3 Bad Rolling Habits

For most BJJ students, their favorite portion of the class is the rolling portion.

I believe this is the most addictive part of BJJ, especially when you have some good training partners who can challenge you with a friendly rivalry. One class they get the tap, but the class before you passed their guard and got them. It is all in good fun, and it is what keeps us coming back.

Rolling in the academy has fewer rules than what we see in competitions. Class rolling usually goes something like this: both guys start on their knees, roll for a 5-minute round, and reset after being tapped.

This style of rolling can, however, lead to some bad habits for BJJ practitioners once they find themselves outside the rolling rules of the academy.

Here are three of those bad habits:

“Midget Wrestling”

This is a derogatory term I have heard used for when two BJJ students start on the ground, wrestling from their knees. This is a situation you would never see in any other jiu-jitsu context.

You don’t roll that way in a tournament (although we sometimes see the infamous double guard pull) and you certainly wouldn’t wrestle from your knees in any real life situation.

It is an artificial scenario only in the academy and does not cultivate any useful BJJ skill. If you want to start on the ground, one of the pair must agree to start on bottom and the other passing. Forget the useless midget wrestling!

Start Standing Sometimes

Readers of my articles on the Jiu-Jitsu Times will know I firmly believe that the stand-up grappling portion of BJJ is all too often neglected in many academies.

In any other situation you might use your BJJ, the fight will begin from the stand-up position. Some students, when questioned, will sheepishly admit that they have not done takedowns in a long time.

To those stand-up challenged students, I recommend starting at least some of your rolls from stand-up. Even if your first move is to jump guard, at least it is better than never doing any stand-up.

A complete BJJ fighter must have at least a handful of takedowns that they can execute competently, and the only way you are ever going to develop your takedowns is to spend some time sparring from standing.

Try To Win Some Scrambles

I was observing a pair of students with over a year of BJJ experience, and noticed that one of them had a bad habit of accepting the bottom position in every scramble.

This student had expressed an interest in fighting MMA, yet every time there was a scramble in between positions, he would just drop to his butt and play guard. His default reaction in a scramble was to surrender the top position and drop to his back.

Sometimes, the best option in a scramble is to accept the bottom position. For example, it is best if you are losing the scramble and attack with your own technique from the guard.

That said, in the majority of BJJ situations – and especially in a street situation or MMA – you will want to get to the top position.

Let’s put it this way: there are many different styles of grappling all over the world. How many grappling styles is the person on the bottom winning?

Do you have any rolling bad habits?

Read also on Jiu-Jitsu Times: Stuff Your Coach Yells


  1. Even as a White Belt I hate doing that. I always try to either jump in to their guard or just pull guard in the first few seconds. I’d rather learn how to pass/sweep/defend guard/etc. than do that silly attempt at getting around you on my knees. Having said that most of my partners know this so they usually just give me side or back control right away anyway and let me start trying to do my work. What’s the use of spending a 3,5 or 10 minute round on our knees? Plus being 54 yo with a bad shoulder helps.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here