size matters

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size matters

Post  Chris on Thu Dec 13, 2012 6:09 am

By most common standards I would be considered a small guy.

It is a fact that unless a freak twister leaves me stranded in the Emerald City or I am press ganged by Willie Wonker to work in his factory alongside the other Umpa Lumpa's then I am always going to be considered both short in the leg and light in the arse.
Here's the thing. In nearly thirty years of running round gyms and training in one system or another I have NEVER seen a training regime which adequately prepared the student to handle and prevail over a significant size differential.
I used to believe that was a fault of the training programme, the instructors or myself not training “correctly” or adequately. In time I came to understand that there is no silver bullet and no training regime that can successfully prepare you to consistently prevail over a significant disparity in size.

I typically weigh in at around 140lbs and have done since I was a teenager. A great many of the guys I go up against in the gym tip the scales at 200lbs plus. Now it is important to bear in mind that under perfect gym conditions an individual would be considered very strong if they could bench press 1.5 times their own body weight. That's not a set of ten reps. That is one rep, from perfect position and alignment. That would mean me, as a relatively fit and strong 140lb guy bench pressing 210 balanced, unmoving and very well distributed pounds.
Now, using that benchmark (forgive the pun) how do we as martial artists, trainers and coaches seriously expect an individual to consistently during the course of a fight exhibit that same level of strength consistently or across multiple occasions against a constantly shifting and focused weight?

Just to make things more difficult (not that they needed to be!!) try pressing someone off you from a prone position, who weighs 1.5 times your body weight who DOESN'T want to be pressed and is holding onto you. Try it. Seriously, grab the biggest guy in your training group, tell him to hold on from a top position (side four quarters being optimum) and give it a try. The first time you may move him a little, by the third and fourth attempts it's all over.

I have spent a good number of years letting large men throw me around and twist me into strange and unusual shapes and it has become readily apparent that most things being equal (you’ll note I didn’t say ALL things being equal) the smaller guy is going to be squashed like a bug. ) It takes exceptional skill to even begin to level the playing field and even with that exceptional skill you are going to struggle.
You can perhaps begin to see why those “female” self -protection courses who claim to make women capable of handling a grown man in a rage make me break out in a cold sweat!

What does all this tell us? Well, years of being smashed and grabbed by monsters has distilled for me some universal truths.

1) The Truth. Mass matters. Someone with a weight advantage has a massive advantage.

2) The whole truth and nothing but the truth. When dealing with someone who is larger, i.e. has greater bodyweight you are hugely disadvantaged in the grapple. You will struggle to hold him down, you will struggle to throw him and it is likely that should you find yourself underneath him for whatever reason the point where his weight lifts will likely only be once he has delivered a beating.

3) Pulling guard will get you hurt. Your best chance of success as a smaller person in the fight lies in not being tied up in a clinch and not spending prolonged time in the grapple. There should be no standing and certainly no ground grappling beyond a fight to the feet and a fight for space where you are not in grappling range. Roll in the gym, roll with guys who are the same size or smaller. Roll for stamina and skill development. Roll for fun but do not ROLL in a fight. In just the same way as a fight is not sparring, grappling is not fighting. In a fight, your efforts should you find yourself tied up with a larger guy MUST be focused and concentrated on disengaging and creating distance. No ifs, ands, buts or maybes. Your goal is to get out of grappling proximity.

4) Be first. If you can't afford to grapple with the guy then you have to stop the altercation before it becomes a fight. That means being willing, ready and able to deliver a pre-emptive strike that is effective and high percentage. (of course, delivered within the confines and requirements of your geographical legal system). Work your fence, use your feet and work your pre-empt under pressure to ensure that you are mentally and emotionally prepared to pull the trigger.

