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How to Incorporate Striking During Rolling
A Skill Not Many Practice, But Can Be A Vital And Beneficial Addition To Your BJJ
Everyone trains for different reasons. Some wish to be the best BJJ competitor, some wish to be the next great MMA star, other wish to learn for self defense (this is why most people start), and some are even police or military looking to gain confidence in using their body as a weapon. Whatever you grande goal is in martial arts, most start because we want self defense. That means learning to defend against strikes and utilize striking concepts of our own has got to be apart of curriculum.
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If you are older, injured, or a person that requires a professional appearance at work (meaning no black eyes or injuries to the face) it may seem like striking just is not a smart idea for you. I am here to tell you there are safe ways of incorporating striking into your training. Whether you are brand new to BJJ or a seasoned sport grappler, here are some ways you can train safely with strikes.
First, slap sparring. This one is pretty simple and can be more intense as you and your partner gain confidence and skill in this type of training. Basically, you are doing just normal BJJ rolling except that you can touch your partners face. It can be a gentle touch to let them know they are in danger of punches or you can actually slap each other to deeply ingrain the importance of distance management. It all depends on your and your partners skills level. Newer people should play this game with light taps, more experienced practitioners (higher belts, MMA fighters or Combat Jiu Jitsu competitors) can actually slap each other with some force behind it. You can do this during positional rolling and reset everytime you leave the position you are training for that day, or do full rounds of rolling. I see people hesitate to slap each other because they do not want to be mean, you are doing you and your partner a disservice by doing that. It is better to get slapped a little in the safety of the gym where you can learn from your mistakes rather than punched and smashed in the cage or on the street.
Second, one person has gloves. When one person has gloves you can play a game where one person acts like and untrained aggressor and is looking to land punches and give untrained responses. The ungloved participant is looking for control (takedown if you start standing) and ultimately a submission or position of such advantage that they can land strikes of their own. Another way to train is where the gloved person is actually rolling and not just giving untrained responses. This allows the gloved fighter to work on utilizing strikes with his Jiu Jitsu and makes it more challenging for the ungloved person. Same as above, you can train this positionally or full rounds.
Third, both people are gloved. This will typically be reserved for the higher experienced practitioners and the athletes looking to fight. You can do rounds with people starting in different positions with certain goals in mind or do full rounds where it can go to any position. This is essentially an MMA round but looking to start either in the clinch or already on the ground. If you are going to start separated and do an actual full MMA match, I highly suggest in cross training in some type of stand up striking art to supplement that aspect of your martial arts.
Fourth. Whatever style of sparring you are doing, slap, one person with gloves, both with gloves. Do not forget positional sparring. Similar to training positionally one ground (games like pass sweep), but this time you are starting in common self defense situations. Maybe lapel grab, the attacker starts with a lapel grab and is looking to thrash you around with the grip and strike you, your goal is to close the distance and secure the takedown without taking too much damage. One other example would be starting from a position where they are pinning you against a wall, or even in a headlock. Train from common self defense positions with strikes can be done safely with the right gear (if no gear, then slap), the right training partners, and the right mind set.
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There are four ways you can incorporate striking into your training. Remember, wear a mouthpiece, stay calm and breath, and leave the ego at the door. If your school does not incorporate any striking or self defense training politely and respectfully ask your instructor to include it from time to time. Not all schools train realistic self defense, some focus on sport and that is OK, but if you started for self defense and that is your goal, neglecting the striking aspect of a fight is a big mistake and can lead to false confidence in your skills.
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