"strength isn't important"

Discussion in 'Brazilian Jiu Jitsu' started by sprint, Apr 29, 2007.

  1. sprint

    sprint Banned Banned

    do they lie to you when they say that "strength is not important"? i mean, is that just a hook to get people to join bjj?
  2. Lekta

    Lekta Super-Valued Power Member

    Why exactly is strength important?
  3. sprint

    sprint Banned Banned

    id rather take skill backed up by strength than skill backed up by weaker strength
  4. Rebel Wado

    Rebel Wado Valued Member

    It's one of those statements that has multiple interpretations. If you are very skilled, you will know how important strength is. If you are a beginner, you might interpret it differently.

    Less experienced people tend to over use strength to the point where they lose mobility and speed, and they end up getting winded quickly because they are not using their strength very efficiently. It is sometimes easier to first teach them to use relaxation and maintaining mobility and speed. As they get more experienced, then they end up using their strength but it will be in a more relaxed and efficient manner, much like the saying, "they make it look effortless." Even though it may look effortless and fluid, there is a lot of strength in the movements, it is just that good technique is there too.

    Most of this is realized in weapons training opposed to unarmed. It doesn't take a lot of force to take a sharp knife and cut right to the bone. This does NOT mean that strength is not important, but instead demonstrates the importance of other aspects such as technique, speed, mobility, attitude, and experience, etc. Strength is important, but using strength/force efficiently is more the martial arts meaning, IMHO.
  5. koyo

    koyo Passed away, but always remembered. RIP.

    REbel's post has explained it perfectly. When I teach I say martial arts is the RETENTION of strength ,physical and spiritual (fighting spirit) until that instant when it is needed, then released from aware to 100% attack in an instant. As the rebel states it is the efficient use of strength (and only that amount needed) that is desired. At the point of contact (musubi) we must be at our strongest (mind and body) emter strongly and unbalance the attacker. Then use only that amount of strength needed to execute the technique.
    Using strength to resist a technique can be dangerous as it affects our mobility.

    Jigoro Kano of kodokan judo put it well. Maximum effect for minimum effort.

    regards koyo
  6. pauli

    pauli mr guillotine

    broadly speaking, "strength isn't important" is a load of ****.

    more specifically: strength won't save you without technique, but lacking strength will frequently render technique meaningless. anyone who doubts this should watch me roll ;)

    also, starting strength isn't terribly important - any sort of grappling can and will make any healthy person stronger. i'm noticably stronger than when i started, though still not nearly as strong as i need to be in order to be reliably effective.

    technique is more important than strength, but stronger is better, period.

    now, it's also worth remembering that there's a reason that instructors (in all styles) are so frequently on the smaller side... to be effective without size and sheer strength on your side, you MUST be more technical.
  7. fanatical

    fanatical Cool crow

    The reason why strenght isn't viewed as the selling point of BJJ/Judo/JJ is because of the learning process as well. The strategy behind the arts is about tricking your opponent. Always choosing the path of least resistance and making it easier for yourself than simply overpowering your opponent. This is the guiding principle of almost all techniques.

    If you're strong, you don't need to learn ways to overpower your opponent. You simply have to physically overpower him. No lesson can teach you that, you just do it. So the focus of what to learn is in techniques that through proper application will "outwit" an overpowering opponent. The mindset is that every technique should be possible to perform on a stronger opponent if the timing, strategy and execution is right. As well as it should be.

    This is why Bodybuilding or powerlifting isn't viewed as a martial art. While it may have benefits in a fighting situation, it alone will be tremendously lacking in potential without techniques and skill to back it up. I like to view martial arts as tools. You can try to hammer a nail in with your hand, or you can use a hammer. You'll find that with a hammer you can hit it in with lots of strikes, or you can use your strength and knock it in there with one big blow. But in the end, using your strength without the hammer will most likely get you hurt.

    This is a very bad metaphor, but I'm in a typing mood today.
  8. Stevebjj

    Stevebjj Grappling Dummy

    I overheard my coach talking gameplan to one of my other guys just yesterday. The black belt at my school is 6'5" and 250. He's incredibly strong. His take on strength is that it's useful to have it but entirely necessary. There's a 135lbs purple belt at my school who will give anyone a run for his money, regardless of size.

    Anyway, what he was talking about yesterday was that strength is useful when you want to lock in a submission. But technique gets you there. You can't substitute one for the other. He did say that being strong has a mental advantage. If you're strong, it's okay sometimes to let your opponent feel your strength... snap him forward on an arm drag, or just put some pressure on his diaphragm from side control... something to get into his mind a little bit. This may or may not help you win a match, but letting your opponent feel your strength early might help you get a tap later.

    So, like money, it isn't everything and it doesn't always make a difference, but I'd much rather have it than not.
  9. bcullen

    bcullen They are all perfect.

    Here's a lesson in contrasts:

    There is one guy at my school who is about 5' 5" and maybe 130 lbs soaking wet and about 45 years old. I'm 6'1", 145-150 lbs, 38 years old. Just looking at the two of us it's easy to see I am bigger and in much better physical condition yet I still have not tapped him out even once; haven't even come close (he's a black belt).

    We have a new comer with some experience who is 5' 9", 260lbs (and it's all muscle). I have more experience but often loose to him as well. Between his size, strength and the little bit of grappling experience he has, it adds up to negate my experience. To give you an idea of how bad it is, I had him almost in an armbar I just needed to get a couple inches to fully straighten the arm. Even with leverage and correct angles I had to fight for a good two minutes to get it. All the while he's actually lifting my back four to six inches off the mat in attempts to roll over.
  10. Rebel Wado

    Rebel Wado Valued Member

    I'd like to point out that pressure (force applied to an area -- pounds per square inch) is very important in martial arts, and is particularly emphasized in BJJ.

