Being stuck in the bottom z-guard position can be a difficult position to work out of. It can be tricky, and presents many potential issues you must face in order to escape. Now, imagine your opponent is twice your size!
Now what do you do?
First off, relax and take a breath, this isn’t the worst position to be in. Knowing how to deal with a larger grappler is something that every lightweight grappler should know about, especially for a situation like this.
You have to know how to approach it.
Proper Body Placement And How To Manipulate Their Body
When grappling and competing against someone much larger than you, the main thing you must always keep in mind is the fact that they are likely to be able to dominate you physically if you try to play their game.
For us smaller guys, we have to play the game and be smart about our approach. For instance, if we find ourselves in bottom z-guard, there is no way that we can out muscle someone twice our size! We have to be smart, and know how to use our opponent’s size against them in order for us to gain the upper hand.
For instance, the key focal point you’ll want to try to aim for is to get your arm under their neck. You won’t do this by pushing up onto them by using strength from your chest, but more so by allowing the structure of arm to support them.
With this in place, an ideal way to escape from this position is to get your foot on their hip. Again, you aren’t trying to out-muscle them, but you’re allowing the frame of your lower body to support their weight.
By eliminating the muscle vs. muscle approach, you are now able to support their body weight, which opens you your chance to swivel your hips through their legs, which in turns allows you to being isolating and attack their legs, which makes them extremely vulnerable, no matter their size.
Threatening To Secure The Dominant Position
After eliminating the threat of your opponents’ strength and size, you can begin to work on a leg lock or even a sweep from this position!
A nice trick that I like to use in this specific situation is to begin attacking their foot by looking for a heel hook or a toe hold; something that will be easy to obtain right away, and I won’t have to worry much about working extra for and taking up precious seconds.
Once I have this setup in place, I start to threaten the hold. Upon doing so, any logical grappler would either begin fighting back with a leg lock of their own or panic. Given the positional disadvantage that your opponent will be in, panicking is likely their best bet to get out of this specific spot.
As soon as they start to panic, it opens the door for an easy sweep, allowing you to gain the upper hand and begin to work for the finish.
It may seem like a daunting task, but in actuality, this setup isn’t that difficult, and can be executed with a certain degree of ease if approached properly.
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