Using Your Size and Strength In a Fight

Hi everybody.

Anyone who has trained martial arts with any sense of purpose understands the importance of pursuing technical refinement with your martial arts training time. This thread is not meant to diminish the importance of that. I believe that pursuing technical refinement and building good fight habits through conscientious training, drilling and sparring will serve anyone well, no matter what your size or strength may be relative to other people. Training for bare-handed combat should result in organized responses to violence that you’re familiar with and can execute under stress when you’re being attacked, no matter your size.

HOWEVER… This is T-Nation and I think it is reasonable to expect that most people in these forums are bigger and stronger than the average person, or at least aspire to be. If not, this isn’t the thread for you. We’re talking goon tactics here, which need not fall outside the realm of sound technique. The situation dictates what sound technique is or isn’t, not its success rate in competitions with weight classes.

Being bigger, stronger and fitter means you don’t always need an elaborate plan in a fight, even if you have a tremendous set of conditional responses or a vast arsenal of strikes, submissions and other types of martial arts wizardry at your disposal (which I DON’T). My instructor calls this “knocking on the front door first”. Here are some ways you can knock on that front door if you find yourself in a violent situation where you’ve got a major size and strength advantage.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but here are things that have served me well working solo shifts as local dive bar security across several years of part-time work. At 6’00" 280lbs I was bigger almost every time, but my strength training meant I was stronger all of the time.

  1. Wall pins. The wall is just a vertical floor that you can pin someone against, albeit without as much help from gravity compared to a ground pin. A hard shove or a dive-and-clinch can move the encounter from the middle of a room up against a wall very soon, giving the other person little say in the matter. From here there are easy takedowns, vicious head-butts, elbows, and the frustration of limiting the other person’s options for movement. You can get to a clinch as well. The basic idea is to just smash them into the wall and be bigger and stronger, which will put you in a better position than the other person most of the time.

  2. Arm-drag to street choke. Some training is required here, but it has been so effective for me that I have to include it. This doesn’t need a TON of training, although understanding choke mechanics and head/arm positioning will be needed if you want to finish the choke (or at least threaten it) reliably. For the record, I never finished any of the blood chokes I put on people at work. Putting it on always got them to quit, but if you don’t know how to put it on you’ll just have the person in a headlock or maybe crushing their trachea. The arm-drag is the part where your size and strength can provide a quick pathway to someone’s back, especially if your arm-drag is technically-sound. Technical refinement is how you capitalize on the opportunity with good timing, break down the posture and secure a decisive blood choke. Putting goon strength behind it just means that you arm drag them around you rather easily, whereas a smaller person who is skilled will arm-drag themselves around the larger person. Basic physics.

Here’s a good explanation of this sequence, similar to how I was taught.

  1. Get behind them. The arm-drag above provides a pathway, but so can man-handling someone smaller and weaker than you or just walking up to a violent person who was foolish enough to turn their back to you. Wrap them up with your arms at the hips, torso or neck. Be a bigger and stronger person with control of the body in one of those key points while positioning yourself behind them. This is a good place to be.

  2. Belt grabs. A sturdy leather belt is an unbelievably good handle your opponent has provided for you, conveniently wrapped around his hips. There’s probably no better grip point than a sturdy belt to simply rag-doll someone with your size and strength advantage.

  3. Grab them by the fuck-you handle. The irony of big bad biker tattoo types is their propensity for growing fuck-you handles on their faces. Long bushy beards are a great body part for a bigger and stronger person to simply grab something and start yanking. Even if you have no technique you can treat a biker beard much like a belt. Grab it and start rag-dolling, being a bigger and stronger person who is controlling someone by their face.

