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Old 05-11-2004, 01:35 PM   #1
Jordan Steele
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Size(strength) doesn't matter! It does!

I hear a lot of conversations about the issue of an opponents size or strength not making a difference, particularly from Aikido practitioners. I am a long time AIkido practitoner among other arts and can genuinely say that the size of somebody makes a huge difference, they don't even have to be strong. I'm 5'7, 150 and solid. I have been strength training for years now and it only works to my benefit. I am just so confused as to why the majority of Aikido people feel so confident against much bigger people. I have been in real fights and can honestly say that all the stuff we do in class gets thrown out the window(no pun intended) when the first fist gets cuffed across your jaw. And you will get hit in a real fight, it's impossible not too. An untrained drunk will hit you more often than a sober expert. Size makes an enormous difference and you will not be able to toss them around, especially a goal oriented big guy. Sadly to say, Aikido's throws are not very effective on a larger opponent, but their joint locks work very well. If you like throwing and want to take down a larger person, take judo. It's more aggressive and uses a lift and toss method as opposed to projection. Just my thoughts.
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Old 05-11-2004, 01:55 PM   #2
Chuck Clark
 
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Re: Size(strength) doesn't matter! It does!

You're absolutely correct! Size and strength does matter.

The coordinated application of force with posture (structural integrity), correct movement and distance, along with good timing allows you to put that force on target.

Growing up with strong judo practice, I always heard that "A Good Big Man Defeats A Good Little Man"...

Of course that saying is based on an even skill ability. If one or the other has enough of a skill edge, then it may be different.

Then again, there are "trade offs" in any comparison of size, strength and skill.

My teachers have always tried to teach me to be "efficient" with enough force applied to allow natural laws to work. Many of us often try to overcome lack of skill by adding more muscular power and speed. It doesn't solve the basic problems.

Skill and willingness are important.

Gambatte!

Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
www.jiyushinkai.org
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Old 05-11-2004, 02:12 PM   #3
paw
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Re: Size(strength) doesn't matter! It does!

Chuck has made a rational, logical post that is absolutely correct and true.

Be that as it may, I imagine it will be ignored shortly.

Regards,

Paul
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Old 05-11-2004, 02:22 PM   #4
Chris Birke
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Re: Size(strength) doesn't matter! It does!

Well duh. =D
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Old 05-11-2004, 02:31 PM   #5
shihonage
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Re: Size(strength) doesn't matter! It does!

The goal is not to throw a big guy, but to avoid being thrown by one while re-positioning yourself in a way which either gives you an exit, or minimizes damage he can do to you and maximizes damage you can do to him.
If he throws himself in the process, that's his problem.

As for the real fights, yes, EVERYTHING gets tossed out the window when the attacker delivers a solid hit to your head. Everything gets tossed out, not just Aikido.
Boxers at this point have a reflex to close the distance and seize the opponent's arms because they are now dizzy and they know they cant dodge the barrage of the shots that are about to follow.
I don't see a point you're trying to make with this statement.

As for your last sentence, I personally can't say that my goal in life is go around "throwing large people" because "I like it".
That sort of behavior is not very wise, because it usually leads to early hospitalization or imprisonment.

Last edited by shihonage : 05-11-2004 at 02:34 PM.
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Old 05-11-2004, 02:52 PM   #6
Chris Birke
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Re: Size(strength) doesn't matter! It does!

Everything doesn't get thrown out if you are used to getting hit in the head, by the way. But, I will reserve my comments until the debate truely begins.
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Old 05-11-2004, 03:30 PM   #7
Tharis
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Re: Size(strength) doesn't matter! It does!

I agree that size matters, but...

I think it's worthwhile to say that the more you train, the less size matters. Eventually, though it probably takes years of practice, skill will eventually make size nearly irrelevant and a smaller person may even have the advantage due to being faster, more agile, etc.

On a similar note, I worked at a restaurant a few years ago and there was this guy there who was just plain massive. He must've been something like 6' 7" and 300+ lbs. Apparently he'd served a jail term for assault. Some guys were talking and he said he'd much rather take someone on who was roughly his size than take on a skinny 5'9" 140 lb shrimp like myself, basically because skinny types like myself were much harder to hit as we moved around so much. In his opinion, of course, he'd still win eventually, of course, but it would take much longer.