5) There is no silver bullet. For centuries martial artists have followed the marketing spiel that one system or another will prevail against bigger, stronger opponents. Such advertising appeals to those amongst us who are smaller than the majority and are willing to believe the fairy tale that size and strength doesn't matter in the fight. It does. Sorry. Get over it. I hear time and time again stories about little guys taking out big guys as some kind of evidence of effectiveness for what they train. It means nothing. No system ever won a fight. The person in the fight wins or loses. Your best opportunity for success lies in the comments above. Be first, be ferocious and be final. You will be the difference, not your martial art. “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” Rapidly becomes nonsense when you are up against a big dog who has a decent sized fight in him!

6) You cannot outmuscle size. You CAN out-wait, out-work and out-want muscle. You can break his heart through tenacity, toughness and timing. Stay calm, don't panic. Wait for your moment, accept that you are in the situation you are in and watch for your opportunity. Hopefully, your training will give greater experience and understanding of violence and that will allow you to weather some of the storm which is coming your way and judge when and how to expend your finite energy.

7) Exertion is mental as well as physical. Once you have breached a physical barrier and achieved the first time, the second time is so much easier. (Just ask someone who has completed a marathon for the first time, the knowledge that you have prevailed in the past is a powerful aid to ongoing achievement.) Train for the deep water and break his heart.

Cool Train a system which gives you the most efficient grappling options for detatchment and reversal. That means that even though grappling with someone who is bigger and stronger than you are is a recipe for disaster you still need a solid grappling background to give yourself the best chance of successfully disengaging and reversing their superior position. Technique is not going to negate the impact of your opponents larger mass but it is a certainty that without good technique in a solid grappling system then you will find it infinitely harder to prevail.

9) Your reality is unique. Big guys as instructors have no idea what is feels like as a smaller person in a fight. They can only guess and presume. In the same way that smaller people are impeded by their size, bigger guys reap the benefit of their greater mass. They cannot be what they are not and they cannot assume the attributes of a smaller person. Find an instructor who has both the knowledge, skillset and physical attributes which are applicable to your circumstances. Watch what they do and how they do it. Ask them what works for them and learn from their hard won experience.

10) Mindset has no weight categories. Be a mental heavyweight. Be prepared to take more punishment, be prepared for the discomfort and above all be willing to keep striving beyond normal expectations. This should be a fundamental part of your training regime. Ten years ago I walked into a room where every guy in there was hard as nails and outweighed me by at least 60lbs. I was a rag doll, thrown around for fun and bounced like a new football. Ten years later and I’m still there as an instructor. I found the training partners who gave me reality rather than pipe dreams. As a result I have avoided altercations in the last ten years which would likely have become cautionary tales. I have attempted to jettison ego and insecurity. I have become infinitely better prepared for the reality of violence and that has left me without the desire to prove that I am “capable” in a “real” fight. I am painfully aware from experience how difficult fighting is, was and remains.

Train hard, train real and train objectively. The universe applies its physical laws to each of us equally and regardless of personal attributes. Understand what that really means for you.
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Re: size matters

Post  rasdj on Thu Dec 13, 2012 3:37 pm

I wish they was a like button on this forum I'd click that multiple times. This great advice Chris and works for anyone but I'm sure smaller guys will benefit greatly from the advice.
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Re: size matters

Post  Peter on Thu Dec 13, 2012 11:45 pm

Excellent post Chris.

I have to admit that in my days in the ring etc I have always found fighting small guys to be fookin awful. I remember being taken apart in Muay Thai once by a guy who was at least a foot shorter than me. I didn't even know where he was half of the time!

Smaller guys do have advantages in that the larger guy is often left throwing punches etc at angles he isn't used to and even his sightlines have to be adjusted.

People like Nick will not have this issue as everyone is smaller than him but average height types such as myself find it unpleasant as we aren't used to it.

Do you think a smaller size can be an advantage at times or is my experience only relevant in a sport environment where your techniques are limited?
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Re: size matters

Post  Socrates on Fri Dec 14, 2012 1:30 am

Peter wrote:Excellent post Chris.

I have to admit that in my days in the ring etc I have always found fighting small guys to be fookin awful. I remember being taken apart in Muay Thai once by a guy who was at least a foot shorter than me. I didn't even know where he was half of the time!

