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Maximizing what you get out of rolling

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    Maximizing what you get out of rolling

    I was thinking about this the other day: how do you get the most out of the sparring sessions at your gym? I think this is an issue that should be adressed, because I feel like so many of my training partners are always "rolling to win," and while that has its benefits I'm not sure it's the best use of their training time. What made me think about this was one guy who literally locked me into the top position in side mount, while he was on the bottom. Afterwards I asked him why, and he replied "so you coudln't sub me." WTF?

    Another example: I know guys with really good guards but weak passing games, that ALWAYS pull guard, and never try to get top position. This means that while their guards are difficult to pass, when they sweep me and I get to half guard, I often sweep them in return and get the sub. Shouldn't they be putting more time into working their passing game?

    This is how I do it:

    Training partners that I consider so much weaker than myself that they pose zero threat: I'm basically a nice guy and help them with everything I can. In return I experiment with new techniques or give them good positions (although I make them work for it) and escape. For example, there is a man (maybe mid to late fifties) who can't do anything to me unless I let him. However, for some reason, this guy has a hellish side mount. He feels like a ton of bricks. So why spend the entire session sweeping and submitting him when I could use that absolutely insane amount of pressure he can put on me from side mount to practice my escapes?

    Training partners that I can tap if I put some effort in: I play to my weakness and their strengths. I.e. if I think someone has a strong passing game, I will pull guard, because that is my weakest area, and refrain from using the guards that I feel comfortable in, like half guard. This makes for a more challenging roll. Sometimes I get tapped because of this, but I feel it's worth it in the long run because it will make me more well rounded. I also give up positons sometimes.

    Training partners that I consider my equal or a bit better: I will play to my own strength, which is guard passing. I generally roll more competitively, but with control, of course, because this is training not competition.

    Training partners that destroy me at will: I go slow so they can observe my game, point out major errors and I can observe how they do things. I've learnt TONS this way. I always try to ask at least one question afterwards.

    I also gradually move techniques up the ladder, so to speak. A new technique starts out at the weaker training partners, and I then gradually move it up until I start using it against training partners of similar skills.

    So, any thoughts on this?
    Last edited by PoleFighter; 10/24/2006 5:18am, .

    Aside from how to roll with people of a specific skill level, always try to roll with people who are built differently and have different temperments. A 200 lb ex-wrestler will push your game in different ways than a skinny 145 lb high school kid.

    Also, while rolling newer people will help you work your submission game sometimes, try to roll with better/tougher people as much as you can.


      I've probably posted this a million times, but I think it should be brought up every single time we talk about maximizing gain from rolling: Roll with a plan.

      By this, I mean several things. First, you should always have in mind a few techniques to be working on. You're not just rolling to see who wins. If you're weak at armbars from the guard, continuously attempt them. If you suck at side control escapes, swallow your pride and work on side control escapes. Try to escape, and if you get submitted, oh well.

      Think of class rolls as your laboratory. You find out what you can and can't do in a controlled setting, and work on optimizing your output.

      Second: Think. There are active learners and there are passive learners. Fucking pay attention to what your entire body is doing. Pay attention to your opponent. Figure out what he's doing, see what does and doesn't work, try to find out why . . . etc.

      Third: This is something you've already covered. Roll with different skill levels and body times. Constantly shake things up. Pay attention to how people with different levels of experience and body shapes roll.

      Fourth: Learn how to control the pace. See what it takes to slow a match down or speed it up. THIS IS IMPORTANT.

      Fifth: Do your goddamned homework. Come home from class and figure out what worked and what didn't. Try to visualize the techniques you learned tonight. Try to remember why things did and didn't work, and come up with solutions for how to fix your problems. Make a plan for the next time you train.

      Sixth: Pay attention to what is going on in the grappling community. You'll learn things better when you personalize the sport.

      If you do these things (and there are others, but I'm too lazy to keep thinking up tasks), if you get actively involved in your rolling instead of just "phoning it in" by trying to win the same three ways all the time, you'll get better faster.
      Last edited by Cassius; 10/24/2006 5:21pm, .
      "No. Listen to me because I know what I'm talking about here." -- Hannibal


        Some ideas, in no particular order, repeats of earlier posters highly likely:

        -TRY CRAZY SHIT! No, I don't mean retarded lockflow shit or noobish faggotry like trying to sub your partner by squeezing you guard REALLY HARD. What I mean is, well, a couple things:

        i. You are probably rolling with the same half a dozen to dozen guys (depending on where you train of course) most of the time. Your rolls will start to often follow very similar trends after awhile Say one guy often gives up position to you to go after subs because he has an amazing defence: After awhile, if your skill is close, this might stagnate to you dominating positionally, with him going for occasional sub attempts like heel-hook from under mount, which you eventually get better at escaping and you fight each other to a standstill almost everytime.

