I do martial arts at a gym, and there is this one guy named Dave who weighs 100 pounds more than me, has been training 7 years more than me, and who is a fast as a snake (even faster than me). I want to beat him, but I can't figure it out. Is there any way for me to win without getting slammed on the mat? Also, I train in a full contact (or almost full contact) martial art.

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    There's no generic answer to this question other than "you don't". Figure out if there's anything you're better at (or that he's ignoring/not considering), then try that. In general if all other things are equal, any single advantage is enough; there are multiple, critical advantages--we have no way to know if there are any advantages going the other way or if they'd be enough to overcome the deficits. IMO, while frustrating, you'll end up better off for it in the long run. Commented Aug 23, 2021 at 18:08
  • I'm a bit concerned that you are so obsessed about ''winning'' against someone (perhaps this has something which has come from MMA and cage fighting). I thought martial arts were about improving self-confidence and self-defence, not about ego?
    – Tom
    Commented Aug 24, 2021 at 12:55
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    chess/chess960 has a way to go about doing this like you can play for a draw to draw the game but 'win' in the sense that your rating increases since the condition is that the weaker player increases rating in the event of a draw. is there like play for a draw here? --> a weird suggestion/question i have but perhaps it goes towards giving the OP a think of revising conditions of what counts as a 'win' here. A result of 1/2-1/2 is in some ways a 'win' for the weaker player in chess/chess960 eg since the rating usually goes up.
    – BCLC
    Commented Aug 24, 2021 at 15:08
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    It's always some guy named Dave... Commented Jan 19, 2022 at 10:27

5 Answers 5


The simple answer is: No. You're gonna lose.

You may never win against a guy who is much heavier than you, much stronger than you, much faster than you, and much more skilled and experienced than you.

But, don't let that dissuade you from training with him. When you're up against someone like that, the best you can do is learn to relax, stop thinking so much (put your brain on auto-pilot and in the moment), and let your training kick in automatically.

Your goal here isn't to win. Instead, you want to be able to experience some progress, no matter how small it is.

But he's still going to win. What matters is how you perceive your progress. And you will know when you've made progress. It won't be obvious to everyone else sometimes. What matters is you remember you struggled with him before, unable to do anything, and then all of the sudden something in your head just clicks, and today you were able to keep him from doing the worst thing to you.

Most of it does come down to what I said above: relaxation and not over-thinking. Go into it with no plan. And, when you're rolling / sparring with the guy, don't try to strategize or think ahead. That hasn't worked for you in the past. Just be in the moment. Relax. Let things happen. If you catch yourself thinking things like, "I'm gonna step in to his side, slip around his back and get a rear-naked hold," then you're doing this the wrong way. Don't think ahead. Just wait. Relax. Let things happen. Be in the moment. Don't try to think ahead.

When you are paying attention to what’s going on right now instead of thinking about what you’re going to do, you can begin to see things that you weren’t able to before. That is when progress will happen.

But you won't win. Not for a long long time. And that should not matter at all right now. Right now, you just want to experience some progress. That's a goal you can achieve.

Hope that helps.

  • So are you and @Amorphous Blob saying that the key to winning an unwinnable situation is too... lose? I'm afraid I don't understand. Thanks for answering though.
    – Kaleb King
    Commented Aug 23, 2021 at 17:24
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    @KalebKing You have misunderstood my answer. You can not win against someone like what you described. Worse, by fixating on winning, you actually deprive yourself of opportunities to make progress. And you will eventually quit. Instead, the goal should be to make progress, however small. Over time, your skill level will grow that way. And who knows, with enough skill, you may surpass this guy and eventually start winning against him. Focus on the goal you can achieve now: progress. Winning is the wrong focus. Commented Aug 23, 2021 at 17:31
  • Ok, so you mean to focus on improving myself instead of beating Dave?
    – Kaleb King
    Commented Aug 23, 2021 at 17:38
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    @KalebKing I mean change the goal. Your goal should be to make some progress, however small. That is achievable. The goal of winning is not. And go back and read my answer for exactly how you can start to make progress against a guy like that today. Relax. Don’t think ahead. Be in the moment. Don’t strategize. When you are paying attention to what’s going on right now instead of thinking about what you’re going to do, you can begin to see things that you weren’t able to before. And that is when progress will happen. You will see. Commented Aug 23, 2021 at 17:42
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    I wish I could give multiple upvotes here! Commented Aug 25, 2021 at 9:03

Train smarter, train harder, lift weights to get stronger and analyze his game six ways from Sunday. Find out what he's bad at and get good at that.

