When I started practicing BJJ back in 2002, I was convinced by and sold on one of BJJ’s typical promises that a small person with superior skills could beat a larger, stronger opponent.
I still believe in it to some extent, and it is true to some extent.
But… size does matter, too.
I used to think that I would become able to deal with a bigger opponent more easily once I attained a certain skill level. But it turns out that a 90kg opponent is still heavy enough for me (I weigh a bit less than 70kg). And if that person knows enough BJJ, that makes things difficult for sure.
While I’m not at an elite competitor level, I know I’m reasonable enough.
It depends on what the other person’s skill level is, but let’s say…
If I’m dealing with a 90+kg white belt, there’s usually no problem mostly because they don’t know what to do or what I’m doing.
If it’s a 90+kg blue belt, I usually don’t struggle much, but sweeping them can be a bit more difficult because they know what’s going on roughly, if not exactly.
If it’s a 90+kg purple belt… well, they don’t have to be 90+kg to make things difficult. 80kg would be heavy enough. Things become much more difficult with them. Again, mostly with sweeping and taking them down due to the weight difference. Their skills may not be sophisticated enough in terms of pure skills, but the weight difference can usually fill in that gap and make it really difficult for me to deal with these opponents.
If it’s a 90+kg brown or black belt… if we are doing a more competitive roll, then I can’t make a mistake with them. Perhaps this may be a big difference between when I roll with beginners/intermediate folks (white to blue belts) and with more advanced ones (purple to black belts).
Advanced players often notice mistakes their opponent makes, and they capitalize or at least try to capitalize on such a mistake. High-level players force their opponents to make such mistakes, too.
And the thing is, when there’s a big weight difference, the margin of error you could make becomes even smaller.
On that note, it’s amazing to see how people like Mikey Musumeci, Lucas Lepri, and Lachlan Giles ,for example, can do really well against stronger AND skilled opponents.
Because it means their skills are truly ahead of their opponents.
I hope to get closer to their level and to be able to deal with heavier opponents with ease one day!