In the 2nd installment of "BJJ Tips for Small Guys" we have Samir Chantre & Guilherme Mendes offering up their best advice for the size challenged grapplers out there (myself included!). If you missed part 1, just go here.
Samir Chantre is a long time training partner of Caio Terra. He teaches at the Institute of Martial Arts in San Jose, CA alongside Caio and Oswaldo "Quexinho" Moizinho. If you're interested in more of Samir's story be sure to check out Rolled Up #17 which featured Samir.
* Samir teaching a half guard pass on Rolled Up Episode 17
Being a light feather competitor, Samir was a great guy to ask about tips for the lighter competitors. Here's what he had to say:
First and most important: focus on techniques. Drilling your best moves and studying new ones is very important.
Second. Use your size in your favor. Get under the opponent's legs, go thru those tiny little spots and be faster. But never let your opponent get tight to you.
I think this is very good advice from Samir. It amazes me how few people actually drill. I suppose they get bored by drilling but in my mind, drilling is the key to develop the muscle memory that you need to pull off a technique in the heat of the moment.
As for Samir's second point, it's funny, small guys often just think about the downside of being small. We are easy to muscle around, it can be hard to maintain position, we don't have the strength to really explode, etc. But there are also good points to being small. As Samir pointed out, we can fit into smaller spaces, we can find the space that will allow us to off-balance our opponent.
Ok, now for guest #2. Guilherme Mendes is brother of Rafael Mendes, and they are certainly some of the most talented BJJ guys in the world. They teach out of Art of Jiujitsu in Costa Mesa and besides a popular adult program, the kid's program is huge. We had Guilherme on This Week in BJJ a couple months ago. Check it out here to learn more about him, their school, and watch some incredible berimbolo instruction at the end.
*Guilherme working his leg drag pass at the World Championship
Like Samir, Guilherme is also a light feather competitor. While he doesn't participate in the absolute divisions, I have seen him take on some monsters in his own academy and also at Atos in San Diego. Guilherme is very talented at controlling larger, stronger opponents so I was eager to hear his advice. Here's what he advises:
1) Develop a strong guard. Most of the time you are going to be on your back on the mat and you need to be comfortable with the situation. Focus on guard retention, only after you develop a sold control you start focusing on attacks.
2) Always look for the back. The back is the best position in Jiu-Jitsu and it will give you the ability to deal with bigger opponents and have time to work the submission without being under pressure. Arm drags, omoplatas, and De La Riva guard are great ways to get there.
That's some great advice from Gui. I feel like guard retention is something that's often overlooked. Let's face it, focusing on guard retention isn't as fun as learning the newest submission. To have a good guard, you need to work on guard retention.
His second point is also a great one. It doesn't matter how small you are, if you can get to the back, your size is no longer an issue.
I want to thank Samir and Gui for the great advice. I hope this is helping all of the lighter grapplers out there. Enjoy your training, keep learning and keep drilling!