Not a typical how do I get started thread

Discussion in 'Grappling Technique' started by beamlord, Jan 2, 2013.

  1. beamlord

    beamlord White Belt

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    ...Well hopefully not. Since I've started a couple of months ago already : D

    Anyways this is more of an intro and background for info. My sports career has been: basketball during HS/college; football later on in NFL Europe (moved to Europe, military); some weightlifting/powerlifting. Along with that, some non-serious karate (kyokushinkai) and probably not worth mentioning, sambo when I was a kid (12-16).

    I always liked grappling - in any form. It suits me better than striking as I can have more control over the damage I do. Always wanted to seriously learn it, but only now at the age of 34 finally got to it. Training with mostly younger guys of mixed levels, and mostly lightweight, and it's not a pure BJJ group but an MMA group who dedicates one day a week to grappling and a great brazilian guy who teaches us.

    I'm 6'3" and around 300lbs, most of which is effective muscle mass.
    Some of my problems are: only two more or less "heavyweights" in the group for me to actually experience any challenge. And they're still around 230lbs or so and not very experienced grapplers themselves.
    I end up just using a lot of force instead of learning techniques. Even after an exhausting warm-up, it's still enough to dominate someone who's substantially smaller. Only the coach can sometimes get the upper hand because he tries to evade and wear me out long enough and then it's home run for him.
    Obviously, I don't last long. I've got the typical defense tackle stamina with strong and relatively short bursts - these I can do all day long. But spending more than 2 minute extensively rolling completely kills me.

    Anyways obviously I've got a lot of questions but trying to go one at a time. Would be cool to get some advice from heavyweights here or from guys who deal with heavyweights what to aim for - learn techniques that work fast, and which ones work best for heavyweights.
    Since I'm not reducing the intensity of my weightlifting (at least not for now) I don't expect to reduce my bodyweight much in the near future, but going down to 285ish is reasonable and that I can afford.
     
  2. squat

    squat Green Belt

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    Questions?
     
  3. Bullheaded

    Bullheaded Green Belt

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    The only valid advice for you is keep rolling. You are likely to lose weight that way but most of all, your cardio will improve by rolling. force yourself to do every single sparring even if you're in the red. A blue belt once told me when I started that it's when you're tired in sparring that you learn the most. It's true, and it improves your cardio tremendously.
     
  4. dalexan242

    dalexan242 Blue Belt

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    Every new guy is going to use more force than technique, because they have no technique. I'm not particularly strong for my size (6'3, 215) but for my first year or so I basically tried to pull guard most practice rolls and then work on sweeping back up to the top (mostly hip bump, scissor and pendulum/flower). Most guys your size are going to be horribly uncomfortable off their backs so it will help develop your game, but it should also help you relax a bit since you don't have to worry about losing position. Also, if you pull guard it will reduce the volume of "how much do you weigh?" comments after the roll.

    So even though you would probably never pull guard in competition, I'd still do it a lot in sparring. Getting takedowns against guys you have 100 lb. on isn't going to help you as much as learning how to relax/sweep IMO.

    Other than that, just be tired before sparring begins (either through warmup, working out beforehand or going to class as much as possible) and wearing a mouthguard will force you to breathe through your nose and also helps you to learn how to relax.
     
  5. KGB256

    KGB256 Purple Belt

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    The part that helps most from that point is learning to be calm & relaxed. Being tense just burns energy, as does needlessly struggling or exploding without any real technique behind it. Most of all, newbies tend to hold their breath a lot trying to strain against their opponent. Who needs to choke someone that is voluntarily depriving himself of oxygen? I've tapped bigger newbies simply by maintaining side control and letting them get exhausted.

    Do all of the rounds, and push yourself in warmups and any outside cardio you do. But on the mats, focus on being calm and making sure you are breathing all the time...little exhales every few seconds, your body will do inhales on its own.
     
  6. Nozza

    Nozza Purple Belt

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    Maybe you need to look for another school where there are a lot more, better players who can dominate you with skill.

    Even if you're really big and strong with some natural ability I still think you should not be able to beat good players, certainly not submit them.

