There are a few things that you have to learn when coming to BJJ, well OK there are loads of things but for me a couple of things changed my game and I think really helped me to improve (not saying I am that good, just better than I was).
Now I have a few nicknames Grandao (larger than large in Portuguese), Big Stew which is obvious and one of my favourites which is Stewnormous which was coined by 6’3″ 19stone buddy Hayden from New Zealand. Then finally James “Spinaroonie” Fairclough announced that I was an anomaly because I was soo big and yet very flexible. Now all this was stuff I knew but had not really been using, my size and the way I can bend means that I can be very good in some positions but in others am very poor indeed. Of course I need to work on all areas and learn the proper and best techniques the correct way from John who as ever is excellent at teaching these. However some things are just not for me and some only work if adapted for my size and anatomy.
Thus I began to work on my “game” and develop what suits me better, there are certain movements that when I do them at my height and weight just leave too many gaps. But a nice smothering side control game which leads to arm bars and shoulder locks suits me great. Working from guard is both good and bad as it is hard to get off my back when put there at times but my strength is a bonus for controlling an opponent. Some chokes with hands deep into the collar are trickier as there is not too much room anyway let alone for my giant paws, but a nice little ezekiel choke works a treat from front and back. All in all what I found was as my friend Naz the Samurai calls it BMJ – Big Man Jitsu.
There are many guys who do the small man version, quick agile and all movement but that is just not a game I can play. I use the natural advantage that I have which is size and flexibility, I also make sure while that I move at the speed of a tectonic plate I keep my control at all times, never lifting my weight. Now some folk think this is unfair but if I asked them to slow down a bit and stop running round to my back I am sure they wouldn’t 🙂
At first I was very nervous to do this as I was and still am worried about ever hurting someone after all none of us do this for a living and we all have jobs which it is nice to be able to make it to the next day. My game then became quite a defensive one and one of very little else, until John and my good friend Chaz drilled into me that I need to up the aggression, go for the moves and drop my weight. John explained that if I control it and it starts to hurt someone they will tap and it will not be a problem, control is the key. Get that position before submission and make sure that I use all I have to my advantage as no one else will hold back from using what they can.
With this in mind I went to the Seni and did OK there with a game very much based on control, balance, using my weight and making sure I concentrated on only going for things that were there and would better where I was not just throwing moves for the sake of it. I am now back in the gym and of course am still bested often by all those folks who have their game far more developed and to a higher level than me but at least now a days I do get the odd win here and there.