“That guy is strong” is one of the worst insults you can give someone in BJJ. I hear it all the time. Usually it’s new guys saying that about someone more experienced than themselves. The between the lines meaning is that ” I could have beat him if he wasn’t way stronger than me.” Or that “he uses strength instead of good technique.” I’ve seen a lot of cases where this is true. When a guy is strong it’s hard for him to not use that.
In BJJ though we want guys to learn good basics of posture, leverage, and pressure and not to over rely on strength. The problem with relying on strength over good technique is that strength won’t help you when you grapple someone else stronger than you. In other words if you rely on attributes then you will always be beat when you experience superior attributes.
Many times though when someone calls another guy strong they aren’t quite right. The guy may be strong but is not using strength. Someone with good frames and leverage principles can feel extremely strong. If you have limited experience in BJJ that proper leverage and frames can feel just like muscle strength. With a bit of experience though it’s easy to tell the difference. If the guy is red faced, groaning or straining, breathing hard, moving in jerky motions- then he’s using strength. If his movements are smooth and decisive. If he looks calm and relaxed, then he’s probably using good BJJ.
The ratio we are trying to achieve is somewhere around 80% posture and 20% strength. That means the posture, frames, and angles do most of the work. The pressure needed to execute the technique is minimal. If you find yourself having to use a lot of strength in a technique then it always means that your posture is poor. You’ve reversed the ratio. Strong guys can do that and get away with it because they have a lot of strength to use. They get tired quick though!
This is one of the reasons why smaller guys often pick up BJJ faster than strong and fast guys. They don’t have superior attributes to work with so they have to rely on good Ju Jitsu principles.