        ii. When you go and train at other schools you'll often find that their students roll very differently than at your school. This could play either way, but you'll find that bringing back some new techs and tactics to your school ends up giving you a noticeable advantage over your rolling partners. Then, of course, you end up helping them and the training pool as a whole. INNOVATION IS GOOD. If it ends up that your school has the counter to the shit you brought back, you'll quickely learn it, probably the hard way. Again, either way, everyone learns.

        iii. Lots of the somewhat more eccentric subs and positions are eccentric exactly because they are 'dangerous' (in terms of you being tapped or positionally dominated; not necessarily to your health) You can learn alot from this, but it's often scary at first, so you have to man up to it. Alot of leg locks (which I love) are, in my opinion, somewhat scary at first, because they often involve 'punishment' when you fail. If you opponent stands up to thwart your heel-hook or manages to get his knee at a safe angle during your kneebar, he can often bear down on your and crush you rather mercilessly as you exhaust yourself trying to fight his weight off and the sub. More truely eccentric moves involve ever more risk, even if you are highly proficient at them. Just because it gets you beat up the first week you play with it doesn't mean it's a crappy technique that 'doesn't work' for you. Kimura from side-mount on little guys isn't going to teach you much.

        -ROLL WITH NOOBS! Especially physically-fit ones, maybe previous non-BJJ grappling experience, even better if they are alot bigger. Your technique is much different against:

        i. People who don't train with you and/or at your school

        ii. People of different size, usually this means more when they're alot bigger as with smaller guys you tend to have the advantage of imposing your game, but that's not always the case. I have been rudely surprised by little guys performing strange feats I never had to deal with rolling with my much larger partners.

        iii. Also, as a intermediate student, you have a duty to 'defend the mat' while keeping the noobs safe from rolling too much and too crazy with each other, especially if they are mat spazzers. While you still might get hurt, you have a much smaller chance than another noob and also have the option of 'regulating' them if they get out of hand by no longer letting them into the game and mercilessly stomping them.

        -ROLL WITH GUYS WITH CAN STOMP YOU! Preferably because they have superior technique, rather than genetics, but take what you can get.

        i. These guys will KILL YOUR EGO. This is very important as, often, you might go a week or so of dominating your partners, especially if you are one of the more talented people at your experience-level. This HURTS YOUR TRAINING even if it might give you good confidence because you, maybe even subconciously, become concerned with protecting your 'record' by not being tapped and therefore looking at every roll as a pseudo-match, instead of experimenting and learning.

        ii. Because they are confident in their ability to stomp you at will and you are confident in your ability to be stomped, the roll will usually be much more educational as you are 'let into the game'. Whether this turns into a slow, technical match, with brief periods of explosion and long, static 'thinking pauses' or a sweet-looking, fast-paced, yet relaxed athletic roll depends on the dynamics of you and the dude who can stomp you, but either will be extremely good for your game.


        i. These will be your most competative rolls usually, for obvious reasons. You will measure your pace against these guys, who will, obviously, also progress, this can be good for the competative motivational nature, but you might need to occasional ego-boost from stomping noobs and that's OK

        ii. I think it's fair to roll conservative with these guys is you have access to other guys much better or worse than you. In other words, don't be too compliant and don't give up anything more than you would in a comp. Obviously, don't look at this as more than a roll, but roll like you would if it were 'for the money' in terms of your style and strengths.


        i. Bullshit like laying on your back while watching tv and then entangling your girlfriend in your BJJ-spider legs without using your hands at all while all she trys to do is get away isn't exactly 'pressure testing', but it will up your coordination and give you practice outside of the mat without tiring you or otherwise messing up your training schedule.

        ii. Be physical with people who won't call the police about it. Grab your friend and start pounding on him jokingly; see what he does to escape. Again, you get some physcial activity in your everyday life and keeps training on your mind.



          I now mostly spar with the intention of trying what was taught in class.

          Because its funny to catch your opponent with techniques shown during the same class.

          Unfortunately, its mostly my instructor laughing as he powns me with the techniques he taught me 10 minutes ago.

          Anyways, it also cements the class time in memory better. I mean what better way to learn an eccentric technique than getting powned 10 times trying to execute the technique. I mean, its bad during the same class. But do it in 2 weeks, and your chances to pull it off increases dramatically as the other guy forgets about it.


            I try to vary it up on different days. Some days I want to work top game, others bottom. Lately I haven't been in the cerebral trying to plan out 3 moves ahead mode, but more trying to flow and take what I'm given. If I run into something I have trouble with, finishing, escapes, attacks, etc. I make a mental note and try and drill it with someone after rolling finishes.


