How big a guy can one beat?

I have about one years experience in submission grappling. I have often been able to submit guys that are about twice as strong as me (in submission grappling, without strikes). I say that because they can bench about twice as much as me. I know that squats and deadlifts are a better indicator of strength but first of all, very few guys talk about how much they can squat (so I don't know that information) and secondly, upper body strength seems to matter just as much than lower body strength for grappling, especially for us beginners.

It wasn't until those guys had had about half a year of submission grappling experience that they began to submit me about equally as often as I submit them. So, perhaps it's a rule of thumb that if a weaker guy has twice as much experience as a guy that's twice as strong as he, they will be about equally good on the mat? Just a silly idea.

But I sometimes grapple with a guy that is about THREE to FOUR times as strong as me and about twice as heavy. In this case, if I don't manage to get on top of him, which happens all the time, I feel like a CHILD grapping an adult. I can sometimes ride out his attacks for few minutes but it's really no contest. This guy has had less 6 months grappling experience, but he is athletic, competes in bench press competitions, bounces and generally just knows how to fight on the street. He's sort of natural.

I'm wondering:

Do you guys have an opinion on what the upper limit is in terms of how big your opponent can be until there is just no way he can be beaten with superior skills, technique and experience?

It seems to be possible to defeat a guy that's twice as strong as yourself, if you've been training for twice as long, perhaps. But when he's 3-4 four times as strong, I'm having doubts if I could ever defeat such a monster.

I also have the feeling that SIZE matters even more than strength, because I can sometimes hold this guy adequatly from top positions, but if he gets on top of me, he feels like an immovable object - even though I try to scoot my hips out and/or bridge.

How much stronger and heavier were Severn and Kimo when Royce fought them, for example?




Ive rolled with some pretty big guys that didnt know anything but completely killed my game with their enormous weight over my legs in the guard. I would feel the muscles burn in my hips and thighs and would consider tapping just from the intense burn. I finally learned not to try to sweep, triangle, or even omaplata these guys because they were just too large to get the proper leverage. I started to work on taking the back from the guard and playing a more active open guard that gave me some guillotine opportunities. Works well for me.

"Finally learned not to try to sweep, triangle, or even omaplata these guys because they were just too large to get the proper leverage."

Agreed on that triangle and omaplata thing. I train at a couple of places with some really big guys--250-350 lbs. It is very hard to do those things. I try to open up and play an open guard, looking for their necks and backs.


I don't know about strength but I'm generally quite weak for my weight (75kg now- I've gained 10k in one year!). The thing with strength is, if the guy feels you're weaker and goes out of his way to overpower you, it's quite easy to relax and just wait for his mistakes. Keep good position and then, when he tires, burst into your next position (Renzo's strategy against Newton).

Weight on the other hand! I find that anyone upwards of 95kg I can't handle. Especially on bottom. You just can't move them. Even top is not easy- I had cross-sides on a 110kg guy yesterday and all he had to do was keep his hands in posture and there was nothing I could do to budge him.

It's all theoretical, but I think the only strategy that will work is to fight like Marcelo Garcia. (^_^) Which means you almost never rely on leverage- you play every position like a "floating game". Keep moving and moving and make sure you're at least one move in front of your opponent.

Genki sudo at 155 lbs heel hooked pro boxer Butterbean at ~ 400 lbs.

It depends how skilled they are....

....if we're talking about guys with little to no experience, then back in March I PLAYED with a bunch of football players that were sent to my BJJ class by their coach.

Me: 5'9", 155, benches roughly 180 (ha, I know)

The biggest of them: 5'8", 300, benches 400

In a 2 minute match, I took his back from the knees and choked him twice, then mounted for the final minute and stayed there. Took an arm in the final 5 seconds, but mostly wanted to see how long I could hang out on top of him (my knees barely touched).


I think I read (something along the lines of...)that every additional 20 lbs of muscle mass is equivalent to a stripe on the belt.


"Genki sudo at 155 lbs heel hooked pro boxer Butterbean at ~ 400 lbs"

The heel hook is grapplings "great equalizer" like when a 90 pound Grandmother blows away a 200 pound thug with a 357.

There's a lot of factors; but, I generally have a tough time with guys 60 or more pounds heavier, if they have a few months of training, unless I get the top first.

Another type is guys that are not only strongly built ; but, very tall (6'5) or more. Once they learn leverage, they are hard to handle. One guy I grapple with is like that. I can almost always get his back and stay there. Finishing is another story.

I am 135 and when I roll with big/strong guys I do get stuck in bottom position alot. Generally with beginners that are 30-50 pounds heavier than me, I can still sweep and get position on them and get the sub. Guys that have been around a while but not quite blue belt will normally use alot of strength and try to crush me as soon as possible. At the end of the roll, whether they submit me or not, they are very winded and really wore out. I normally tell them that they shouldn't be panting like they just ran sprints especially when they outweigh me by so much. Being smaller, I do stay with open guard and a sweep right away. always trying to avoid getting flattened or stacked.