    Force is calculated as mass times acceleration.

    When someone "bulks up" they are not just getting stronger, they are adding mass as muscle. Mass is always going to help in generating force.

    Acceleration is how fast someone can change the speed of moving mass. Your "strength" is only as good as how well you can control the acceleration of mass. The faster the acceleration and the more mass you can accelerate all factor into total force.

    Very basic stuff here. If I have more mass or learn how to apply more mass (e.g. use whole body in a strike instead of just my arms) and I learn how to accelerate that mass effectively, then I will have power.

    This is as far as many need to go. They bulk up (gain mass) and gain power efficiently, and as a result they have enough of an advantage to do well in martial arts.

    The application of effective pressure, however, still eludes many and this is an area where skill and experience can take a long time to develop, IME. Pressure is applying force to an area, this involves not just leverage but also how the pressure is applied, with what it is applied with, and when (timing).

    Pressure applies the law of inverse squares. Meaning one half the area is FOUR times the force... and one third the area is NINE times the force... and one quarter the area is SIXTEEN times the force (it is the square of the size of the area). If I took my body mass and laid it over someone's chest, they might easily be able to throw me off. If however I took my same mass and applied it to just their shoulder (roughly one quarter the size let's say) then that is to my opponent like sixteen times the force and I just might be able to immobilize their shoulder, forcing them to move something else or move around me.

    The same pressure rules that apply to grappling, apply to striking. Take a strike and apply that force using just one knuckle instead of over a larger area and more pressure will be applied to the area hit.

    This is all determined by how good and practical technique is.
  11. EternalRage

    EternalRage Valued Member

    "strength is not important"... well it depends on how you take it.

    If you're talking to a beginner that's trying to muscle his way through a move instead of focusing on the body mechanics and technique behind it, then yes "strength is not as important".. "as understanding how to do it properly." That's fine.

    If you're saying "strength is not important" like some people say "size doesn't matter" well then yes that's crap. There's a reason why 5'6, 140 lb guys aren't in the NFL, or why 350 lb road blocks of fat aren't either.
  12. TheMightyMcClaw

    TheMightyMcClaw Dashing Space Pirate

    I think it has to do with the idea that a tiny, well-trained jiujitsu player will be able to easily overcome a much larger person with no grappling skills. Just the other night I had a little wrasslin' match with one of my friends (a 6'4 205 lb karate brown belt - I'm about 145 lb) I and was able to take him down, control him, and tap him out with relative ease. Much more so than with a well-trained person my own wieght.
    While size and strength is clearly important, I do believe that in the end, skill is more important. When someone has both skill and strength... then it's time to watch out. ^_~
  13. EternalRage

    EternalRage Valued Member

    Along similar lines:

    "When my father was growing up in Brazil he challenged everybody and his victories were all the more impressive because he was physically so unimposing. He is only 5’8”, 140 pounds. People didn’t expect much of him in a fight and would go crazy when he won. The biggest selling point for Jiu-Jitsu was the fact that he did not have a lot of physical strength. If a large man wins, it’s no big deal. Everyone thinks that the best fighter in the world is the world heavyweight boxing champion. They idolize such a man, but in the process they diminish themselves. You can’t be sad because you are not 6’4”, 220 pounds. You have to do what you can with what you’ve got. The fact that my brother Royce is not a big, strong guy is a wonderful selling point for our method of Jiu-Jitsu because the average guy says, “Hey, look at what that skinny guy is doing! I can do the same thing!” "

  14. 1bad65

    1bad65 Valued Member

    My take is that it does tend to matter more when the skill levels are closer. If a guy is giving up say 50lbs and he has done BJJ for 1 year and the bigger guys has say 9 months, I would bet on the bigger guy. But if a 145lb black belt went against a 250lb blue belt, I would take the smaller guy.

    One advantage I have noticed being on the smaller side (5'7 160) is that bigger, less experienced guys at times try to force subs. If you try and force like a guillitine your arms will tire, on a triangle your legs will, etc. I have actually done that before, gave a guy something I felt I could defend hoping he would try and force it and tire himself.
  15. Shiho-Nage

    Shiho-Nage I'm okay to go.

    skill > strength

    skill + strength > skill, assuming that skills are comparable.
  16. Atharel

    Atharel Errant


    BJJ example: Marcelo Garcia whoops a lot of behind in all his tournies as a smaller guy. But he doesn't tend to do as well against people like Jacare or Roger Gracie, whose skills are comparable and also have a significant strength advantage.
  17. American HKD

    American HKD New Member


    I think this is about a skilled person (decent tech) can beat a bigger strong Opp with skill not strength.

    Two skilled players strength will be a factor!

    It's not BS it's who against who???
  18. Emil

    Emil Valued Member

    I strongly disagree with the philosophy that strength is not important. If you take a 140lbs guy and put him up a 300lbs muscle bound freak, that little guy will not throw the bigger guy. Strength is definitely a factor. The trick is learning how to fight different opponents. For example, I do not want to grapple with a much bigger person than myself, as strength plays a big role here. So, I play a different game all together, and and start damaging weak areas like knees and eyes. With a smaller opponent, I might grapple.
  19. Atharel

    Atharel Errant

    Mifune would disagree.

    And how do you deal with the sterling example of Marcelo Garcia proving that technique is far more important than strength in grappling?
    Last edited: May 13, 2007
  20. Oversoul

    Oversoul Valued Member

    Not to mention how he dominated Ricco Rodriguez.

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