There has been a lot of discussions about whether strength matters in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. You will hear people say that by using Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, it is the techniques that matter and not the strength. There are some that will say that every physical sport needs strength. So what is it really? Does strength matter in BJJ?
Strength matters in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Even if skills also matter, skills will be nothing without strength. In fact, a lot of famous Jiu Jitsu black belters have insane strength. This is because skills are used to leverage strength. The more your strength, the higher the leverage from skills.
But still, there are Jiu Jitsu black belters that can fight with little strength, we will also discuss that later. We will also discuss how much does strength really matters in Jiu Jitsu? Because it is really true that strength matters a lot but how much?
Does strength matter in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?
Strength matters a lot in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It is very important especially if you are in the defensive. Putting strength lets you out of a dire situation. That’s why there are some people who will force their way into getting out of locks and succeed.
This is because of the skills in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. If you are on top, you can use skills and the power of gravity to help you improve your grappling strength. Thus, when attacking, skills matter the most.
But the story changes when you are on the defensive.
Once you are on the defensive, gravity will be out of your favor. Thus, to counter the attacks, you need to use more strength. This is the reason why people who are very strong are really hard to force into submission.
While you can easily beat a while belter that is 100 lbs heavier than you, when that person turns into a blue or purple belt, you will be having a hard time forcing that person into submission.
For most cases, you run out of time because as I said, strength is best for defense however, when it comes to offense, it will still be the skill that counts.
So you might be having trouble defeating him because of his defense but he will also have a hard time defeating you because his strength is only for defense purpose.
That is also why on higher belt, most start incorporating strength training.
Strength training has 2 purpose. One is to prevent serious injuries because strong muscles will decrease the likelihood of injuries.
If you are interested on how to prevent injuries while practicing Jiu Jitsu, here is a good article to read: Does Jiu Jitsu Ruin your Body?
The second reason is that you need strength to amplify your skills and to improve your defense.
This is because in Jiu Jitsu, no matter how skillful you become, you can still make mistakes and get you into serious trouble.
And one of the ways to get out of the situation is to use brute strength to loosen the enemy’s attacks.
How much does strength matter in Jiu Jitsu?
As a general rule, strength matters but only 30% of the time. The other 70% will come from techniques and skills which is way important when you are against someone with a higher belt than you. But against someone with equal techniques, it will be the strength than can win the match.
The 30 to 70 ratio is not the same for all. It is just an approximation. This is because strength matters a lot of defense because you are against the odds like the force of gravity, which the enemy can leverage to boost his or her attacks.
In that case, it can turn into 50% strength, 50% skills.
On attacks, you can leverage your skills, moves, and gravity to work in your favor, thus you do not need to exert a lot of strength to force enemies into submission.
At this cases, it can be said that it will be 90% skill and 10% strength.
So in general, it is the 70% skill and 30% strength. Most will agree that skill matters a lot than strength however, you will also need strength on different occessions.
However, this rule has an exception, and only the best of the best BJJ practitioners were able to reach it.
Marcio Feitosa and Saulo Ribiero are two that can be considered legends of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. They have honed their skill, techniques, and craft in Jiu Jitsu so perfectly that most of us will not even bother reaching that level.
At their level, because of their superior skills compared to others, they can beat no matter how strong you are with skills alone.
With these people, the saying that strength doesn’t matter will definitely be true.
But as I said, these are outliers to the rule because of their immense skill and talent. But for the general public, their level is unattainable.
But if you think you can then go for it, maybe you have the talents to reach that but for most, that’s a big no.
Why does Strength really matter in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?
Strength really matters in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu because to leverage your skills, you need strength, Strength is necessary to successfully do joint locks and hold, as well as defending yourself when you are caught during rolling. But relying on strength alone will not make you win matches.
Strength is great as it will boost your skills. Every technique and moves in Jiu Jitsu will be boosted if you can have more strength.
There is a saying in Jiu Jitsu that you only use 70% strength. That is because using 100% makes you lost control and might become an opportunity for the enemy to use your strength against you.
But what if we still use 70% of our strength but we are stronger? We can still use the 70% strength but it is way stronger and you can control it.
How much stronger joint locks, holds and takedown can you make with that.
Can you still tell that strength doesn’t matter?
Then why do most BJJ black belts have insane strength and have strength training into their routine? This is because strength is still important.
Just like any other physical sport, strength matters.
That is specially true in Jiu Jitsu.
If someone tells you that it is not the strength that counts, then ask why. If he gave the examples of those given above, you already know that they are outliers. Most of us will need to build strength,
It is true that strength will not make you win because it is defense focused. At those times, you can use brute force to get out. To win, you need a combination. A combination of skills, techniques and strength.
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Welcome to my recommended list of Jiu-Jitsu gear.
In this section, you are going to see my recommended Jiu-Jitsu gears both for beginners and pros.
When getting some grappling shorts, you first need to understand that the thing we are looking for in grappling shorts is the ones that will provide flexibility.
This means that we are not looking at designs but what we are looking for is how comfortable it is and if you can do a full range of motions while wearing the shorts.
If that’s the case, I recommend an IBJJF approved grappling short which has no pockets that can interfere with rolls, and most importantly, allows a full range of motion. This can help you in rolls since you need to have fluid motions to do some maneuvers.
Here is the link for the product: BJJ Shorts
Grappling spats are a great alternative to Grappling shorts and are sometimes used in conjunction with Grappling shorts.
The reason for using a Grappling spat is to prevent friction.
Remember that BJJ is focused on rolls, locks, and takedowns. This is prone to friction that can cause injuries such as burns and mat cuts.
In choosing a good pair of grappling spats, you need to take note that it is important that it is also flexible so you can easily do some full-range motions while rolling.
Furthermore, since you will be covering your whole legs with it, it is important for it to absorb some sweat while still being comfortable for the wearer.
If that’s the case, I recommend these Grappling Spats which are very stretchable making them good for fluid motion. Furthermore, it is well made to handle friction which prevents any unwanted injuries.
Lastly, its cloth is breathable which means that it is very comfortable for your skin.
Here is the link for the product: Grappling Spats
Think of a rash guard as the grappling spat for the upper body.
Rashguard helps in preventing friction that can cause injuries such as mat cuts and burns.
When finding one, it is important to find a comfortable rash guard which is breathable. Furthermore, have one that allows a full range of motion.
Thus, I recommend this rash guard which does all of the functions I’ve said: Rashguard
Knee and Elbow Pads
Personally, I am a victim of a knee injury. That’s why I always tell people to use knee and elbow pads when doing some physically intensive activities such as BJJ.
Because of my injuries, I can’t really last long with any sort of long physical activity.
So, while it is often neglected, I believe that Knee and Elbox pads are important.
Good Knee and Elbow pads are supposed to be comfortable while still providing maximum protection to both your elbows and knees.
Thus, I recommend these safety gears:
There are lots of cauliflower ear incidents with BJJ practitioners.
Even if this is quite an unpopular safety gear, it is important as we are preventing friction that can come from rolls.
In choosing an ear protector, you do not need to get something that protects you from strikes. Striking is usually not allowed.
So, what’s important is to find something that is very lightweight and protects you from friction.
If that’s the case, then you may opt for this which is really useful and won’t look weird on rolls: Ear Guards