Our individual attributes are valuable commodities in the fight world. Some of us have excellent cardiovascular endurance, others have speed, some have extreme flexibility, and then there are those of us that possess superior strength. Whatever attribute we posses is an advantage we have over our opponent, but we must know how to best utilize that attribute. Today I am going to concentrate on physical strength, and how we can prevent ourselves from incorrectly using strength while grappling.
Strength is an enormous advantage to have over your opponent. When technique is equal, strength can be a deciding factor in the outcome of the fight. It is a common misconception in martial arts that strength does not matter, but that just simply isn’t true. Strength may also be a curse though. When we rely on strength more than technique, we tend to fall behind, and often become tired. I’d like to start off by saying that strength is not my best attribute, flexibility is. That being said; no matter what your strength level is, it is possible to misuse your strength, leaving you fatigued. There is a time and place to use strength while grappling. If we are in a constant state of using energy and strength, like squeezing our opponent while in side control, we are quickly going to exhaust our energy reserves. Instead, use your strength in small, concentrated, bursts, while performing a technique perfectly.
Remember, technique is our first line of attack and defense, the use of our attributes comes second. For example, let’s say I am working to pass my opponents guard. I have a ton of options for passing, and a few that are really ingrained into my game. If I do these passes with near flawless technique I will get them the majority of the time, but there will be times when I go against an opponent who just finds a way to stop it. This is an instance where I would apply strength and energy. I perform the technique as perfectly as I can, then I use my strength and explosive energy to finish the pass and settle into my new position. I am not trying to muscle my way through the technique, but instead I am using strength to apply the technique in a way that will keep me a step ahead of my opponent. Once I get into a good solid position, then I lower how much strength I am using and concentrate on my technique for position and control.
The same philosophy should be utilized in every position. In a competitive roll or match it is hard not to use strength and explosive movements. It is just part of the game, and you shouldn’t be afraid to embrace an attribute that advances your game, just don’t rely on it to win you the fight. Practice perfect technique, and use your attributes when you need to. Avoid spastic and powerful movements; concentrate your strength and you will find that it won’t cause you to quickly fatigue.