    I really wouldn't be looking to develop a specific game, heavy-weight oriented or not, at this stage. You want to learn everything, apply as much as you can and then see where that takes you. You definitely do not want to just keep dominating through size or you'll get nowhere. You might even start to believe you're a lot better than you are if you find your club too easy.
     
  7. beamlord

    beamlord White Belt

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    Thanks a lot that all sounds very reasonable. I have not tried to pull guard (voluntarily) yet. I'm kind of uncomfortable on my back as you mentioned. But maybe I really should start doing that.
     
  8. beamlord

    beamlord White Belt

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    Year I tend to think so as well. Besides, I actually like to learn the techniques and try to apply all of them. It's fun and it's challenging.

    And you're right about the first part too. I am now trying to talk one of my close friends, a former teammate but also a competition-level wrestler (was a European Junior champ), who is almost as strong as me, weighs 260ish and 6'4", 10 years younger and substantially more stamina, to join the group and basically try and kick my ass ; D
    Another school is not really an option at the moment due to location/time/etc..
     
  9. dalexan242

    dalexan242 Blue Belt

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    I hope it helps. I'm just a run-of-the-mill older blue belt, but I see a lot of big white belts that started before me get mostly stagnant (and not get promoted) because they refuse to work their weaknesses. One 285 lb white belt in particular-- great guy, has a very good top game but he relies too much on getting to side control and working the arm or a choke. He's big and good enough at it that it's hard for most of us to stop even though we know it's coming, but if he's swept he's pretty much completely helpless.
     
  10. HEAVY GRAPPLER

    HEAVY GRAPPLER Brown Belt

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    You are a big dude and despite what little dudes will tell you, big dudes have some special challenges in training (like you describe.)

    - Focus on learning how to use your weight rather than your strength. The difference is subtle, but important. When you says "short bursts," that is using strength. I realize you are just describing a tackle's conditioning, but I am just using it for illustration here.

    - When you find a little guy who rolls you up (and you will,) keep rolling with them and focus on using technique to solve the problem while resisting the temptation to smash the puny bastard. This is super-hard on your ego - which is also beneficial in the long run.

    - I always tell white belts that while jiu jitsu means "gentle art," in Japanese, the Brazilians call it "Arte Suave" - meaning the Smooth Art. Focus on being smooth (PS I don't know if my translation is bullshit or not, but it helps people learn to flow.) Again, when you say "short bursts," that is not being smooth.

    - Play guard more. Let people pass. Work your escapes. I am totally guilty of being a big purple belt with shitty escapes and defense because my game at white and blue just relied on me imposing my will. Don't be like me. I am working on it...

    - Learn to roll at percentages. Like say, 50%. You still need to use correct technique, but you moderate your speed, intensity and strength. I tell you, I am 6'3" 240lbs and I learn things playing jiu jitsu with my 6-year-old daughter. I am going maybe 5%. Maybe less. Being playful and having fun, but still moving through the positions. you should be able to roll with anyone. This takes a long time to learn.

    - As you get better, encourage and help every other big guy who comes in. Big guys always lack for big training partners. You need to strike up BJJ bromances with any dude over 200lbs who shows up. Be generous with your time and advice when you are experienced enough to offer it.

    I am working with a training partner right now who is in a similar situation. He is a white belt, maybe 6'2, 275lbs of muscle. It's a struggle, dude. your challenges are different from the average 170lb guy off the street.
     
  11. beamlord

    beamlord White Belt

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    Those are some awesome points - exactly the type of advice I'm looking for - thanks a lot. You nailed it - it's a struggle indeed.
    Looking for heavyweight bromances sounds just about right, that's what I'm doing right now : D

    On a side note had a great practice today, did my first clean and perfect armbar on one of the bigger guys; and escaped two rear naked chokes from instructor even though he had two perfect chances and perfect position.
    Was so exhausted after the escape that I just ran away and out of the ring : D
     
  12. Cash Bill 52

    Cash Bill 52 Brown Belt

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    This!!!

    Also, pretend to be a big teddy bear. Roll a lot on your back and be playful. You will scare people and and be left a lonely grappler if you kill the little guys.