Smaller guys do have advantages in that the larger guy is often left throwing punches etc at angles he isn't used to and even his sightlines have to be adjusted.

People like Nick will not have this issue as everyone is smaller than him but average height types such as myself find it unpleasant as we aren't used to it.

Do you think a smaller size can be an advantage at times or is my experience only relevant in a sport environment where your techniques are limited?

In a sport context, don't the weight classes even things out? So someone who is a foot shorter than you but fights in the same class is probably built like a brick s###house...
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Re: size matters

Post  Chris on Fri Dec 14, 2012 4:12 am

Thing is Pete, how good would his Muay Thai be if you had taken off the gloves and just kicked the shit out of him?

Not taking anything away from his skillset and his ability in that particular arena. He obviously had developed great contextual skill within the boundaries of that particular sporting contest. Take him out of that and unless he had truly exemplary skills which somewhat equalised the encounter then you are going to beat him like a pinata. Even then, even if he does have that exemplary skillset how hard does he have to work against the bigger guy, compared to how hard the bigger guy has to work against him?

There are exceptions, little guys do beat bigger guys. I've done it myself. I've seen guys like Dave Baker who is a similar size to myself who I'd put money on serving just about anyone up. BUT... those exceptions don't prove the rule. A good big un WILL best a good little un most of the time.

I have never found being smaller an advantage in any physical encounter. I have always had to work harder, be more committed, expend more energy and be more tenacious than bigger guys to get a result. I DO get results because of attributes which are not linked to my size but I am never successful because of my size. I am successful in spite of it. Spite being another great attribute. Very Happy
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Re: size matters

Post  Nick Hughes on Thu Dec 20, 2012 10:06 pm

Chris....

Normally I agree with almost everything you say but in this one I'd submit there's quite a bit I take an opposing viewpoint on.

Number 9 for example: Big instructors have no idea what it's like to be small. Really? I began training when I was nine years of age at high school and was in the Judo class with guys in grades eight, nine, ten, eleven and twelve while I was in grade seven so I'm well aware of what it was like to be smaller.

When I went to Zen Do Kai I was 14 or 15 years old training amongst full grown men who bounced for a living. When I was sixteen I joined those guys on the door and was so skinny if I turned sideways they'd mark me absent.

So, I for one have a very good idea of what it's like to be smaller even though currently I'm bigger than most.

As for 2 and 3... have you forgotten the early days of UFC when the Gracie family burst on to the world scene by taking on all comers regardless of size and weight and tying them up in knots with superior grappling skills? They didn't hit them first, they didn't strike at all except for distraction techniques and they absolutely triumphed over everyone.

I think you're also forgetting one HUGE point. In most of the instances you're talking about you're talking about a training environment in which both sides have skills.

I train people of all sizes (and have tons of example where my smaller students have prevailed against multiple attackers, armed attackers and bigger attackers) and they win because they have superior training. Take two people with equal skills and I agree with you that almost always the bigger guy will win. Put up the trained against the untrained however and the size starts to become irrelevant the higher the skill set.

Over to you short arse. lol!

Nick
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Re: size matters

Post  Chris on Fri Dec 21, 2012 4:51 am

Alright lanky arse! Smile

I have spoken with a lot of big guys and guess what. At some point they were all smaller than someone else. BUT.. here's the thing and the point I was making. We FORGET what that was like. We live in the moment when it comes to our physicality. I was talking in broad terms of course but underlying the comment is the basic fact that as individuals we have to be self aware and own our own training. Don't let instructors implement a "one size fits all" model. That's going to get you hurt.

As far as the Gracies. You can't throw one elite level guy out there fighting no hopers in a semi-rigged contest as proof of much. I never made the comment that smaller guys couldn't prevail against bigger guys. I've done it myself so of course it is possible. BUT.... never once have I thought to myself. Good job I'm smaller than this bloke. Never once was the job made ONE IOTA easier by me being smaller. I bet Royce himself never once said, "good job I'm smaller than these guys".

