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How To Roll
Rolling is one of the best parts of Jiu-Jitsu. It’s a great way to step up the conditioning and refine techniques against an unwilling partner. While it isn’t without risks, rolling is a great way to increase the intensity of your Jiu-Jitsu practice. For many beginners rolling can be a hard concept to grasp. Rolling is less about winning and more about sharpening your tools.
Rolling as a white belt
Depending on the standards set forth by your academy rolling can start as early as your first month. Most schools won’t press the issue, and will allow you to roll when you are ready. So what does ready mean? This is something your instructor can help you answer.
You should definitely understand some of the goals of rolling and be aware of how intense it should be. Your intensity should match your partners. What this means is that when you are rolling with another person you need to remember that you can’t train if you break your tools.
When starting out rolling can feel a lot like survival. To a certain extent it is. As a white belt with little tools your focus should be placed on positioning and defense. It can’t be stressed enough that your focus shouldn’t be on the result of the roll, but instead of the areas where you found success and the areas you found weak. This way you are constantly pin pointing what to work on and how. Instead of “oh man I got tapped like a typewriter, I suck!”
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Rolling above white belt
If you have some experience rolling can really start to open options in training. An untrained eye will see the sparring session of a Jiu-Jitsu class and assume it’s just two people tangled up in each other’s gis. Rolling can closely simulate a match where all positions are hit, or it can be a situation where you are working specific aspects of your game.
Here Lachlan Giles has an entire rolling session that he demonstrates this concept. The rolling session is specifically set up for a pass/sweep scenario. If a pass or a sweep happens the next partner rotates in. This allows a couple of things to take place. It constantly provides new partners who utilize different strategies as well as allowing specified positional training. This is where one can really sharpen a specific portion of their game.
A couple of key details to point out in this video is how space is utilized in a crowded room. When Lachlan’s match starts to gravitate towards other partners they will stop and reset. While rolling you should never be so focused on your training that you neglect the space around you. Injuries can be hard enough to avoid during a match, let alone if someone who you aren’t the least bit focused on falls on you.
Enjoy the process
Rolling is an essential part of the Jiu-Jitsu journey. It is a key component to any grapplers success. It’s where all of the techniques learned in static training can be applied in a more realistic scenario. Understand that tapping is part of the learning process and embrace it. Every time a tap happens you have an opportunity to reflect and utilize feedback to make you stronger. So enjoy the taps you get and the taps you give, because both are making you better.