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The Absolute Division in a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) tournament is often regarded as the ultimate proving ground.
It is an open-weight style tournament that pits competitors against each other regardless of weight class. That means a 70kg person can be matched against a 95kg person, for example.
But there’s no need to be intimidated. It might seem like an outdated concept, but the experience is an overwhelmingly enjoyable one for competitors who are looking to challenge themselves against a whole new range of athletes.
The secret to benefiting from the Absolute Division in BJJ is to approach it in the right way.
Today, Evolve Vacation brings you “How To Compete In The Absolute Division in BJJ”.
When competing in a traditional BJJ tournament that matches you against your rank and weight division, your primary objective should be to win the tournament. That’s not to say that you need to have an extremely competitive attitude. Rather, if you approach the contest looking to win at all costs, you will learn much more and progress your BJJ abilities faster than you can ever imagine.
Even for the most uncompetitive of athletes, putting your skills and abilities to the test against other competitors of your rank is one of the best ways to learn and improve. You will quickly discover your weaknesses and realize your strengths.
If you are competing in the Absolute Division, however, the objective can change significantly for most people. If you are a 70kg blue belt, you’re not going to be expected to win an Absolute Division tournament that includes brown and black belt competitors, of course. Most of the time, you will be entering a competition with a battleground of warriors who are all looking to take out what is the ultimate prize in a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament. The odds will be stacked against you, but that’s just part of the fun.
In a way, the Absolute Division encompasses all that is to love about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
This sport rose to popularity because a tiny competitor can outmaneuver and defeat a bigger and stronger opponent if they use exceptional technique.
Why you should compete in the Absolute Division
Before breaking down ways to compete in the Absolute Division, we will first briefly detail the reasons why you should compete.
The opportunity to compete in the Absolute Division is a perfect time to challenge yourself and test your techniques against the best.
After all, you’ve been working tirelessly to improve your Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu techniques, strategies, and abilities, so there is no better time than an Absolute Division to see where your skill level is at.
There’s also the additional benefit that your instructor will take notice of you. If your instructor sees that you are challenging yourself in the Absolute Division, you might just be on the fast track to a promotion.
Learn and improve
Possibly the best aspect of the Absolute Division is that you can begin to analyze which of your techniques remain effective against a whole different range of body types and sizes.
You might have developed an excellent full guard game that works against people of similar rank and size. However, what worked for you here might not work against bigger opponents. You’ll have to continually adjust your strategy to find which of your strengths work best against larger and stronger opponents.
But most of all, you should compete in the Absolute Division to have fun. After all, you get to compete against high-level competitors from your local area, and it’s not very often you get to share the mats with a wide range of athletes. Always take the opportunity to learn and improve.
How to compete in the Absolute Division in BJJ
For the majority of us, competing in the absolute division will mean that we are up against bigger and stronger opponents. That means that our techniques to compete in the Absolute Division in BJJ will be mostly dedicated to those who are the smaller of the two competitors. If you are a heavy competitor and competing in Absolute Division, most of your usual techniques will remain effective, but you should also look to use set-ups and techniques in which you can leverage your strength advantage.
So, let’s begin breaking down ways to defeat someone with a size advantage in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
How to defeat a bigger and stronger opponent in BJJ
Marcelo Garcia has made a career out of being the exceptionally talented smaller guy in BJJ tournaments. For this reason, we’ll follow his advice in the video above and extend on the two ideas behind using butterfly sweeps and chokes that don’t require an arm-in.
The butterfly guard is a position that allows for exceptional leverage because it uses two of the strongest limbs of your body to manipulate and control the weight of your opponent. By combining the leverage with the momentum that can be generated by rocking your body, it allows for greater control and ability to sweep or transition.
Achieving a strong butterfly guard position can be difficult against a larger opponent, especially if they choose to sit back and use his strength. However, by shooting your body forward rapidly, you can secure a tight gable grip behind his back with two underhooks before pinning his body close to your chest and pulling backward so that you can control his weight.
With this level of control, you can begin to look at sweeping your opponent.
To touch on the simple concepts of a butterfly sweep, it is important to first secure an overhook on one side. An overhook will disable an opponent from posting his arm and creating a base to prevent being swept. By using your legs as levers, you can then begin to lift your opponent to the overhook side for a sweep from butterfly guard.
Chokes with no arm-in
Another useful technique that Marcelo Garcia highly recommends is attempting choke submissions that do not require an arm-in.
So go ahead and rule out the arm-triangle, D’arce choke, and the anaconda choke, because these all require you to overcome the strength and power of your opponent’s arms. Likewise, other submissions like the kimura are difficult against bigger and stronger opponents because a powerful competitor can outmuscle your technique assuming that they are of a similar skill level.
Instead, Garcia recommends sticking to choke submissions in which you can attack just the neck. Examples of these submissions are the high-elbow guillotine, the rear-naked choke, or even the north-south choke.
From the back, you can begin to control the limbs of your opponent by trapping his arms with your legs and feet before attempting the rear-naked choke on his exposed neck. Even the strongest of competitors can’t defend a rear-naked choke if their arms are unable to prevent the choking arm.
Additionally, in an Absolute Division, a smaller opponent should have an advantage when it comes to speed and quickness. Bigger athletes also tend to struggle defending against arm drags and back takes, because of this speed disadvantage.
There are many ways to be victorious in an Absolute Division, so get out there and challenge yourself against the best!