Saturday, April 24, 2010

What to do with this strength/size thing...

After reading a post on tips for new female grapplers, I really started thinking about the application of some of the advice to larger women. If the advantages that most women have in BJJ are smaller bodies, more flexibility and better mobility, I'm playing with a slightly different deck of cards. I'm not small, I have average flexibility (that's improving) and am not particularly agile or mobile. I've been checking out videos of Lana Stefanac since my build is somewhat similar (she's a little shorter and heavier)

Last class I got another remark of surprise at my strength from my instructor. I gotta admit that it made me happy, but I still question how strong I actually am. It's not like I can match muscle with guys my size, or even smaller ones. Full on military pushups are still not my forte and I won't even metion I doubt that pound for pound, I'm actually STRONG. I suspect that I'm somewhere between "strong for a girl" and "stronger than reasonably expected for my size and gender."

I think though, that it's a matter of understanding what advantages to use when. My strength level is what it is depending on how I develop it. What does change pretty drastically though, is the strength of my opponents. My school makes an effort to pair women with women, but also to rotate partners, so I end up with the stronger guys on a regular basis too. While I know they hold back because I'm female, I often wonder if they hold back a little less because I'm a larger, stronger female.


Georgette said...

We have a tall, big brownbelt female at our school and she is always getting guys that go hard on her because she's as tall as they are, weighs as much as they do... but definitely because she's female, she has higher body fat % and less lean muscle mass. It's tough. I would imagine your advantages will still be flexibility (despite what you feel now, women's ligaments are naturally more flexible than men's..) as well as better hip movement and usage because of the wider pelvis and different angle of the femur to the pelvis. Also, women are harder to armbar because their radius/ulna are at a different angle to the humerus than men's are.

And, unlike squatty little ones like us, you have the limb length for lots of leverage, and nice triangles! Lucky lady :)

Megan said...

Funny, I just had a blue belt (shorter, lighter, stronger than me) tell me tonight that he's not going to go easy on me anymore. That isn't necessarily because of my size, but my mind definitely went there.

That is really interesting about the armbar. You're definitely right about limb length...I'm appreciating it more every day.

Off to find pictures of the female and male skeletons:) Thanks for reading!

Georgette said...

That's why girls "run like girls" (our femurs angle inwards towards the knees, because the pelvis they connect to is wider) and why girls "throw like girls" (because our radius/ulna angle outwards from the elbow, to make room for wider hips than boys have, whose arms are straight all the way down.)

Fun random trivia, if your mom was an X-ray tech :)

fenix said...

Hihi, I'm not the size of Lana by a long way :-). But I'm in a similar situation regarding size and height to you, and exactly the same questions have arisen in my mind. Certainly I like triangles, and I know that my closed guard is a place people shun. Not sure if I'd trade shorter legs for more flexibility ;-)