  4. Grab the short man syndrome guys who start fights by the neck (or the fuck-you handle). Extending your arms like that can put them in danger against a skilled grappler, but it can also exploit a reach, hand-size, grip-strength and size advantage in the right circumstances. If your arms are long enough they won’t be able to hit you anywhere that will matter. There’s the basic two-handed murder choke, but my favorite goon move is to use my dominant hand to murder choke the neck and go for the carotids with my thumb and middle finger while monkey-pawing the back of the neck, pulling the head towards me while simultaneously walking the smaller person forward into the nearest wall. My hands are just large enough to palm a basketball, so I can usually get at least one carotid artery disrupted. It’s nasty and gets guys to quit, plus you can end up in a wall pin.

  5. The shove. I stopped shoving when bouncing due to the unpredictable nature of a powerful shove, but if you’re in a self-defense situation a simple shove can be very effective. Again, be a bigger and stronger dude and goon your opponent with your mass and strength. Get your whole body into it.

  6. Get back to your feet if you’re on your back. Sure, good BJJ escapes and a top-notch guard can give you lots of options, but you lifted weights to be bigger and stronger, not concede bad positions in a fight. Get back to your feet however you can unless you really know what you’re doing on your back.

  7. You can’t lose a fight from the mount unless more than one person is in-play.

  8. Pressure. Learn how to use it, which unfortunately means you have to be more than just a goon and pursue technical refinement.

I’d love to hear from some of the other lifters who’ve trained martial arts or worked in violent jobs before. How do you make being bigger and stronger work for you in violent situations?

I’d also love to hear from anyone who has trained seriously, even if they may not have a huge size or strength advantage. What sort of goon tactics would you recommend to the bigger and stronger trainee?


Excellent post and topic. From my uniform days, the “wall pin” as you stated can be used on vehicle hoods and trunks. I am not a big guy, just average, but, once I was able to break their balance, I could usually control them. I second the belt grip and back before wokeism, I would use the rear belt grip with a solid kick to the back of the knee, would usually put them on the ground. I use the word “usually” a lot because every street encounter is different, especially if they on on drugs. more later, off to work.

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Big fan of this topic!

Most of my limiting time trying to fight was spent being a goon, as I was always moving and couldn’t stay at one school for very long but COULD spend my time lifting weights in the interim, so I was typically stronger and better conditioned than whoever it was I was training against. I was never “bigger” as a 5’9 person, but still had “size”.

In that regard, there’s things to be “learned” by watching those dudes who have relied on their size and strength to achieved success in combat sports. Early Bob Sapp is a fantastic example, along with Tank Abbott, Mariusz Pudzianowski, Paul Varelans, etc.

All this to discuss a few of my favorite things I did that were inspired my such dudes. Once, in a friendly sparring match, a smaller opponent shot in on me for a takedown. I promptly sprawled out, wrapped my arms around his midsection into a big bearhug, and picked him up off his feet like a sandbag, with his head pointed squarely at the ground. Since it was a friendly sparring match, I gently set him back down, but we both tacitly understood that, had this been a real ugly situation, I could have pro-wrestling pile drove him into the ground and quite literally killed him. And in that regard, you can make a lot of pro-wrestling moves “work” if you can outmuscle people. Usually those moves work because the two wrestlers are working WITH each other like acrobats, but if your opponent is smaller than you, you can impose your will on them.

What’s nice too is that, when you have strong muscles, you can get away with terrible technique. Like arm punches. Arm punches when you have weak arms don’t do much. Arm punches from a dude with strong arms WILL hurt. And to clarify, when I saw “arm punches”, I don’t mean punching someone in the arm, but punches that don’t have the body behind them. Ideally, we’d all be Jack Dempsey and learn how to fall into the punch, but sometimes we’re caught flat footed and can only put our arm into the punch.

Speaking of big strong arms, know what’s a fun thing to do with them? Pull people. Specifically, by their limbs. One of my favorite things to do when receiving a low kick was to catch it and then Mortal Kombat Scorpion “GET OVER HERE!” by just pulling the dude flat off their feet by the leg straight to me. A fantastic combo from there was to pull them straight into a gut punch, wrap my arms around them, and suplex them. And did you know you can CHAIN SUPLEXES TOGETHER? As long as you’re stronger and better conditioning than the other dude, after you suplex them once, you can keep your arms around them and do it again and again.

