Weight classes are a source of much confusion in BJJ. What weight class is the perfect fit for you? should you go a weight class up or down? How about competing in the absolute division? It is not easy for most people to find their appropriate weight class, at least in the beginning. In terms of the absolute, for some, it never crosses their mind. For others, it is the reason they go to a BJJ competition and competing in their class is just a means to get to the absolute. This is an understandable trait o bigger people, but where do those tiny guys fit in the absolute? You’ll be surprised to know that smaller people win the absolute much more regularly than one would think, So, if you’re a light guy or girl, looking to conquer the absolute, make sure your’ea s ready as you can.
David vs Goliath is too Romantic for Smaller Grapplers
In modern Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, there are usually 9 weight classes for adult male and female competitors. Each weight class has 4 medalists, (most often) which means there are 36 people ready for the absolute division at the end of a BJJ competition. This is the best case scenario, as not all people decide to go for the absolute. Whatever the case, there is more than enough competition for this division, which often turns out to be the most entertaining one. However, all cards are not stacked evenly as you might end up seeing a rooster-weight up against an ultra-heavyweight. While this might raise questions of safety and sanity in other sports, in BJJ it makes perfect sense. After all, this is the art in which the smaller person can easily deal with a larger one, right?
Despite the romantic notion of David vs. Goliath, going for the absolute division as one of the lighter competitors requires a smart approach. In an art where everyone is aiming to be heavy on top and where the crushing pressure is the norm, the weight difference is a huge factor. However, also in a BJJ sense, dealing with adversity is a huge part of the sport. As such, going recklessly against giants in the absolute division is a great way to end up injured. Goin to a BJJ competition with a sound absolute strategy, though, is what turns grapplers like Caio Terra into legends.
A great way to become a giant-killing specialist is to learn the trade from one. Claudio Calasans is one of the best in the world at beating bigger and stronger opponent’s. His formula on absolute division supremacy can be found in his “Giant Killing” DVD instructional. it is an absolute must-have for anyone that’s below middleweight!
The Lure Of The Absolute Division
You know how people say that there’s no ego in BJJ? Well, they’re wrong. We do not get rid of our egos when we go train, we just manage to re-channel them. We keep them at bay when we’re training, but we often turn into cowboys ina BJJ competition. There’s no clearer indication of this than going in for the absolute division without a sound gameplan. This holds true for all competitors, but especially those that are lightweights or below.
I can understand the lure of the absolute. You are here because you already proved that your Jiu-Jitsu game works. Whether it is a gold or a bronze medal that got you there, you were better than someone on your way there. Now you get to prove that your game is also good against opponents of different shapes and sizes. For lighter grapplers, the lure of beating everyone, or just one giant, in the absolute, is often too much of an opportunity to pass on. In a sport where we’re fighting for complete superiority over another person, the existence of such a weight class is an absolute necessity. However, there is a smart and dumb way to go about looking for glory. This stands true for lighter and giant grapplers, alike.
Should Smaller Grapplers Compete In The Absolute?
It is easy to answer this question. Obviously, if it was too dangerous, the absolute divisions would not exist. Or, they’d have a limit on what the lowest weight should be. Safety is not an issue as a given. The only person responsible for any harm is going to be yourself. As a smaller grappler, you need to battle against two opponents in every match in the absolute division. The first one is the person standing across from you. The second unless you’re really lucky, is their weight. And, by lucky, I mean getting a lighter weight opponent(s).
In my personal opinion, every grappler needs the experience of competing in the absolute. Even it in just one BJJ competition, it is a very humbling experience. It is unlike battling the bigger people in your gym, just like competing in your weight class is different from rolling. So, even if you do not really like it, give the absolute a try, at least once. Of course, do not do it in the spur of a moment, but be ready for it, if you get the opportunity.
Furthermore, with the rise of the tournament that uses different rule sets to those of the IBJJF you might not have a choice. As a competitor, you might end up battling in an absolute division the only tournament, like the EBI. Or, maybe you’ll be in a Quintet style competition, where you might end up against opponents of various sizes.
BJJ Competition Tips For The Absolute Division
If there’s anything we can learn from grapplers like Caio Terra, Cobrinha, Gary Tonon, Geo Martinez, Mackenzie Dern and a host of other giant killers, it is that even the smallest grappler has every chance of winning. The only condition is preparing for it correctly and specifically. The thing with larger people is that your A game might not be applicable. For that, you’ll need to have a reserve gameplan, one that’s exclusive for giant-killing.
The first thing to know is that you shouldn’t go head to head. Forget about power doubles and strength moves from your feet. Instead, look to pull guard, get behind your opponent, or catch a front headlock. Flying submissions are also out of the question, as larger opponents can shake you off with ease.
On the ground, you also need to know that it all boils down to movement and timing. There are a few positions that you, as a smaller grappler can use against big opponents. You’ll need to know which those positions are, a well as the best ways of getting there. In order to achieve them, you’ll need to work constantly and never stop moving. However, remember to move with purpose, because getting tired is going to get you beat.
Timing is another huge factor. One bad decision and you’ll get stuck. Instead, be patient, move smart and time your attacks to perfection. The best strategy is getting a submission or a sweep/pass while your opponent is in transition. You’ll need to use every gap to your advantage, from positions that suit you. The best positions are back control and an Ashi Garami. Conversely, chokes and leg locks, especially heel hooks should be the only submissions you’re focusing on in the absolute division during a BJJ competition.