Body Type problems.

Okay, I've been instructing a collection of beginners now for a long time, about half a year, in the hopes of getting them all up to a skill level where they can partipate in another school's advanced class.

Now everyone is coming along great, but I'm having problems teaching 1 student in particular.

My friend 'C' is about 6'2" and 130-140 pounds. He's proving to be a problem to teach both on the ground and standing since he's so light and is lacking in the horsepower department.

On the ground he's getting good, but it's very hard for him to keep guard, since any sort of pass attempt that his opponent uses strength with will lead to a perfect pass, any submission he gets from the guard can be powered out of useless he hits it perfect (and only his armbar is 'perfect' so far) and when he gets dominant position with a reversal or the like, people can power their way back to their feet!

*Sighs* I'm at a loss, I'm not used to teaching people who are so outside of the bell curve.

Any suggestions?

Whenever anyone gets their guard passed its for a reason. Some mistake is being made (eg...the top guys is controlling his knees with his grips or he is getting flattened too easily and not framing and creating space properly...etc.)

You need to see how he is getting his guard passed and correct those details one by one.

TCT: The problems it that it's very hard to fame, retain position and keep a good guard passer (which everyone there is) from passing your guard when you're very weak.

It's very easy to clear his arms when he keeps control on the neck and arms, then framing him off of you when he tries to hit the hip-pop sweep, or if he scoots away to hit the far-sweep, he can't free his legs as soon as they get a grip on his leg.


There's only so much you can do for a student, in terms of teaching them the merits and techniques of a specific art. After that, it's up to the individual to decide how to improve. In this case, it sounds like a good supplementary program is needed to up his overall strength and mass.

Like Helio said: "Jiu-jitsu doesn't fail; it's us who fail jiu-jitsu."

I think you can really help this fellow by putting him on a good program that adds functional mass on him. 130lbs-140lbs. on a 6'2" individual is quite anorexic, if you ask me. I'm sure the guys on the S&C forum will be of more help to you, but I really believe that, unless he changes himself physically, his bjj won't improve.

4 Ranges: That's what I kinda figured *Sighs* He's one of those old school burnout skinny... Think Axel Rose or the like.

Now, I've made a lot of changes that's improved my own technique, like showing him that instead of trying to move his opponent, use this opponent to move him around as he hits reversals and such...

Now as far as bringing up his mass, it'd be nice, but he has serious dietary problems that can't be fixed.

It wouldn't hurt for this guy to put on some weight. Take it from a former really skinny guy. I'm 6'3 1/2", and used to weigh 150lbs. I'm only around 190lbs now, but the added weight and strength has helped a lot.

What rank are you in BJJ Kai? Maybe he needs a more experienced knowledgeble instructor. BJJ is about knowledge and information. This is why people pay for top qaulity instruction from a brown/black belt instructor.

You just cant write someone off becaus of their body type. If he has four good working linbs he should be able to get a "guard". Lanky body types seem to have certain advantages over other body types especially for the guard position.

Why would he need to gain weight?

There are plenty of tough bjjers in the 140 lbs and under division.

Once he finds the techniques, to use which are suited to his body type, he should be a monster in his weight class, since he would be an aberration and most of the other players would have never gone against a guy like him.

"There are plenty of tough bjjers in the 140 lbs and under division."

At 6'2"??? Not likely.


dang that's a problem. There must be a way for him to gain more weight.

If not more weight, at least more strength.

Sound technique will work most of the time, if the individual who's using it is healthy and in shape.

At 6'2", 130lbs...I don't think your student is very healthy or in shape.

I wish I could be of more help. :(

4 ranges i disagree. technique is king. maybe to be world champ he might need to gain some more athleticism but besides that a 140 pounder at that height can have a very dangerous guard.

FromAtl: 4 ranges is correct. 135 at 6 foot 2 is not a good weight to be at.

Now, I will admit, that with his height, I've been working on giving him a great sprawl, and he has a great Crucifix to North-South Triangle.

TCT: Yes, he has working limbs, but you put too much stock into Technique. He has so little strength that someone who knows how to pass the guard half-way decent can pass his guard easily since he doesn't have the strength to maintain it. I mean, do you really think that Minotauro would have any problem passing and Anemic Royler's guard to get at least half-guard?

4 Ranges: Well I'm trying to work with him, I'd like to get him to about a solid 150, then he'd be workable. I mean right now, I'd estimate him to be at about 5-7 percent body fat, He's got a unintentional six pack.

I mean, it's a nightmare teaching this guy because of his attributes, he's not making as quick progress as the rest. I mean at 6'2" shooting for the legs is a difficulty, but when he's this skinny working the clinch and upper body is a mistake considering most people can pick him up from a whizzer for fuck's sake.