I realize this is more combat sports related than self defense, as piledriving and suplexing people in a street fight could very well kill them, but still, a great topic to explore.

EDIT: It dawns on me that we’re effectively creating a manual on how to beat up people smaller and weaker than you. Some sort of Bully Handbook.

I’m not against that, but it’s pretty amazing.


Best advice I have when you’re considerably bigger/heavier is to treat ground fights with a prison mindset… If you have to do it, you’d rather be on top.

I won quite a few thunderdome fights in my military days (>80%) due to being stronger and maintaining top position… all my martial arts training consisted of Tae Kwon Do, which is effectively useless in ground combat. I will say watching Big Country in UFC some years back goes to prove that being big and staying on top seems to work quite well… This being said, I’d rather always avoid having to ground fight, especially in a real-life situation.

Got quite a few people to tap during thunderdome fights by ‘gooning’ them… basically going for a chokehold and if you don’t get the neck - you just squeeze the everloving shit out of their face. But if you’re REALLY big…

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Looking forward to hearing more! Drugs and alcohol ALWAYS spices up the fight!

A Bully Handbook is 100 percent the objective of this thread. Slams are perhaps the ultimate goon move, which is why I’m so big on getting to a clinch, preferably from behind. Just getting to the clinch and putting a squeeze on a guy is often enough to get them to stop the fight right there because they can sense your strength and, if they have any sense, realize that they can now be picked up and slammed. Especially if you’re picking them up and moving them.

This is true for all people. Even the most skilled BJJ guys shouldn’t go to the guard casually.

Holding mount is probably one of the best skills you can develop for your ground game. If you’re a big strong guy holding mount works REALLY well, even if you don’t know a single submission. A good goon move from mount is simple jaw pressure. Put both hands in a stacked CPR-like position against their lower jaw and just transfer your weight to them. Really tough guys can ride that out, but most guys will either tap or roll over to make it stop, giving up their back to you.

Part of holding mount is getting “grapevine hooks” in with your feet and your hands based out really wide while making them carry 100 percent of your weight. Then hold position and cook them with pressure, hopefully while they’re burning tons of energy trying ineffective escapes.

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I’ve not had the “luxury” of being a goon many times since I was a smaller guy growing up, and a lankier fella once I was grown. At 6’ and ~185, I’m still pretty lanky.

I have gotten my ass beat a few times by bigger dudes, and those were solid learning experiences.

I’ve been the bigger guy a couple times, and using that with the little guy technique of using someones momentum against them ended things rather quickly. Nothing over the top but an effective arm drag into takedown with back control or wall pin face-smush has settled things down without a punch needing to be thrown.

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Oh man, how could I have forgotten my absolute favorite “goon triangle escape”

If do right, no can defense



Force (which we want to maximise) = mass (which I have lots of) x acceleration (which is a by product of strength). This leads to a lot of stiff arm pushing. Which might seem a touch “weak” but if you can get your hips into it - I’ve sent guys 5/6m before. The tricks are:
Hit them in the chest. The more towards the shoulder you are the more they will roll out of it.
Hit them from in front. OR perpendicular to their feet. This is the plain in which they are weakest.
Stiff arm - but get your body weight into it. And drive through.

Arm drag - just like your video. BUT bully boy time. Rather step out and round - step in and through.
Defenders left hand grabs and pulls their arm out.
Step in and make contact your shoulder in to his chin.
Defenders right hand grabs the lapel. AT THE SAME TIME.

Because you’ve pulled them. And then shoulder checked them, their balance is all over the place. Your aim is to get momentum going through 10/11 o’clock (assuming 6 is reverse and 12 is straight on). With the arm caught and lapel secure twist anti clock wise and then drag them down by putting your right knee on the floor whilst pushing your right arm out.

Its about as “non-technical” as you can get. And will ONLY work if the size&strength to skill differential is big enough. For example - I could not pull this off on well trained fighter. Or a stronger guy. BUT I can pull it off on pretty much anyone else.