If size doesn't matter than why have weight divisions at all?

I'm not just talking about sport. In fact I wrote the post from the perspective of a fight without thinking about sporting contests much at all. I get sick and tied of seeing programmes and training events where no tip of the hat is ever made towards size disparity and it's impact in a violent encounter. Mick Coup made a fantastic point recently where he broke down the issue further to say, (I'm paraphrasing) For a male to get on the wrong side of someone the size of Brock Lesner or Overeem is very unlikely but for a woman EVERY violent encounter against a grown man is against a Lesnar or an Overeem such is the size disparity. That should be a window into understanding why the vasy majority of all female self protection courses I have seen send me into a rage.

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Re: size matters

Post  Socrates on Fri Dec 21, 2012 5:06 am

Chris: I bet you are better are hiding in small spaces than big blokes!
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Re: size matters

Post  Steve bungle on Sun Dec 23, 2012 8:11 am

Wear platform shoes
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Re: size matters

Post  combatnige on Fri Dec 28, 2012 5:30 am

It's not the size of the dog in the fight !

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Re: size matters

Post  rasdj on Fri Dec 28, 2012 11:54 am

Nick, I'm sure you're not saying that but I think Chris' stuff is instructive to anyone who might be tempted by the "this one moves makes anyone a ninja, even against a bigger monster of an opponent" shills that market self-defense. You
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re size matters

Post  bigjon on Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:04 pm

excellent article Chris. I read this quote attributed to WE Fairbairn culled from his experience in Shanghai. Im paraphrasing from memory (corrections welcome) but the gist was "14stone Irish welder vs 9stone Japanese black-belt, who is going to win?" Studying Shotokan at the time (still waiting for miraculous powers to descend on me), i did not get the answer i was expecting. He said "put your money on the 14stone welder"
Mass matters.
However, scenario me this: 14stone Irish welder, fresh from wiping the floor the floor with the 9stone black belt, now has to fight a 7stone ex-gurka Nepali hillman armed and ready with his favourite kukri. Place your bets please....

Happy new year all

jon



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Re: size matters

Post  Chris on Wed Jan 02, 2013 3:57 am

I hear the soundbite, "It's not the size of the dog in the fight its the size of the fight in the dog." quite often.

Of course, there is something to be said for correct mindset and tenacity or effectively applied aggression.

Here's the problem. The big dog STILL has less work to do. Has anyone ever seen a Jack Russell take on a Rottie or a Pit Bull. Sure, it's got a lot of fight and it keeps scrapping right up until the point where it is ripped a new arsehole or it runs away.

You DO have to want it more, there is no other option BUT to try and use greater desire and will to overcome the disparity in size but don't think for a second that the size difference is automatically negated because of your greater aggression.

Good solid tactics, good solid application of good solid technique along with ACCEPTANCE and WILL is your best bet but don't think these are some magic cards you can play and stop the fifteen stone nutter from smashing you to pieces.
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Re: size matters

Post  mickeybluejeans on Wed Jan 02, 2013 6:48 am

just for clarification are we saying a big bloke is better at:

taking punishment...

dishing out punishment...

a bit of both....

a lot of both....

I've often wondered if i hit 2 people square on the chin with my best shot....... but 1 man is 10stone the other 20stone will they both suffer and hit the floor with the same consequences

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Re: size matters

Post  Chris on Wed Jan 02, 2013 6:58 am

A larger man has physical attributes which give him advantages in a physical altercation.

They also have attributes which impact negatively on the abilities of their smaller opponent.

