo (known for his “10th-Planet System BJJ techniques) are all not very big guys.
They each weigh less than 175 pounds, but are world-class experts at what they do. Back before Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu became as popular a sport as it is today, underground fights would take place between the world’s top Jiu-Jitsu experts and the world’s top experts in other forms of martial arts. In every single altercation, BJJ came out on top. Royce Gracie would defeat opponents were twice his size, tapping them out in less than 10 minutes!
When Does Size Matter, If At All?
If you’re relatively new to Jiu-Jitsu, you’re going to find it difficult to contend with larger opponents. That’s just part of the learning curve. However, as you start to make progress in your skill level, you’re going to find that competing with and/or beating larger opponents will become much easier. In many Jiu-Jitsu tournaments, there is something known as an “Open Weight” division. Basically, this division includes all 1st place finishes for a particular weight class.
This means that there could be a grappler weighing 105 pounds, 135 pounds, 175 pounds, and even 250 pounds. In the open weight division, all grapplers (the ones who won their own respective weight classes) compete against each other. And despite what someone new to Jiu-Jitsu might think, it isn’t always the heaviest, strongest, or biggest contender that wins- it’s the one that is more adequately skilled and equipped with a higher range of better moves and techniques.