It’s Tough Being a Small Guy in BJJ

Published on by Samantha Faulhaber

It’s Tough Being a Small Guy
Guys that skew towards smaller in the academy have it the toughest of all, in my opinion. Here’s why.

No Mercy
As a female, I have a chance at chivalry and generally very helpful training from both sides that might even occasionally border on too nice. Guys don’t have the same chance at this benefit. People are going to go hard with them. And if they are indeed smaller and weaker and not an ex-wrestler, they’re going to have a bad time.

Longer Learning Curve
That bad time is going to last longer than their bigger peers for the same reasons. When you’re dealing with size and strength and technique that is close to your level, size and strength are going to matter. This is one of those Jiu-Jitsu-isms I hate. Strength matters a lot. Technique gives you a chance to overcome it. If you’re just starting out and everybody knows more than you do, you’re going to get smashed for a long time. It is going to take longer before you see the sun shining on the other side. Longer to get your first submission and longer to find yourself in any dominant positions for extended periods of time. It’s hard enough to be motivated in those first tough weeks and months, but seeing people join and submit you before you get good enough to submit them first is that little bit extra awful. Little guys go through this more than anyone else. It’s up to us as teammates and instructors to keep them motivated and positive so they stick around, because…

Small Guys Rock
Smaller guys that stick around long enough become the academy mat enforcers. They exemplify how Jiu-Jitsu allows you to overcome size and strength disparities. Every female will tell you that some of their favorite training partners are small guys. They’ve been through all of our frustrations and then some. Those trials developed some awesome technical skills that make them great training for everyone.

But Don’t Let that Pressure You
You’re not at the academy to be someone else’s inspiration. Losing is always ok and means nothing except that you have more to learn, just like everybody else every day. You have no duties to be anyone’s training partner that isn’t good for you first and foremost. You should not be put into positions you’re not comfortable with to prove anyone else’s point. Helping out with new people is par for the course no matter what your size and will help you learn more yourself, but your own training is all about your progress and your safety. You may be better equipped as you get better, but the reality is you’re still a smaller guy. Your spine would thank you to remember that.