Review: Defeating the Bigger, Stronger Opponent

I’ve had this DVD for months, and I finally got around to watching it over Christmas vacation. And I’ll tell you, it was exactly what I was expecting — emphasis on high-percentage techniques and details (with clear explanation and reasoning) when facing a disparity in size and/or strength. Most of the techniques work perfectly fine against same-size or smaller partners, but the focus is on those that work consistently on larger people. For example, Emily mentions that closed guard is not where you want to be, on either side, because of the size disparity; it is no longer a mostly neutral position.

(Also, random side note: I laugh at guys who complain that someone 10-30lbs bigger than them is “too big.” Laugh, I say. Dude, because of the sizes in my training partners, I have to consider up to a 50lbs difference to still be “close to my size.” You see the size difference between Emily and Stephan? That is my day-to-day, on the mat reality.)

As other reviews have said, a lot of the DVD is basic, this is true, but I also think that that’s the most important thing for smaller people to be aware of. Larger people can get away with missing some fundamental things simply because their larger size or strength can easily compensate. Not so for smaller people — for us, order of operations, timing, and small-scale details are vital in the prevention of becoming mat pizza.

For me, one of the most important things I took away is that I’ve been on the right path as a smaller person. Some things that I’ve identified as high-percentage for me are covered in the DVD; other things that seem as if they ought to work but haven’t for me yet, Emily shows the detail or two that I was missing. So it was a little odd, at times, to see that Emily was doing exactly what I would do in certain situations. (Now, X-guard, which she shows a lot of, is something that has so far been terribly low-percentage for me — but the fact that she shows it [and the different details that she shows] suggests that it ought to work well, and so it is something that I can/should start to work on.)

Also, I love that they did the series with Stephan as the grappling dummy because it makes the point all the more clearly. Too often instructionals or even techniques in class use a large guy against a similarly-sized partner, and I think something like, “Well, that’s great and all, but I can’t even reach his belt from there!” (Or there’s Roy Dean snatching those lovely triangles from every angle with those long legs of his, and my short stumpy legs say, “Ain’t no way.”)

Video quality-wise, also well done. Emily wears a white gi, Stephan, a blue. The mats are gray and the wall white & bare (except for two mirrors, which were a bit distracting for me, though the camera was at least positioned between them so it couldn’t be seen). The camera zooms in & out and pans as needed, and Emily & Stephan move around to show the different angles. I am also terribly amused every time Stephan grunts as Emily beats him up. (Is that bad? lol) Some sound quality issues on the Q&A DVD (construction in the background?), but overall very good, very clear.


2 thoughts on “Review: Defeating the Bigger, Stronger Opponent

  1. I have finally read your review! As a beginner I guess “basic” sounds right, so I will definitely look into it. 🙂
    I don’t like closed guard much, btw… Maybe that explains it! (Almost impossible for me to break anyone’s posture) As for size disparities, I actually measure up in height with many of my teammates, so I don’t have that leg disadvantage (lucky me). I may even have a bit of a leg advantage, because I am flexible as well. Upper body strength definitely isn’t there, though! 😛

    • I think we all eventually would find out some of the things that Emily addresses here — it’s just so useful to have her go ahead and tell you them, so you don’t have to find it all through trial and error.

      Everyone’s going to be a little different in the end, but the “basics” — the universal principles behind things, the strategies — these central things are the same.

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