My first class and rolling "light" when you're the smallest guy


Orange Belt
Feb 22, 2005
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It was me and 3 other newbies with 1 guy who has been training for 2-3 years. The teacher didn't show up for some reason. The guy with the experience started to teach, he looked like a mini Tank Abbott but around 200 lbs. Most of the other newbies seemed like TUF fans, meaning they didn't know any techniques because they don't watch MMA very much.
After some basic stuff, passing the guard, learning armlocks, and breathing correctly, we start to roll. I pair up with my friend that told me about the class. We started on the knees and he tries to control my arm and head, so I swing around and get a his back and get a RNC. The "teacher" starts laughing and says "go 20%"

Now I'm at least 30-60 pounds lighter than the other people in the class. So basically, my question is, how do I go "light" during rolling when I can get overpowered so easily?

I'm sure it will be easier once I get more technique but I'll still be going against other newbies who will use their strength to power out everything.
just take it kinda light during transitions (i.e. battling for position) and when u get a submission, if u have it right, if u feel ur opponent use their strength to defend then u do the same to finish
He was probably talking about your intensity. Alot, if not every single beginner, use ALOT of muscles and they tense up like a board. And they tend to go 250% in how they move. So just relax. If you go for a sub, you do it fast, because you have to or you'll never get the other guy. But when you do get the sub, do it "gently". Don't crank that armbar with as much power as you can. Do it slowly and give him time to give up. Same with the RNC. Once you have it on, he won't get out of it anyway. So no need to squeeze like if you were in a fight. Don't be all explosive and full power.
Yeah. I, too, am the least-largest person in my particular Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class, but the more I do it, the more I find that it is mostly technique, not size, weight or strength, that wins matches. I only weigh 128 pounds, but whenever I find myself sparring someone with a distinct strength advantage, I don't flurry him with a barrage of body movements, because that may tire me out. Instead, I work slowly toward some end, then explode into position.

What the instructor was likely informing you, was that you were too stiff. BJJ is a calm art form - be like water; flow into position. Remember, when you train in class - sparring - the idea isn't to crush your opponent. Winning and losing is essentially irrelevant. Use that time to attempt moves you generally wouldn't do, to get better at them. If you fail, and your opponent gets, for example, side mount, all the better. Work out of side mount, re-guard, and try something else. He gets back mount? Perhaps escape that and get into his guard. Work passing the guard.
See what I mean? In-class sparring, you don't have to massacre your opponent.
I think the guys above summed it up. Im new to grappling my self. Just accept you are going to be submited alot by more experinced students to begin with. Work on techniques and the details you are shown, possitioning, etc. You can learn a lot from beeing dominated aswell (atleast i hope i do!).
I have the opposite problem.
Whenever I try to go light with lighter guys they explode all over the place trying to sub me like there's no tomorrow.
I had this problem recently grappling with a friend who does some judo and sambo. He outweighed me by a good 60 - 80 pounds.

Just be easy when applying submissions, and dont fight hard for position. Work on your senseitivity.
He might have been trying to tell you to pace yourself. When i first strted a few months ago I would do well fo te first 4min of rolling then get killed the last 3. It takes mroe energy than you would think if you dont konw the proper tech. Also if you are rolling with guys larger and more experianced than you they will usualy giv up position so why kill yourslef to get it?

I almost alwyas pull gaurd on somone smaller than me if they dont rank higher. and i have very little gaurd game so that is a very good position for them and i need to lern it anyhow.