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I frequently spar against heavier, stronger opponents at my MMA gym and I was wondering if I could reverse their strength/weight and use it against them. My instructor said some things about circular movements, but I don't really get how that works. How do I reverse someone's strength/weight?

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  • Welcome to the site! It doesn't look like you've taken the tour yet. It will tell you the rules of the site, and how to accept an answer. Once you have enough rep, you will be able to leave comments and join the chat. And we highly encourage you to look at other questions on the site and see where you can provide input, but be aware that, especially if there's already an accepted answer, you need to add something new to the discussion, even if it's providing further detail for an existing answer. Oct 28, 2021 at 17:29
  • :) You can still edit this to add more details to get it reopened, but until then, youtu.be/7uEfcPiZ5Yk does a pretty good job of explaining why the romantic concept of "use their strength/weight against them" generally will not work. Nov 3, 2021 at 12:01

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To be perfectly frank, against a trained individual, for the most part, you don't. Most "redirect" techniques are for use against untrained individuals and are fairly trivial to bypass with a bit more training in fighting. People learn to not throw blind haymakers, and how to redirect their movements even as you try to counter. That said, there is one exception that makes sense.

Wearing your opponent out

The more mass your opponent has, often correlated with their muscle mass and strength, the more energy it takes for them to move. If you can dodge efficiently, especially if you can force them to expend more effort such as throwing more attacks or committing more to those attacks, you may be able to wear them down, giving you the advantage. This may tie into where your instructor is talking about circular movements. By sidestepping an attack, you're forcing the attacker to redirect their momentum more than if they could attack down a straight line, especially if you can avoid them pinning you against the cage/ropes/etc where they'll be better able to use their superior strength and mass.

Some submission techniques

There are some submission techniques, like the calf slicer, are based on compressing the muscle. The more muscle your opponent has, the less distance you need to move the limb before they start being in pain. Similarly, some techniques involve maneuvering your opponent into a position where their own bodyweight and/or involuntary muscular contractions apply more pressure into the hold, and again, there is a case where you can "reverse" their superior strength and mass against them. Caveat here is that until you get it locked in, they have that superior strength and mass to resist and/or redirect that attack and even in the hold, it's sometimes possible to brute force out of a very technically correct hold.

And the redirect techniques can work if your opponent isn't prepared for them

I noted above that most redirection techniques are dependent on having an untrained attacker (or, honestly, a compliant one in many Traditional Martial Arts). However, "training" is not a single dimension. Someone can be a trained striker and be vulnerable to an opponent taking out their base and sending their larger mass crashing to the canvas. Someone can be a trained grappler and have their wild punch or kick redirected with a nudge to be thrown badly off-balance, or even injure themselves as they overstretch. And sometimes, you'll just catch someone off-guard with a sacrifice throw they weren't expecting, or landing that punch that goes through their guard and uses their forward charge to add force. That said, as your opponent trains against more people, the odds of any "redirect" attack "reversing" their advantage shrinks.

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  • I certainly don't want to discourage you from fighting someone who is larger or stronger, but it is always important to remember that an advantage is an advantage, good technique will not always prevail over superior physicality, and to avoid seeking out "magic techniques" that will always work. Oct 28, 2021 at 17:27

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