“Why Leverage is NOT better than strength” – July 29, 2010

Why Leverage is NOT better than strength By Rob Gramer

If you think Brazilian jiu jitsu is all about leverage…AND…that you shouldn’t use strength, then you are missing out on a HUGE invisible element of BJJ.

Here’s the story…

Way back in the day, the geeky scientist Archimedes said, “Give me a lever long enough and I can move the earth.” And then a few decades ago, a 135 poun Brazilian called Helio Gracie started kicking ass and taking names with a newly evolved form of jiu jitsu that relies heavily on the principle of leverage.

But what both Archimedes and Helio Gracie didn’t tell you is that leverage is made up of two separate components. And if just ONE of these components is missing…all that fancy talk about leverage moving planets and beating up bigger and stronger guys is just that, talk.

What exactly is leverage?

Leverage is a mathematical formula. It is force multiplied by distance. The equation is

Leverage = Force multiplied by Distance

This means the greater the distance a force is applied away from a fulcrum…the greater the leverage. Check out the following pictures…

Force Far Away From Fulcrum

Force Closer to Fulcrum

According to our “Leverage = Force multiplied by Distance” formula, the leverage would be greater in the first picture than in the second picture because the force is farther away from the fulcrum.

Now, we’ve talked about distance. Let’s talk about force for a second.

What is force?

The definition of force is a…push or a pull between two physical bodies.

And what creates a push or a pull? That’s right…


Simply put, it is IMPOSSIBLE to have leverage if you do NOT apply some sort of force. If you do not apply some sort of strength.

That’s why the whole concept of strength vs. leverage is a misnomer. Yes, leverage is a more efficient use of strength…but that does NOT mean you can simply take strength out of the equation.

Rob Gramer is a mechanical engineer and BJJ brown belt. For more BJJ articles with a scientific bent and a free report revealing the 33 Grips every grappler must know, visit www.bjjmemoir.com

2 Responses to ““Why Leverage is NOT better than strength” – July 29, 2010”

  1. David Nasr says:

    I think understanding the relationship between strength and leverage, and how to use your body and a resistant opponent to create the lever is what takes years to master.It took me years to learn to balance my strength ( 215lb lean built) with leverage. Both combined work, both needs each other, mastering both and mastering timing is crucial. Great write up on the subject!

  2. younoknow897 says:

    you’re right to a point, yeah you need strength but you can do fine with what you are born with. You’ll gain muscle by training in any martial arts, but true martial arts isnt for strength, most are based with endurance building which is a different muscle build. I’m 6’4” and ill take my leverage over my strength any day. The whole point of the lever system in the first place is to move objects with ease, no shit you need strength, but using leverage takes little energy. Thanks for explaining something so obvious, you’re good at sounding ignorant and stupid. lame ass article. And in any martial arts, the bigger the muscles, the faster they ware out and way higher risk for injury.

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