Recent, OnTheMat’s own Dan Faggella completed his book: “BJJ Techniques to Defeat Bigger, Stronger Opponents,” which hit #1 on Amazon for the entire category of “Martial Arts,” so we decided to conduct and interview with him to catch up about his book. For those of you who don’t know Daniel, he’s an IBJJF No Gi Pan Am Champion, and the winner of many expert divisions and absolute division medals. Dan has over 10,000 readers who follow his interviews / videos about beating bigger and stronger opponents, and is the author of 3 books.
OnTheMat: Dan, I know you’re been writing for us for nearly a year, and conducting interviews for close to half a decade - what brought you to put together this book now?
Dan Faggella: Mainly, I was driven to share what I’d learned to help other lighter or weaker grapplers. As a 128-pound guy, I took years to interview / work privately with many of the world’s top lightweight grapplers - including 8-time world champion Robson Moura, and the superstar Mendes Brothers - and sharing their ideas about how to beat bigger opponents has been a mission for me, both online and offline.
OnTheMat: I know you conducted a lot of interviews and won a lot of tournaments, but I know people call you the “Jiu Jitsu Nerd” for your analysis of Jiu Jitsu strategy and your breakdowns of lots and lots of high-level tournament matches. Tell us about how that factored itself into your book.
Dan Faggella: Haha, yeah, I’m a little bit nerdy sometimes, I’ve always wanted to teach Jiu Jitsu like a science. I went to the Ivy Leagues (UPENN) for my master’s degree in positive psychology, and I concentrated my studies and my thesis on skill development in BJJ, and I wanted to apply statistical analysis to Jiu Jitsu data, too.
That’s when I started comparing trends for the success of various techniques and strategies depending on BJJ weight classes, and noticing many of the CLEAR indicators of what approaches were and were not successful against a much larger opponent. I’ve written about this a lot on my blog (http://scienceofskill.com/jiu-jitsu-statistics-and-how-they-change-the-game/).
OnTheMat: What were some of the most surprising trends that you learned from all of your interviews and analysis of beating bigger grapplers?
Dan Faggella: Well, the sweep and submission game, for example, is very different when you’re fighting someone much larger. If you watch a guy like Cobrinha, or Caio Terra, or other smaller world champions - their strategy for beating bigger opponents is quite unique.
In terms of sweeps, there are a lot of “traditional” sweeps, such as the Flower sweep or Hip-Bump sweep from closed guard that simply don’t seem to work against bigger opponents - for a variety of reasons. In fact, closed guard sweeps are very rare against bigger opponents, and we’re seeing a lot more lightweights have success with De La Riva, X-guard, and half guard variations that are a little bit more dynamic.
In terms of submissions, one of the biggest mistakes most lighter grapplers make is attacking a LOT of their opponent at one time. Smart lightweights go after the smallest parts of the bigger opponents, and aim to use submissions that use their entire bodies.
A good example is going for a head-only guillotine, not a head-and-arm guillotine, because the head-and-arm variations require you to “squeeze” and control MORE of a bigger opponent. Less is more. The rule I teach in seminars and to my readers is “use as MUCH of you on as LITTLE of them as possible.” That’s what the champs are doing today.
OnTheMat: Dan, thanks a ton for taking the time for the interview, I hope we’ll have a lot of readers pick up a copy online! For anyone reading, be sure to look out for more of Dan’s interviews and article right here at OTM.
Dan Faggella: Thanks! Yes the physical version will be available soon, too. Thanks so much for having me on. I’ll certainly be blogging up a storm, too!
Dan is giving away a Free copy of his “The Bigger They Are, the Harder They Fall” BJJ DVD on his website (www.MicroBJJ.com/David). In addition, you can grab a copy of Dan’s boon on Amazon here: http://amzn.to/17R7lWM.