So, yeah. Size matters. Size is also one factor among many, and the relative importance of uke's size is inversely proportional to the length of time nage has spent practicing.

Does that make sense?

Yours in ukemi,

Thomas

Last edited by Tharis : 05-11-2004 at 03:37 PM.
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Old 05-11-2004, 03:41 PM   #8
gasman
 
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Re: Size(strength) doesn't matter! It does!

The way we train aikido will enable the youngest, oldest and weakest of us to escape grabs and holds from much bigger people. At a very high level, the weaker can asswhip the stronger. The way we train aikido, the advantage goes to the smaller person. It's because we focus on the posture and dynamics, the ma-ai and the use of ki to steer and control the situation.

So Aikido is as much a way of training as it is a martial art.
Only by the use of non-force can the weak overcome the strong.

Also, Jordan, I would like to say that I have been in a few fights, and nobody has managed to land a punch on me yet. How do you train aikido?
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Old 05-11-2004, 03:50 PM   #9
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Re: Size(strength) doesn't matter! It does!

I agree with thomas, the more you train the less size matters.
in my opinion, the way it's supposed to work is that you don't see a need to fight, and that your able to walk away, so you shouldn't have to wory about a big guy beating the hell out of you. and in the case that you have no other choice but to fight having aikido under your belt is more of an advantage than no training at all.

Before man had guns, he had balls!!!
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Old 05-11-2004, 04:15 PM   #10
Fausto
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Re: Size(strength) doesn't matter! It does!

I think that there's nothing more to say it is clear that size matters but with hard and realistic training size will matter less and less.
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Old 05-11-2004, 05:25 PM   #11
Jordan Steele
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Re: Size(strength) doesn't matter! It does!

Thanks for the feedback, I wasn't trying to make any point in particular, just wanted others thoughts because the city I train in has three or four dojos including mine, but my dojo trains with a much different physical and mental attitude. Our dojo trains with a humbleness that the techniques we learn are not necessarily a solution that will work on anybody especially large against small. We improvise alot. Whenever our dojo has practice with a couple of the other dojos(we all have a good relationship by the way), their Aikido is so arrogant and they think they can just toss us around. We co-operate with them out of respect, but honestly they have a false sense of security. I can't throw large people, I can perform various takedowns, but throw no way. Have you ever tried picking up a beach log and projecting it. Unless you toss is like a caber, it won't happen. Then attempt the same thing with a large man that isn't as dumb as a log.
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Old 05-11-2004, 10:00 PM   #12
NagaBaba
 
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Re: Size(strength) doesn't matter! It does!

Quote:
Jason Troy wrote:
I am just so confused as to why the majority of Aikido people feel so confident against much bigger people.
Answer is very simple --- aikido practice is based on cooperation.
It is impossible to compare who is more efficient, ppl from your dojo or other dojos. It is impossible to know if "size(strength) does or doesn't matter" without some kind of competition, sparrings and such. And for sure, the results of such sparrings will be different depends of rules.

Aikido isn't a sport activity -- it is a Budo. Budo practice include weapons, also hidden weapons. There is no sportmanship spirit. There is no fair play.There are no rules.

Aikido is not limited to few throwing techniques and few locks. You are not learning some "tricks" to help you win bigger/stronger Bad Guy. Of course, it takes time to understand all implications, but think a bit about it. and find a good instructor --- a Master. Without such Master you will always be confused.

Nagababa

ask for divine protection Ame no Murakumo Kuki Samuhara no Ryuo
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Old 05-12-2004, 01:25 AM   #13
Cat
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Re: Size(strength) doesn't matter! It does!

Quote:
Jason Troy wrote:
Have you ever tried picking up a beach log and projecting it. Unless you toss is like a caber, it won't happen. Then attempt the same thing with a large man that isn't as dumb as a log.
This is a topic that is close to home for me - I am only 5ft, and often wonder how effective some of the things I am learning would really be against a determined big man. However, I think the analogy above is misleading - I'm not going to try to throw someone who is acting like a log and not moving, because I couldn't do it. But if they are attacking me, they are in motion, and my understanding of Aikido so far (not claiming any expert status) is that it is about using the energy the other person is throwing your way. If they give you enough energy, and you do the technique properly, AND choose an appropriate technique, size becomes far less important (although not irrelevant).