    Fight the urge to panic and run. Try to find your breath while exhausted.

    Good luck, Godzilla. Be gentle and smooth.
     
  13. pesadissimo

    pesadissimo Blue Belt

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    At 6'7" and 290 lbs, I can relate to a lot of what you're going through. My first few weeks I was in what I like to call "Hulk Smash!!!" mode. But we all know that's not really jiu jitsu.

    I know most big guys will tell you it's important to get comfortable off your back. That is naturally most people's weak spot, and it sucks to be there in the beginning, especially if you can get some other big guys to train with. Believe me, it will pay off. A big guy who can play a little guy's guard game is scary. The importance of developing your guard from the get go cannot be overstated.

    As far as developing your top game, developing pressure is extremely important. However, I think it's even more important to stay tight. This is something I sometimes struggle with. Roll with smaller, more advanced guys and see how they escape from under your top game, even when you think you're crushing them. That's because you will leave space for them to maneuver. Learn to close those gaps, and when they are closed, that's when you apply pressure.

    Most importantly, remember to check your ego at the door. There will be guys literally less than half your size who are capable of kicking your ass. Make friends with these guys, because they will teach you a lot. And just have fun!
     
  14. Dirty Holt

    Dirty Holt Black Belt Professional Fighter

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    I would say spend more time on top than on bottom. You are an ex NFL Europe player who will mostly be going against dad's of 3 or guys who wrestled a few years in the 80's. Train the most time in the position you will be in most; thats gonna be top.

    Also, from my experience, if you do find a guy who has the same size as you who is a decent athlete, make sure you ask when they practice and also tell them when you are going to train. 9/10 if you ask them to show up to a specific practice, they will, and for you thats gonna be a better option than showing up to a class with a bunch of lightweights.
     
  15. ILikeDogging

    ILikeDogging Blue Belt

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    I see your point about training top if that's where he'll be but at that size playing top game in the gym you could easily land yourself in a position where you have been training x amount of time and have zero guard.

    In my opinion not only is that a massive shame (as guard is awesome) but also if you decide to compete and another 300 lb monster puts you on your ass or sweeps you - you're going to be up shit creek without a paddle.
     
  16. redaxe

    redaxe Silver Belt

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    I'm a big guy, not nearly as big as you, but I'm 230 lbs which is big enough to smash a lot of smaller people with my weight and strength. And I'm a purple belt.

    My best advice is:
    -Learn and practice guard and escapes as much as you can. That's the heart of BJJ.

    -Get good at takedowns and guard passing for competition

    -In the gym, try to outgrapple your teammates using as little exertion and strength as possible. Concentrate, but be physically lazy while rolling. By that I mean let gravity, inertia, and leverage--not muscular strength--do the work.
    -Keep an open mind about new techniques and listen to your instructor.
     
  17. Alex88

    Alex88 Brown Belt

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    6'3 , 300lbs ?? , you're one big mofo. LEARN HOW TO CROSSFACE WHEN ON TOP it will do wonders for you :)
     
  18. beamlord

    beamlord White Belt

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    Thanks everyone, some really helpful points mentioned. There are so many details to think about and analyze. Trying to implement at least some of them, like allowing for no gaps and keeping tight - great advice.
    Also trying to work on not panicking as soon as I'm exhausted. That's a challenge allright.
     
  19. KGB256

    KGB256 Purple Belt

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    One point about being "tight" is that the way we commonly use the term in BJJ is a bit of a misnomer. If I tell someone new to keep their elbows tight, a lot of people will tend to tense up and squeeze. The problem is that this can actually create openings for an opponent.

    To illustrate my point, hold your elbows to your ribs, and bring your hands up like you are defending your neck. Now try to squeeze your arms to your body as tight as you can. Notice how your elbows actually pop out a little more when you tense up? That's what I'm talking about. Opponents can slide a hand into that gap to get an underhook or a loop on your arm.

    Instead, stay relaxed. Rather than think about being "tight", just think of being "tucked"...you want everything close, but not tense. Not only doesn't it leave the opening, but you won't needlessly be burning energy & muscle, and you'll be less inclined to hold your breath.
     

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