A Reader Question: “Want to get a chance to roll with the black belt instructor.”

“I read and follow your articles all the time. (Jiu-jitsu Times: “Thanks!”)
I’m a Bjj purple belt and love the art so much. My academy isn’t that big but we have classes during the day.
Head instructor who’s a black belt hasn’t rolled (at least with me) for almost a year.
He rolls during the day and just teaches most of the nights.
How can I find a way to ask him to roll, I feel like I’m not supposed to ask him.
Academy has been open since I started, he was a brown belt, he used to roll a lot now that he’s got his black belt he doesn’t as much.
I’d like to find a way to ask him without disrespecting him in anyway.
I’d like to add that there are a few other purples and then it’s the main instructor.
Without putting any of my teammates down, they don’t give me the pressure a black belt does you know.
If you guys can post a question on Facebook or on your website so I can get some feedback from the community.”

Jiu-jitsu Times: Everyone wants a chance to roll with the head instructor and it is natural that you want a chance to roll to help improve your own game.

What many people may not realize with black belt instructors (especially the older masters) is that a lifetime of grappling has left them with many injuries that they have to manage.
Since they must remain healthy enough to be responsible to teach all of those classes every week and even support their families through jiu-jitsu, they have to exercise some caution in who they roll with and how often they roll.

A full time instructor who teaches 10+ classes a week is placing FAR higher demands on their body than the 2-3 times a week students.
It is not realistic to expect them to roll with every student every class.

Another factor is that an instructor is also responsible to supervise and oversee the students during rolling on the mat during class times.

Spotting a student who is about to get injured (“Hey! I said no heel hooks!”), someone who is going too hard on beginners and stopping the roll is an important role for the instructor.
Also, a good instructor will be analyzing the students rolls and from time to time spot a very specific problem for a student and be able to help them correct that part of their game.
An instructor who is rolling is focused on their training and can not see what is happening all over the mat.

So, your instructor may prefer to do his own training during the day when the class is not as busy so that he may still train and have the full concentration available for the students at night.
At my home academy I would teach the day classes and the head instructor would run the night classes.
The head instructor would often show up at the day classes just to roll and not have the pressure of being the instructor that he did at the busy night classes!

In Brazil, it is against etiquette in many academies for a lower belt to ask a higher belt to roll as it may be seen as a challenge.

All of that said, if you want to roll with your instructor a good way to approach it is to say something like:
“I was looking for some pointers on my game. Is it possible we could we have a roll so you can give me some feedback and pointers on my jiu-jitsu? When would be a good time to do it?”

That way the instructor can set aside the time to have a roll with you and you can get some mat time with a higher level belt.
There are things that you FEEL during training with higher level belts that can not be taught verbally.

read also: A Reader Question: “How hard should a student roll with his professor”


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