Having said that, I think getting to the point of being able to do that is many many years away for me!! Am I way off the track?
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Old 05-12-2004, 02:00 AM   #14
batemanb
 
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Re: Size(strength) doesn't matter! It does!

Quote:
Catherine II wrote:
However, I think the analogy above is misleading - I'm not going to try to throw someone who is acting like a log and not moving, because I couldn't do it. But if they are attacking me, they are in motion, and my understanding of Aikido so far (not claiming any expert status) is that it is about using the energy the other person is throwing your way. If they give you enough energy, and you do the technique properly, AND choose an appropriate technique, size becomes far less important (although not irrelevant).

Having said that, I think getting to the point of being able to do that is many many years away for me!! Am I way off the track?

Sounds like you're very much on the right track to me.

Another very important part of the equation is kuzushi. You shouldn't even begin to think about technique if you haven't taken uke off balance first. Most techniques fail because tori is so focused on doing the technique they try to apply it too soon. If uke is strong and solid you have little chance of doing any technique effectively, or certainly not without using more strength and power, hence bigger stronger is an advantage in this instance. But if you perform kuzushi and put them off balance initially, their body becomes reliant upon you for support, you can then lead them where you want them to go, as long as you maintain their dependance upon you i.e. keep them unbalanced throughout, to the instant you apply the technique. Basically they should be falling into the technique as a result of kuzushi, this does not require you to be bigger or stronger. It requires an understanding of body mechanics, the ability to feel how your uke's body is moving and where, with your whole body, not just your hands, and the ability to move in harmony with your uke to influence and create kuzushi.

If uke is big and solid has not made any attacking motion towards you, there is no need for technique, just stop and walk away/ step back, re-establish your ma ai so that he has to make the motion towards you first, then he's yours .

With regards to getting hit in a fight, that's a different matter and can be a result of many things. I would like to hope that I can avoid any fight in the first instance, if not, I would like to hope that my Aikido keiko, specifically ma ai, movement and zanshin would help me avoid getting hit with any kind of substantial blow. I don't intend waiting around for a punch, but you never know, we only prepare as best we can and work it out on the day.

Regards

Bryan

A difficult problem is easily solved by asking yourself the question, "Just how would the Lone Ranger handle this?"
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Old 05-12-2004, 02:18 AM   #15
drDalek
 
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Re: Size(strength) doesn't matter! It does!

The fundamental "fighting" stratagy of Aikido is so completely the opposite of every single competitive martial art that this thread is not even relative (but it is interesting). Sure if you plan on clashing with someone, or allowing them to load some weight onto you, either body weight or "muscular weight" then the guy that can handle (and apply) the most weight would win out in the end.

Have you ever forcibly blocked a shomenuchi that was in the "coming down" stage? Hurts doesnt it. How about blending (as opposed to blocking) a shomenuchi in the development (going up) stage? Much, much easier.

The way I see it, with Aikido the ideal is to take control of the situation from the outset, either take control and de-escalate immediatly, failing that, strike first and make it count, failing that, evade until the situation and timing is just right to apply a lock or a throw or an unbalancing atemi.

In Judo, if your timing is not right, you can still use your strength to "force" the throw, even if someone's balance is not broken you can push them down to the floor with enough muscular strength. The throws in Aikido are all about breaking balance, there are multiple stratagies for breaking balance, but if balance is not broken the technique "wont work". Folding someone's arm over towards their back wont throw someone who still has his balance, infact I believe the thing you do with Uke's arm in shihonage is purely to have a lever to control uke's fall, make it faster or slower, damaging or gentle or direct it into some strategically important direction. If you have a lot of muscle, you can pull down on Uke's arm and eventually (depending on Uke's strength) he will go down, either to avoid damaging himself or because his supports gave out under all the weight you placed on him.

The reason why you practice Aikido is to be able to find ways to unbalance your opponent without using a lot of force, its not to hammer into muscle memory the physical manifestation of the techniques but the principles that allow you to break balance and put your uke down from certain archetypical attacks and some static holds that place you at a disadvantage. If you practice these static holds and try and muscle your way out of them and try and muscle uke to the ground you are missing the point.

