10 reasons strength may not matter in BJJ!
We have all heard the debate about whether technique beats strength in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Well, here is some surprising BJJ news, it depends. Let’s first look at the reasons why it does matter. Then we can learn why it may not. Ultimately you will have to decide for yourself if strength matters in BJJ.
5 reasons strength matters in BJJ...
1. Strength helps with body positioning - For those of us who lack the athleticism of youth, strength is a great help when it comes to maintaining good body positioning during grappling sessions. Having control over your movements and keeping your opponent at just the right distance can give you an edge against your opponent. Strength behind frames can make a huge difference in buying time to reguard.
2. Strength gives you an advantage in the Gi - Clinching and grappling with a gi on can be difficult without some degree of muscular strength. The gi allows your opponent to grip onto you, making it more difficult to stay out of harm’s way or move into a advantageous position. It can be tougher to break grips on a stronger opponent.
3. Strength gives you an edge in the guard - With increased muscular strength, one can better protect their arms and legs while in the guard position. This makes it more difficult for opponents to pass your defense or even maintain a dominant position themselves. The closed guard can be difficult to break if a persons legs are very strong.
4. Strength helps with submissions - Submissions require an application of pressure or torque to be successful. Having strong arms, legs, and core can help you apply more pressure that results in a submission. You may tap faster to a person who achieves an entry into a submission and gets the bite if they are strong. Its better to tap and be safe.
5. Strength helps when grappling with bigger opponents - As the old saying goes “you don’t have to be big, but being big helps”. Having increased strength can give you an edge against larger opponents who rely on their size and power to dominate the match.
And now for 5 reasons why strength may not matter...
1. Technique reigns supreme - When it comes to BJJ, technique always beats brute strength. With enough practice and proficiency, a smaller opponent can use their technique to overcome the strength of a larger opponent. Experience wins over strength 90% of the time.
2. Strength increases your risk of injury - When relying on strength rather than technique, it is much easier to get injured due to incorrect form or over exertion. This can result in an extended break from the mats and increased medical bills. Oddly it can be also said that if your strong, it can help reduce how serious the injury is and reduce recovery time. I am on the fence with this one.
3. Strength can be a handicap - When relying on strength, you become less mobile and more predictable in your movements. This makes it easier for your opponent to predict what techniques you will use and counter them accordingly. Agility can really help your technical ability. Strength can work against you.
4. It takes away focus from technique - Relying too heavily on your strength takes away focus from building up your technique. This can be detrimental to your progress in the long run, as there is a limit to how much strength you can build up. If you rely on strength it may take longer to become more technical.
5. Technical proficiency trumps strength - In general, having technical proficiency is more important than being strong when it comes to BJJ. It’s important to have a good balance between strength and technique to be successful. OSS!
So, does strength matter in BJJ? The answer is that it depends. Strength can give you an advantage in certain situations, but technical proficiency will always reign supreme. It’s important to focus on both elements of the game and use them in harmony. As with all things, the right mix of strength and technique is key to success in BJJ. Ultimately, you will have to decide for yourself what works best for your style of Jiu Jitsu. Good luck!
Matthew Tropp | BJJ Report