Not A Subscriber?

Join 6k+ Grapplers who are elevating their performance every week.

From Strength & Conditioning insights, and mobility drills to nutrition info nuggets - it's the essential Friday read for every grappler.

All value. No Fluff. Action Takers Only! 💪

Don’t Use Your Strength in BJJ is TERRIBLE Advice

bjj mindset
mocking spongebob meme

"Don't use your strength when you roll" is terrible advice. 




This "well-intentioned" advice is misleading, ignorant and not at all helpful. 


When I first started training in jiujitsu, I was already physically strong.


I was told that I shouldn't use my strength when I rolled, and I took that advice literally and stopped using any of my strength.


It wasn't until my coach pulled me aside and told me, "Kieren, you have to use your strength. You should be an absolute menace for people to deal with because you're so physically strong, and once you have the technique to back you up, you'll be even more difficult to deal with." 


And this changed everything for my jiujitsu. 


The simple perspective shift away from shunning my physical attributes to leaning into them with my applied technique made a world of difference. 


"I've always believed that strength is an advantage… I know in jiujitsu we're supposed to say that strength doesn't matter, well… it does… no matter how you cut it, physical attributes do matter" - John Danaher


Why Is Strength Frowned On In BJJ?

Jiujitsu is a superpower in which the stronger, larger opponent loses to the smaller, weaker guy. That means technique is king, and you shouldn't rely on your strength...




The stronger, larger opponent in this scenario DOESN'T KNOW JIUJITSU. 


When the playing field is level with skill, it paints a different picture...


"I do believe that when two athletes are of matched skill level, the stronger man will generally win." - John Danaher.


Beginners (especially spazzy white belts) are told... 


"Stop using your strength!"


And that's because when people first start training, they default to primal instincts, which often involve zero skill application: grabbing what they can and squeezing for dear life. 


This well-intentioned advice is aimed at encouraging beginners not just to grab a hold and squeeze until they gas out but instead to try and apply some technique that they know. 


This I agree with. 


However, I disagree with the "stop using your strength" statement from a 40+ purple belt who cannot deal with the athleticism and power of a 25-year-old blue belt competitor who is getting after it. 


I disagree that you should not combine your strength with your applied technique. 


The Irony of Physical Attributes 

I always find this ironic...


You would never tell a flexible person not to use their flexibility to their advantage when they roll. 


You would never tell a tall person not to use their long legs to their advantage when they roll. 


You would never tell someone with an unstoppable gas tank not to use their endurance to their advantage when they roll. 


You would never tell someone with powerful grips not to use their gripping to their advantage when they roll. 


So why would you tell someone not to use their strength? 


Why I Care About This Anyway

Even if you disagree with everything I've presented so far...


Here's the problem...


When you actively shun or condemn the physical attribute of strength in jiujitsu, beginners will avoid it. 


People won't want to focus on or prioritise their strength training off the mats.


Not lifting weights will reduce performance, but more importantly, it will increase your risk of injury.


In a sport with high injury rates, we must do everything we can to encourage people to lift weights and prioritise strength training to support their jiujitsu and reduce their risk of injury.


What To Do About It

I propose we change the "don't use your strength when you roll" to something like...


"Technique is always first, but strength is second" 


"Technique is the ace, but strength is the king" 


"Focus on applied technique and strength" 


or even... 


"When in doubt, muscle your way out" (obviously joking). 

Get StrongerFaster and more Powerful on the mats, while reducing your risk of injury. Take my FREE Fitness Quiz here.

Take The Quiz