I think its best to get on top so you don't get squashed and then start going for chokes. A big guy can probably fight out of arm bars, kimuras but if you have that guy's neck even if he's big he's still gonna pass out. When you play your guard don't go to your back because you will bear his weight. Try to sit up, one foot in the hip, go for arm drags, guillotines or snap him down to a front headlock and spin around to the back similar to what Margarida does with the gi. And when you pass, try to pass standing so he doesn't just buck you off. Use the toreando because most guys are not good at relooping their legs to recover their guard.

I recently had a guy come train with me. A friend of a friend. This guy used to juice and instead of lifting for size genuinely lifted for power and strength. At 195 my friend told me he benched 400, and squated a lot so who knows how much that was. At first I doubted, at second I didnt. Guy was rock hard muscle strong as an ox. He had wrestling and boxing experience to boot. I still submitted him fairly easily but one of this guys great attributes is his patience. one of the few "super strong" guys I have known that actually want to learn the very techinical aspects of the game then just muscling through stuff. I think if he keeps up training with me he will be damn good. Strength DOES matter, especially when skill sets the same.

It always blows me away when I see purple belt Little Dave grapple with
Byron a very well built guy at the school where I trained. There is
absolutely no doubt who has more muscle mass and weight, and there
is absolutely no doubt who comes out on top all the time (that I've seen
anyway). I'm a white belt, Byron was a white belt as well but he could
shut me down in 2 seconds flat if he wanted to.

It's really all about the interplay between how much one know and how
strong they are. Once or twice, I tapped a wrestler who is around 255,
and short. Really really wide. Both times it was with armbars from the
triangle position. I really suck at taking the back, so I rarely do that.
But if you can slap a fairly tight triangle on, go after the arm

I held my own agains a blue belt in Brazil that had to be over 300lbs,
but was out of shape, and hadn't been on the mat in a while. I played
open guard, he couldn't pass, but I couldn't do much either. I'm around
170, for reference.


I often fight people who are well over 8 feet tall and weigh in around 600 pounds and I can tell you now that with the proper tech and a good game plan I can normaly be out of the hospital in just under a month.

A couple of visiting blues came to my gym in the spring, one of them was about 5'10", close to 400lbs. He was strong, but also very fat. I played an open guard game - played half guard for a minute until I realized he could break my ribs if I stayed there too long - went back to open guard and ended up taking his back. Unfortunately for me, he rolled so we were both face up. I'm on his back with both hooks in, working for a choke...and almost instantly, I wanted to tap out. He was crushing the life out of me just by laying there. My nuts felt like they were going to pop. It took me a while, but I eventualy wiggled my hips out, got to the side and took an armbar, but it was hard as hell.

I agree that size can often be much harder to deal with than strength.


lol at Popeye.

JRockwell, yeah I've experienced this. Back mount when you are facing up can sometimes feel very crushing when your opponent is much heavier. But then again, back mount when you're facing down can make it harder for you to choke your opponent, at least it often feels so for me.

I prefer to have the full mount on heavy guys, but lately (after lots and lots of practise) I have been getting pretty comfortable having guard on very heavy guys, after I learned how to relax and always be ready to put my forearm (or both forearms) in his throat, to get some of his weight off me. It also teaches you to stop letting your entire back touch the mat and work instead more on your side or just on your shoulders.

My favourite position against big guys is the guard. Everyone here talks about the top position, but I find it really hard to keep, especially in gi. Even if I try to move around a lot, this guy will just grab onto part of my gi and flip me over. For example, I get a real big powerful dude in north-south and he just grabs onto my gi so I can't move and flips me over with ease. Even a perfectly held side mount he can just flip me over. Guard on the otherhand, is the only place I can sub him. Triangles, armbars, sometimes chokes. I don't even see the point in sweeps(except to practise), because I'll just get reversed back to guard. I'll take the back also, if he gives me an opportunity. But certainly, IMO, guard is the small guy's antidote to big strong dudes.

i started my fighting a month after i started training. big mistake. i'm taking time off now. but, after six months of training/fighting, i fought a guy in alabama that was 6'7", 370lbs. he had only a few grappling lessons. i tried to armbar him but his arms wwere too long. (i'm only 5'9", 190lbs) but i got his back easy and choked him out. so, weight doesn't matter most of the time, unless he is as equally skilled as you. or skilled enough to nuetralize you and pound you. :)

dave glasco

That's awesome if it works for you, Peare, but the same strategy is less
efficient for me. I fight bigger guys from the guard only as long as I
have to. If I can sweep, or if they pull guard I am a much happier

I wonder if you're holding the pins properly. Unless there is a really
huge weight difference(80lbs+), you should be able to keep the guy
down. The key (for me) to holding pins against big guys is to combine
pressure and mobility. Learn to move around a guy while still keeping
weight down. And if the guy is really muscling you off, he may be
giving up his back. I also like to use Knee-on-belly as much as
possible to tire the guy out. Also, if the guy tries to roll you across his
body, be ready to use your head to post. But by far the biggest thing is
to move to a different pin as soon as the guy starts to escape. This can
be as big a change as going from cross-body to north-south, or as
little as switching your hips from cross body, to go to modified or
reverse kesa. Don't go to mount, though, as it is really, really tough to
hold against a huge guy.

Hope this helps.


That last post was assuming that you are the more skilled player, too.
If the guy is near your skill level and huge, well, your screwed.