  • Despite this being a very short answer, it cuts to the point. The only way you can beat someone that's better than you, is to train really really hard for a substantial amount of time (years). To improve your odds you can indeed study your opponent (it's not uncommon for professionals to study their opponents before a fight), so you can memorize specific moves they make and when they might be open. Of course the difference in size is going to be a limiting factor always and it's very difficult to beat a larger opponent.
    – Deruijter
    Commented Aug 24, 2021 at 11:17
  • This is the way. MMA teaches us that people/champions seem invincible all the time, and then a newbie comes along and takes their title away. Often this is exactly because they analyzed their style and went exactly for the one gaping hole.
    – AnoE
    Commented Aug 24, 2021 at 14:58

There's one strategy in particular that may optimise your chances of success against a more experienced, skilled and faster, stronger opponent. I make absolutely no claim that it will enable you to beat him, but only that it may enable you to significantly improve your ability to spar with him productively.

In the absence of any information as to what martial art you practice, there's one weakness that many of us have; even those of us who have trained for a considerable amount of time:

We often train exclusively against opponents who practice the same form of martial art.

Martial artists who have no experience against other styles are often bamboozled by unfamiliar techniques. I'm not suggesting you abandon your training in search of another style just to beat one person, but I do suggest there is value in identifying techniques typically employed by your style and in researching other techniques from other schools that might render your efforts less predictable.

Note: I'm not suggesting you should always do this. If your goal is to get better at a particular style, you clearly need to work hard at learning how to employ its techniques, but the element of surprise is a treasured strategic goal for good reason. It can be used to force your opponent into reacting in ways that aren't deeply drilled into their reactive system. Even if you are merely able to cause some confusion and force some adjustment from your opponent, you will have slowed them down and achieved something valuable.

Remember too that there are often techniques native to a martial art that are rarely utilised. Practicing these can be an excellent way to generate tactical initiative whilst remaining within the confines of your school's approach.

One of the obvious strengths of MMA is that it trains people in a variety of styles, so that it is much harder to surprise an opponent. If you are in an MMA school already, the advice here may still be of use, for even MMA can be prone to creating combat expectations which can be subverted by creativity and analytic strategy.

Watch him spar other people who are as good or better than him. What methods do they use?

If you ask nicely, he might honestly reveal what he thinks his weaknesses are.

You asked a good question. Many simply avoid sparring those who are far more advanced than them. You may well learn a lot from your efforts.


Realistically speaking, short of smuggling a shank into the gym, no, there is no way to win a match. So just look at what you can learn - break it down into "How do I deal with A?", "How do I deal with B?", etc. Learning martial arts is a slow process, and learning how to adapt to the other person takes longer than, say, learning how to throw a correct, powerful round kick.


It is important to remember that martial arts is not just about physical strength and speed. It also involves strategy, technique, and the ability to outsmart your opponent. In order to win against Dave, you could focus on improving your own skills and strategy, and studying his weaknesses. You could also seek the guidance of a coach or experienced training partner who can offer advice and support. Ultimately, the key is to stay focused, work hard, and stay determined. With dedication and persistence, you may be able to overcome the challenges and come out victorious.

  • These are all valid points and been raised beforehand. The problem really is that the less restrictive the ruleset is towards grappling and full-contact fighting, the more important weight classes become ceterus paribus, ie. as long as you are not vastly faster, more experienced, and more skilled, you generally have to rely on luck with big weight disparity. And even given these advantages, every encounter is risky in these circumstances. There is no magic martial art that will allow you to win against people 100lb or even 50lb heavier with any grade of certainty. Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 9:37

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