I must have been doing reasonably well during sparring, since the head coach asked the opinion of a similar sized blue belt whether he thought I was strong or technical. I was surprised when the blue belt said I was strong, since I don’t consider myself to be strong at all. Then, another similar sized white belt said he thought I was strong as well. I don’t think I’m particularly strong, but maybe they mean strong for my size. Even then, I’m not sure I agree. Proper use of leverage can make you seem really strong. In fact, many traditional martial artists misinterpret proper use of leverage as a mystical force known as ki (or qi). For example, if I were to brace myself, and then make my forearm horizontal and bend my arm 90 degrees, I will have a hard time keeping you from pressing into me, if your body weight is pressing against my wrist. However, if your body weight is pressing against my forearm, closer to my elbow, I will be much more successful in keeping you at bay. Why? Because, in the later case, I can take advantage of my skeletal structure. In the later case, it’s you pushing against the bone in my upper arm (humerus), whereas in the former case, I’m relying solely on my tricep muscle at its weakest point. I think when people say I’m strong, nine times out of ten, they are observing me using proper body mechanics. If you have me side mounted or mounted, I doubt I would be able to bench press you off of me (I often get bench pressed when I’m the one on top). However, if I can time my escape to when you shift your weight, I can often exploit the opening to recover guard. In other words, I think my success is based on improved technique rather than improved strength. Case in point, I’m not significantly stronger than I was six months ago, yet I’m much more effective during sparring than I was back then.