It's really all about mass. How they utilise their own mass and how that mass impacts on the opponent.
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Re: size matters

Post  the spaniard on Fri Jan 04, 2013 5:13 am

A bigger man is going to abosorb more punishment from a small guy eg Kimbo Slice being hit on the jaw by a strong brawler without blinking
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHA3TLu1Hms

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Re: size matters

Post  combatnige on Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:37 am

the spaniard wrote:A bigger man is going to abosorb more punishment from a small guy eg Kimbo Slice being hit on the jaw by a strong brawler without blinking
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHA3TLu1Hms

True but depends where you hit him, poke him in the eye and he will be as blinded as an 8 stone weakling

kick him hard enough to put his bollocks in his mouth and he may well fall too

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Re: size matters

Post  Dave on Thu Jan 10, 2013 5:32 am

I also think that size definatley matters when dealing with more than one assailant. In both, the being able to absorb (in most cases) more punishment and also in being physically stronger in both strikes and grappling. I'm a strong believer in the old saying that a 'good big un will beat a good little un' Very Happy
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Re: size matters

Post  GOVINDA on Thu Jan 10, 2013 6:21 am

Sometimes you have to hit a big dude a lot of times to get his attention, generally he has to hit you once to get yours...

*awaits stories of david and goliath proportions* Very Happy
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Re: size matters

Post  SteveT on Wed Jan 16, 2013 3:56 am

Even in a training environment, there is a point beyond which superior physical size becomes very hard to deal with. I usually weigh somewhere between 147 and 170lbs (depending on competitions, Christmas gluttony, current state of laziness etc.) and if I have to roll against an athletic novice who outweighs me by more than 60 or 70lbs then it can sometimes be extremely difficult. Now it would undoubtedly be easier if I was a bit better at jiu jitsu (anything other than bloody awful would be a start) but that seems to be the point at which I start getting manhandled whether I like it or not. It's an incentive to get better but also sobering to contemplate being in that situation in the street.

In stand-up sparring it's often reach that's the hardest thing to deal with but if you dial the intensity up a bit you quickly realise just how hard those big buggers can hit. Admittedly they aren't untrained novices but I suspect that most of them hit pretty hard before they'd ever laced up a glove. And you really don't want to get into a clinch with them, which is easier said than done.

I agree with the general theme of the first post: while it is POSSIBLE to beat significantly bigger opponents, and I've done so myself, it is certainly much more difficult and being smaller is not an advantage of any kind.

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Re: size matters

Post  rezbi on Thu Jan 17, 2013 6:22 pm

Chris,

I'm heavier than you, but shorter.

One thing I always keep in mind if I get into a scrap: fight dirty and make it quick.

I'm a great believer in the preemptive strike. Especially if the other guy is bigger, why give him the chance to get started.

I'm confident I'll take guys out even if they know what I can do and try to prepare for it.

I think it's more to do with mindset. I go in thinking if I die, I die. But I'm taking the f***er with me.

And I mean it. I'm not afraid to die.

I'm more afraid of losing than dying.

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Re: size matters

Post  tonyk on Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:47 am

rezbi wrote:

And I mean it. I'm not afraid to die.

I'm more afraid of losing than dying.

Have you ever come close to dying?

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Re: size matters

Post  Chris on Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:49 am

tonyk wrote:
rezbi wrote:

And I mean it. I'm not afraid to die.

I'm more afraid of losing than dying.

Have you ever come close to dying?

Someone really hurt my feelings once. Very Happy Does that count?
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Re: size matters

Post  tonyk on Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:52 am

Chris wrote:
tonyk wrote:
rezbi wrote:

And I mean it. I'm not afraid to die.

I'm more afraid of losing than dying.

Have you ever come close to dying?

Someone really hurt my feelings once. Very Happy Does that count?


No way.Just get over it. Very Happy

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Re: size matters

Post  Chris on Mon Jan 21, 2013 10:00 am

Seriously, I'm not that concerned with "losing". Not getting the result you want is not the same as failure.

Hell, I can find 100 ways how not to do something and still not be failing. It's all about the mentality behind the event.

My mental and physical responses and strength are not contingent on success or failure at a specific time. I'm larger and deeper in mind and body than the outcome of one event.

That said, fail to prepare and you prepare to fail so you have to train the attributes which give you the most chance of success.

Now.. giving up. Rolling over and quitting. That's NOT something that I ever allow myself to do.
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Re: size matters

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