              Originally posted by PoleFighter
              So, any thoughts on this?
              It makes absolute sense to me. Once I relaised I could beat some people I started to vary what stuf I tried each session and tried heavily working on whatever I was worst at.

              For example for a good while Id fall on my back and let people who were ok but not up to my standard see what they could do and Id try to sweep them using as little strength as possible. This eventually led to my sweeps being feared by training partners who are far better than me in othter areas.

              Sometimes I try retarded stuff like turtleing up for no reason just to see what happens and giving people my foot just to see if I can get out of the heel hook.


                Originally posted by DDale
                It makes absolute sense to me. Once I relaised I could beat some people I started to vary what stuf I tried each session and tried heavily working on whatever I was worst at.

                For example for a good while Id fall on my back and let people who were ok but not up to my standard see what they could do and Id try to sweep them using as little strength as possible. This eventually led to my sweeps being feared by training partners who are far better than me in othter areas.

                Sometimes I try retarded stuff like turtleing up for no reason just to see what happens and giving people my foot just to see if I can get out of the heel hook.
                He he, I like to do that as well, with the intention of getting up (and force them to stand up), or to see how to get them off by back when they take it. It almost never works, but whatever.

                As I get to know the other pple on the mat better, I feel more comfortable, and less affraid to roll and push the pace and be more aggressive. I'm actually looking forward to get submitted because each time it's different.

                I try to make mental notes about everything that happens, preferably as it is happening. Then I try some quick Q&A with whoever I'm rolling with. And if there is something I clearly remember, I try to write it in a log as metodically detailed as possible. It may take me an hour or more just to write the details the way I'd like somebody to explain the to me. It takes time to log stuff, but it's worth it.

                Details, details, metodical precious fucking details. That seems to work best for me.
                Last edited by Teh El Macho; 10/25/2006 10:36am, .


                  I have to admit, keeping a log helps. But its also time consuming.

                  At the beginning, id draw every techniques ive learned in class. Putting it little side notes.
                  For every steps of a technique, id have a front/side/top view.

                  1 hour of drawing everyday.

                  I kept at it for a couple of week.

                  I think the best part of it, is that afterwards, even after two months of not touching my log book, i only needed to flip the pages to have a refresher.

                  I should start logging again.


                    Meh, I tried the drawing stuff, but it's too time consuming. I better stick to write them in notepad or in my bullshido log. The nice thing about writing the logs in a PC is that you can edit it, adding details and corrections. For me, it has to be very detailed, verbosed and mechanical. By the time I finish writing it, it's in my head and I can remember better when rolling.

                    What helps me is to write my log right after class, when it's fresh in my mind. The bad part is that I may stay late at night trying to type it down until I'm satisfied with it.


                      :5moped: This is grappling noob gold. Thanks dudes!


                        I've considered the logging idea for awhile too... do you guys that have done it and stopped feel like you learnt better while you were taking notes than when you stopped?


                          I used my log as a reference. Now I use books and DVDs for that purpose. I mostly read books in order to solve problems that I've encountered. For example, I found that most of the guys I was rolling with where getting wise to how I turned them over from turtle, so I checked out Saulo's DVD on the back, and I noticed what I could do to improve my move.


                            Thanks for all this advice, this is great stuff!

                            A question about keeping notes/logs: Do you generally write down what you did each day? I keep my grappling notes extremely well organized, but not by time. I organize all techniques first by position, then by what type of technique it is (submission, pass, escape, etc.) and whether it's offensive or defensive. I have further subsections for performing the technique, the most important things to remember (kind of like the fundamental fives, but not necessarily five), counters, recounters. I keep going back to my notes whenever I have time and clarifying or correcting stuff that I've written before, or adding in new stuff. I feel like it helps me remember and break down my techniques, and allows me to see in a visual way where my game is lacking or places that I can head in development.

                            But then again, maybe I'm just being obsessive-compulsive about this. I've only been grappling for a relatively short time, and I have maybe 75 pages of notes, probably more. What do other peoples' notes/logs look like?
                            Last edited by ViciousFlamingo; 5/10/2007 12:26am, .


                              Originally posted by steve_990
                              I've considered the logging idea for awhile too... do you guys that have done it and stopped feel like you learnt better while you were taking notes than when you stopped?
                              I definitely get a ton of benefit from writing stuff out. It may be a few weeks before I see something again and if I try it and fuck it up in the meantime I can read back through the steps.

                              Days after a practice I write out my notes while I drink my coffee. I love that notebook, I'm injured right now and I read it and my technique books all the time.

                              I've been training grappling for about a year now somewhat inconsistently due to other responsibilities and I'm really grateful I took good notes while learning the basics, it has helped a lot.



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