After years of reading this site, I finally got around to joining. My name is Ari Bolden and I'd like to share my insights about training outside ones weight class.
As aikidoka, we don't usually have this problem, but I have encountered it from time to time in the dojo's I have visited.
There are some practitioners that will refuse to train with someone who is "X" amount heavier (taller/shorter) than them (for fear of getting hurt or not being able to do the technique?)
I am a big fan of cross training (just so you know where I am coming from) and have focused my training towards Aikido, Daito Ryu jujitsu, and bjj. I was always fascinated by the origins of Aikido (and where O Sensei learned many of his techniques) hence the reason I started to study Daito Ryu.
But I have digressed. Onto my topic.
What I am going to expound upon here is nothing new to the martial arts world. I thought I might write it down so others not familiar with "no weight class" might better understand what I am talking about.
I train and teach under the "reality based" ideal. That means, in the real world, you are going to encounter people much larger and smaller than yourself. Training with this fact in mind is extremely important.
When the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) first started, they had no weight classes (I realize this isn't the real world, I just thought it was a good example). They also had tournament style matches (where the winner would advance to the next round that very same night). Often, competitors would be out weighed by 50 or even 100 pounds. Those martial artists who TRAINED against different sizes ultimately went on to win those early UFCs.
My original training partner was 6'6'' 285 pounds. I stand 6'1, 180 pounds. For months and months we wrestled and sparred with one another. I had to focus on technique because I could not match his size or strength. Conversely, my partner had to work on his endurance, since I would rely on timing and "going the distance" in order to burn him out.
On the other hand, I sparred with one of my students (age 61, weight 145 pounds with 30 years of wrestling behind his belt) and it was completely different. His experience, balance, and range of mobility required me to re adjust all my techniques. Was it easier sparring with him? No-not by a long shot.
When real life encounters come your way, there are no rules regarding size (that goes for age, sex, skill level et al). Professionals are predictable. It's the amateurs you have to watch out for.
When I teach, I constantly switch students so they get a good selection of partners. Everyone moves differently, so this cross section increases skill level.
I look forward to hearing your replies and learning from your experiences.
Bujitsu Academy of Victoria