3 Tips for White Belts to Roll More Effectively

Photo by: Blanca Marisa Garcia

When new students to Brazilian jiu-jitsu first start rolling it can be a chaotic mixture of nervousness, fatigue, claustrophobia, confusion and getting squished underneath a big blue belt.
Getting tapped time after time is no fun and leads new students to ask “How can I get better at rolling?”

First thing is to acknowledge that:
1) All of us go through it. Renzo Gracie famously said “Sometimes you are the hammer and sometimes you are the nail!”
Those first few months, everyone is the nail!

2) There are no quick fixes that work overnight. The first several months can be a real test of your perseverance.
Trust me, it DOES get better!

Here are 3 Tips for White Belts to Roll More Effectively:

1) Focus your learning on Basics
It is fun to try out some of the more advanced, fancy techniques on Youtube and is good to expand your thinking about the possibilities of jiu-jitsu.
That said, the Basics are the movements that you will use EVERYTIME you roll in your jiu-jitsu life span.
Hip escape to regaining the guard, bridge and roll escapoe from mount…etc
Saulo Ribeiro says that the white belt phase of bjj is all about survival.
Focus on your defensive postures and escapes on the bottom.
Survive first,..then win second!


2) Use the moves from class
No one wants to get tapped repeatedly, and this leads to people relying on instinct and strength to just hold on or thrash wildly to escape.
If you don’t get tapped, you are getting better right?!?
Not necessarily.
The better approach to actually GET BETTER at bjj is to try to use the moves that your instructor is teaching in class.
Maybe at first they don’t work as well as using all of your strength and holding on for dear life,..but 3 months in the future, you will be MUCH better!
Apart from training consistency, this is the BIGGEST factor in students improving the fastest.

3) Think: Technique over power
In the absence of much technical knowledge, beginners rely on what they have: instinct and athletic attributes.
But this approach is limited in its long term effectiveness and just doesn’t work against stronger opponents or when you are fatigued.
Always pause in a position and ask yourself ‘What is the technical solution here?”
ex. Escaping the mount.
a) Bench press with every ounce of muscle in desperation?
b) Trap an arm and bridge and roll escape a heavier opponent?

If you don’t know what you should be doing, then make that mental note and ask your instructor to show you.

Your reactions and movements in a roll should be about using technique, not about surviving anyway you can.

* The purpose of rolling is to learn, not just to avoid being tapped or tapping your opponent.

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