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Ideas On Rolling With White Belts

Ideas On Rolling With White Belts


Helping white belts grow while accomplishing our own goals...

It is a common statement, within the Jiu Jitsu community, that the most important promotion in Jiu Jitsu is not from brown to black belt. However, it is the promotion to white belt.

Being a white belt is hard for a myriad of reasons. Maybe you feel like your age is a disadvantage. Maybe you realize your strength  and inexperience is no match for someone with superior technique. Perhaps the reason is you do not know what to expect before walking through the doors for the first time. Watching MMA on TV can make joining a Jiu Jitsu gym extremely intimidating. Another component may be  that you are uncomfortable with the idea of having someone else in your personal space. Whatever the reason for joining a gym, being a white belt can be intimidating.

So the question becomes, how to roll with a white belt. Before we explore this too deeply I would argue there are two important lessons every white must learn. One is that someone smaller than you can completely control you and submit you without breaking a sweat. I had this feeling the first time that I rolled with a purple belt. Anything I did he had a dozen answer. It was this feeling of being destroyed by sheer technique that began my love affair with Jiu Jitsu. The second lesson that every white belt must learn is that at times Jiu Jitsu can be violent. There will be times where you are cross-faced, knee on belly, knee on throat and whatever. You need to understand that in a combat situation these are realistic strategies that can be applied and you will need to have an answer for.

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However, I would argue that not every roll with a white belt needs to be like this. If you are an experienced practitioner, you can accomplish your goals for a roll and still allow the white to obtain his goals. If your goal is to run submissions from the back, front headlocks or whatever, you can get a ton of reps and still give the white belt a few opportunities to practice his offense.

For some, this may be hard on the ego. The fear may be for the experienced practitioner that the white belt may doubt the experienced practitioner’s abilities. No one wants to look weak. I say who cares.  In the training room, ego should have no place. You should want the best for the training partners and seek their improvements. If the white belt sticks around for long enough he will know your true abilities.  Allowing the white belt a few quality reps are one good way to do this. Besides that, it provides an opportunity for you to get repetitions in escaping the worst positions. Besides that, you do not have to give him reps every round. You may be training for a tournament and this would be unfeasible

There are many who do not share this opinion on rolling with a white belt. They would argue that you never give up a tap or position.  I would say there is a time and a place for everything. At the end of the day, white belts are people too. There is no reason why you can’t accomplish your goals for a role while nurturing their growth. 

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