The 60% Rule In Rolling

I have interviewed many different black belts for the Jiu-jitsu Times Off the Mat with a BJJ Black Belt features and always ask for the black belt to share some training advice.

The piece of advice that stuck in my mind came from three different interviews with Henry Akins, Jack Taufer, and Steve Maxwell.

Let’s call this advice the “60% Rule”. 

How many times have you heard people say you are using too much strength?

The 60% Rule addresses that question. It is a rule designed to minimize your attributes and be mindful of how much muscular strength you are using. It is about seeking to develop the purest technique to overcome a larger stronger opponent.

Let’s hear what these high level instructors have to say about the topic.

Steve Maxwell

“Helio taught me to never try and control the opponent; move yourself, not the opponent.

One shouldn’t exert more than 60% of your strength in any round. The exception would be to escape a finishing hold.

I also stipulate the “10 second rule” when rolling. If you can’t make something happen in 10 seconds in a particular situation, then let go and flow into the next position, and try something else.”

Off the Mat with a Bjj Black Belt: Steve Maxwell

Jack Taufer

“A principle you can apply when training is to never go harder than 60%.  

This will force you to develop good technique.

Relying on strength or speed will work for a while, but eventually you will get tired, older, weaker, etc.  

You might get tapped out a lot in the beginning, but soon you get sharper and sharper and you will be tapping out others.  

There is a nice psychological benefit about never training harder than 60%… in the back of your mind you KNOW you have more… and if there was an emergency, you know you can go 100%. “

Off the Mat with a Bjj Black Belt: Jack Taufer

Henry Akins

“Yes I have a few pieces of advice that I know were crucial to me.

First is try not to muscle or force things. If you feel like something is requiring a lot of effort, then either the timing is off or the technique is off.

Remember everything we do is supposed to work against someone who is bigger and stronger.  

With jiu-jitsu it’s all about using your opponents’ energy and movements against them. So even against a strong person things should feel easy because they should be helping you.

Try to relax more in training. It might be difficult to do at first because of fear, but remember what’s the worst thing that can happen? You tap and start over. Relaxing allows you to be more sensitive and feel your opponents movements better. It also allows you to react quicker.

Be more focused on learning instead of winning.  The ego always wants us to win. Many times you will be stuck in situations where you feel you need to use power to either escape or finish.  

Off the Mat with a Bjj Black Belt: Henry Akins – part 2

Jiu-jitsu Times – How To Get Really Really Good At A Position


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