Tiny Dancer

“Sometimes it seems like people are just trying to hurt me. But then I realize they’re just trying to execute what they think bjj is while simultaneously forgetting that they are monsters. Like when a mouse runs by an elephants foot and it freaks out before remembering it can squash the mouse so so easily.’ -Tumbleweed

If it seems like I talk a lot about being a smaller person in Jiu-Jitsu, it might be because it’s always being brought to my attention, both generally when I’m rolling, and specifically by the people I train with. I don’t think a week goes by that The Professor doesn’t tell me that I cannot do something because of my size, or stresses that since I’m giving up weight on everyone, it’s even more important for me to be as technical as I can. One time after he reminded me that I have to do things as accurately as possible, because most people in class outweigh me by at least forty pounds, I asked him if I should just start eating everything and gain some weight, and he responded “Well, that would make some things easier, but then you would have other problems.”. Yeah, and even if I did gain forty pounds, it wouldn’t make my limbs any longer. There’s always a catch!

At 5’4″ and 125 pounds, I didn’t really feel like a small person before I started training Jiu-Jitsu, but now my reality is that some of my training partners might be able to get me to tap just by sitting on my chest, and there are people who I will never be able to triangle, or even play closed guard against, because my legs are too short, and when I try to mount them, my knees don’t touch the ground. After someone sweeps me for the first time, they’ll often say “You weigh so little!”, and when I escape their armbar attempts, I hear “Your arms are so tiny!”. I can’t even tell you how many people have told me “You would’ve gotten that sweep if you were my size.”, and J-Rad recently remarked that I will never be bigger or stronger than him, so I have to be faster.

In BJJ they always say “Don’t try to move your partner, move yourself.”, and I’m not even physically able to move most of my partners, but they can certainly move me. My size directly affects my grappling experience (whether I want it to or not!), and at times it does annoy me when I’m manhandled by white belts who are bigger and/or stronger than I am (I usually think “That’s not Jiu-Jitsu!” ;), but that’s just they way it is, and I don’t think it will ever change, no matter how long I train. Everyone in BJJ has their own personal struggles to deal with, and being smashed all the time has helped me to subdue my ego early on in my training, so in a way, I think it’s actually a blessing. It’s not always easy to handle being smaller than my training partners, because I can’t really get away with anything except pure technique, but when I’m able to make something work for me, then I know Jiu-Jitsu is for real.

Fun times with giant white belts

 

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2 comments on “Tiny Dancer

  1. I know how you feel. I was blessed with short stocky legs and a 5’6″ frame. On many opponents when I get full mount I feel like I’m straddling a barrel in the middle of the ocean. I’ve had to modify many movements to suit my physical abilities and limitations.

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