JIU JITSU ROLLS
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a highly strategic Martial Art that involves a frenetic pace, and a calm and calculating nature. One side of BJJ allows for students to move with calmness, caution, and strategy, as the systematic form of combat uses a slow integration of grinding pressure, and relaxation within the muscles. The other side of Jiu Jitsu involves extremely dynamic bjj transitions, coupled with a high impact of takedown maneuvers, and brutal submission holds like chokes, and joint locks. Training in the art takes perseverance, dedication, and consistency on the mats, and this must be sustained over a long period of time if a student is to progress through the belt ranking system.
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There are two meanings of Jiu Jitsu rolls, and the first relates to movements in a training sense. A Jiu Jitsu roll is a movement not unlike gymnastics, where students will do a forward roll, a backwards roll, a sideways roll, or a bjj inversion roll. These types of drills are commonly used in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu warm ups, as they are used to help warm up the body, as well as help a student directly practise movements that relate to positions in BJJ. The other type of rolls in Jiu Jitsu refers to the practical application of grappling with a partner. BJJ athletes will commonly use the phrase "do you want to roll" when they are looking for someone to wrestle against. The art of rolling is a great opportunity for students to battle test their techniques against an opponent in real life time.
LEARNING HOW TO ROLL IN THE WARM UPS
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is well known for its comprehensive warm ups, as instructors will put their students through a highly strenuous routine. There is a reason why purple belts are notorious for skipping the warm ups, and it is because of how extensive, and complex they can be. The warm ups may not be necessary to a higher belt, and that is because they already have extensive knowledge of all of the warm up drills. A beginner on the other hand needs to practise all of the warm up drills, because they all relate directly to techniques within the art. New students will come to an academy with no experience in grappling, and are usually unbalanced, and uncoordinated. Learning movement based drills are essential for a new grappler, so they can begin to understand the fundamental building blocks of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
There are different kinds of rolls that students will need to learn. The first one they will practise is a simple forward roll, and these are done by rolling over a student's shoulder. This will ensure the safety of an athlete's neck, as they begin their roll. Athletes rolling directly over their head, and onto their neck can be problematic, as an athlete will often follow the movement and apply downward pressure on their opponent. This can result in a neck injury, which is why it is crucial to roll over the shoulder to alleviate any unwanted stacking. The next roll that students will learn is a backwards roll, which can be more complex than a simple forward roll. Learning how to roll backwards over a student's shoulder takes time, and practise, and is necessary in a BJJ match. When an opponent tries to pass a student's guard they will often manipulate the feet in directions over their shoulder, which brings about a need for a backwards roll, and this is so they can retain the guard. There are two ways to do a backwards roll, the first is the more simplistic, and a basic version, as a student will roll over their shoulder, and onto their knees before switching to a sitting position, before rolling again. The more advanced version will see a student post off the mat, and roll over their shoulder while keeping their top leg off of the mat at all times, then swinging around to the front of their body into an already seated position. This can be quite complex, but with good practise it can result in a faster action, and giving a student an opportunity to spring to their feet.
Doing a sideways roll is also known as a granby roll, and is how an athlete will learn to invert. In the modern era of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu most athletes will use inversion techniques, as they are the main catalyst for securing a leg entanglement position. Learning how to be comfortable in a stacked position is crucial to mastering the invert, and the best way to do this for an athlete is to learn the granby roll. Learning this technical roll is extremely complicated at first, as most new students will not have the core strength to be able to lift their body into this position. To execute a granby roll students should practice from a seated guard position, and fall onto their side before activating their core, and lifting up into an inverted position, then continuing the sideways roll, and landing back in a seated position. This movement will take some practise, but once it is mastered it can be an extremely dangerous weapon to use.
There is a common misconception with what a flow roll actually is, as some students will still actively try to submit their training partners. The purpose of a flow roll is in its title, and training partners should be working together to practise the flow of Jiu Jitsu. A flow roll can be an opportunity to discover many different transitions, and positions like the guard, the guard pass, the mount, a sweep, a back take, or even the truck position jiu jitsu. Learning how to initiate a flow roll involves two students using a smooth series of transitions, as their opponent shows little resistance. Each student will basically go move for move, as they can figure out a multitude of attacks, and defenses. For example the first student might initiate a guard pass into a control position, before their partner escapes back to a guard position, and executes a sweep. This can continue on as students will set up submissions, but will allow their training partners to escape the position, and transition. This can be an excellent way to develop many different aspects of a student's Brazilian Jiu Jitsu game style.
