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Maximizing what you get out of rolling

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    I like this thread. I've been thinking of late, the process of training that Michael Jen said was most effective. Let's think of it as 'training' for sparring.

    He suggests that you isolate your training aspects (eg, triangle choke), so that you build up your knowledge, apply it in light, medium then heavy resistance. What most people would call modified drilling under resistance.

    His argument is this (and I think it is valid), that when you go into a "let's just spar and hit the triangle choke" mode, then you'll probably only practice the technique partially and you won't be focussing on the triangle choke solely (eg you'll have to stop making him pass you guard, you have to escape to guard etc).

    So, his suggestion is to practice the key element you want (in the modified resistance drill), and work out with that technique so that your training and effective workout ratio is increased many, many times over.

    If you look at the equation, it kinda makes sense: Hit triangle in sparring 3 times over 30 minutes versus, hitting the triangle under varying resistances 50 times in 15 minutes. I'm not saying 'don't spar', but there are effective ways of training for sparring. Thoughts?


    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.
    Last edited by Charles Choi; 10/29/2006 7:34pm, .


      I don't want to turn this into my personal rant-thread, but the stupidity of some of the people I train with is driving me nuts.

      A while ago one of my training partners was complaining about having plenty of injuries. If you watch him roll, it's not hard to see why that is: he goes full blast, 100% of the time and never taps. I advise him, that perhaps he should roll a bit more conservatively. After all, learning BJJ is a long term project, and if he's injured, he won't be able to train. His answer? "But what if I lose in class?" :qleft7:

      The other night, I was doing the drill where one guy tries to pass the others guard and then stop after sweep, submission or pass. I'm trying some new half guard stuff, screw up, and the guy gets me in a position where he can't pass, but I can't sweep him either. Clearly, he is the only one who can break the stalemate and make this time productive to us both. But no. He decides to simply lay there until I'm so bored I just open my guard and let him pass so I don't waste any more time.

      I seriously think the first lesson in a BJJ school should adress how to roll, and how to use sparring time. I am just sick of some guys' attitude.


        Excellent thread!

        Personally, I tend to avoid submissions unless one just jumps out at me. I'm not at the level where I can chain sweeps to submissions to sweeps within 13 counter-move chains, so I typically just focus on improving my position.

        This is DOUBLY important for me because I'm a smaller guy (5'8", 150 lbs), and most of my training partners can muscle out of any sub I attempt to slap on. In addition, many subs sacrifice position, while sweeps tend to at least put you back into your original position...which, I've found, tends to prolong the match and allow me to train while in exhaustion mode....which actually reminds me of something.

        Train while exhausted.

        I see FAR too many white belts quit and leave the mat after one vigorous rolling session.


        Instead, look around for another exhausted white belt to roll with. Since you can't muscle your way through techniques, you're forced to play smarter rather than harder.

        One last thing I've found is how important it is to swith rolling partners between every "match". This is hard to do every class, but give it a shot when feasible. I've noticed that after the initial "intro roll" with other people, I tend to get VERY defensive and focus on countering their game from that point forward...

        ...which is great for a blue belt or above, but SUCKS for a white belt. We shouldn't be reactive at this level, but proactive in finding our own rhythms and approaching each rolling "match" as a way to flesh out our budding games.

        i.e. Last Thursday I rolled with a much more athletic white belt who spent the entire time trying to get an armbar from every conceivable position. After I tapped the first time, I approached the next roll with "If he does this, I'll do this" stuck in my head. Because of my fixation on HIS game rather than my own, I made very little progress in working the techniques I learned previously.


          yeah, we got some crazy guys like that too.
          some of 'em won't tap even when their head is turning purple, or their arm is torn off.

          i'm like guys, it's not that serious, it's just training.
          they'll say that it wasn't hurting, then come in the next day complaining about their neck, arm, or something. and then still roll all crazy.

          i'm a fan of some intense training, but i'd like to learn something besides how far my arm can bend, or my neck torqued, or how much my knee can twist.
          i think i'd rather learn on how to not get in that position, yeah?


            One thing no one mentioned - while your rolling partner is your momentary opponent, he's also your long term collaborator and team-mate, and you can communicate with him. I find talking while rolling and after has been very helpful. I was intensely frustrated by one member of our club's ability to totally control me every time, until I just smartened up and asked him for some advice on how to deal with him.

            Many people get so teeth-grittingly competitive that they forget they're there to elevate their game, not just work it tonight, and the best way to do that is collaborative effort with your classmates - when you conciously work to tear apart each other's games and re-assemble them, and share the information with each other, that's when you get innovation and adaptability, IMO. That's when you really tighten up as a school, as well.



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