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More good additions to the Bully Handbook. Slams are a super-legit triangle defense and having a big deadlift definitely carries over to executing it. So is rag-dolling and shoulder checking to unbalance.

This cop knocks on the front door first with a neck grab, goon takedowns, knee pins, shoves and shouts. A great display of being bigger and stronger when things get chippy.

Remember folks, use the bully handbook responsibly, and don’t forget…

“You lose 100 percent of the fights you don’t start.”

-Tank Abbot, probably.


Here’s a guy who knows how to bully with restraint. Not as much restraint as I would have used, but still pretty restrained. Everything worked out fine but the shove at the beginning shows why I stopped shoving on the job. Drunk people can go down hard and if things go poorly you will need to answer for it, right or wrong. A guy like this could be easily arm-dragged with absolutely no say in how that goes. Get behind him, wrap him up, then pick him up and carry him across the road instead, only partially humiliating him instead of totally humiliating him.

This is what it looks like when a massive size, strength and skill disparity goes up against irrational intoxicated confidence (aka, small man syndrome). Guys like this are not exactly uncommon at popular bars. Work at one long enough and you’ll come across one, guaranteed. I’ve had similar moments on the job, but I can’t say I’ve ever rag-dolled someone quite so spectacularly.

The other thing to remember is that there is an exceedingly high chance your actions will be on video if you’re using the bully handbook out there in public, just like this guy’s were.

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This thread reminded me of a bouncer I met briefly at one of our popular ocean side establishments down in the big city here. He had the words “good” and “nite” (iirc on the spelling) tattooed on the outside of his fingers so it could be read when he held his fists together. He was a big fella, and talked like he knew how to knock someone out. I didn’t care to find out because that’s not my game, but I did immediately feel bad for anyone who he perceived as being in the wrong.

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Im willing to bet if the blues hadnt been flashing, the bouncer would have yeeted that dude into lifetime bedpan usage.


Eh, I’m going to have to disagree with you. It didn’t look like this was his first day on the job. He could have landed a lot more than just a hard shove and a knee, but he didn’t. Napoleon got to sleep it off in jail without any life-altering injuries.

Bouncing is a job that will present situations like this if you’re big, strong and capable enough. Small, weak, incapable and intoxicated men hell-bent on self-destruction have a way of showing up at places where alcohol is served in abundance. Yeeting people like that into life-altering neck and spine injuries just because you can will end up yeeting yourself into prison at worst or a civil suit at best.

Most people are less than five seconds away from whipping out their phones and filming whatever fuckery is unfolding in front of them while also being a lifetime away from doing anything to meaningfully help.

@mr.v3lv3t I don’t know that guy, but I bet I know a guy who does. There are some really good doormen working in our general area, especially among the folks you’ll find behind the bear. There is also an unfortunate preponderance of ill-mannered ruffians prone to unnecessary violence on the job. I’m not sure which camp that guy falls into, but I hope he is overseeing good times and guiding our neighbors to good decisions.


This thread is great.

Not so much that its about assaulting people, more it seems that in these scenarios the people the “Bully Handbook” is being applied to probably deserve it.

In any case, I have found a Thai clinch can work wonders if you are in the appropriate range. I have put people in a half clinch, done a short pivot and watched them (to my surprise) simply crumple to the ground as their posture melts.

Most people don’t have the strength or training background to hold their posture once you manipulate their heads. Having a strong neck nowadays seems to be a rarity. If the strength differential is large enough, you can simple grab the back of their head and push it to the ground. Where the head goes, the body will follow.

It goes without saying to watch for wild looping strikes. But unless your opponent has the footwork and strength, it’s probably not going to be an issue. Bully away!


Thanks. It sounds like you get it. Nobody’s advocating for assault here. Especially on people smaller and weaker than you or I, who can easily be assaulted.

It’s just that we’re ready to respond to situations involving those smaller and weaker people, should they happen to call our number.

