Should I Be Rolling With Everyone At Jiu-Jitsu?
Be Kind, But Protect Yourself, And Each Other
We all need to roll to improve our jiu-jitsu. You must put yourself in real life positions to work on your game, find holes in what you need to work on, and get a good sweat in for the day. But, do we need to roll with everyone at the gym? Do the 115 lb practitioners need to roll with the 300 lb practitioners? Sure, you can, and that's fine, even great. But, do not feel obligated to do so. It is your time and your body that you are sacrificing for the sport. You do not have to roll with everyone if you do not want to. And do so for your reasons, and what you want to accomplish. If the situation does arise, then we need to be honest and kind with our fellow practitioners.
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We all have our own goals at the gym. Whether it be to lose weight, get in shape, be a competitor, or to just simply de-stress from time to time. Whatever our goals are, we should be rolling with those goals in mind. If you are a competitor, you should probably be rolling with everyone in the gym. If you are just there to lose weight and get a workout in, then it is probably fine to avoid the 295lb spazzy white belt. Those are your decisions to make. But, just be kind when you talking about it with your teammates.
If you are a big practitioner, do not feel downtrodden when someone may refuse a roll with you. Understand where you are, and where they are. It is not always a simple thought of “ Oh! You just do not want to roll because I am big. You just see me as a big, fat, dumb oaf!”. It is usually more than just that. Maybe they are injured, and do not want to risk it. Maybe, just simply, you are just too big. There is an inherent risk of a person that has a 100+lb weight differential over another practitioner. One accidental slip and fall and you could severely hurt them. But, just remember that they still value you, and they are not trying to be mean. They are just trying to achieve their own goals at the gym. And it is safe to say that most people do not intend to get hurt at the gym. Jiu-jitsu is a safe sport, as long as we make decisions that keep us safe.
And, big guys, do not be afraid to turn people down for rolls as well! If you do not feel comfortable rolling with a smaller person, then say that to them also! Sometimes we place the focus on the smaller guy refusing to roll with the bigger guy, but the tables can be turned. Maybe you are a bigger guy, and you are having an off day. Maybe it is really hot in the gym, and the mats are sweaty and slippery, and you have a real chance of unintentionally slipping. It is OK to tell people your concerns, and not to roll with them. Everyone needs to work to keep everyone safe, injury-free and on the mats.
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Be safe out there. Do not put yourself at unnecessary risk. Protect yourself and your fellow training partners. They are who makes your jiu-jitsu better. And, be kind. We need more of that on the mats, and in the world.