As an Aikidoka, the stratagy you need to use to deal with a fight is not to go and square off and start trading blows, neither is it to rush in, grab whatever appendage is closest and try and twist it in some way, the stratagy is to maintain distance until your opponent gives up (in which case you win) or rushes you with something that he thinks is going to put you down and relieve his frustration at you (in which case you evade and depending on the situation re-establish distance or apply a projection or a lock or an atemi)

This is part of the problem with showing Aikido to your friends, as well as practicing it in class. If you want to show a friend, you politely ask them for an appendage and then manipulate it in some way, then they invariably turn out of it, untwist said appendage or in some other way "defeat" your technique, usually with a sh*t eating grin and a "guess you need more practice mate" Aikido is not just manipulating your opponent's body, its an entire stratagy for dealing with an opponent who wants to kill or hurt you and you cannot show stratagy as easily as technique. Even if you taunt a friend into sparring with you, its bloody hard to show real Aikido, if he tries to "sneak" into the clinch you cannot apply damaging keep-the-hell-away-from-me atemi out of sportsmanship and respect for your friendship and if your friend goes into trading blows mode, your continual evasion will be seen as anything but manly or heroic.
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Old 05-12-2004, 02:52 AM   #16
Taliesin
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Re: Size(strength) doesn't matter! It does!

So the conclusion is that size matters but skill matters more. I also point out that while the poster (Jason) did concede "joint locks work very well". This leaves me with the question - if joint locks work why try and use throws. Of course it is always useful to have a number of strings to your bow - because not all opponents are the same.
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Old 05-12-2004, 03:11 AM   #17
batemanb
 
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Re: Size(strength) doesn't matter! It does!

Quote:
David Chalk wrote:
So the conclusion is that size matters but skill matters more.
I'd rephrase that to say that size only matters if you are doing it wrong. Size doesn't matter if you are doing it right.

Quote:
David Chalk wrote:
I also point out that while the poster (Jason) did concede "joint locks work very well". This leaves me with the question - if joint locks work why try and use throws. Of course it is always useful to have a number of strings to your bow - because not all opponents are the same.
The technique you end up doing should be a response to the situation/ position, it shouldn't be a planned reaction to a particular attack. Therefore the throw happens because that's where you are, likewise with the locks. If you only study one of the two, you may well end up in a position where you can't do anything, which may result in you getting your clock cleaned.


rgds

Bryan

A difficult problem is easily solved by asking yourself the question, "Just how would the Lone Ranger handle this?"
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Old 05-12-2004, 07:05 AM   #18
Taliesin
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Re: Size(strength) doesn't matter! It does!

Bryan

Personally I'd stick with my conclusions. I don't think that size only matters if your doing it wrong - it matters because you should be able to respond in a way that is effective to the attacker. No matter how good iIever get I don't think I'll ever try to apply a hip throw on anyone whose weighs 20 + Stone.

It's also not a matter of a planned response, so much as being able to adapt your response to apply appropriate techniques.

although I must admit that my greatest challenge would be people who are skilled strikers - people who can strike hard with out giving me any energy to work with.
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Old 05-12-2004, 07:35 AM   #19
batemanb
 
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Re: Size(strength) doesn't matter! It does!

Quote:
David Chalk wrote:
No matter how good iIever get I don't think I'll ever try to apply a hip throw on anyone whose weighs 20 + Stone.
I agree with that, actually at 6'2" with bad knees, koshinage is something that I tend to stay away from full stop .


Quote:
David Chalk wrote:
It's also not a matter of a planned response, so much as being able to adapt your response to apply appropriate techniques.
I agree there too, actually more what I was trying to say

Quote:
David Chalk wrote:
although I must admit that my greatest challenge would be people who are skilled strikers - people who can strike hard with out giving me any energy to work with.
If they are striking, then they are giving you energy.
I don't claim to be an expert here, certainly not to have anywhere near mastered this. Working with hard punchers isn't so much of a problem but I agree, working with guys who can punch quick makes for an altogether different practice.

rgds

Bryan

A difficult problem is easily solved by asking yourself the question, "Just how would the Lone Ranger handle this?"
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Old 05-12-2004, 09:00 AM   #20
MaryKaye
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Re: Size(strength) doesn't matter! It does!

If you only know joint locks, you have no way to deal with multiple attackers. That's one reason for knowing throws. People who rush you very fast are probably another.