Here’s an insider secret for you all. When you get hired as a doorman they make you watch Bas Rutten’s Bouncer Training Video.

“You know these people, they’re talking to you, blah blah blah blah blah. Something’s gonna go wrong, and you wanna choke the guy out.”

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I got my ass kicked really badly and it changed everything. Long story short, I was dispatched to a domestic call in a housing project. My partner in the next zone came on the radio and said he would provide backup. We arrived on the scene and heard screaming from inside the little apartment. Going through the front door, we saw a large male on top of a female, chocking the crap out of her. We pulled him off and the fight was on. He hit my partner and knocked him out, so hard, he had a concussion and spent 3 days in the hospital. I hit him with everything I had, which did nothing.

I am 6 foot tall and at the time, probably around 170 lbs, since I was competing in AAU boxing at middleweight. He grabbed my uniform shirt and basically ripped it off, bunching the shirt and slamming me into the walls. He kept trying to rip my service pistol from the holster and kept slamming me into the walls. I head butted him, punched with my free hand , and kneed him as much as I could. Nothing worked. Backup arrived and got him off of me. I ended up with a broken nose, fractured cheek bone, three broken ribs and a broken wrist. I am firmly convinced he would have killed me if backup at not arrived.

Here is the kicker: With a second degree black belt in TKD and boxing AAU, I thought I was bad ass. What folly. After I healed up enough to go back to work and the gym , I changed everything in training. I quit TKD, realizing it was useless on the street. I seriously started weight training, hoping to gain strength and mass. Being tossed around like a chew toy will mature you quick. I do not have superman DNA, so, it took about three years to get up to 215lbs, where I am still at today. IMHO, size and strength, along with good verbal skills, far outweighs skills in the dojo. I will take “bully skills” any day to survive.

BTW, the drug screen showed cocaine, meth and traces of PCP. No wonder I couldn’t hurt him.


Whats AAU boxing?

When you bulked up from 170-215 did you continue practicing combat sports?

That and… did you start grappling? Grappling (wrestling/BJJ) is arguably the most effective combat discipline for 1v1 scenarios IF no weapons are involved.

Morbid curiosity… did you feel it at the time? Or did the adrenaline rush black out the pain?

Because you probably were… relative to someone who wasn’t on methamphetamine and PCP… in Aus some emaciated, cranked out guys require like 4-5 big guys just to hold them down despite only weighing like 140lbs.

Methamphetamine and whatnot can give someone ‘hysterical strength’ due to overstimulation of ones fight or flight response. Like those stories of mothers lifting up trucks to save their child… but instead of lasting for 6 seconds this display of strength lasts for the entire fight…

The obvious solution here is to get more mothers on methamphetamines and PCP


I can assure you that holding down an untrained 140 lb guy only needs one skilled grappler over 200 lbs.

That’s not to say he won’t be a real handful, a disease risk and impervious to pain compliance, but none of that neutralizes gravity or renders pins ineffective.

Even a strong, lean and fit 140 can be rag-dolled and smashed if I’m literally twice your size, much stronger and fit enough to do 10 pull-ups and roll hard for long rounds.

Once you have enough disparity between size, strength, fitness, skill and gameness to fight you can absolutely reach a point where the asshole has no real say in how it plays out. Drugs or No drugs.

I’ve been on both sides of that outcome several times in real life and many, many times in sparring. Luckily I never crossed paths with a drugged up lunatic much bigger and stronger than me.

Lifting weights made sure of that.

Amateur boxing, three rounds fights with headgear for kids trying to make the Olympic team.

Yes, started judo and KM.

Not really, I knew I was hurt but was too scared of dying to care. The next day was a real bitch:))

PCP was the worse drug I ever encountered , turns a human being into an savage. You are just going to have to trust me with story, I was on scene. A neighboring jurisdiction shot a male on PCP 5 times with .357 magnum rounds. He ran a quarter mile before he bleed out, I know, I found the body. When they arrived on scene and told me where shooting occurred, I was astounded.