So I have him really working on getting and keeping guard, but once other grapplers there get a semi decent technique down to passing the guard, he gets passed quickly.

Now, I've been moving him more to working an open guard, but he doesn't have the leg strength to really get people balanced on the elevating foot to sleep with and if he puts the leg across for the scissor sweep, people just pick his ankle and latch on and he can't do shit. Butterfly is the same thing, people lean foward and force his legs down

I'm going to see how working the high-guard works for him next. But I think I really need to improve his diet first.


first off, it sounds like you're putting A LOT of thought into improving this fellow's overall game and health. Props to you for being an involved instructor.

Secondly, how are the other aspects of his game? Perhaps he should focus less on his guard, and more on using his height and leverage for guard passes and top position? It could be a blessing in disguise, in that most long-legged players focus on their guard, to the detriment of the rest of their game. Does his lack of strength affect his guard-pass/top game as well?

I'm with you on improving his diet first. With his improved eating habits, his health and physical performance should follow.

4 Ranges: Thanks for the compliments. Honestly, I'm friends with this student since High school, since before I started doing this sport, so I hate to see him not progress as fast as the rest of the students, despite the fact that he's really picking up the techniques.

Now, his top game is pretty good, except for the fact that without a good takedown game, he's rarely there. One good thing about being that thin is that he is a real devil with cinching up the rear naked-choke. If you don't get hand control in a hurry, he'll have the choke sunk very deep. His guard passing is good, but could be better, with his lankiness, it's very hard to triangle him, but armbars are a different story.

The problem becomes that once he does pass the guard, if he takes mount, people can brute strength him up and off. Side mount he's better at, since his technique there is impeccible (More a testiment to the number of wrestlers we have training, more than my own teaching) but with the standard submissions from there, he still has problems. If he doesn't suck in the Keylock instantly, people can just brute strength their arms out straight then flail a bit to keep the kimura/keylock/reverse-Armbar combination from being set.

When he goes for the arm triangle from side mount, a lot of times he'll run out of strength for keeping the choke on. Now, this is mostly my fault, since I still need to tweak his choke a bit.

Then the rest of the submissions from there, such as the armbar, kneebar and the like, give up position and as soon as he lets up on the pin and gets his weight off center, people just brute strength him off.

*Sighs* I'm just looking for some answers.

If he is picking up the techniques he'll be fine, one day it will just click for hinm and he compete in a tourney, in his weight class he may do just fine.

Anyway 've been training with Leo Santos who as a 6-2 145 pound 19 year old yearly stuck it to Royler at worlds, so it can be done.

Kashk: Very good point, but again, that's like 10 more pounds.

He'll come along, I'm sure, I was just looking for some tips.

Kai, most of the problems you list seem to be more related to technique/skill than physical ability. I have a male student who is 115-120lbs, though around 5'4". He is a blue-belt, but certainly has enough strength to successfully play guard with people who out-weigh him by 20 to 100lbs. I find it very hard to believe that strength is the issue.

I would pick one technique that everyone seems to use to pass his guard. If you don't know what that is, you need to find out. Really focus on what he needs to do to defend/counter that one technique. Drill it to death with progressive resistance.

- Kyle

Have him drill techniques rather then spar, a good drill is have him
put his hand on his belt" he isnt allowed to use his hands" and his
feet in his partner hips, and his partner tries to pass in three ways

1st one hand under stacking

2nd Trys to pins knees

3rd trys to walk around

Have partner start 1/4 speed and build up

I believe a variation of this drill is on one of Bolos sets.

Also have him practice makikng frames If he is just using arm and
leg strength he will lose but if he makes frames he will be strong
ie . right hand on flloor making 90 degree angle grabbing the left
hand which can go against partners hips neck etc..

hope this helps,

I train with a friend 6'4" 160 and he has a lot of strength and
never tires.

KyleS: I appreciate the advice, but the difference between your friend and my friend's build is quite difference.

And how long did it take him to get to the point where he could? I understand that there's things I'll have to do to make things work for him that's why I'm on here asking.

Kalel: Thanks, that's what I'm going to really have to do is try to break down what he can do to improve and make him drill.

Yeah, that's the thing, while your friend in 6 4 and 160 and never tires and has that wirey strength, my friend is two inches and 30 pounds lighter, never played any sports in his life and has a severe deficiency in the athleticism department.

Yes, there is a build difference, but my impression is that you seem to think that your friend is not making some minimum strength standard necessary to make his technique work. My point is that your friend has at least as much muscle mass as my student and so that is likely not the issue. My student has been training for around 3 years.

- Kyle