REASONS WHY STUDENTS WILL ROLL
Rolling against an opponent inside of an academy can be quite intense, but it can also be light hearted. It basically comes down to what a student wants to get out of their training sessions. Rolling can be used as a way to enhance a student's ability to compete at the highest levels, or it can be used for fun, and therapy. Training for competition means that students will go harder against opponents, and will look to roll as many times as possible. This can be a good time to work on a student's pressure bjj techniques, as well as their transitions, and the link between the two. Achieving a high level in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu comes with a hard work ethic, and a willingness to roll with everyone in the academy. Some students will even roll through a shark tank, which is when a student rolls against several fresh opponents. This is designed to fatigue a student, so that when they are extremely tired they can still execute techniques whilst under extreme amounts of pressure.
Some students won't have any specific goals in mind, as not all students have aspirations to become world champions. Some students are in it for fun, fitness, and therapy. Rolling against other training partners will help condition a student, as it can be extremely beneficial for their health, and their fitness. A Brazilian Jiu Jitsu academy is well known for its camaraderie, and some students love to roll just for the fun of the sport. One of the biggest reasons that students like to roll is for therapy. People can be victims of different forms of abuse, which can have lasting effects on the mental state of a person. Rolling in Jiu Jitsu is extremely therapeutic, and a student will find that during a roll they will forget their troubles, and quite often all a student needs is a distraction. BJJ incorporates mental concentration, and it's extremely challenging, which is what makes the art so therapeutic. Rolling will also help students that suffer from mental illness, with autistic kids now beginning to form strong bonds with members of an academy, and are excelling with many of their behavioral traits. There are multiple benefits for these types of students in rolling at a BJJ academy, as not only will they find encouragement, camaraderie, and understanding, they will also learn how to defend themselves, identify danger, and make the right choices while under pressure in a real life conflict situation.
Rolling in an academy doesn't just mean that a student can come in and dangerously submit every student they encounter. There are rules, and codes of conduct that all athletes must follow. All athletes must show a duty of care to their training partners, and this means to look after their physical, and mental well being. There are many dangerous maneuvers in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu that can seriously injure a training partner like neck cranks, heel hooks, dangerous takedowns, and reaping in jiu jitsu. Any movements that involve dangerous impacts, or twisting of the spine, the neck, or the knee are extremely dangerous, and need to be used cautiously. There is also etiquette involved with many of these movements, like a higher belt will not try and heel hook a white belt, and this is for the safety of the beginner. Beginners can be extremely stubborn, so higher belts need to remember that letting go of a submission, especially a dangerous neck crank, is the right course of action.
There are other guidelines that students need to follow like how they roll against women, and lighter athletes. Using too much pressure can be seen as an unsportsmanlike trait, and doing this to women is seen as bullying. Athletes should always consider the weight class, and gender of a training partner, and roll respectfully. Instead of trying to win the roll with strength, and pressure, they can try and beat their opponent with techniques, which is what BJJ is supposed to be about. Students will also need to consider things like a woman's hair, and her breasts, and try not to do anything inappropriate. Students of an academy must be honourable, integral, and humble, and always uphold the values of their instructors philosophy, and their academy.
There is also rolling etiquette that comes under the hygiene guidelines, like the personal cleanliness of each student. One of the biggest rules of common etiquette in Jiu Jitsu is for students to keep their finger, and toe nails trimmed. This is extremely important for a few different reasons like bacteria that can become trapped under the fingernails, and this can lead to the transmission of infections. Keeping short nails means that students won't accidentally scratch their opponents, or damage the mats, which can become quite a problem at an academy if it is not policed. Another simple etiquette is to shower, and wear deodorant before training, because nobody wants to roll with a training partner that is radiating some form of unpleasant odour. It is common courtesy to come to training clean, but it is also a non negotiable health standard, as athletes that come to training unshowered, and dirty will no doubt transfer bacteria, and dirt onto the training mats.
Some academies are extremely traditional and will not permit students to ask the black belts for rolls. This can be seen as disrespectful, and in these academies it is common etiquette to wait to be asked for a roll by the upper echelon of an academy. This is not the same at all academies, as the more modern day BJJ facility will allow students to ask anyone for a roll, as this is the future of the sport. There is however an etiquette involved when pairs are training on the mats, which is if two white belts are rolling, and they encroach on the space of a higher belt, then the white belts must get up and move to a different spot on the mats. This is a sign of respect and must be adhered to by all members of an academy. Visiting other academies also has its own element of common etiquette attached, and students should be extremely respectful, and make sure they are on time to classes. Rolling with other members of different academies can be a tricky prospect, and heading into the academy and trying to destroy every grappler is disrespectful. Students must take it easy and roll nice, and playful at the beginning, before they assert their dominance on the mats. Some students who come into an academy extremely aggressive, and begin submitting the white belts, will only anger the higher belts of the academy, which in turn will only paint a target on the students' back. BJJ is all about humility, respect, honour, and integrity, and students should always uphold these core values in high esteem, whether they are training inside their own academy, or visiting other academies in the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu community.
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