How to be a good training partner while not sacrificing your own training
by Zachary "The General" Holston
Do you ever find yourself feeling bad about being bigger than your opponent? As bigger people we often do one of two things while rolling, we either rely too much on strength and size or we try too hard not to be who we are.
When we rely on strength we abandon technique. I always heard instructors begging students to trust the technique. I often found myself not trusting the technique because of one thing, my technique was wrong. Anytime I find myself struggling with a technique it's normally because I'm in the wrong position. We have all heard the saying "position before submission" it's true! If we are out of position we try to use strength and muscle to force the technique. Fixing our position is the biggest step to getting better. Adjusting our angle will increase the effectiveness of our game by leaps and bounds. Thats why reps are key to a strong game. During reps the goal is to repeatedly execute flawless techniques. Doing sloppy reps will lead to sloppy technique. As a good training partner don't let your part get away with sloppy reps, fix them!
As a big practitioner you will naturally develop a strong to game faster than your bottom game. Why? When on top gravity is our friend. Smashing for us is easy but what about our bottom game. For me I developed a insanely strong closed guard. My legs are long and strong so I could hold most people in them. I worked a lot of sweeps and subs from my closed guard. Even now I will use my closed guard to frustrate and annoy my opponent into making a mistake. My open guard developed much slower than my top game or my closed guard. I had to force myself to work more than the others. I didn't like open guard because mine was not strong and i would get passed every time i used it. Like anything else, if you want to get good at something you have to practice so I did.
How did I be a good training partner while consistently improving my game? I rolled a lot with very technical smaller people. even women and children. I would not smash them but I learned to use points of controls without using my weight. If they got me in a arm-bar, they got me. I would not power out of any sub they landed. As a result I fixed my game to stop allowing them to achieve a dominant position. Now if they are much better than you, don't feel bad about smashing them, they should be equipped to handle it. I never smash guys ranked lower then me but all upper belts beware! Lol
Part 2 is the most important. Get some BIG TRAINING PARTNERS!!! Network, go to local tournaments and get to know the others local practitioners. meet up at Open Mats and roll. when rolling with guys your size its you strength and size is no longer a factor.
You need three groups of training partners, some on your skill level, some above your skill level, and some beneath your skill level. That way you have someone to have good hard rolls with, someone to work your new stuff, and someone to put it on you and show you your weaknesses. You will only get better If you work at getting better.
IF IT DON'T FIT, DON'T FORCE IT!
Body Type Do's & Don'ts
by, Zachary "The General" Holston
The key to big & tall BJJ is understanding your body type. Let's be honest, If you are fat, that's right I said fat, don't lie to yourself and say athletic or big boned. I'm fat so I practice fat guy Jiu-Jitsu. If you are tall learn what works for tall people. If you are stocky learn what works for you. If you are muscular, learn the benifits and limitations of your body. Being honest and open with yourself can be liberating. Don't make excuses, own who you are. I am not only fat I'm tall. My size dictates my game. I love guys like Caio Terra, but I can only take so much from his game because the difference in size. If it don't fit don't force it. When you have the right combination, you will began to unlock your game and your Jiu-Jitsu will start to flow.
Use what you got to get what you want
Before I get ahead of myself, let's talk etiquette. As a bigger person we have to learn how control ourselves while being aware of our partners and surroundings when rolling. Learn control, don't be the gym spastic guy who hurts everyone he trains with. I have to be aware of where my opponents limbs are during our roll. You don't want to have someone under you with there knee twisted or arm jammed up. We train not only to be lethal but we should also train to be safe. I roll with guys my size, women half my size, and kids half their size. I excercise caution when I roll as not injure my training partner. Learn to use pressure without inflicting damage.
I use to feel guilty about using my weight against smaller opponents. Do they feel guilty about using there speed and agility against me? No, they use it from the jump. Have you ever noticed that if you start from knees, the smaller quick guy as soon as he can stands up and circles to your back to choke you out. They use the tools at their disposal, you should too! If you are one of your best tools should pressure and smashing.
I'm fat, I have a belly. I will not be voluntarily folding in half to work an inverted guard or Berimbolo. Why? I'm fat. I know inverted and Berimbolo but I will not hunt for them. I stick to what best suits me. If I spend the next year training those techniques I will still suck at them because in a live roll they are not practice for my body. I am NOT saying don't learn them, why? because your opponent is learning them. Learn them and how to deal with and counter them. Don't get caught up trying to master the wrong techniques for your body. I had a 8th Degree Black Belt tell me that there are techniques that are not part of his system and his reasoning was simple: he does not do them well. Why focus on what does not work for you?
If you are tall, learn to use your length to your advantage the same way a boxer uses his reach. Learn when to extend your body to keep your neck safe or launch an attack while you are out of your opponents range. There is nothing worse than rolling with a tall guy who uses spider guard well. Use what you got to get what you want.