We have a shodan who is extremely small, and he gives average-sized people like me a taste of what it's like to be the "big guy". Across that skill differential it does me no good at all. Shihonage seems to be a particularly effective throw for him, but he can basically do anything he pleases. If my feet are not under my center of gravity, being larger and heavier just means falling harder.

Mary Kaye
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Old 05-12-2004, 09:40 AM   #21
Terencentanio
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Freaky! Re: Size(strength) doesn't matter! It does!

Interesting I just had to post.

One thing I haven't seen mentioned here is endurance. Although this may not apply to all larger people, I think it does for most.

I often find that blows to myself are hardly effective at all no matter where they land.

Also, I accidentaly got into a fight with someone who was supposed to be a Karate master and was speachless that I managed to keep on my feet. Any kicks and punches that I couldn't block had almost no effect, and when I retaliated and he tried a counter attack e.g a lock I just grabbed him by any open area and threw him down or pushed him away. Also, a technique he used frequently was to jump at me and leap back then jump back in and strike me. After he used this 2-3 times I became wise of it and when he leaped in I grabbed him by lose clothing and then released him.

I can honestly say that out of the 4 fights I've had in my life, 3 of them with experienced martial artists, I've never thrown a single punch and I've never hit the ground.

Now, I know I'm only speaking from my point of view and my experiences, and the results could come down to style and training (the guys weren't trained very well and were too confident) but I'm sure others have had similar experiences and this could be used as an example that sometimes size does matter even against skill...

To be true, I've never been against an Aikidoka... so I can't really comment there... :P

Just my views .. hope they help the progression of this thread.
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Old 05-12-2004, 10:20 AM   #22
happysod
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Re: Size(strength) doesn't matter! It does!

Quote:
One thing I haven't seen mentioned here is endurance. Although this may not apply to all larger people, I think it does for most
I'm missing something here, are you implying big people have no endurance? more?

On the main topic, training can reduce the imbalances caused by size and strength, but can't negate them all together (I believe Bob Sap would be a good example? Paul, you can probably correct me on this as I'm not a UFC fan). You've also got to consider the environment you're fighting in as the only times I've seen the small person win against large odds, is if they have the room to win a positional advantage.

As for the wrist locks... some people can take an awful amount of pain, up to and including broken bones, I'm always a bit wary of pain compliance.

Does strength matter? Yes unfortunately (says the short weak bugger) but that's why weapons were invented...
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Old 05-12-2004, 10:35 AM   #23
tedehara
 
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Re: Size(strength) doesn't matter! It does!

I've been taught that the First Principle of Aikido is to get out of the way. If someone throws a punch, get out of the way and not get hit. If they kick, get out of the way. If they charge at you or try to grab you, get out of the way. After you've done that, then you can decide what technique to do.

Usually what happens is an argument before the fight. So when someone throws that first punch, ma-ai is already broken. Also people never tell you what they're going to do, they just punch, grab, kick - whatever. So in order to apply this first principle, you need to remain relaxed in a stressful situation.

If you can successfully apply this First Principle in a real situation, then strength and size will not matter.
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Old 05-12-2004, 11:42 AM   #24
paw
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Re: Size(strength) doesn't matter! It does!

Quote:
On the main topic, training can reduce the imbalances caused by size and strength, but can't negate them all together (I believe Bob Sap would be a good example? Paul, you can probably correct me on this as I'm not a UFC fan).
Bob Sapp fights for Pride, not the UFC. That said, he's a great example. He's big; he's strong; he's very athletic....and despite having only a bit of martial training, he has been a threat to people who have been training martial arts their entire lives.... not people who train three times a week at the local dojo, but professional martial artists who make a living fighting.

Regards,

Paul
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Old 05-12-2004, 12:33 PM   #25
Terencentanio
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Freaky! Re: Size(strength) doesn't matter! It does!

Quote:
Ian Hurst wrote:
I'm missing something here, are you implying big people have no endurance? more?
Sorry,

I wasn't implying they had none, I was saying it's more likely that big people would have more natural/physical endurance, unlike the people who can do the most painful things purely through mental and spiritual strength.

I say this as you'll find alot of larger people are effected less by a normal blow... say, someone with a 6inch gut isn't going to mind a blow to the stomach.. etc.

Sorry you misunderstood.
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