Choose Wisely: A Guide to Training Jiu Jitsu with Different Sized Opponents

Choose Wisely: A Guide to Training Jiu Jitsu with Different Sized Opponents

When you walk into a jiu jitsu gym, there is one thing that you can guarantee. Jiu jitsu gyms are a melting pot filled with people of all different shapes, sizes, ages, and skill level. These differences cause people to develop different styles of jiu jitsu and is a great opportunity to utilize your knowledge and skills in different ways.  As you learn more jiu jitsu you will adjust your style while training with different people; for example you won’t have the same approach to training with a white belt as you would a black belt. It can be confusing (and at times, frustrating) but if you are looking for some guidance on how to train with someone new, here are some tips. 

How to train with someone…If they are new to the sport

If you are new to jiu jitsu (or your training partner is) and you are matched up, a great thing to do is to do positional training. Here are some examples; continue practicing the move you learned in class, or go over something that you are struggling with. This is a great opportunity to roll with INTENTION which will help to learn faster. 

How to train with someone…Smaller

Depending on the person’s skill level, you may be able to have a “normal” roll with a smaller person. If you weigh significantly more, you might want to consider your size while training. Think about refraining from smashing or stacking the smaller person.  This can prevent you from having a productive roll and could injury them. Smaller people will find holes in your framing and create space more easily so it is a good opportunity to make sure that YOUR movement patterns are clean and tight! For example, a lot of younger athletes are smaller than adults but they move more QUICKLY and EFFICIENTLY than adults.  This can be a great opportunity to become more technical if you use your skill and allow them to work!

How to train with someone…larger or stronger

Your partner’s skill level will have a big impact on what you’re able to do, no matter their size. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t train with someone who is bigger and stronger. If you are newer to the sport, training with someone who is significantly larger than you may be intimidating, but can definitely be beneficial. Rolling with a more experienced person may be your best bet in this situation, because you can experience a different style of rolling without fear of getting hurt.  An experienced larger/stronger opponent will allow you to move around, see where you get “caught” and make adjustments to your game. Many smaller people prefer to aim towards getting someone’s back, playing top position, or getting underneath the person in guard as it can be safer and offers more options when they are stronger than you.

A couple of other rules for rolling:

  1. If you notice your opponent  being aggressive or using their strength to a point that is beyond what you are comfortable with, let them know. You can absolutely tap.
  2. You can always say no to live rolls! If you feel uncomfortable training with someone, you don’t have too. Just tell them that you’re going to take the round off.

The most important thing if you feel uncomfortable is to COMMUNICATE with your partner. At any point if you have questions or concerns, communicate with them or your coach.Being a good partner is about pushing each other to be better and creating a safe and productive training enviorment for everyone.

You will come across all different types of people in this sport, and find your own methods of training! You may use the methods and techniques described above, or you may find that something else works for you. That is the beauty of jiu jitsu. There is no singular way to do anything, and finding your own methods and processes are all a part of the journey.



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