A Reader Question: The Bluebelt Went Really Hard On Me!

A Jiu-jitsu Times Reader PM’d me and related the following story:
“I have a few months of bjj training. I was rolling with a blue belt at the academy and doing pretty well. I tapped him.
Then after, the guy went really hard and was putting full power knee on belly on me and I tapped.
Why did he get so angry?”

Jiu-jitsu Times: You are wondering “What just happened?!?”

Is the blue belt an egotistical jerk? Does he need anger management therapy?
Probably not.
Most of the people we train with in bjj are pretty cool people and good to roll with.

But, having little experience, you likely don’t understand some of the unwritten etiquette of rolling.
And are just as likely unaware of how much excess strength (aka spazzing) that you might be doing!

I discussed this situation with another instructor and we both shared experiences of rolling with lesser experienced students.

It happens something like this:
A higher belt (HB) has a roll with a lower belt (LB).

Due to the skill and experience difference, if the HB went FULL ON competition level intensity, the LB would have little chance and just get crushed.
To make the roll more productive (and fun!) for both, the HB is often easing off on the gas pedal.
The HB is allowing the LB to progress to dominant positions and giving them a chance to work a position, instead of just smashing them under side control for the entire match.

However, many times the LB is unaware that the HB is going easy.
That the HB is giving them a chance to work their positions.
The HB is letting them into the game and allowing them to move.

The LB gets to side control and then locks on for dear life.
He starts to breath heavy, gets very tense and lunges for a submission 100% strength and cranks it before the HB has any chance to escape.
The LB REALLY wants to tap a blue belt!

Now, the HB is frustrated and feels the LB abused the chance to train that the HB allowed them.
The HB says to themselves “Ok, you want to turn up the intensity?!? Let’s go hard!”
And what follows is a hard knee on the belly tap.

Many a HB has suffered errant knees and elbows to the face while the LB thrashes underneath.
So absorbed is the LB, that they don’t even say “sorry man” for sticking a finger in the eye or grabbing and twisting a finger.
It takes some time to develop the awareness and self control to roll safely with your bjj training partners.

A practical tip: If you are a new student and rolling with a much more experienced student and you pass their guard and getting to dominant positions, in all probability the higher belt is ALLOWING the match to go that way.
Reciprocate their good will by being in control and not trying to take their head off as soon as you achieve a position.
If you are too enthusiastic, you might find yourself on the bottom with a heavy knee on the belly to slow you down.

read also: “How hard should a student roll with his professor?


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